12 Tricks To Capture Stunning Black And White Landscapes

It is almost inevitable to first imagine a landscape full of color, a golden sunrise or sunset, or even the hour when everything turns blue. This does not mean that it is the only way to capture it. In fact, there are black and white landscape photographs that take your breath away. And if you take away the color from a landscape… how is it possible for it to impress in such a way? I tell you. But first, let me recommend our black and white photography mega guide so you can go deeper if you are interested in this genre.

Back on topic, sometimes we think of our camera as a copier (in color and black and white), only instead of copying small formats, it’s capable of reproducing huge scenarios. Nothing is further from reality. Your camera is not even remotely a copier, if you think like that you are undervaluing it as much as you. Your camera is a creation tool.

To achieve great landscape photography you don’t need a pretty landscape. If you have it, great, it will help you, but you need something more and easier to get. You have to imagine that you have a blank canvas in front of you and that your brushes are your camera, your head and your heart. Today we will cover the camera settings above, because you have on the blog this very complete guide on landscape photography with all the tips and tricks you may need. In today’s article I will try to give you some tricks to use your head and your heart when it comes to achieving a black and white landscape be as impressive as one in color (or more).

1. See in black and white

The first thing to keep in mind is that any landscape will not look good in black and white. You have to first learn to see in grayscale to verify that the result is worth it, since each color has its equivalent in this scale. What in color can be a good contrast, the same in black and white it is not.

A little trick is, if in doubt, shoot with the monochrome option on your camera. And if you like it, don’t hesitate, shoot again but this time in color or if possible in RAW. In this way you will not lose part of the information that you will need when editing the image.

2. Pamper the composition

If composition is a fundamental element in any photograph, in a black and white landscape it becomes even more relevant. As I told you at the beginning of the article, we usually expect a landscape in color, this happens because it is the way our eyes usually see but also because the colors of landscapes arouse many emotions. Color can even constitute the very composition of a landscape, so when eliminating it, we must treat with much more care the way in which we arrange the elements within the frame. Because we have also said it, it is not about reproducing, but about creating, so it is up to you to distribute the elements of the landscape in such a way that they immediately capture the attention of the honorable public.

Okay, this being said is very easy, but how to do it? Well, here are some tricks:

use the lines

If you think that lines are only in the city, it’s because you haven’t seen enough landscapes 😉 Lines are a strong resource in composition and in black and white they take on greater prominence. Look for them in the scenarios in front of you and use them to lead the gaze to the center of interest, or turn them into absolute protagonists. And remember the strength and S-curves and diagonals, they are really powerful and have a lot of emotions associated with them.

Diagonal Line by Andreas Wecker

Turn to minimalism

Less is more. Another premise that I will repeat as many times as necessary without losing my smile or my knuckles trembling when typing it. Less color and fewer elements means more impact and more interest. One idea is to resort to the use of negative space to create an impactful minimalist landscape. The image above is a good example of a minimalist landscape, but here is another one, not for lack of inspiring examples 😉

minimalist landscape


It is not about capturing some little birds singing the bals, but about including repeated elements that add rhythm to the image. Depending on the type of rhythm you capture, you can transmit different sensations. Everything you need to know about visual rhythm is here.

visual rhythm

3. Look for the fog

If you are an early riser you are in luck, but if you are a romp in bed you will have to make an extra effort, yes, it will be worth it. The fog gives it a wonderful texture, a halo of mystery and gives the place a special atmosphere. Although it is very rare, this makes it even more interesting. Do not miss the opportunity that comes your way for a few more minutes between the sheets! And follow these tips to photograph it 😉

foggy landscape

4. Practice long exposure photography

Long exposure water photographs have that dreamlike, unreal and at the same time hypnotizing point. The texture of the water is similar to that of a great painter’s brush stroke, on your blank canvas the silky effect will be amazing. You can see it in the first two photographs and in the next one:

silky effect

Long exposure is not only for water, beyond the silky effect, you can capture spectacular skies or heart-stopping cities.

Long exposition

5. Use filters

Surely many times you have seen a landscape in black and white and you have been left with your mouth open and wondering how they have achieved that effect. Well, beyond composition, sharpness or the use of depth of field, there is a trick that will give a completely different life to your landscapes, it is about the filters.

Landscape filters serve both to soften the light and to provide greater drama. You can use polarizing or color filters. The truth is that about the latter, I will tell you that it is much more comfortable to apply them with an editor than to carry a bunch of different filters for each occasion. Of course, the fun is not the same in front of a computer as in a great landscape 😉

What you won’t get as good control of light through filters if you do it in the edit rather than in the field. Here’s everything you need to know about filters for landscapes.

use filters

6. Make good use of light

And speaking of light management, you should know that depending on the type of light you have, it can completely change the landscape. The hard light at noon will help you achieve high-contrast landscapes full of drama. On the contrary, the diffused light that cloudy days or the first and last hours of the day give you, are ideal for creating softer landscapes and transmitting sensations of peace. If what you want is to highlight textures, you will have to take advantage of when the sun is going down, so that the shadows are projected in their maximum splendor, highlighting any relief. The harder and more lateral the light, the more the textures will stand out and the more realism your image will acquire.

Light is a very powerful tool, learn to use it and your landscapes will have another dimension. Think about what you want to transmit and plan your session for the time or day when the light is adequate.

shot at noon

7. Highlight the textures

Textures are especially favored in monochrome images, offer them a special place in your image. In the previous point we have talked about the light that highlights them the most, now I will remind you that to soften the textures use a diffuse light and that the textures that you can enhance in a landscape are:

  • stones
  • Sand
  • tree trunks
  • rocks
  • very cloudy skies
  • Water (I have already told you about the silky effect 😉 )
  • Fog

If you manage to make the viewer perceive the rough touch of the trunk, the smoothness of that round stone or feel the fluffiness of the clouds, you will have conquered him without a doubt.


8. Keep an eye on the ISO value

In black and white photography, the noise caused by a high ISO value is much more noticeable. If you are not looking for it intentionally, looking for a specific effect, try to set the ISO to a level as low as possible.

9. Includes cloudy skies

Many times we make the mistake of including a completely clear sky. In reality, it is very pleasant to see an intense blue sky, but in a photograph it is not interesting, and if it is in black and white, even less so. If you want to give prominence to the sky, fill it with clouds so that it causes a strong visual impact.

Skies with clouds, the best option

10. Let your image move

You can provoke sensations through movement, a gentle breeze that you feel just by looking at the image, a dizzying fall, the speed of city cars…

a moving image

11. Feel it

If you feel the landscape, your audience will too. We have mentioned some strategies to convey emotions with photography, but the most powerful tool is you. In addition to using the tricks of contrast, light, composition, etc… you will have to really feel what you are doing so that the viewer feels it too, leave part of your soul in the photograph. That will not fail you. Never.

feel the photography

12. Practice

Another “trick” that we will repeat ad nauseam on the blog, as it is the most infallible of all. Practicing is the only thing that will help you master all these tricks almost without thinking and find your own. With it you will be able to apply several of these strategies without even realizing it and, best of all, it is the direct path to having fun with your camera and to achieving impressive photographs.

Try all these tricks

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