I love black and white images. At times they can be much more thought provoking, creating an altogether different impression to a colour photo of the same scene. With this in mind, I set off on a mountain day last weekend with the idea of photographing various vistas in both colour and B&W.
Loch Muick with Broad Cairn (behind): The B&W photo is altogether much more stark, and the contrast between the dark foreground and backlit background much stronger than its colour counterpart. However, the autumnal colours are what make the colour snap work here. Difficult to choose….Loch Muick with Lochnagar in background (B&W): This image was taken along the Capel Mounth route from Loch Muick (pictured) to Glen Clova. The bleached grass in the foreground, together with the rock to the left, while presenting a foil for Loch Muick and Lochnagar behind, are actually dominating the photo.
Loch Muick with Lochnagar in background (colour):There is still a high level of contrast between the blonde grass and the background, but in this case the colours of the Loch and hillside create a more balanced impression. There is more ‘awareness’ of the background.
Track and Upland Burn: I find the colour image here much softer than the harsh shades in the B&W version. The autumnal hues add to this impression, which would probably be very different in, say, deep winter or early spring. But the B&W photo conveys a sense of loneliness and a sense of being in a very isolated place by its very lack of colour.
Winding Road: I love both images here: the ribbon of the Capel Mounth draws the eye into the photo. Definition of the hillocks around the track is perhaps more of a feature in the B&W, whereas the colour version conveys a more dreamy impression due to the softer tones. Looking towards Glen Clova (B&W): The inward facing slopes of these hills draw the eye towards the distant forest at a lower level. The upland area behind remains firmly in the background due to the washed out shading. Looking towards Glen Clova (colour): The background comes across as even more remote here. The shape of the middleground hills do not make as much of an impact as in the B&W photo. The colours are almost a distraction, drawing the attention away from the bones of the landscape.
Looking down into Glen Clova: the quality of the light has given both images a soft focus character. To me, much B&W mountain photography seems to work best with high levels of definition and contrast therefore the colour photo is more successful here. The greens and yellows add further to the softness of the picture. Of course, I may well change my mind about this with different light conditions – or at a different time of year.
I reached the summit of Broad Cairn by the time the sun was going down and the final couple of hours back to the car were done in semi-darkness. The Full Moon rose over Mt Keen, initially a brilliant orange, fading to yellow and finally becoming silver as it sailed higher into the night sky. The wind up high was biting and as I walked back the temperature at glen level was plummeting. The mountain hares have turned white and winter is on its way ….