Black-and-white Wallpapers for Macs, iPhones, and iPads

I love the artistic and enriching qualities of desktop wallpapers. For the longest time, they have been the one sure fire way to personalize our computers. But since I spend a lot of time with computers these days, I have found it very important to add clarity to my digital workspace. I want simplicity that will match the way my mind wants to work. There isn’t time for eye-catching desktop backgrounds if I want to give my full concentration to my agenda.

The ‘Grand Teton’ Focus Collection II background wallpaper

The ‘Grand Teton’ Focus Collection II background wallpaper

As a hobbyist, I have been designing desktop wallpapers for myself since I was twelve. I’ve liked my various designs well enough but wasn’t inclined to share them because the Internet already had a gluttonous amount of wallpapers to offer. I didn’t want to add to the chaos. As it stands, I won’t bother to visit wallpapers sites anymore. They’re the armpits of online art culture.

But iOS came along and I have seen the need to further add minimalism to our devices. Most wallpapers you can find are ugly, busy, and attention-getting. They say “Look at me, please!” so loudly that they overpower the home screen. I have difficulty focusing in the spaces where I switch apps. I have trouble using my desktop to organize files (as I do throughout the day) because the average wallpaper calls too much attention to itself.

A black-and-white background makes it easy to focus

A black-and-white background makes it easy to focus

I started the Focus Collection on September 4th. These are minimalistic backgrounds that cut out all of the distractions and leave your screen with simple gradients and a hint of grain (what photographers call ‘noise’). These images have a way of complimenting iOS 8’ design that I didn’t originally intend. Focus Collection backgrounds pleasantly draw attention away from themselves, turning users’ attention back to their apps and work.

For this new addition to my wallpapers, I’m offering black-and-white backgrounds to counter balance the barrage of color we see all the day long. Some of the most calming designs in modern living spaces I’ve enjoyed were rooms painted some shade of gray. In the spirit of enjoying a wide spectrum of contrast for its unpretentiousness, I give you Focus Collection II, inspired by and made using photographs by Ansel Adams.

I set out to find interesting photos to use as the starting point for these blurry backgrounds. Naturally, I thought of Ansel’s wide array of photos that shaped professional photography as we know it. I have joked in the past that Ansel’s photography isn’t all that special, but I actually like a lot of his photo collection. Love or hate his photography, Ansel was a one-of-a-kind creative artist. He was experimental. He tested the limits of beauty found in the limitations of three-dimensional black-and-white space. He transformed landscapes into two-tone pictures like mankind had never conceived of before.

I have always been awestruck by his photography. I have collections of his works at home. I’ve enjoyed many a wallpaper on my Mac that was one of his pictures. I could have used any image that was black-and-white, but I wanted to use Ansel’s because they have always inspired me. And for the Focus Collection’s purposes, Ansel’s photos are only the starting point.

One of the photos I used on the left, and the results for the background image design on the right

One of the photos I used on the left, and the results for the background image design on the right

I used a variety of photographs from Archive.gov to create the out-of-focus backgrounds that reflect the contrast of the original pictures but leave all the details out of focus. You are left with the mood of Ansel’s photos, but you’re free to own your thoughts as you use these wallpapers distraction-free. Enjoy beautiful black and white photos someplace other than your spring board or desktop.

The Focus Collection desktop pictures come in pixel sizes that match all Apple devices, including iPhone 6 and Plus dimensions and even the iPhone 4’s. Download just a few of the wallpapers individually. Or, for your convenience, download all of them in the size that matches your device with just a couple taps (or clicks).

I have put a lot of effort into creating these pages on my site for the Focus Collection so that you can quickly find the images that you want and download them at your leisure. I hope you enjoy them.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.