Taking Black and White Landscapes

Taking photos of landscapes in black and white can look superb, especially deserted landscapes, or with clouds. Rain clouds in black and white over a mountain would look fabulous. You will see this when you examine closely how nature looks in black and white. A great way to do this is to start looking at the shade of the blue in the sky and switch the mode to black and white; take this shot then take another in colour. Compare the two and see how that shade of blue looks in black and white. This will give you an idea of how natural colour turn into black and white, from nature. This may also give you a photo which captures more of the intensity of being there, than colour can.

I don’t see many landscape pictures done in black and white and I’m not sure why this is because black and white softens a picture anyway, and can have the same effect on your landscape shots. Many people prefer colour when taking nature shots, and this is fine, but I do urge you to experiment with this medium too. It just gives you another creative edge and a way to break outside our comfort zones as photographers and become artists.

A great way to get out of this comfort zone and embrace black and white when doing landscapes is to find your preferences while taking the shots. Compare a colour landscape photo to a black and white landscape photo and just see what feelings are generated. You will notice that you don’t always loose something as our minds would have us believe, we can actually gain a new insight into this scene.

To start, take two shots, one in colour and one in black and white. This is the only way you really truly learn about black and whites beauty and get away from colour all the time. Vivid colour is definitely incredibly stimulating and beautiful but so is black and white. Colour invokes energy which is why we like it. However black and white invokes a sense of calm, gentleness and can even surreal feeling depending on the scene.

My last tip I can give you is that sometimes when taking black and white subjects, like landscapes, you may have to increase the exposure to give you a little more light in the photo. Black and white can make things darker because you don’t have color light reflection from normal color photos. So just remember that might be the case with some black and white landscapes you are taking.

Best wishes,

Amy Renfrey

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2 comments on “Taking Black and White Landscapes

  1. Amy

    I enjoyed your article. Recently I have started doing more black and white landscapes not least as the weather has been rather bleak where I live in Scotland. Black and white photography works were colour often doesn’t – i.e. high contrast scenes or very flat light. Shooting digitially means there is little lattitude and this is where photographs in flat or overcast conditions are possible. Often the photograph will need dodging and burning either in the darkroom or in an editing package. Filters also help with black and white – i.e. a polariser to add more contrast in cloud formations. Will be adding your site as a favourite and looking forward to more of your articles. All the best, Martin (Perthshire, Scotland)

  2. Hey Amy!

    I love B&W photography. When I was taking a photography class way back in 1996, I was told that if you can take a good black and white photo, then you can take a picture of anything!

    I find this to be true. When shooting in B&W, I find myself actually ignoring most of the color and concentrating more on subject, composition, and textures.

    I have a few B&W shots over on my blog at

    http://www.thephotogformula.com

    Let me know what you think!

    Take care.
    Nate

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