Just the mention of monochrome
landscapes is enough to invoke dramatic
images of cloudy skies, imposing
mountain vistas and dreamy minimalist
seas. You don’t even have to wait for the
perfect weather to get a winning mono shot,
however achieving striking results do require
much more than converting overcast and dull
scenes to black and white. Start visualising
in monochrome, looking for lines, shapes,
textures and patterns, and you’ll be well on
your way to success.
In this feature we’ll offer up the best
shooting tips to guarantee images that are
monochrome without being monotonous. In
the absence of colour, the genre often relies on
creative exposure techniques to create impact,
and we’ve got plenty for you to try. Follow the
hands-on tutorials and discover how to shoot
long and double exposures, as well as using
your creative license with camera dragging.
Once you’ve escaped the bad weather, we’ve
also got you covered with editing techniques
inspired by the traditional darkroom processes.
Steeped in history though it may be, the
black-and-white genre couldn’t be any more
contemporary, and quite definitely forms an
artistic niche in its own right. Follow our guide
over the next few pages to truly take your
monochrome landscapes to the next level.
composition skills, simply because there’s
no colour to distract the viewer’s eye from a
weak frame. When the scene before you is
pared down to shades of grey, the aesthetic
will naturally become more about tone, form
and texture. Composition is a subjective choice
however, and the traditional guidelines that
apply to landscapes also apply to a uni-colour
palette. For example, using the rule of thirds,
symmetry, and strong diagonal lines can all
add interest to your view.
Seek separation between elements in the
frame to create the most dynamic outcomes;
different aspects are easy to see in colour, but
often when converted to black and white many
of the tones blend together. Always include a
strong foreground interest and look for solid
shapes in the landscape, such as walls, rocks
or trees that might provide a leading line in.
The eye can pick out strong, distinctive shapes
more easily, even when the tones are similar.
Balance is something you might have heard
successful monochrome photographers referring to,
and this is about the relationship
between different elements within the frame.
Look at your scene, and consider what the
most important or visually interesting features
are. What should you include and what should
you avoid? What should be given more space
in the frame? Experiment with different crops
and zoom in, literally or by moving yourself,
onto particular areas. Change your perspective
by shooting from low and high viewpoints, and
capture the same scene with various lenses to
see how this shifts the emphasis.
linked in monochrome photography, and you’ll
need to train yourself to see in black and white
as you compose. If your camera has the option,
switch to its dedicated Monochrome mode and
shoot in RAW. This way you’ll be able to see the
results on the LCD screen, but the camera will
still record the full colour information should
you change your mind in post-processing.
Pay particular attention to the placement of
shadows and highlights, which will become a
feature of your shot.