How to Take Black-and-White Landscape Photos
Ansel Adams captured wonderful landscapes using black-and-white film. Your camera captures color images, but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow in Ansel’s footsteps and create black-and-white photos. The only difference is that you have to convert your photos to black and white in your digital darkroom.
In Photoshop Elements, you can convert an image to grayscale, but you don’t have the control needed to get the rich blacks like those seen in Ansel Adams's photographs. You can get closer using an application like Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, or Adobe Photoshop. You also can use third-party plug-ins to convert your color images to black and white. Here are two of them:
Alien Skin has a plug-in called Exposure 3 that you use to emulate color and black-and-white film. Exposure 3 works in conjunction with Photoshop Elements 7 and later, Photoshop CS3 and later, and Lightroom 2 and later.
Nik Software has a plug-in called Silver Efex Pro 2 that works with Apple Aperture 2.14 and later, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6 and later, Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and later, and Adobe Photoshop CS3 and later. Silver Efex Pro 2 has U Point technology that enables you to make localized adjustments to control brightness, contrast, and structure.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams and create compelling black-and-white photos when you process your images, keep the following in mind:
Photograph scenes with lots of contrast. A landscape with a blue sky and billowing thunderheads is ideal for conversion to black and white.
Place the horizon line in the lower third of the image when photographing a scene with a beautiful cloudscape.
Use a polarizing filter with the camera facing 90 degrees from the sun. This maximizes the darkening effect of the filter. Rotate the outer ring of the filter until the sky is a deep blue and the clouds pop out in contrast.
Underexpose the image by 1/3 EV. This will give you an image with darker shadows, which look great when converted to black and white.