Have you ever wondered why so many of the best landscape photos from yesteryear and today are presented in b&w? Personal preference aside, it’s a simple fact that some outdoor scenes are more compelling when rendered in monochrome.
Sometimes that’s because flat lighting results in dell, muted colors, while other times a lack of sufficient contrast really kills a shot. And while you can always try to rehabilitate a boring color image, a b&w conversion can deliver superior results. In the tutorial below you’ll see how it’s done.
Romanian landscape pro Toma Bonciu says that when dealing with less-than-ideal conditions, “A b&w conversion enables me to better transmit the message of a photo and more effectively depict the subject.” In this straightforward episode he demonstrates a simple method for converting uninspiring color images to monochrome.
Bonciu shares his thought process and explains why each of the demonstration images is a great candidate for a b&w transformation. His first photo was captured on a cloudy day in Tuscany, and there’s a lot to like. The image is nicely composed, there are interesting clouds in the sky, and there’s an s-shaped road running through the frame to a hilltop house in the background.
Despite these attributes, the shot lacks punch and simply isn’t compelling. Bonciu’s goal is to better emphasize the road and the house while punching up the sky, and his simple conversion technique and a bit of cropping adds considerable impact to the scene. He uses a linear gradient on the sky, darkens the foreground, and bumps up contrast to attain a very dramatic conversion.
Bonciu’s other two images present different challenges, but are equally easy to “fix,” and they provide an opportunity to learn more helpful helpful techniques for converting color photos to b&w.
You can find more shooting and editing tips on Bonciu’s YouTube channel, so take a look and subscribe.
And check out the tutorial we posted earlier from another image-editing expert, explaining five “hidden” Lightroom tricks for faster, more precise editing.