Nature in Black and White

Published May 6, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 24 Contributors

    24 photos selected by

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer
    • 0

    Moon rising over Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park - I was out in Yosemite for Christmas ...

    #yosemite #night #moonrise #moonlight #landscapes #ngtravelhappy

    With a final tally of over 21,000 submissions, I think it's safe to say that nature photography in black and white is alive and well in the digital age. As would be expected of National Geographic readers, the submissions were of a broad scope and of a high quality. I appreciate that many of you admire the unique attributes of the fine black-and-white photograph as championed by Ansel Adams. An intimate landscape of natural vegetation or foaming surf can still be exquisite when seen through fresh eyes. 

    Black-and-white photography is a departure from the reality we see every day, so this quality helps to carry the viewer away to a different world and create an emotional effect of the experience. Many of the best images also took advantage of the extraordinary qualities of the digital sensor to capture scenes difficult to record with the naked eye.

    Day after an all-day snow-fall. This morning the weather was better already, but changing; clouds...

    #winter #sunrise #landsacape #snow #grand_canyon #black__and_white #nature

    Editor's Note

    Nice light during the clearing storm of an often-photographed location.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    One of my favorite shot that captured nature wilderness. The shot taken when i was at Tanjung Les...

    #beach #lightning #seascape #thunder #storm

    Editor's Note

    Of the many lightning photographs submitted to date, this one stands out. The lightning emitting from above and below the cloud is stunning and more even feels more powerful in b&w.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    Lemon Shark in the Bahamas

    #lemonshark

    Primate Portrait. Silverback Lowland Gorilla

    #black_and_white #gorilla #portrait

    The great migration of the wildebeest over the Mara River in Northern Serengeti, Tanzania

    Editor's Note

    Dramatic rendering of the iconic migration scene. The darkened corners further enhances the mood and the photographer has captured the peak action of the jump.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    THE LAW OF NATURE WHERE ARE HARD PREDATORS AND PREY

    #prey #portrait #cheetah #impala

    A wild African leopard gazes through the dense foliage next to the Shingwedzi river in the Kruger...

    #hidden #nationalpark #wildlife #africa #eyes #greatnature #look #animal #leopard #camouflage #kruger

    It was already pretty dark when I spotted that moving silhouette.

    #jackal #wildlife #nature

    Editor's Note

    Nice feeling of dusk in a desert environment.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    A stargazer usually burrows itself on the sand showing only part of the face waiting for a fish t...

    #stargazer #underwater #igor #much_dives #under_sand

    There also were many excellent wildlife submissions, the best of which either struck a nice mood or recorded a unique behavior. Wildlife in black and white can be striking, and after looking at your submissions I am surprised it's not seen very often in publications and in galleries. 

    Underwater photographs in black and white accentuate the form because they eliminate the usual blueness of a color image. Sometimes this made for the feeling of a dark underworld, but they could also have a steel-grey or high-key feel as well. 

    Pictures of a hunt or kill are more menacing to me in black and white. Textures or patterns in nature are a difficult subject to do well. Careful composition is key, but the quality of light makes the difference between an average photo and a keeper.

    Incredibly entertaining japanese macaques in the hot spring near Nagano, Japan

    #winter #macaques #snow #monkeys #black_and_white #japan #hotspring #animal

    Its a photograph of a dragon fly which was resting on the leaves in my garden during the retreati...

    #white #creativity #and #dragonfly #beautiful #black #transparent #nature #wings

    The pelicans enjoyed a sunny patch while cleaning themselves. I liked the light and their movemen...

    #closeup #pelican #bird #blackandwhite #zooanimal #portrait

    Hazy Morning fog still on the water the birds wait .

    #landscape #wildlife #water #birds #waterscape

    Editor's Note

    The designs and atmospheric effect make this photo work very well in b&w. The positioning of the bird in shadow makes them stand out against a lighter background.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    One of my most recent images of a Green turtle gliding through the sand that has been thrown up f...

    #greenturtle #turtle #pacificocean

    Peering out from a Neem (Azadirachta indica) tree cavity this Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) , a co...

    #owlet #ahmedabad #spotted

    "Me salpicas con espumas inundadas de misterios de otros tiempos y distancias, con lamentos de pr...

    #sea #blackandwhite #nature

    I like to "paint" using my camera as a brush! Walking around the lake,I have noticed how the ligh...

    #ngmcreate #reflection #feather #water #natgeoinspires #photooftheday #art #kolev #veronika #ngmh2o

    An aerial of the delta of River Fulakvisl and Lake Hvitarvatn in the icelandic highlands. The riv...

    The best flower in the world ... my bias as I have lived amongst them most of my life.

    #white #tropical #fragrence #black #beauty #flower #nature

    Editor's Note

    beautiful, tones, textures and composition of a simple flower still life.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    We are no where in front of nature. This image is a composite of nine original photos stitched t...

    #bw #planetearth #little #planet #human #forest

    Editor's Note

    Nice use of the circular form in the superwide view of the forest.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    While taking some photos in a field with my Granddaughter she got a little ahead of me and i sta...

    #light #black_and_white #blackandwhite #portraits #family #portrait #people #culture #style #nature

    I like that many of you tried to include human beings in your definition of nature. Of these pictures, the ones that worked best for me had a small figure in the frame that seemed to blend in or be an accent. The theme of human oneness with nature is an important one but hard to convey without sending a mixed message.

    Requirement for this photo: One Full Moon, Spring run off at the Lower Yosemite Falls and rain g...

    #yosemite #lunar_bow #yosemite_falls

    Editor's Note

    Nice rendering of the moonbow. Without showing any starry sky, it still carries the mood of night and works surprisingly well in b&w.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    Good morning world, lets enjoy another beautiful day in this world

    #sunrise #kalpa #himachal #india

    Editor's Note

    A simple, but elegant photograph that creates a great mood in b&w. The tones are well handled and the composition enhances the feeling of the uplifting theme.

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

    In picking my favorites, I tried to strike a balance between those images that took full advantage of the black-and-white medium and those that were all-around pleasing in their visual presentation. I enjoyed very much seeing places I've visited, as well as place I've never been or didn’t know about, through so many different and diverse viewpoints. For me, nature is a subject matter with no limits for a photographer with clear eyes and a receptive heart. I hope you feel the same.

    About the Editor
    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer
    Recently named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photographer, Peter Essick has spent the last two decades photographing natural areas around the world, revealing in careful compositions the spiritual and emotional aspects of nature. A frequent contributor to National Geographic, his work has ...

    Photographers Published In the Story