I’ve talked about this multiple times in the past but the fact remains the same, wintertime is one of the best times to shoot in black and white. Now I say that but I always do my conversions in post-processing just to be clear. Snow has lots of natural gradients to it and when combined with light the drama can really pop within the landscape to make for some great images. This is one of the few times I like finding an anchor to put in the landscape like a dark object to add some contrast to the overall picture.
I’ve been shooting with the Nikon Z50 for about five months now and I am pretty impressed with the results of that little camera. I always have it with me when I’m out fishing in case it’s needed for that quick capture of a beautiful fish but it’s great for that occasional landscape. I was out on the Yellowstone River this past weekend when a Spring shower rolled through leaving some beautiful clouds in its wake. The cliffs of Sheep Mountain were looking great as they still had a little bit of snow left on them.
Apparently Dad and myself think on similar wavelengths because right before the holiday he had a similar post. If you’ve spent much time with landscapes in the summer, then you know it’s not just us. Summer time is a great time to be doing landscapes because the afternoon can lead to some amazing cloud formations. As I posted about on Monday, those clouds can be great for sunset but they can also be great by themselves. All clouds have a texture, a shape, a dynamic to them and each shot should reflect that.
Black and white is a great way to go with just clouds because it really brings out the depth and drama to them. When it comes to this style the emphasis has to be on the clouds and not the landscape. Notice these images have very little foreground because the subject is the cloud formation in both and I wanted to emphasize that. Both were taken with the same setup, D5 and 24-70 AF-S. Yes I use that combo a lot. It’s just a good general setup. Then again that’s just me. This area of landscape photography is really fun and it really challenges you to break away from the rule of thirds and look at landscapes another way.
I do a lot of landscape work and often it’s with a wide angle lens. The reason for that is usually because of great light or great skies. But when neither of those two things show up then it’s great to go tight and take out little chunks of the landscape. While waiting for the birds on the pond to cooperate, I pointed the D4 and 600f4 towards the freshly snow covered mountains that surround Bozeman. Now that might seem a little much, but when you go wide with a mountain side covered in pine trees and snow, then it just looks like black streaks and white dots. When you go tight you can actually see the pine branches. In this case it becomes more about the patterns of the land instead of the overall tone of the land.
Why go black and white? Well the light sucked for landscape at that moment, so with flat light the mountains just screamed monochrome.