It is almost inevitable to imagine at first a landscape full of colour. A golden sunrise or sunset, or even at the time when everything turns blue. This doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get it. In fact, there are black-and-white landscape photographs that take your breath away. And if you take the color out of a landscape… how is it possible that it impresses so much? I’ll tell you.
Sometimes we think that our camera is like a photocopier (in color and black and white). Only that instead of photocopying small formats, it is capable of reproducing huge scenarios. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your camera is not even a copier. If you think so you are undervaluing it as much as you underestimate yourself. Your camera is a creation tool. To achieve a great landscape photography you don’t need a beautiful landscape.
If you have it, perfect, it will help you, but you need something more and easier to achieve. Imagine that you have in front of you a blank canvas and that your brush is your camera. Today we will deal with the camera settings above. As you have other landscape articles on the blog that can help you. In today’s post I will try to give you some tricks to use your head and your heart. To make a black and white landscape as impressive as one in color (or more).
View In Black And White
The first thing to keep in mind is that any landscape won’t look good in black and white. You have to learn to see in gray scale before to check that the result is worth it. Because each color has its equivalence in this scale. What in color can be a good contrast, the same in black and white is not.
A little trick is, if you have doubts, to shoot with the monochrome option of your camera. And if you like it, do not hesitate, shoot again but this time in color or if possible in RAW. This way you will not lose part of the information you will need when editing the image.
Pamper The Composition
If in any photograph the composition is a fundamental element. In a black and white landscape it becomes even more relevant. As I said at the beginning of the article, we usually expect a landscape in color, this happens because it is the way in which our eyes usually see but also because the colors of the landscape awaken many emotions. The color can even constitute the composition of a landscape, so when eliminating it, we must treat with much more care the way in which we have the elements within the frame. Because we have also said it, it is not a matter of reproducing, but of creating, so it is up to you to distribute the elements of the landscape in such a way that they immediately capture the attention of the honorable public.
Okay, that’s so easy to say, but how do you do it? Well, here come some little tricks:
Use The Lines
If you think that the lines are only in the city, it’s because you haven’t seen enough landscapes. The lines are a strong resource in composition and in black and white they take on greater prominence. Look for them in the scenarios you have in front of you and use them to lead your gaze to the center of interest, or turn them into absolute protagonists. And remember the strength of the “S” curves and diagonals, they are really powerful and have many emotions associated with them.
Less is more. Another premise that I will repeat as many times as necessary without losing the smile or that my knuckles tremble when typing it. Less color and fewer elements translates into greater impact and more interest. One idea is to resort to the use of negative space to create a minimalist impact landscape. The image above is a good example of minimalist landscape, but here I leave you another, not for lack of inspiring examples 😉
It is not a matter of capturing little birds intoning the bals, but of including repeated elements that bring rhythm to the image. Depending on the type of rhythm you capture, you will be able to transmit different sensations. Everything you need to know about visual rhythm is here.
Look For The Fog
If you’re early in the morning, you’re lucky, but if you’re a bedwalker, you’ll have to make an extra effort, but it’ll be worth it. The fog gives the place a wonderful texture, a halo of mystery and a special atmosphere. Although it is very rare, this makes it even more interesting. Don’t miss the opportunity that presents itself to you for a few more minutes between the sheets! And follow these tips to photograph her 😉
Practice Long Exposure Photography
The photographs of water in a long exhibition have this dreamlike, unreal and at the same time hypnotizing point. The texture of the water is similar to the brushstroke of a great painter, in your white canvas will be the silky effect. You can see it in the first two pictures and in the next one:
The long exposure is not only for water, beyond the silky effect, you can capture spectacular skies or cities of heart attack.
I’m sure many times you’ve seen a black and white landscape and you’ve been left with your mouth open and wondering how they’ve achieved that effect. Well, beyond the composition, the sharpness or the use of depth of field, there is a trick that will give a completely different life to your landscapes, it’s about filters.
The filters in landscape serve both to nuance the light and to bring more drama. You can use polarizing or color filters. The truth is that on the latter I’ll tell you that it is much more comfortable to apply them with an editor than to carry a lot of different filters for each occasion. However, the fun is not the same in front of a computer as it is in front of a great landscape.
What you will not get the same is a good control of the light through the filters if you do it in the edition instead of on the ground. Here’s everything you need to know about landscape filters.
Make Good Use Of Light
And speaking of the handling of light, you should know that depending on the type of light you have can completely change the landscape. The harsh light of midday will serve to achieve landscapes of high contrast and full of drama. On the other hand, the diffuse light you get from cloudy days or the first and last hours of the day, are ideal for creating softer landscapes and transmit feelings of peace. If you want to emphasize textures, you will have to take advantage when the sun is falling, so that the shadows are projected in their maximum splendor highlighting any relief. The longer and more lateral the light, the more the textures will stand out and the more realism your image will acquire.
Light is a very powerful tool, learn to use it and your landscapes will have another dimension. Think about what you want to transmit and plan your session for the time or day when the light is right.
Textures are especially favored in monochrome images, give them a special place in your image. In the previous point we talked about the light that highlights them most, now I will remind you that to soften the textures use a diffuse light and that the textures that you can enhance in a landscape are:
- Tree trunks
- Very cloudy skies
- Water (I already told you about the silky effect 😉 )
If you manage to make the spectator perceive the rough touch of the trunk, the softness of that round stone or feel the sponginess of the clouds, you will have conquered him without a doubt.
In black-and-white photography, the noise that causes a high ISO value is much more evident. If you are not looking for it intentionally, looking for a specific effect, try to adjust the ISO to as low a level as possible.
Includes Cloudy Skies
Many times we fall into the error of including a completely clear sky. In reality it is very pleasant to see an intense blue sky, but in a photograph it has no interest, and if it is in black and white, even less so. If you want to give prominence to the sky, fill it with clouds to cause a strong visual impact.
Let Your Image Move
You can provoke sensations through movement, a gentle breeze to feel just by seeing the image, a fall of vertigo, the speed of cars in a city …
If you feel the scenery, your audience will too. We have mentioned some strategies to transmit emotions with photography, but the most powerful tool is you. Besides using the tricks of contrast, light, composition, etc… you will have to really feel what you are doing for the viewer to feel it too, leave part of your soul in the picture. That won’t let you down. Never.
Another “trick” that we will repeat until satiety in the blog, because it is the most infallible of all. Practicing is the only thing that will help you control all these tricks almost without thinking and find your own. With it you will be able to apply several of these strategies without even realizing it and, best of all, it is the direct way to fun with your camera and to achieve impressive photographs.
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