Cloudy sky in Black & White

Black & white impression of a cloudy sky above the Swiss Alps

Cloudy sky in Black & White
February 4, 2012 Johan Peijnenburg
In Photography
A cloudy sky above the Alps surrounding the Bas-Intyamon valley in  Switzerland, in black and white. (Johan Peijnenburg)
70mm – f/13 – 1/4 – ISO100 – D3x with 70-200 f/2.8

After posting two typical Swiss winter landscapes with Alps, snow, pine trees and a blue sky, I thought it was time for something completely different. Here’s a Black & white impression of a cloudy sky above the Alps that surround the Bas-Intyamon valley in Gruyère, Switzerland. I captured this sky on a summer night last August, just before sunset. I processed it in Black & white, using Silver Efex Pro 2, to accentuate the structure and drama in the sky. What do you think?

Comments (144)

  1. Adnan Khan 8 years ago

    Nice 🙂 ,IR filter ?

    • Author

      Nope 🙂 Silver Efex Pro Adnan.

      • Adnan Khan 8 years ago

        Oh ,I don’t know what it is :)) ,not that much into PS ,I have Lightroom 3 🙂

        • Author

          It’s a plugin from Nik Software Adnan. I use it with Lightroom. In my opinion Silver Efex Pro is the best software for black and white conversions!

  2. Joel Tjintjelaar 8 years ago

    I think B&W is a great choice for accentuating structures and increasing drama! Nice minimal Johan !

  3. Dominique Dubied 8 years ago

    Great contrast, well done Johan.

  4. Beautiful sky!! I love the drama and contrast in it!!

  5. John Dusseault 8 years ago

    really nice treatment Johan, the clouds look amazing

  6. Sumit Sen 8 years ago

    This is lovely, Johan.

  7. Debby Vos 8 years ago

    Beautiful! … But i am glad that now the son is shining…..;-)

  8. Lance Rudge 8 years ago

    Oh yeah! Love this Johan! The clouds and tones are excellent!

  9. Very nice, perfect contrast.

  10. Author

    @Debby: thank you. Glad the son is shining 😉
    @Joseph: thanks for the compliment!

  11. Dave Pattinson 8 years ago

    Amazing clouds!!! Glad you did this in BW!!!!

  12. It’s a wonderful luminous sky, so many variations in clouds and beautifully put together with the mountains taking a back seat. Great work Johan

  13. Fantastic in B&W! Love the dramatic clouds!

  14. Author

    Thanks for the kind words Andrew and Patricia! Glad you like it 🙂

  15. Kurt Harvey 8 years ago

    Gorgeous in B&W Johan! It really shows off that wonderful skyscape with all the beautiful contrast and texture.

  16. Wonderfully dramatic! Good to see you trying this out too, it worked so well. Off to slide around in the snow now 😉

  17. Author

    Thanks Kurt. I was indeed a very interesting sky. Glad I could make it work in B&W!
    @Louisa: thank you! Have been playing around with B&W a lot lately. I love it a lot but still have lots to learn 🙂

  18. Peter Vooijs 8 years ago

    Great drama love it just my style

  19. Lisa League 8 years ago

    Hi Johan,
    It would be cool to see the color version, too – kind of a before & after.

  20. Author

    I figured you would like this Peter 🙂
    @Lisa: I might do that later. The color version was a bit too “pastel” too me 🙂

  21. Javier Esvall 8 years ago

    Beautiful sky! great contrast . Johan

  22. Randall Sanger 8 years ago

    Great cloud action! I like it!

  23. Author

    Thanks Javier and Randall. Glad you like it!

  24. Very, very nice work! Great contrast between sky and clouds. Love this B&W effect! Johan !

    • Author

      Thanks Emanuele There is actually not a lot of real sky in this image. It is all layers of clouds at different levels and with different shades of grey and orange. I am looking forward to you Venezian carnival shots in few weeks 🙂

  25. Robert Brosche' 8 years ago

    very powerful

  26. Peter de Rooij 8 years ago

    Impressive! Great sky that is worthy of quite a bit of attention. And it’ll get it.

  27. Athena Carey 8 years ago

    Lovely dramatic contrasts Johan 🙂

  28. Meg Rousher 8 years ago

    Beautiful shot Johan 🙂

  29. Shelly Gunderson 8 years ago

    Very lovely!

  30. Author

    Thank you very much Meg and Shelly !!!

  31. David Burns 8 years ago

    Very moody,I love it,I’m always drawn to images in the clouds, faces, figures ect.Well done Johan, very nice shot.

  32. Roland 8 years ago

    Going beyond the documentation, this shot gives me the feeling of breathing fresh, pure air. I like it a lot for that effect!


    • Author

      You always have an interesting way with words Roland. Thanks for the compliment and hope all is well!

  33. Grant Murray 8 years ago

    Stunning clouds and tones Johan, well done my friend!!

    • Author

      Thanks Grant. I promised you some B&W stuff, so here you go 🙂

      • Grant Murray 8 years ago

        Hehe, thanks for delivering on your promise Johan and please keep up the great work!!

  34. Author

    How are things in Italy Louisa? Cold as well?

    • Johan, apologies, only saw your question this morning. It has been snowing a lot, but much better now. I love it either way though. Happy Sunday 🙂

  35. Shirley Lo 8 years ago

    beautiful black and white! wonderful details and textures in the clouds 🙂

  36. David Herreman 8 years ago

    Superb! great B&W Johan !

  37. Maurizio Pontini 8 years ago

    Beautiful contrast and composition

  38. Richard Murphy 8 years ago

    Lovely shot Johan

  39. Radik Vik 8 years ago

    Fabulous shot Johan. Love the composition and the strong contrast. Thanks for sharing

  40. Bill Wood 8 years ago

    It is surely possible to find solace and comfort in many different places. Beautiful image.

  41. Thomas Schaller 8 years ago

    A great Black and White Sky….love it…..

  42. Author

    Thanks David, Maurizio, Richard and Radek!
    Very true Bill 🙂
    Danke vielmals Thomas!

  43. Samir Mohanty 8 years ago


  44. I can’t add anything original here what hasn’t been already said, so I’m keeping it simple: super shot! (And I would be asking if it’s IR as well, but you already have answered this. Great processing, by the way.

  45. Tim Halling 8 years ago


  46. Author

    Thanks Samir, Manfred and Tim!

  47. Joanna Pechmann 8 years ago

    Wonderful sky Johan works perfect in B&W 🙂

    • Author

      Thank you Joanna! Snow already in Barcelona?

      • Joanna Pechmann 8 years ago

        No, we had only “Snow Alarm” on Thursday and the schools were closed but it was not snowing here in Barcelona 🙂 We have now +4C so not that bad

        • Author

          That’s not bad indeed. We are “enjoying” -15 here Joanna 🙂

  48. Yasmin Simpson 8 years ago

    this B&W processing looks awesome, looks like the clouds are moving very fast.

  49. Gemma Costa 8 years ago

    this is stunning Johan

  50. Breathtaking Johan! 🙂

  51. Kenny Salazar 8 years ago

    Beautiful B&W work Johan

  52. So many things happening in this sky Johan! Amazing intensity. Love the processing!

  53. Nicholas Ong 8 years ago

    Nicely done.

  54. Catherine Vibert 8 years ago

    So beautiful!

  55. Author

    Yasmin, Gemma, Christophe and Kenny: thanks you for the kind words 🙂 Glad you like it!

  56. Author

    Julia, Nicholas and Catherine: thanks you so much as well. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  57. This looks really like a summer sky. I like the dramatic contrast, the white clouds – different kinds – and the black mountain ridge. This emphasizes the hugeness of this beautiful sky. A very good b&w processing. Thank you mate!

    • Author

      Ho was skiing this weekend. Not too cold?

      • Uh, extremely cold. But we went backcountry skiing = ski mountaineering. Uphill, you just start to sweat even at -20°C.

        • Author

          I was hiking in -20 as well. It was ok as there wasn’t a lot of wind 🙂

  58. Charles Lupica 8 years ago

    I really like this Johan. I tend toward high contrast images and this is in that sweet place where contrast, light and dark form something greater than the parts. And I agree, the Alps are a sacred place.

  59. Author

    Thanks for the nice comments Wilfried and Charles! I liked it myself but wasn’t sure how others would see it 🙂

  60. Dane Clingan 8 years ago

    Nothing to say that hasn’t been said, except frame it!

  61. Khun Hans 8 years ago

    Powerful scenery, Johan. Great b/w conversion

  62. Nora Carol 8 years ago

    Great b/w Johan! i’m liking the contrast..i can see you are hook on b/w lately 🙂

  63. Author

    Dane: thanks! I might 🙂
    Khun: thanks for the compliment and for stopping by!
    Nora: thank you 🙂 Not yet hooked and trying to balance it. I do have quite a few shots that could work well in B&W so will work in them in the coming month!

  64. Harry Kikstra 8 years ago

    Hey Johan , I like this, the tones of the clouds are great!

  65. Laura Riediker 8 years ago

    Wow nice shot.
    Ah Johan since yesterday you can order nikon D4 in our shop. (officialy).:)

  66. dene' miles 8 years ago

    Pure magic Johan !!

  67. Rolf Hicker 8 years ago

    very cool B&W – amazingly processed!

  68. Andy Kennelly 8 years ago

    amazing tones and light Johan!

  69. Author

    Thanks dene’! Missed you 🙂
    Rolf: glad that you are feeling better! Thanks for stopping by!

  70. Mark Esguerra 8 years ago

    Such an amazing shot! Love those clouds and sky!

  71. Johan Swanepoel 8 years ago

    Ooh this is good Johan

  72. Author

    Mark and Johan: thank you very much!

  73. Douglas Dietiker 8 years ago

    Beautifully done black and white. Lots of contrast, just as I like 🙂

  74. Jeff Vyse 8 years ago

    Works in b&w for me. You can bring out those textures and contrasts.

  75. Kerry Murphy 8 years ago

    Fantastic contrast, Johan! I love that dynamic sky.

  76. You’re doing a good job, your work is impressive. Thank you Johan

  77. Francis Gagnon 8 years ago

    Such an impressive sky ! Really like it !

  78. Cédric Leblond 8 years ago

    a great composition with a large place to the sky, superb B&W editing, don’t know why but the clouds make me think of ghosts or spirits here, excellent!

    • Author

      Thank you for the very kind words Cédric ! The ghosts also crossed my mind when I saw this sky 🙂

  79. Neil Camara 8 years ago

    Magnificent bw shot!!! Love it!

  80. John G Moore 8 years ago

    Great shot Johan

  81. Klaudia J 8 years ago

    very beautiful, magical place +Johan Peijnenburg

  82. Markus Landsmann 8 years ago

    I love clouds so much Johan , you can see it in my stream if you have time.

  83. Great sky here Johan

  84. Barbara Stumm 7 years ago

    Clouds with soul…. in flight like a flock of birds…. definitely dramatic.

  85. Author

    glad you like it!

  86. IS in ZWITSERLAND ?? heel mooi

    • Author

      Ja Encarnaciòn. Sterker nog … deze foto is genomen in de vallei waarin ik woon :D

  87. Domique Hilbert 7 years ago

    I just discovered you, I really enjoy your work, like this is an amazing shot. nice to meet you!

    • Author

      Missed this comment earlier. Many thanks for the kind words 🙂

      • Domique Hilbert 7 years ago

        thank you, now I can finally have a good night rest 😉 Seriously, thank you for the effort in answering, that’s really nice of you.

  88. incredible sky; love all those tones!!!!

  89. Very beautiful shot

  90. Incredibly beautiful!! I love the wonderful contrast and details!!

  91. Author

    @Costanza: thank you 🙂
    @Margaret: many thanks for the compliment Margaret! Glad you like my oldies as well 😉

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *