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 should be the couple walking their dog and the leading lines up to the windmill on the horizon. The sloping green grass proves distracting and leads the eye to the right of the image where there is less interest. Converting to black and white brings the attention back to the couple where the eye is then drawn to the windmill. However, the black and white version gives the picture a bleak atmosphere, and you may prefer the warmness of the colour shot.

This image makes great use of texture and tells the story of the weather-beaten old flood defences and the rocks wedged in between the uprights. The warm tones and the blue of the sky and water distract from these features and again draw your eye away from the focus. In the black and white version you still get the feel of the golden hour light but more of the sense of what the photographer is trying to show you.

Explore the full range of Canon landscape lenses in the Canon Store

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