Few things in photography are as impressive as a great black and white landscape. Black and white was once the only means we had to communicate, photographically. That was long before most of us got involved with it. But for some of us, B&W is how we started off in photography, and how we saw our images in print. But since the beginning of photography, black and white has been a very romantic medium. That romance continues to this day, with black and white easier and simpler to do than ever. And yet, for some, it’s just as complicated and difficult as ever. Perhaps this will give you some ideas to advance your black and white photography.
But if you want to create masterpieces worthy of hanging on your wall there’s a different mind-set for shooting black and white compared to colour, which you’ll need to key yourself into.
Colour photography relies on how different colours are juxtaposed and complemented by each other. Black and white’s intrinsic nature, which pares every scene down to a palette of shades of grey, lends itself to a different aesthetic – one which is more about tone, form and texture.
You need to be able to see a scene in these terms, and to pre-visualise it as your final black and white print. This will give you a greater chance of success than simply running random images through the desaturate feature of your software to see what happens.
Skies and Cloudscapes
Clouds as an element within your picture can be very subtle in changing the whole mood of an image. They can add a sense of drama or throw a veil of calmness across a picture. Where the horizon lies within an image will have an effect on the way an image is viewed, with a low horizon accentuating the mood of the sky and clouds and making this a dominating factor.
Sometimes the clouds can become a subject in their own right. However, you would still want to show a slither of land in the bottom of the frame in order to give a point of scale and reference.
Black & White Trees Photography
One of the most powerful motifs in landscape photography is that of the lone tree, standing proud and defiant. Trees are incredibly photogenic, at any time of the year. The bare twisted branches of winter trees set against a featureless sky can make a great subject for black and white.
Even in the height of summer there are few sights as magnificent as a single mighty oak, beech or cedar tree, especially if you can catch it in the right lighting. They can either form the entire focus of your image, or – placed at just the right part of the frame – serve as a useful focal point within a wider landscape. For best results, as always, the beginning and end of the day are the best times to capture them.
Black and White with Patterns and Textures
A popular motif in landscape photography is to emphasise patterns. Occurring frequently in nature, the echoes from repeated patterns can make for a strong image when isolated from their surroundings.
Textures, too, offer a rich vein of subject matter for the black and white photographer. Think of tree bark, the roughness of rocks, the texture of grass. Strong directional side-lighting is best for enhancing texture, such as the kind you get early and late in the day in sunny conditions.
Levels & Curves!
Small subtleties add up to big drama! Every one of these photos has seen Photoshop CS6, and that was to add small subtleties you can’t do otherwise. It could be the slight darkening of a cloud to make the cloud next to it brighter, using Curves and the Brush. It could be a slight move in Levels to push some blacks to deep black. You might need to lighten a God beam, or darken the side of a rock. These small, fine tunings that we can’t do any other way, are a must in making the gorgeous black and white photo!
to create an extraordinary work, it requires sacrifice, such as time, energy and thoughts. Black and white photography can be created by practicing constantly, looking for references and get together with the community. hopefully this post can help you to continue to create beautiful work.