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.
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.
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.
When converting to black and white in post-production, you’ll want to take a look at your frame.
I often end up cropping slightly to enhance my chosen black and white path through the photo versus how I composed it in color.
The black and white version most assuredly provides an increased level of visual interest.
Here is another comparison:
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.
Once again, a crop helps to solidify my black and white landscape composition.
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!
This is a black and white conversion of the Wilson River near Tillamook, Oregon, edited first in Snapseed and then in Photoshop.
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:
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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.
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