62 Beautiful Photos That Only Use Two Colors

These 62 photographs have one thing in common: none of them uses more than two base colors. These two colors in tiny dots produce halftones from which all the gorgeous shadows and highlights derive. They're simple yet striking.


Winner - Blue Fog

This is my entry for the duotone challenge. Living on the water provides lots of photo options & daily inspiration. This week in CT, we had some extremely foggy days. The original image of a fogged in river boat started out looking black and white. I thought it took the moody blue duotone applied in photoshop rather well. I normally have my D5000 glued to my hip but on this day I only had my iphone to snap with - nothing fancy.
-Lauren Fister

Olmsted Point

Leaving Yosemite National Park for the season my girlfriend and I stopped at Olmsted Point. It had just rained and we were trying to beat the snow over the pass. This was taken at sunset as we make our way east towards our final destination of New Orleans. Camping outside the park it snowed on us and the pass was closed with almost a foot of snow on the road. Camers-Nikon D7000, Lens-Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 AI
ISO-100, f/3.5, 1/125s
-Chris Riggleman


Acid Wash

I hadn't tried doing a duotone picture before now. I love the drama it provides - I had a hard time choosing the photo to submit! This was taken at sunset at The Oasis in Austin, Texas at Lake Travis. I really enjoyed adding to my Photoshop skills, too. Thanks for the challenge! f/2.8, 1/640 sec, ISO 80
- Karen Tarlow


Flat Angled City

Taken with a Sony Alpha a230 in Atlanta, GA with ISO at 100 and edited in iPhoto, GIMP, and Snapseed.
-Matthew Carr


Demonic Fire

In my opinion, there are certain photographs that just have to be black and white. Being fairly new at photography, I had never heard of duotones. Doutones give a new twist to black and white photography. Winter has set in here. I could have tried something safe in my warm house, but my love is out in the field driving around till I find a Gem. After all Idaho is the Gem State. So I loaded up the dog, camera, lenses, and left all my filters at home.


"Demonic Fire" was shot in Clover, Idaho. This Lutheran church and school are the only thing in Clover. Other than thousands of acres of rolling farm land. It is an absolutely beautiful setting in the middle of nowhere. The photograph was captured with my Canon T1i Rebel with the 18-55mm lens at 18mm. Settings were, 1/25, f-14.0, ISO 100.

In Photoshop I used the gradient map to select two different shades of red. I then played with the sliders till I got the highs and lows where I wanted them. Opening a new layer in curves I went crazy until I got the exorcist need for the photograph. I know the color is extreme, but I think I got the Good Vs. Evil feel I wanted for the photograph. Thanks for teaching me something new in Photoshop.
-Ron Barrett


Maple Leaf

I took a picture of a red maple leaf on top of a lighted tracing pad so the background was all white and the light shone through the leaf. I generally followed the Photoshop instructions provided in the challenge, but tweaked a few settings such as gradient map colors and the curves adjustment layer. I like how the picture looks artificial even though it started with something real. Canon 7D with 100mm macro lens. 1/100s, f/2.8, ISO 200.
- David Lee


Liya Is Moving

Well I didn't even know this contest started and yesterday we were all hanging out since Liya is moving so we took pictures of her before she left. iPhone 4s.
-Josean Rosario


Shades of Blue

When a trip to the Dia:Beacon was planned for this weekend, I decided it would be a good time to try my hand at a shooting challenge again. The trip didn't let down in terms of striking landscape views, but what was really eye catching were these window shadows in the Richard Serra room. They seemed to be begging for this challenge's treatment, the problem being the photography rules in museums. So instead of the old phrase "the best camera is the camera you have on you" this instead is "the best camera is the camera you can use incognito". Therefore this was taken on the iPhone 4, with some contrast adjustments and straightening. I originally wanted to colorize it to reflect the fall colors outside, but ended up liking the blue more due to its resemblance to the Madlib "Shades of Blue" cover art.
-Zach Chapman


Old Factory

I had a busy weekend and was afraid I would miss out on this competition, a real shame because I'd been looking for an excuse to try making duotones for a while now! On the way down to a parts store I happened to find this cool abandoned factory. I figured the shadows and the texture of the bricks would work pretty well in duotone, and I think it worked pretty well. Worked purple in as the shadow tone to keep it interesting. Canon 400D with Cannon 18-55mm IS lens at 29mm, 1/320 sec, f/16, ISO 200
-Brendan Dunne


Every single one of these photos looks fantastic. I was particularly impressed by a few shots that, in regular color, we probably wouldn't have given them a second look. But thanks to the duotone process, we can appreciate all of their rich midrange unctuousness. If you ever find that you've taken a wonderful shot that just doesn't pop, it's a good tool to have in your arsenal. Full galleries below, wallpapers on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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