Beauty is in the details. Black and White Photography in the Mountains.
“Not all who wander are lost”
As an artist, my hikes and wanderings often become quests to find that perfect shot or overlooked detail. Most people go hurriedly through life, entirely focused on getting quickly to their destinations , thus missing out on a lot of the world around them. The same seems to apply for hiking, the goal becomes getting to the ‘end’ or the vista, whatever the ultimate goal may be. Again, such a hasty approach gets you there fast, but in turn you miss out on all the possibilities hiding along the trails.
My goal when out hiking, much to the chagrin of my hiking companions, is a slower pace that involves frequent stops to look around and explore. Maybe even an occasional glance behind to see what I might have missed or maybe a quick scan down the trail to see what opportunities are waiting ahead. Often times my hikes are solo, thus allowing me to get lost in nature, further enjoy the moment and the quest for a great pic.
I have come to enjoy the medium of Black and White photography just as much as shooting images in color. While there is no compromise for the amazing colors of a Blue Ridge Sunset or the vivid displays of a flower garden, there is still something pure and crisp about a B/W.
“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” – Ansel Adams
The human eye naturally blends colors, so while you may see five or six shades of green in the landscape before you, the details become somewhat muddy as your eyes blend the scene. Take the same view and photograph it in B/W and you will get a much more graphic and detailed image. It’s especially effective in capturing patterns, textures and the random designs that exist in nature. Patterns in wood grain, textures of bark, lines in rock formations or the veins of a simple leaf.
I have been working on an entire collection of photographs titled ‘Nature’s Design’ that focuses on the numerous amazing natural things that exist all around us. Many of these subjects are quite small and simple, yet they are amazingly detailed. Again, a black and white image helps one see these details and textures more clearly.
The next time you set out on a hike into the mountains or take a leisurely stroll through the forest, immerse yourself fully in the surroundings, both large and small. Don’t forget to look up, down and all around, as there is more to the world than what lies at eye level. You will be amazed at what exists in nature and the seemingly endless photo possibilities that lie at your feet.
I will continue to photograph my hikes and explorations in color, just as much or more than my use of B/W. There are just too many amazing subjects that are best presented in color. A sunset, field of flowers, a cloud filled blue sky or the feathers of peacock. Takings pictures in B/W is more of a challenge for one to look at things differently and I think B/W photography will do just that.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.