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Black and White Photography Tips

Landscapes in black and white – by Black and White Photography Tips

Anyone who is familiar with the work of the American photographer, Ansel Adams or black-and-white-landscapethe English photographer, Edwin Smith, to name but two, will know just how powerful a good black and white landscape picture can be. Much of their work was taken on bulky 10 x 8 cameras that were heavy enough in the confines of a studio, let alone halfway up a mountainside. The quality of their prints was second to none and those by Adams still sell by the million every year.

Everyone is capable

Unlike colour photographs of landscapes, which can be easy on the eye and therefore possible to hide technical faults, black and white landscapes stand or tall totally on the merits of their composition, tone and print quality. Good monochrome prints have a timeless quality and, with the technical innovation of digital printing and the wealth of different papers available, everyone is now capable of producing exhibition quality prints for display, either in albums or for hanging on the wall.

Use filters

Besides photo quality papers, there are an ever increasing number of rag papers with different surfaces. Some of these have archival permanence and can reproduce your best images with a quality that many photographers now think surpasses traditional bromide printing. Filters will play an important part ‘n enhancing black and white landscapes. A yellow filter, for example, will help to retain detail in a sky and bring out the clouds so that they appear with greater clarity. If you want a really moody, stormy-looking sky, then a red filter will darken it. Graduated neutral density filters are useful for detail in the sky, while at the same time allowing for correct exposure of the foreground.

If you are shooting digitally, you can convert your images to black and white once you have downloaded them into your computer, There are numerous post -production techniques, such as toning, you can employ with software. At Black and White Photography Tips we recommend Photoshop. Used subtly, this type of enhancement will give a real professional quality to your prints. The same applies to landscapes shot on film, as your negatives or transparencies can be scanned and then converted to black and white on the computer.

Rivers, Seas and Lakes

Rivers, seas and lakes make great subjects for photography and, as there are very few black-and-white-riverplaces in the world that aren’t close to some form of water, they are within the scope of all photographers. However, there are some mistakes that many photographers consistently make. Using a wide-angle lens needs careful composition and framing. It is all to easy to end up with vast swathes of foreground without any visual interest, while the background recedes so far that little detail is visible.

Skies, too, if overcast and without cloud detail, can look bland and ruin your shot. This is why foreground detail is so important. Look for an area that will fill the bottom of the frame, such as rocks and pools, or an interesting pattern in the sand if you are at the beach, a piece of driftwood could add interest, or if trees fringe the beach, these could be put to good use to frame one side of your shot.

Slow Shutter Speed

If you are photographing a river, consider how to make the flow of the water look interesting. This is especially important in black and white photography, as water can often just look dark and lacking detail. Place the camera on a tripod and set the shutter to a slow speed. This will give a feeling of movement in the water, as it will come out blurred. If you include people, place them in the foreground so they can be clearly identified.

Exposure can be a potential problem when photographing water. If you are on the beach, where the sand and sea are both highly reflective, it is easy for the camera’s metering system to think that there is more light than there actually is, leading to underexposure.

Here at Black and White Photography Tips we hope you’ve enjoyed this article on B&W photography. Why not try one of our other Photography Tips article. Check the menu down the left of this page.