Black & White Beauty

There’s something alluring about a landscape portrayed in tones of white, black and gray. Join photographer Bradley Nordlof for a tour through some of his favorite recent images.

Black-and-white photography takes me back to my roots. I was fortunate to have grown up in a time that really catered to black-and-white photography. Many professionals were doing their own processing and printing of film. It was all part of the art.

The infamous Ansel Adams set the benchmark for landscape photography. Besides making so many timeless images, not to mention his innovations and teaching, Adams developed a system of exposure called the zone system. This was a way to control your image’s exposure on a scale from 1 to 10 – in Roman numerals – where I is total black and X is total white. In between were nine levels of gray. With proper light meter reading, it worked out well for black-and-white landscape photography.

Back in the day, you exposed more for the shadows. Now, with today’s digital cameras you want to expose more for the highlights, depending on your subject matter.

Did you know there is the difference between monochrome and black-and-white photography? The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Monochrome images contain variations of only one color. Black-and-white photography, on the other hand, refers to images that combine black, white and shades of gray.

In the end, it depends on the photographer’s preference and the intended effect of the image.

Monochrome photography can be used to create a more abstract image, while black-and-white photography creates a more classic or timeless image.

The following pages are all black-and-white photography. I feel that, unless you are using traditional black-and-white film or have a true black-and-white digital camera, it’s best to photograph in color and then convert it in your favorite editing software. Most digital photo software will do it relatively easily.

Even in black and white, Colorado in the fall is spectacular. I love the fall colors with fresh snow on the mountain caps. Mt. Edwards, near Telluride, is in full beauty bathing in the morning light.

Strolling around the streets and walkways of Chicago is such a treat. You find amazing architecture, bridges and street scenes everywhere you look.

Architecture is a spectacular sight when it’s photographed in black and white. It creates a timeless look with a compelling beauty.

The skyscrapers in the Windy City are a marvel of materials and artwork.

Home on the Range. Strolling the prairies of the American West in the early morning light creates a dreamy backdrop to gaze upon. In black and white, the dreamlike quality becomes even more apparent.

Near Owl Creek Pass, Courthouse Mountain towers above. It’s an amazing part of Colorado near Ouray that becomes even more majestic and mysterious when shot in black and white.

Fallen leaves provide a great subject to explore the depths of gray colors you can achieve with black-and-white photography.

The vibrant yellow and orange trees along the San Miguel River, near Telluride, Colo., lends an infrared look to this photo in black and white.

Aspens in full fall color have a silvery, shimmering effect in the late light of the day.

About Bradley Nordlof
Rockford-based photographer Bradley Nordlof travels to the far corners of the world in search of the most interesting, magnificent examples of nature’s beauty. He perpetually seeks out stunning places that deeply stir our emotions and beckon us to escape. He then communicates his experiences in oversized murals and balanced compositions that push the limits of rich textures and shadows, almost reminiscent of Ansel Adams but with a masterful palette of vibrant hues, light and saturation. Find more of his works online at