Monday, October 28, 2013

Work on your Landscape Photography Skills in Black and White

In my world black and white is far from dead. When I get a color photo that frustrates me, often I will kick it over to black and white to overcome ishy colors like blue greens. If the photo is any good, often a black and white interpretation will show you what you thought you saw. Some photos are great both in color and black and white, others are not.

I am very pattern oriented. In landscapes I like strong lines and good vanishing points. I work in HDR quite often because I like very long tonal ranges.

So why bother with black and white? One reason is that it can help you strengthen your compositional skills. It forces you to find lines and shapes, and highlights and shadows. This will help you pre-visualize better whether you shoot color or black and white.  Black and white makes you work harder to get a great composition.

Because we are in a digital world now, you can retain your color negative so why not interpret your landscapes as black and white and deconstruct your voice.?  If you look at a few pictures you will see your patterns in your work and perhaps think more deeply about composition.

Looking East from the Ponca Low Water Bridge
The picture above had foreground sharpness giving way to softness at the distant point there the Buffalo River.  There are lines and curves, and implied forms. Fall color is always a plus, but it can be a distraction too.

Color is never the whole game. There are lines, textures, rhythms, and so on. Maybe looking at the landscape that has frustrated you for years will be more understandable in black and white.  Try deconstructing your photos by removing color. It can provide a lot of insight.

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