Overcast and cloudy days create the perfect backdrop to a black and white landscape. Not only do they provide interest in the sky, but they will create an entirely different environment than if you shot on a clear, blue day. Overcast days will give you varying degrees of grey, while cloudy days will provide you with a high-contrast sky that really stands out. Let’s look at how the cloudy sky below impacts the image:
As a color image, I’m sure this would be quite beautiful – however, it’s very successful as a black and white. Why? Look at the tonal range of the water – you have a full spectrum of white to black just in the river alone. The sky is both cloudy and clear, providing the medium grey backdrop of the blue broken up by white clouds. The natural sun provides great highlights and shadows along the landscape, which creates some great texture as well. If this image was taken when the sky was clear and blue, you’d lose all the stunning contrast that the clouds provide.
Snow also gives you the perfect setting for a high-contrast image, as seen in the image below:
The bright white of snow can really increase your tonal range of an otherwise flat, uninteresting scene – perfect for black and white images.