Photographic Examples-12-White Sands BW

April 23, 2011 ·

Alain Briot

Alain Briot

White Sands Black and White

Black and White Conversion as Inspiration

I do not photograph in black & white.  I photograph in color then turn a small number of my color photographs to black and white when the colors do not add anything to the scene, or when the colors take away from the scene. A black and white image is successful, for me, when it would never have worked in color.  At that time I do not miss the color and I am able to find enjoyment in the arrangement of black white and grey tones.

This image was challenging because I saw it as an opposition of forces.  On the one hand there is the strong graphic quality of the dunes and the clouds.  The pattern in the sand and the clouds are reminiscent of each other while at the same time they point away from each other, the sand waves pointing downward and the cloud wisps pointing upwards. 

The compositional strength of the image, as well as the movement of the dune and cloud patterns, asked for an equal amount of strength in the treatment of the image contrast.  In other words, the contrast had to be comparable to the composition in terms of strength.  A weak contrast would have clashed with the strength of my composition.

On the other hand I did not want this contrast to be overwhelming because this often results in images that are overdone and that turn into clichés rather than into engaging works of art.  For this reason I refrained from making the sky pure black and from over-exaggerating the contrast between the clouds and the sky and between the dunes ripples.  I let my creativity guide me more than my rational interpretation of what was right and wrong.  I ended up, after several days of work, with a plethora of different files from this one image, among which I eventually selected this rendition as the one that best represents my emotional response to this specific scene.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
April, 2011

About Alain Briot

I create fine art photographs, teach workshops with my wife Natalie, and offer DVD tutorials on composition, raw conversion, optimization, printing, marketing photographs and more. I am also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography,  Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal StyleandMarketing Fine Art Photography.  All three books are available from my website as well as from and other fine bookstores.  

You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website at  You will receive over 40 essays in PDF format, including chapters from my 3  books, when you subscribe.

I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at

Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, raw conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. Alain is the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available from Alain’s website as well as from most bookstores. You can find more information about Alain's work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website. You will receive over 40 essays in PDF format, including chapters from Alain’s books, when you subscribe.

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