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Some Punchy Black and White Landscape Photos to Oooo and Aaah Over

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Recently we released our newest dPS ebook The Essential Guide to Black and White Photography

So I thought it would be fitting if we had a look as some great black and white images. I don’t know what it is but I’m really attracted to a great black and white image. It’s something about the contrast and the style and makes you really focus on the light and composition in the image – there’s no tricks it’s just an image is the simplest form.

So in this set I’ve found some amazing black and white landscape photos for you to enjoy – please let the oooing and aaaahing commence!

Stop for a minute

I’m going to stop you for a second. If you’re scrolling through these quickly, stop. Take the time to really look at each one – one at a time. Do you see the common thread here?

  • Simple
  • Clean
  • No distractions

    Okay, carry on!

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Darlene Hildebrandt is the Managing Editor of dPS. She is also an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles, online photography classes, and travel tours. Get her free ebook 10 Photography Challenges to help you take better pictures or save $50 OFF on her Photo tour to Nicaragua - by using the discount code: dps50nica and join her on an adventure of a lifetime!

  • Keith Starkey

    Well, for me, so much of these photos look like computerized-constructed pictures, kind of like the Toy Story movies; fully computerized with no hand-drawing contribution. I guess if you like that kind of thing—and the Toy Story movies were great—than that’s fine. But, personally, I like black and whites that are more intimately connected to the artists camera and not the computer. That’s just me, though.

  • Many of these are lovely shots. Love the post. I don’t often convert to black and white, but I did so recently on a shot of a seaplane in Alaska. Thought it turned out decent: http://www.camerastupid.com/seaplanes-at-lake-hood-anchorage-alaska/

  • Mike H

    Here’s a picture that I always thought about converting to black and white. Thanks for the opportunity to finally get it done.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/luckydadawg/14889317750/

  • DebinKC

    These are some of my favorites that I took. I’m open for any constructive criticism. Thx for looking!

  • Dr.S

    @ DebinKC
    Hello, really good pictures, except the first one. Sorry but I dont understand the meaning.

    Sincerely

  • Michael Owens

    Really? CGI shots? Ha! Really? Really???
    How do you get Toy Story from ANY of these images is beyond me.

    I know art is subjective, but that statement is OTT!

  • Keith Starkey

    I’m not liking the pictures to Toy Story. I’m liking the aspect of computer processing to each of them. When a photograph looks so beyond the photo that it was because of the processing (because of heavy-duty computerization), it’s like Toy story; a movie that was done completely on computer, no hand-drawing. This is neither bad nor good, as that wasn’t my point. It’s simply a personal preference. (To me, as good as Toy Story was all the way around, there’s nothing like the hand drawings of Disney’s older stuff or of, say, Tom and Jerry and cartoons like that.)

    Additionally, I did say that Toy Story was great, but, alas, I should have said that these photos are great as well, if you like that kind of processing. Personally, I prefer photos that are kept more in the arena within the camera’s work and just enough processing to make them “pop,” if you will.

    I hope that is a bit more clearer. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

  • mouse

    Ink and chalk is popular these days it seems, guess that makes them punchy.

  • losschwabos

    Hmmm, I don’t really see an excess of editing here. Maybe one or two of the architectural images, but, even then, they are well done, and that’s what counts. Me, I love them, my favourite being the one on rainy Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Awesome, Darlene. Are these straight out of the camera…LOL?

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Deb: after looking at Darlene’s images, of course yours are going to pale in comparison. #1 is too cluttered, #2 is OK because I like junk cars, although it’s a little overprocessed.

  • DebinKC

    Thank you Dr S for critiquing my B&W photos. The first picture is “Abandoned Man Cave”. The “T” structure appears to be holding the construction together. Time will tell…..

  • DebinKC

    Thank you Leslie for critiquing my photos. I appreciate your thoughts. The first picture is “Abandoned Man Cave”. The “T” structure appears to be holding the building together. I have a love for old cars too. The car and house has both “Gone to Hell”….Thanks for your opinions!

  • Guest

    My first attempts at long exposure. I thought they looked better converted to B&W

  • karen

    I think the long exposures are so stunning . . . I recently finally bought a neutral density filter so I can try my hand at creating similar shots–these have added to my inspiration. I appreciate the “less busy” shots — it appears to me that it is much more difficult to make an image of “less” than “more,” but, of course, we each have our own taste. Thanks for sharing!

  • I have always enjoyed long exposures, those pics are just stunning.

  • I have always enjoyed long exposures. This was shot at Glacier National Park when it just opened to visitors. Any comments to improve it is welcome.

  • Scott Alan Bacon

    If I may offer suggestions too…I’m no pro so take it as constructive please.
    1The “man cave” is nice but appears to be shot from normal standing position, has a lot to look at but it does nothing for me, can you shoot this again from maybe a lower postion or not so straight on?
    2The car…(my favorite one you’ve shown)great composition but it appears to be an HDR tone mapped image from multiply shots gone not exactly right. Notice the bad ghosting or double images in the tree branches and the haloing in the trees. If you have photoshop look into making a HDR from luminosity layers or see if you can do it from just a single image…if you shot this is RAW you should be able to get multiple exposures from one image so you are guarenteed to not have any movement in trees.
    3I love the image, wonder if you could do one focused close to the hands with her face in the background, would bring more detail to it.
    4no clue. sorry
    5 cute kids but faces are out of focus and the ones hair is weird, not sure if from movement without flash or a enhancement attempt.

  • Roddy McKenzie

    I think that Keith is clearly making a point about an overall aesthetic as opposed to a commentary on editing etc. I love most of these images but I also see where he is coming from.

  • DebinKC

    Your constructive critique on my photos are well worth reading! It makes sense to me now to read others thoughts on my shots. “Gone to Hell”, the car, can be retaken. I always take my photos in RAW so I’ll experiment in getting multiple exposures from one image for HDR layers. You’re right with number 3, The Asian Lady, focusing on her hands with her face blurred in the background would have been a better photo. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m out and about at the City Market! Thx for your suggestions! I can learn from them!!

  • Geoff

    I see exactly what Keith is referring to as I had exactly the same reaction. There’s something ‘plastic’ about a number of these images; an airbrushed and ‘neat’ quality. These are golf courses compared to naturally grubby, uncomfortable landscapes. Here are clean, shiny cities without grafitti; planes that fly cutely between skyscrapers.
    Not all of them of course, some are great…

  • George Johnson

    Cheers for including one of mine ( Herringfleet Windmill ) in such a superb gallery of BWs! I’ve worked really hard on my BW landscapes this year and seeing it turn up in articles with such esteemed company really makes it all worthwhile!

  • Matt Vargo

    Normally DPS asks for some of our own photos, which I think is what Debin was doing…shall I continue the trend? I love B&W photos. Here is one I’m proud of.

  • abrianb

    I would have called a lot of these graphics instead of photographs. I love B&W but tend to value less processing. So I agree with Keith.

  • Keith Starkey

    I like it, but I would have liked to have seen more detail in the water. It’s not contributing to the walk in the forefront or the majestic mountains in the background. But over all it speaks something to me that I like.

  • Michael in Toronto

    Darlene, thanks for this post of gathered great B&W samples. It is always interesting to salivate over the heights others have achieved in a genre.

    I think what would be (more) helpful here in this forum is half the examples and to offer some of the techniques (mostly in post….as NONE of these were captured like this) to get results like these.

    Many of the shots were stunners to begin with, but I have a sense from being a reader here for a few years that the vast majority of your audience are not pros and these results are waaaaay beyond the curve for most.

    Even as a pro, I would love to glean even one or two tidbits I either haven’t considered or have overlooked as I (like many I surmise) do the same things over and over inside our comfort range. Getting insights into the techniques is of greatest interest to me…. the rest is getting in front of something interesting to shoot (88% of the battle). So Darlene, could I ask that you go one step further for your audience and offer just one walk through of one image start to finish so we walk away with an “aha”, rather than a “meh”. I almost feel like this is a black and white technique book plug instead of a DPS post (I got the plug in my mailbox last Tuesday).

    Nonetheless. I VERY much appreciate ANY time people take to produce such a post. I know it takes great time and insight and I get it for free. So, thank you (always) for your tireless efforts.

    With kind regards,

  • Sue Hunt

    What spectacular photo’s – something to aspire to!

  • Ravindra Kathale

    I agree that most of the B&W photos that we come across today are heavily or very heavily photoshopped. In fact they are not B&W photographs, they are the leftovers after sucking out colours from ‘Normal” pictures. In fact a number of cameras don’t even offer the facility to shoot in B&W. The result is- totally unrealistic pictures. Razor sharp mountains? sirs, let water look like water and he sky need no always be overcast. The charm of B&W lies in its simplicity. Let’s keep it that way. Thanks for the photographs and the discussion.

  • Guest

    Thought you might like to see the original RAW and the finished image from my Herringfleet shot. I arrived early in the morning hoping for some mist around the mill but there wasn’t as much as I’d hoped. Just as I was about to shoot my cable release broke, spare was in the car 2 miles away!! I had to shoot all the shots without one and on the camera timer which was very annoying indeed. It was originally supposed to be a colour image but my mate Paul Grundy ( a pro printer and ex-landscaper! ) said it would make a great BW. I increased the contrast and cleaned out any components I didn’t like. I worked on it in Color Efex first as a colour image to get all the tones and hues correct but just a little more saturated than normal. Then I took it into Nik Analogue Efex and used their BW filters to do the conversion to BW. FInally back in Photoshop I used selective dodge’n’burn and a localised contrast layer using a pen and tablet to highlight and shadow the areas that needed attention.

  • Guest

    This is the original RAW and the finished image from my Herringfleet shot. I arrived early in the morning hoping for some mist around the mill but there wasn’t as much as I’d hoped. Just as I was about to shoot my cable release broke, spare was in the car 2 miles away!! I had to shoot all the shots without one and on the camera timer which was very annoying indeed. It was originally supposed to be a colour image but my mate Paul Grundy ( a pro printer and ex-landscaper! ) said it would make a great BW. I increased the contrast and cleaned out any components I didn’t like. I worked on it in Color Efex first as a colour image to get all the tones and hues correct but just a little more saturated than normal. Then I took it into Nik Analogue Efex and used their BW filters to do the conversion to BW. FInally back in Photoshop I used selective dodge’n’burn and a localised contrast layer using a pen and tablet to highlight and shadow the areas that needed attention.

  • Guest

    The original RAW and the finished image from my Herringfleet shot. I arrived early in the morning hoping for some mist around the mill but there wasn’t as much as I’d hoped. Just as I was about to shoot my cable release broke, spare was in the car 2 miles away!! I had to shoot all the shots without one and on the camera timer which was very annoying indeed. It was originally supposed to be a colour image but my mate Paul Grundy ( a pro printer and ex-landscaper! ) said it would make a great BW. I increased the contrast and cleaned out any components I didn’t like. I worked on it in Color Efex first as a colour image to get all the tones and hues correct but just a little more saturated than normal. Then I took it into Nik Analogue Efex and used their BW filters to do the conversion to BW. FInally back in Photoshop I used selective dodge’n’burn and a localised contrast layer using a pen and tablet to highlight and shadow the areas that needed attention. Yes it’s a little clinical and some might say a little harsh for a BW but this is high quality digital technology, it’s not the softness that film media gives.

  • losschwabos

    See that’s what’s so fascinating about Art, everybody see something different. Where you seem to see cornyness and cute planes I see surreal, dreamlike atmospheres, enhanced by stark black and white…Maybe I’m just so used to the aesthetic. Oh, just one thing: If anything, they remind me more of something like Sin City than toy story.

  • Dave

    I agree. FAR too much computer processing for my taste as well. Almost none of these would resemble an original film like quality.

  • Bob Bevan Smith

    Yes, as you say, this is high-quality digital technology. But if I were looking to buy a picture to hang on my wall for the children to grow up with over many years, it would be the original colour photograph, not the lifeless B&W rendering. Sorry, but that’s my personal opinion – it may differ from yours. There are images which work without colour, and then there are those that don’t.

  • Keith, thanks for sharing your thoughts about the photo

  • Natella Mammadova

    I find no words to describe how beautiful these images are!

  • Becci

    Similar to some of the other comments I’m not one for editing much – my grandfather always taught me to just take the picture you want not make it after! I do love black and white though something so magical. Not a great picture but just feels so peaceful to look at to me

  • ZakCan

    Nothing ruins a great photograph like a nasty watermark.

  • Mandie Davies

    So simple, yet so frustrating ti get the timings right. First time at night photography.

  • Guest

    So simple an image but s frustrating to get the timings correct on my night photography for the first time

  • Mandie Davies

    why won’t it load my name for this image?

  • Rob

    Michael, Since you asked (although I’m not Darlene) here’s a link to an overview of the processing that went into the first image in the article: http://ricksammon.com/blog2/2013/11/4/todays-guest-blogger-rob-dweck. I hope this provides a little insight to how it went from raw file to finished image.

  • Stephan Handuwala

    Bear with me, as a total beginning noob, I took this.

  • Khalid

    This is my try hope you like it

  • Guest

    hope you like mine (:

  • so since Ansel Adams spent 12 hours in the darkroom working on negatives those should be what? Not photos?

  • To everyone complaining about processing: First, as soon as you put a photo in B&W it becomes it’s own reality and the “reality” the photographer is trying to convey. Second, Ansel Adams spent over 12hrs working on his negatives, the negatives never looked exactly like how he shot them. He (and all B&W photographers) are showing you THEIR vision. I love all of you that mention over-processing but don’t give ANY specific examples of what you mean.

  • Ansel Adams spent over 12hrs working on his negatives, the negatives never looked exactly like how he shot them. And everything that’s in Photoshop came from the darkroom anyway….

  • it’s not an article about photojournalism…..

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