This weeks assignment of a Black and White landscape caused me to revisit the fundamentals of a good black and white image.
The Basics to Picking a Good Subject for a Black and White Landscape
I always go back to the darkroom advise my high school photojournalism teacher gave me… You need to have a pure white, a pure black and tones in between.
Composition of a landscape becomes a little more important when you take out the element of color. Including elements like rhythm, symmetry and balance provide a bigger punch when your image is reduced to black, white and shades of gray. Textured surfaces tend to photograph beautifully in black and white. The true key to selecting a good black and white landscape subject is to train your eye to see tones and contrast. I think that the best time to shoot a black and white landscape is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. When the sun is lower in the sky the shadows are stronger, enhancing both the texture and the contrast. That being said these pictures were taken in the middle of the morning. I am giving myself grace in not insisting that each of these 52 week photos has to be the best. I am just hoping to learn something new or revisit something I already knew.
Converting a Landscape to Black and White
In 2009 when I decided to reenter the photography world and resume my education that I had started years before, I started spending a lot of time on different forums. I was immediately surprised about how often black and white conversions were brought up. Who knew that there were countless ways to convert an image to black and white using photoshop and/or lightroom. I think the key is that which ever method you use you are going to need to tweak it. It is never going to be a one step process. I, myself, have started just clicking to black and white in lightroom. From there I adjust the tone curve to my liking. Then, I adjust the color mix sliders. Often making the blues darker and/or the oranges lighter will create the contrast that is needed to make the image pop. There are some purists who think that real photographers always get it “right” in camera. But photographers have been manipulating their finished product long before computers, photoshop and lightroom.