Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

What to do with Green in the landscape ? – using Black and White.

Green and black and white landscape 5
Green in the Landscape, using Black and white
Irish Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

One of my all-time favourite photographers James Ravilious, once while being interviewed by the BBC said about the colour Green in the Landscape :

“England is a very green country, and “greenness” creates a monotonal view, and one that it’s difficult to achieve much contrast or colour gradation in. Transposing to black and white allows you a richer tone palatte, and to draw attention to the subject more subtly. Black and white contains a bright silver to deep black tone range in landscape images and thus turns a green flat image into a wonderful tonal picture”

This monochrome effect in landscape images is something that has always interested me, Landscape photographers like Ravilious used Black and white film, which when developed correctly in the dark room produces the wonderful tones he talks about.

River Torridge at Sunrise © James Ravilious

I have worked for a long time to both find landscape subjects and black and white processes that can help in getting me close to the same results.

KIlkenny landscape photography woodstock 2
Woodstock country gardens, County Kilkenny, Photography : Nigel Borrington
Black and white image, processed in photoshop CS6 and taken with a fujifilm X100

This blog contains many of the black and white landscape images I have taken and in the Gallery below I want to use some local Landscape images to show, how landscapes taken in colour can look when processed in Black and white.

I have placed the colour images first followed by the black and white images, have a good look at them, see what you think and comment if you like.

Some photographers don’t get black and white others love it and will only produce images in monochrome.

Green or Black and white Gallery

Green landscape 2

Black and white landscape 2

Green landscape 4

Black and white landscape 4

Green landscape 3

Black and white landscape 3

Green landscape 6

Black and white landscape 6

Green landscape 5

Black and white landscape 5

29 responses

  1. Your Black and white are great (though I like coloured, too 🙂 )!

    July 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    • Hello Pike 🙂

      Thank you , Great as I love working and exploring both colour and black and white 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 11:32 am

  2. B&W/Monochrome is very much undervalued; also by contemporary photographers unfortunately. It’s often regarded as old fashioned ….As you probably have seen in my blog I publish more en more B&W/Monochrome and sometimes I add some ‘old looking’ colour and texture or I add ‘instant’ layers of Topaz, Alien Skins, Macphun, etc. .. I love it but not always. It differs per subject, per photo, etc… And many times I’m in doubt …. 😉 as I do now with your first and second comparison; as for the others: B&W/Monochrome, no doubt about that!!!

    July 11, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    • Hello Herman 🙂

      I love the way you work with monochrome’s, you show a true sensitivity to tones and exposure 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Yes I think it is under valued – I think a lot can be learned form having to work with mono tones and there exposure levels and that these processes can and do help a lot in getting good monochrome and colour image.

      In the age of HDR , which I don’t use and most likely never will !!! , its all to easy to forget what working with a single image is all about. Personally I feel that Photography is about original Dark room skills all be it using photoshop (i.e. Exposure Zoning, Area masking, levels, curves, latitude. dodging and burning etc)

      Personally I feel you can throw HDR in the bin, if you get back to basics and get to grips with an images exposure and underlying tones !!!!

      Yes HDR is powerful (So what ?), but for me the big questions are why ? and how can you say you did any of the work ?

      Taking and processing a few single images in black and white will teach you real photography skills 🙂 🙂

      Thanks Herman , Great comment !!!!

      July 13, 2014 at 11:55 am

      • It’s a pleasure Nigel.
        I do not fully agree with your HDR-rejection. I experimented a lot with it and made all the imaginable mistakes etc. etc. But sometimes however it’s possible to get a better detailed and still ‘natural looking’ picture. Some of my pictures are nowadays HDR but nobody notices it. If you use HDR properly nobody will see it … quite a few of my recent plant (especially: cactus) pictures are HDR …. In the past few years I have experimented into extremes with all kinds of software and techniques. for me personal a great way to ‘get back to basics and get to grips with an images exposure and underlying tones’ as you so nicely formulate.
        Warm Greetings from a chilly Sunday in Winters Stanford, South Africa,
        Herman 😉

        July 13, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    • Hi Herman 🙂 🙂

      Thats a great reply !!!!

      This is just general and not about your work,

      I always feel a little disappointed when I suddenly take a look at someone’s work and they are starting to go HDR , Don’t know why really but just do !!!!

      Its enough to make me not go back !!!!

      I think its because so many photographers do it so badly, careful Nigel 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I can only see one good reason for it and its if you doing shots inside and don’t have a way to add lighting, LED stands etc!!!

      I have seen some great shots inside American barns.

      I still feel though that the results are clearly HDR and well HDR!!

      I feel that if you used fill lighting it would be very different and more natural !!!

      I feel that much HDR work looks like 1970’s jig-saw puzzle pictures (OH !!!!!)

      I remember asking a watercolour painter once if she used photographs for her source material and she said, never – because the contrast is to high – to little detail in the dark areas !!!

      I love contrast in photography , I don’t want to see all the detail , personally I feel to do so kills the atmosphere of the image.

      If you have a moody sky , then do you want to see all the detail on the ground ?

      If you have a great old farm then a blown out sky can add real drama and contrast !!!

      Also using Camera Raw image format and good RAW file software lets you naturally balance an exposure!

      I have no problems with anyone using HDR or loving it , it’s just not me , I feel that sometimes a little less detail make for a better image !!!

      July 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      • Since very recently I hardly use Photoshop for the RAW-processing but DxO Optics Pro. It does not have all the gadgets of Photoshop but what it does; it does better (disadvantage: the processing takes longer; especially noise reduction). Indeed sometimes less detail make for a better image but that also accounts for the other way around. It’s just a personal choice … Thank you sooo much for your extended replies. Much appreciated and be aware; if one day I go to Ireland I know where to find you… 😉 Remember a beautiful ruin in Shane between Dublin and Belfast on the left side of the road …. (right side is the river)

        July 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

  3. I’m a sucker for black and white….both are wonderful, though!

    July 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    • Hello Nannette 🙂 🙂

      Good, its great to know others still love it 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Thank you 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

  4. I like the second one in colour, probably because there are a few flowers to break up the green, but I think the moody skies in the others are very good in black and white.

    July 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    • Hello Joan 🙂

      Thank you 🙂

      Yes I think to see an image in both colour and black and white highlights different things each time 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

  5. Wow you really get a different view, the eye is drawn to certain elements you miss in colour.

    July 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    • Hello Tric 🙂 🙂

      Yes I often do this and it really does do what you say , Colour is great but can hide things a little , things that you see completely differently in black and white 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Thank Tric for checking out the post and taking time to look for the contrast’s

      Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

  6. A fine set of examples Nigel. Of course the editing makes a big difference to get the best out of a mono scene but similar editing in colour and you soon see the affect whereas with mono you have far more latitude to tinker with the various tonalities within the greens and blues. These become tonal studies and I love them, particularly that beautiful tree in close up….gorgeous. Colour, though, is here and now…and living, while mono is….classical.

    July 11, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    • Hello Smithies 🙂 🙂

      This is a great comment and I will keep it very much in my mind !!!!!!

      Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

  7. Interesting comparison Nigel but I think both have there merits. Greeness attracts tourists as they respond to lushness – just a thought but do simple graphic photos work better than an overall view?

    July 11, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    • Hello Diana 🙂

      That’s a great comment and I agree, I love working with both so its great to get your comment !!!

      Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

  8. M-R

    My husband preferred B&W, and processed all that he shot (because he shot on film, of course). These days it’s so easy to turn colour into B&W; but the fact remains that the argument of which you write is sound, Nigel. 🙂

    July 12, 2014 at 3:50 am

    • Hello Margaret 🙂

      Thank you , great comment 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm

  9. Your picture of the Woodstock country gardens is so beautiful and very evocative ❤
    All the best,

    July 12, 2014 at 8:24 am

    • Hello Hanna 🙂

      Thank you Very pleased you like this images 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      • 🙂 🙂

        July 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

  10. There is something about black and white. Like with old movies. Not pretending to be reality, one can take time to explore, not just recognise and move on. Colour gives a sort of window into the real, and it can be very impressive, but it is easier to ‘read’ an image in black and white. It doesn’t pretend at simulacrum, it becomes interpretive, poetic, subjective. For the last few years I find I lust for dark, velvet blacks and silver limned contours. A Jesuit taste….

    July 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    • Hello SImon 🙂

      What a great comment and addition to the post 🙂

      Yes I get this !!!!!

      I think colour images are more of a representation of the view being recorder, Black and white is all about a direct record of this view!!!

      Its easy to forget that , both film and digital colour images are a guess, using chemicals or sensor’s to guess at the colours being recorded, as they to not record the full colours in the picture, this is done later in the processes that follow be it Digital or Chemical !!! .

      A Black and white photography is a record the amount of light and its levels directly the second the images is taken with only exposure development needed .

      You make a great point Simon – Thank you !!!!!

      PS . very pleased that you into Monochrome and that you get the need for Silver and Black 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 13, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      • Yes, nice. black and white = primal information (light, not light), everthing else is an ornament or a commentary by the perceiving organism…metaphysical!

        July 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    • Perfect comment Simon 🙂 🙂

      Thank you !!!

      July 13, 2014 at 4:26 pm

  11. Thanks Nigel and to all others for your comments. A great post that helped explain for me something I couldn’t quite put my finger on before when taking some nature shots that seemed so much more ‘textured’ in the moment but lost on ‘film.’ Yes, the colour is rich, but all you see is the colour — as you show, in B/W, the layers of the landscape, the shapes, the light, all become so much bigger. Thank you again.

    July 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

  12. poppytump

    Very interesting post Nigel . Have enjoyed looking at your photos with B&W transformations and also reading all these well though out clear comments and your replies . I do like black and white / monochrome but because one hears lots of criticisism about it being done badly I’ve been rather put off in the main Lol .
    Maybe time to have another go …

    July 14, 2014 at 6:18 am

  13. I’ve been drawn to black & white in photography oh, forever. In life, I am the queen of colour. A study in contrasts. 😉

    July 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

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