9 Tips to Capture Amazing Black and White Landscape Photos

tips for black and white landscape photography.

Black and white landscape photography makes for some of the most beautiful landscape photos! From the time of Ansel Adams up until today, black and white photos have captured emotions, depth, and interest from audiences worldwide!

Whether you are a landscape photographer or not, shooting in black and white is a great way to shoot creative photography.

Tips and Techniques for B&W Landscape Photography

If you want to take your black and white landscape photography to the next level, then follow these tips and tricks for your landscape photos.

We cover everything you need to know, including color contrast, key elements, and how to pay attention to the building blocks of what make great black and white photography.

1. Contrast

color contrast in black and white landscape photos.

When it comes to black and white landscape photography, it’s important you adjust your camera and post-processing to highlight the contrast in colors. Contrast is what will make your black and white photos pop and bring attention to the shades of color to create a beautiful light source in every shot. Explore contrast by playing with your contrast tool in Lightroom or Photoshop.

2. Textures

textured desert in black & white.

Just like contrast, you should also pay close attention to textures in your black and white photography. Photographers who choose subjects that vary in texture always have better results. This is because black & white landscapes especially highlight textures, and there are so many different textures in the world it would be difficult to find a scene without a composition full of them! Focus on finding as many shapes and textures in your images to create beautiful compositions.

3. Leading Lines

leading lines.

Just like in any other composition, you should focus on finding leading lines in your black and white landscape photography shots. Black and white landscapes will pop even more when you find a hard-edged line to guide your viewer’s eyes through your image.

Good black and white photographers know that leading lines can be found everywhere in the world of photography. So grab your camera and explore your backyard today to find some interesting landscapes.

For example, you can include a path in your composition to add depth to your landscape photo. If you use the right angle, you’ll be able to naturally lead the viewer’s eye to your focal point. Wherever you are, you can use nature and manmade objects to create stunning black and white landscape photos.

4. Tonal Contrast

example of black and white landscape photography.

If you want to create beautiful landscape photography, think about how you can rearrange the scene to create a broader tonal contrast. If your subject is darker, see if you can move your point of view to highlight a brighter part of the scene.

If you need extra guidance, shoot in black and white mode. This will help you figure out which scenes have a great tonal range. The point is to create balanced photographs that don’t have an overwhelming amount of shadows or highlights (unless that’s the look you’re going for).

5. White Images

mountain landscape.

When searching for new black and white images, don’t forget to choose scenes that are whiter than others. You can head to a snowy mountain or a snowy forest. When you fill your image with white, this helps viewers get lost in your landscape photo. Any white photo scene will do. The key is finding a place full of sky, snow, or white shapes.

6. Zone System

trees in black and white.

The zone system helps photographers evaluate a tonal range in their photography. This is great for black and white photography because it helps you adjust your exposure settings better to capture the monochrome colors of your image. This system was first created by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer and is a great way to better your monochrome shots.

7. Experiment

black and white ocean landscape

When shooting monochrome photography, it’s important that you experiment with different techniques for every shot. For example, try setting your camera to black and white to see how the composition will turn out before you even start post-processing.

Another way to experiment is to shoot black and white photography in the dark or at sunset. The more you experiment, the more your black and white work will improve.

8. Shoot in Long Exposures

long exposure photo of a tree.

Landscape photographer Ansel Adams was famous for his long exposure shots of amazing landscapes. You can continue this tradition by investing in a good tripod and setting up your camera near a river, waterfall, or moving traffic.

The key is to look for movement in your landscape photography and then edit them into black and white images.

The technique involves using a slow shutter speed. The slower it is, the smoother movements will appear. If your landscape is very bright, you might end up with overexposed shots. To avoid this, use a neutral density filter. This isn’t a necessity, but it might make it easier for you to take well-lit photographs anywhere

9. Post Processing

Editing is a valuable part of any monochrome landscape photo. If you want the black and white colors in your image to pop, it’s essential you go back in and edit your photos for the best light and adjustments. Let’s explore some important adjustments you can make in lightroom.

Highlights

One of the more important adjustments you can make to your black and white photography is the highlights. In Lightroom, you will find a “highlights” tool that is easy to toggle left and right. As you toggle to the left, you will find the details in your black and white photos become more obvious.

flowers monochrome photograph.

Blacks

Make sure you examine the blacks in your images. It’s important you adjust the blacks in your editing because these will make the light in your photo more obvious and glowing. Your camera cannot always capture all the ranges of black and white, and this is why adjusting your blacks is so important.

Presets

Presets are a great way to make your black and white photos pop! Whether you’re shooting landscapes or portraits, your scenes will become more engaging for the viewer using black and white textures.

b&w landscape photoedited image of landscape in black and white

Interesting Black and White Landscape Compositions

If you are looking for ideas to inspire your next black and white landscape photography, test out one of these example shots below! These are common themes black and white photographers enjoy shooting.

Sand Dunes

black and white sand dunes.

Sand dunes make for beautiful landscape photography. Every black and white image taken within the dunes looks relaxing and as if you can feel the cool ocean breeze blowing right past you. Head to your local beach and set up for sunrise or sunset for even more beautiful black and white photography.

White Landscapes

black and white photography trees

As mentioned above, white landscapes make for excellent black and white photography. We recommend white landscape shots with snow for the best photos.

Golden Hour

sunrise photography in black and white.

Whether you wake up at sunset or sunrise, the golden hour is the perfect time to shoot better black and white landscape photography. Photographers who want texture in the sky of their image or relaxing gray tones know it’s better to wake up early.

Dark Rocks

dark rocks in b&w.

Look for dark rocks in your foreground or background to add more interest to your next black and white landscape shot. Landscape photography always becomes more interesting if you add a background, foreground, and middle ground to the scene.

Trees

example of bw landscape.

Use trees as a way to connect back to nature in your landscape photography. Trees are a great way to guide your viewer’s eye through your image and are easy to find in most landscape situations.

Grass

grass landscape.

Get down low in the grass or up high above it to create an interesting black and white landscape shot. Try using a lot of negative space in the sky to make the grass pop even more in your photography.

Beach

beach in black and white.

Head over to your local beach for sand texture, cloudy sky, and moody gray ocean views for your next landscape shoot. When shooting in sunny locations, it’s a good idea to bring a red filter or ND filters to keep your exposure in check. Filters block the light, so your photos don’t get blown out.

Mountains

monochrome photograph of a mountain.

Mountains make for great black and white landscape photos. Any time you add a mountain into your photo, you will be creating a more interesting image and one that will draw your viewers into the scene to wonder where you are and how they can travel there with you through your photography.

Photographers to Follow for Inspiration

These photographers top our list as being some of the best black and white photographers in history! Check out each of them for inspiration and ideas for your next black and white photo session!

Ansel Adams

Photo by Ansel Adams.

Ansel Adams is a legend in the black and white landscape photo genre. He was born in the early 1900s in San Francisco and dedicated his life to photography and environmentalism. Because his childhood home was so close to the Golden Gate area, he was able to frequently visit the surrounding national parks and especially Yosemite. His photos of waterfalls, mountains, and trees have inspired generations of photographers and still do today.

Michael Kenna

photo by Michael Kenna.

Photography Michael Kenna is originally from England but has spent a lifetime photographing black and white landscapes around the world. His iconic style has landed him a top position in the world of photography today.

Some of his best shots have been shot at night with minimal looks and reflective surfaces. He has created a zen approach to photography and reminds us that the world is waiting for us to photograph its beautiful natural scenes.

Sebastião Salgado

photo by Sebastião Salgado.

Sebastião Salgado has a master’s degree in economics but became famous for his photography instead! While working in the banking industry, he often traveled to Africa. While working around the continent, he brought his camera with him and started capturing the local tribes and landscapes. In 1973 he abandoned his financial career and focused solely on photography. His Amazonas images are some of the most famous in the world.

photo of a lake.

Brett Weston

Brett Weston’s landscape photography is still considered some of the best in the world, even after his death in 1993. After working with his father for many years, he began focusing on botanical shots and unique landscapes.

His work shows us how to capture amazing landscape shots with both wide and long lenses. His work will help you to uncover your inner artist and think outside the normal realms of photography. You can view more of his landscape work here.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this article on black and white landscape photography. There is something truly special about shooting black and white, and we believe everyone should go out with their camera and test their skills at least once with monochrome photography! Did we miss something you love about black and white photography? Share your ideas and favorites in the comments. We love hearing from you!

Lastly, don’t forget to check out our very own course on black & white photos today to help you better your black and white landscape photography and look at the world in another light.

This mini-course on black and white imagery is designed by our very own Taya Iv. The course will introduce you to the basic concepts of black and white photography and also teach you important techniques for shooting any subject in black and white without expensive equipment.

It includes learning how to edit photos by adjusting more complicated things like tonal curves and reciprocity failure. You will also learn key things such as how to read light, choose subject matter, and how to optimize your camera for shooting in black and white. Each video includes a challenge to help you test what you just learned.

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