Southwest Landscapes in Black-and-White

Arches National Park

Last week, I had some time to catch up on my reading. I selected one of my favorite photo magazines, Outdoor Photography. The August 2014 issue features tips and techniques for black-and-white photography. One particular article by Rick Sheremeta provided me with the focus for this week’s blog post. The article is titled B&W In Harsh Light.

Sedona, Arizona

Rick’s focus is on those photos you take in mid-day, high contrast lighting and lack of clouds make for less-than-inspiring color photos. However Rick’s tutorial shows how these high contrast photos can be enhanced by converting them to black-and-white. I must say, Rick provided me the inspiration to review my library of photos looking for likely candidates to convert to black-and-white. For this exercise in photo processing, I chose some of the previously posted color photos. I think in almost all cases, I improved upon the color original by emphasizing the contrast of light and shadow in each image.

Canyonlands National Park

The photo above is of Shafer Canyon in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah. The partly cloudy day helped to reduce the high contrast in the color shot, but the harsh mid-day light flattens the detail in the valley. Using some of the techniques I learned with Lightroom in the article, I converted the image to black-and-white. First using one of the filter presets and then exploring several adjustment options. My original conversion made a better image in black-and-white, but I still didn’t like the sky. The image converted to a washed-out sky that demanded special attention. I’d never used dodging and burning techniques in Lightroom before, however a quick Google search for a Lightroom tutorial on dodging and burning left me wondering why I haven’t learned to use the Lightroom brush tool before this week. It only took a few moments to learn to manipulate the dodging-burning brush function. Here is the final image in black-and-white.

Schafer Canyon

Rick’s article also demonstrates images converted to black-and-white in some other dedicated photo programs. Most have features more sophisticated than Lightroom’s conversion tools, but for the occasional conversion, I will probably stick with Lightroom. I will, however, look to experimenting more in black-and-white photography. The lack of color adds drama and provides a different perspective on my landscapes. I present for your color saturated eyes a gallery of images in black-and-white. These are the results of my first experiments, constructive criticism is always welcome. To enlarge an image in the gallery, click on it and you can then scroll through larger image views.

To see the color versions of these images and others from the same locations, check out the previous blog posts linked below.




Bryce Canyon

John Steiner


  1. What kind of camera do you use? Is that a digital SLR by any chance? I have a Fuji fine pix, but I often simply use my iPhone to take pictures. I’ve always wanted to learn more about photography, but I’m not sure where to start. 20+ years ago I had a wonderful SLR, but that was back in the old film days. 🙂

    • I used either a Nikon D5100 or D7000 on these photos. I am not above using my cell phone camera if the opportunity presents. I am a convert from 35mm SLR cameras as well. Thanks for the comment.

      • Someday I hope to be able to buy a digital SLR. Currently that’s not possible for me, but I love your photos. Granted, the photographer is even more important than the equipment. 😊

      • I forgot to mention in my earlier reply that I used to have a Fuji before getting my first DSLR. In fact, I have been considering another to take hiking as the D7000 is a bit much to carry on longer hikes. Thanks for the kind words. I am glad you like my photos.

    • Not every image converts well to black-and-white, but I recently learned some techniques from a YouTube photography VLOG that will make even more color images translate well. New techniques for me to practise and perfect.

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