Black and white landscape photography: how to make moody minimalist effects

Black and white landscape photography: how to make moody minimalist effects

Square cropped, black-and-white, long-exposure pictures of the sea are all the rage these days. To master this black and white landscape photography effect, you’ll need to learn a few core techniques, but they’re pretty easy to get to grips with.

Black and white landscape photography: how to make moody minimalist effects

Naturally, you’ll need some water with moving waves to get the mist-like effect during a long exposure. You’ll need a graphic focal point too – a semi-submerged rock, pier or distant static ship will work a treat.

Long exposures are vital for blurring moving water, but not everyone wants to hang around until dusk when there’s little light, so in this walkthrough we’ll show you how to use a Neutral Density (ND) filter to reduce the amount of light passing through the lens.

This means that even on a bright sunny day you’ll still be able to shoot long exposures of several seconds or more. For the best results, you’ll also need to use a sturdy tripod and take steps to reduce camera shake during the exposure.

We’ll show you how to convert your shot in the digital darkroom, removing the colour using a non-destructive and re-editable Black and White Adjustment Layer, and use the Crop tool to make the image square. Both of these treatments help enhance the tranquil Zen-like quality. Read on to see how it’s done…

How to make a minimalist black and white landscape

 

How to shoot minimalist black and white landscape photography: step 1

01 Keep it steady
To slow down your exposure and capture the motion of the waves, use a Neutral Density (ND) filter to block out some of the bright light. Avoid camera movement by using a tripod, cable release and your SLR’s Mirror Lock-up feature. Focus and compose your scene before attaching the ND filter.

 

How to shoot minimalist black and white landscape photography: step 2

02 Pre-visualise your shot
To get a better idea of how the final image will look while shooting, try setting your camera to display the preview image in monochrome – by setting the Picture Style to Black and White. If you shoot in raw the colour data will still be available once you’ve downloaded your image.

 

How to shoot minimalist black and white landscape photography: step 3

03 Convert to mono
There are several ways to convert your images to black and white using Photoshop CS or Elements. Here, we’ve used a Black and White Adjustment Layer. This gives you control over how your conversion looks, and allows you to re-edit the effect later. To finish, use the Crop tool to make a square crop.

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