Black & white landscape

When black & white works best in landscape photography

Many landscape images rely on the vivid colour of blue of the sky or warm tones produced by a setting sun. Black and white landscapes convey a different feeling, often associated with mood and drama.

Learning which images to convert to black and white is a skill in itself. In essence you want to add something by converting to black and white, so ask yourself how the image will be improved by presenting it in monochrome.

Look for images that don’t rely on colour to create interest or where the colour is distracting to the subject. Look for images that have a certain mood generated by light and shade that you can accentuate. Texture also comes across very well in black and white; here are some examples:

This image jumped out as a black and white possibility, shot into the sun the colours are washed out in the original, however the image has great mood and drama. Converting to black and white and adding contrast allows the texture detail in the grasses to be brought out as well.

Do you think this image works best in colour or B&W?

The focus of this image is on the man walking his dog along the beach. The positioning of the curved gap in the cliff perfectly frames the man and places him as the main focal point of this image. Converting the image to black and white creates a bleaker atmosphere compared to the coldness of the original colouring.

The tones of the sky are not in enough contrast to the shades of the wood so the focus is not clear. In the black and white version you get more of the sense of what the photographer is trying to show you.