An alternative to monochrome photography – drawing in charcoal


I have just completed a short course at West Dean College on Landcape Drawing in Charcoal . I considered it to be entirely complementary to my photography; for whilst it is a very different medium the end result is still in monochrome. I have drawn in the past but rarely ever practice, so it made a pleasant change to do something entirely different.

The tutor and very talented artist was Kate Boucher, who demonstrated and clearly described her drawing techniques.  She was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. On the last day I worked from one of my photographs taken in The Lake District back 2013, which I called ‘Three Trees’. The A2 charcoal drawing can be seen above, and below I have included the original photograph so you can compare the two.

Having made the comparison it made me realise that I would now process the orginal photograph in another way. Adding more contrast, grain and a tone would create a more dramatic and moody picture – and here it is.


I still rather like the charcoal drawing although the newly processed photograph is in my opinion an improvement on the original.

Am I going to rush out and sell my camera gear? Certainly not!

However exploring different types of art brings it’s benefits and there is no reason why photography and drawing can’t work alongside one another. I can learn things from both and apply some of these ideas accordingly.  Irrespective of the medium being used, a pleasing and successful image needs to be well seen and composed; suitably processed or drawn and the direction of the light and how it falls on the subject will always play a crucial part in the overall result.

At the end of the day – observation, capture, interpretation and your vision is what art and picture making is all about – never neglecting of course that you should always try and have fun along the way.

7 Responses to “An alternative to monochrome photography – drawing in charcoal”

  1. westdeanie

    It’s interesting that the warmer tones of the charcoal drawing made you go back and apply those warm notes to the original photograph – for me it is the better for it!


  2. Finding your creative voice through experimentation. | alan frost photography

    […] As things turned out the above image is a single exposure shot at f16, 0.8sec, ISO 100, using a 6 stop ND filter to slow down the shutter speed and a 2 stop ND grad to balance the level of light in the sky with the darker foreground. The end result has echoes of a charcoal drawing. In fact subconciously whilst processing the image I think I was inspired by a workshop on charcoal drawing I attended last year at West Dean College by Kate Boucher. I wrote about this experience here – An alternative to monochrome photography – drawing in charcoal. […]



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