Last Updated on 10/05/2019 by Mark Beckenbach
All photos by Nathan Wirth. Used with Creative Commons permission.
When it comes to adding a dose of drama and depth to an image, black and white will never go out of style. It even works for shooting sweeping vistas, as our growing list of impressive monochrome landscape easily shows. Novato, CA Nathan Wirth has been one of our go-to photographers for this, as our previous features of his work will prove. Today, we take a look at one of his most recent works in which he captured the simple but dreamy beauty of streams flowing back into the sea.
This series, simply titled Run Off, is comprised of landscapes that primarily tell the visual story of two different bodies of water converging into one. It features Wirth’s fine example of using something as seemingly ordinary as flowing water as a visual element to lead the viewers’ eyes to follow his story.
“Every winter the rain falls along the West Coast of the United States and forms streams that return the water to the sea,” Wirth wrote in his series description. Simple as the premise may be, there’s no doubt it made for some striking and dramatic imagery magnified by the look of black and white.
By opting to shoot in the tried and tested technique of long exposures, he was able to create dreamy “milky” water in some shots, and painterly skies with wispy clouds. While mostly minimalist, this look allows landscape photographers to achieve a nice tonal variety with deep blacks, subtle grays, and crisp whites.
One more thing worth noting is how this series continues to fit in with his creative pursuit of photographing silence — or evoke the emotions and associations that come with it. For Run-Off in particular, it resonates in the visual silence brought about by the simplicity of the composition. It also has a distinct vibe compared to, say, his spooky Among Giants series, while both still share the same motivation of photographing silence.