Black and White Photography on Rainy Days

This article is based on concepts from the Bad Weather Photography Guide and also the Better B&W Photography Guide if you want to dig deeper for further training.

One of my favorite locations in the entire world to take pictures is coastal Oregon.

And as sure as the sunrise and taxes, most of the time I’m there, it’s going to be raining.

Rainy days are typically not a photographer’s friend, especially when you’re out creating landscape photography.

black and white landscape photography weather

Photos by Kent DuFault

Rainy days in Oregon produce photos that look like the above two examples. They not horrible, but they’re also not very exciting.

Color landscape photography needs some lighting to make it shine—literally.

This news can be disappointing if you’ve waited six months, or a year, to photograph a location that you love.

The sunshine brings color to photography. Without the sun, colors tend to go flat as a pancake.

Here is my quick tip for photography in bad weather conditions.

black and white landscape photography weather

Conversion in tonality using the Kodak 400 HC film preset by Topaz Labs. (Photo by Kent DuFault)

Consider going black and white. This can be done in post-processing or at the moment of taking pictures.

Why does black and white photography work better in inclement weather?

  • It relies on varying tones instead of color.
  • Black and white relies heavily on the use of shapes for interest. You don’t necessarily need sunshine to highlight shapes.
  • Black and white photography relies on texture, which can be easily accentuated in post-production—even when there was no directional lighting in the scene.
  • Manipulating tone in a realistic manner is far easier and faster than trying to manipulate color.

Using these principles, you can create a more exciting composition when color is lacking.

black and white landscape photography weather

I quickly created this compositional path using the elements of black and white photography described above.

When converting to black and white in post-production, you’ll want to take a look at your frame.

black and white landscape photography weather

Slight crop

I often end up cropping slightly to enhance my chosen black and white path through the photo versus how I composed it in color.

black and white landscape photography weather

Comparison of color to b&w crop

The black and white version most assuredly provides an increased level of visual interest.

Here is another comparison:

black and white landscape photography weather

Photo by Kent DuFault

It’s easier to manipulate tone in post-production than color, especially when striving for realism.

Using an Adjustment Brush feature, I raise and lower tonal values to create my composition path within the landscape. The software that I use to accomplish this is usually Photoshop, Lightroom or Snapseed.

black and white landscape photography weather

Another slight crop

Once again, a crop helps to solidify my black and white landscape composition.

black and white landscape photography weather

Slight warm tone

I often give my black and white landscape photos a slightly warm tone as a final step.

I’m very proud of the final shot—despite the lousy weather!

black and white landscape photography weather

Final result despite the weather

This is a black and white conversion of the Wilson River near Tillamook, Oregon, edited first in Snapseed and then in Photoshop.

black and white landscape photography weather

Photo by Kent DuFault

Occasionally the sun pops out in Oregon. This time it was for about 10 minutes! No need for black and white when you’ve got the sun on your side.

About the Author:
Kent DuFault is an author and photographer with over 35 years of experience. He’s currently the director of content at the online photography school, Photzy.

For Further Training:

Have you ever quickly converted your shots to black & white, hoping to make them “Better”? And the result was bland to say the least? This is a very common occurrence. Knowing how to convert color to B&W with a working understanding of tone and contrast in post-processing is a very different story. This in-depth eBook is designed to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about producing your own powerful and professional B&W images.

black and white photo guide

Better Black & White Photography Guide (See What’s Inside)

Every step is detailed in all three programs: Photoshop, Lightroom, & Elements. But even if you don’t have these applications, there’s enough information in here to help you achieve the same results with the software you already have. It is currently 76% off during this winter weather if you want to check it out.

Deal ending soon: The Better Black & White Photography Guide at 76% Off

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2 responses to “Black and White Photography on Rainy Days”

  1. Fim says:

    This article was really helpful and I most definitely agree that the black and white makes photos more interesting. I live in Oregon, and find myself with this problem an awful lot. This trick is sure to make a more interesting visual.

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