Mono in the Mountains


Location: Barrow and Outerside, Lake District

Posted: 26th May 2019

This session started in the afternoon following a visit to the Northern Photography show held annually at Rheged centre near Penrith. It was a very tiring hike from the moment it started from the small village of Braithwaite. Although Barrow and Outerside were relatively small fells at 455 metres and 568 metres respectively, it was still a challenging walk as I was both tired and the fell was warm and sticky. The clouds however were very interesting and broody. My waterproofs were at the ready. It had been a while since I had focused on black and white photography so this was a good opportunity with so much mood in the skies.

With black and photography, there are different approaches to be taken. One is to decide to convert to black and white once in post and Two, go out intentionally to shoot black and white photography. The former is no doubt the option that the majority of landscape photographers take. The latter helps to focus on what works and what doesn’t and is helped by the changing of my camera profile to monochrome.

Contrast is key in a good black and white photography which includes blacks, whites and mid tones. A good range of tones therefore often leads to success. Shapes as with all landscape photography plays an important role but in a mono image can really add more impact. Post processing is key here. The afternoon delivered minimal direct light so I had to add increased exposure to the areas of the image that mimicked side light. All but one of the images shot in the session were subject to a light dusting of the adjustment brush and radial filter. I find that I have more fun in post processing with black and white photography. I always aim to increase the black and whites with minimal clipping. This helps to achieve a good tonal range.

I was thankful that afternoon and evening that the rain didn’t arrive. It was a long and tiring day and one that added a couple of new fells to my list of Wainwrights ‘bagged’ If you reading this and black and white photography doesn’t interest you then I beg you to rethink. Mono photography has a certain timelessness about it and is a good genre to focus on if the creative juices have dried up. I will always have that passion and will no doubt continue to add black and white images to my portfolio.

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