Story

Nature in Black and White

Published May 6, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 25 Contributors

    25 photos selected by

    Peter Essick
    National Geographic Photographer

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

    #landscapes #yosemite #moonrise #night #moonlight

    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...

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

    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...

    #thunder #beach #lightning #seascape #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

    #gorilla #black_and_white #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 #impala #portrait #cheetah

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

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

    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...

    #igor #under_sand #much_dives #stargazer #underwater

    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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hazy Morning fog still on the water the birds wait .

    #birds #wildlife #landscape #water #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 #pacificocean #turtle

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

    #spotted #owlet #ahmedabad

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

    #sea #nature #blackandwhite

    Walking around the lake,I have noticed how the light waves and the reflection of the gloomy sky a...

    #reflection #feather #water #black_and_white #waves #art

    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.

    #beauty #white #tropical #black #flower #fragrence #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 #forest #human #planet #little

    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...

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

    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.

    Morning light cutting through the waterfall mist at Crystal Creek Falls in Whiskeytown, CA. Self...

    #beauty #lightrays #blackandwhtie #waterfall #whiskeytown #selfportrait #nature #california

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

    #lunar_bow #yosemite_falls #yosemite

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

    #himachal #sunrise #india #kalpa

    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 ...
    189 comments
    Terry Limpert
    Terry Limpert

    If when you look deeply at one of these B&W images and your find you've stopped breathing, you're in the presence of something really great.

    Kornelius Schorle
    Kornelius Schorle

    I am totally blown away will burn all my pics and start over ,never expected this level of quality ,my hat off to all

    Santiago Belaunzaran
    Santiago Belaunzaran

    BRAVO! One of the best assignments so far, congrats to everybody involved!

    Naushad B S
    Naushad B S

    excellent shots.... very inspiring 


    www.naushadphotography.com

    Marwan Daher
    Marwan Daher

    beautiful selection! congratulations everyone


    beautiful and creative topic too

    Maritza Maymi-Hernandez
    Maritza Maymi-Hernandez

    Outstanding shots.. Congratulations to all the photographers featured in the story and to the curator for such a wonderful selection.

    Lori Pike
    Lori Pike

    I would have one heck of a time choosing a favorite. Some outstanding images Kudos!

    Koen Liekens
    Koen Liekens

    The superwide forest view blew my mind. The peering owlet is my favorite for composition! Amazing photos.

    Elizabeth D'Angelo
    Elizabeth D'Angelo

    Love the Forest shot!! How did they do that?? It looks like a bubble shot.  Great assignment, it's renewed my admiration for black and white!

    Broti Subhrangsu Chatterjee
    Broti Subhrangsu Chatterjee

    Your B&W silhouettes are simply awesome. As a beginner we both want to take tips and learn. Thanks for presenting us our beautiful mother nature beautifully. 

    Cassandra Oleary
    Cassandra Oleary

    what a fantastic assignment! I loved looking through this, such beautiful photography!

    Kamal Soni
    Kamal Soni

    Congo Photographers :)
    Brilliant photos .

    Mark Marotta
    Mark Marotta

    Congrats to all those whose photos were featured in this story.  Also, thanks to Peter and the NG staff.  This assignment and the amazing photos submitted have help me to be more cognizant of the basics of photography and that you don't need color to present a story or record beauty.  Thanks everybody for waking me up!  :)

    Manoj Gupta
    Manoj Gupta

    Black n White texture on landscape and portraits are the best as it really makes the photo subtle and lively.

    Kent Johnson
    Kent Johnson

    Black and White can be way better than some color shots.

    Simona P.
    Simona P.

    Amazing photos ! Great Job !

    Barbara K.
    Barbara K.

    These are stunning pictures, Mr. Essick did a outstanding job in selection. Congrats to ALL winners, deserving!

    Swati Giri
    Swati Giri

    Its a pleasure to watch such beautiful photos !!! amazing !

    Leisha Rademaker
    Leisha Rademaker

    Congratulations, some wonderful photography, well done 

    Joiell M.
    Joiell M.

    Spectacular images!  Great choices. 

    Virginia Cortland
    Virginia Cortland

    Wonderful story and photos! Thank you for choosing this topic.

    George Skorov
    George Skorov

    Unbelievable photos and those moments captured are just beautiful - Thank you! 

    Laura Garcia
    Laura Garcia

    Fantastic photos!  I absolutely love black and white ... for me the sign of a really good photographer! 

    helen f.
    helen f.

    All amazing; beautiful photographs! 

    Deb McCan
    Deb McCan

    beautiful   keep them coming please



    Sureshkumar G
    Sureshkumar G

    Stunning pictures. Congratz to all. One question these pictures are taken in B&W mode or converted in B&W?

    Members Published In the Story