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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Muse Of Monochrome


If black-and-white landscape photography was an earthquake, Yosemite would be the epicenter

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Lace Andersen
"Into The Light"


I was adventuring around Yosemite and the Eastern Sierras in August 2012 with a fellow photographer who had never visited those locations. We camped the night before at a site off of Glacier Point Road and planned on photographing sunrise from Glacier Point the next morning. When the alarm went off, we woke up to a heavy cloud layer and rain, but we decided to try and shoot anyway. At the overlook, the conditions started to improve. The sun crept up the back of Half Dome and amazing light beams shot across the sky. I used Adobe Photoshop for image sizing and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for the black-and-white conversion.
Canon EOS 50D, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM, Manfrotto tripod

Yosemite is a giant magnet, and nature photographers are iron filings. We're inexorably drawn to this small corner of the Sierra Nevada, and when we're there, the place begs to be captured in black-and-white. In this rugged landscape, Ansel Adams found a muse that would speak to him for his entire life. Other legendary photographers like Eadweard Muybridge and Minor White explored the valley and created negative after negative. For this special Black & White issue of Outdoor Photographer, we thought it was the right time to revisit this most iconic and inspiring of national parks.

Steve Whiston
"Winter In Yosemite"


This image was part of a special trip to Yosemite for my 50th birthday, and I had recently bought a brand-new camera; the Canon 40D had just been released in February 2008. My birthday present was to spend a full day with professional photographer Michael Frye as a combination field session and Photoshop course. This particular shot was taken the day before I was to meet with Michael, as I felt I had better learn all the camera's various functions and modes before spending the day with him. My wife and I were trudging through the snow after lunch, stopping at every bend in the river looking at reflections when we turned the other direction and saw this scene with the Three Brothers reflected in the water. The shot was taken at midday and isn't all that interesting in color, but it really seems to come alive in black-and-white. I did some postprocessing in Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro to come up with the finished image. It's a great reminder of an incredible trip, and it really started me on a journey from being a casual photographer to a much more serious one.
Canon EOS 40D, Canon 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L

Wayne Lederer
"Clouds, Yosemite National Park"


While photographing at Half Dome in February 2014, I noticed some nice clouds moving in and wanted a wider view of the valley, so I moved to Tunnel View. I decided to change from shooting color to black-and-white IR so I could go to a 300-second exposure to get a streaking effect of the clouds. Using Lightroom, I converted the RAW color image to black-and-white and moved the contrast up, then worked with the highlights and shadows.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 35mm ƒ/1.4L, Singh-Ray IR filter, Manfrotto tripod, Vello camera release cable

Blair Pountney
"Yosemite Falls"


Living so close to Yosemite affords me the opportunity to capture the constant changing light and seasons of the Sierras. I visualized this image from Yosemite Village during the dry season in September and waited for the spring runoff in June 2013 to take this shot. I shot in RAW and converted it to black-and-white in Lightroom.
Pentax K5, Pentax-DA 55-300mm

Valerie Millett
"In The Spirit"


I had never been to Yosemite before, but it had long been a dream to see the playground of the great master himself, Ansel Adams. I've been previsualizing my future trip to Yosemite for almost a year, but the atmospherics were way more than I ever could have hoped for in March 2014. Even though California had been in drought conditions for some time, I knew a major storm was approaching, so I headed that way from Phoenix, Arizona, to try to catch the dramatic weather. I caught this image stepping out of the car for the first time in Yosemite, and I stayed there for hours. I spent three days in Yosemite with some beautiful dramatic weather. I did basic postprocessing for my RAW image in Lightroom and a light unsharp mask in Photoshop.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM, Induro tripod, Benro ballhead

What To Bring
Go to the "Solutions" article in this issue of Outdoor Photographer to see our quick guide to packing for a day of shooting black-and-white landscapes. Whether you're going to be hiking in Yosemite or taking a morning walk on a local trail, we'll give you some advice on what to have in your bag to make the day successful.

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