"Over the years I've developed a better sense for what works as a black and white image and what doesn't. Generally speaking, images with very colorful elements (wildflowers, fall colors, alpenglow) work best when presented in full color. I find that images with strong textures, interesting patterns, and/or stormy spotlighting make excellent black and white photographs. It's all about contrasts -- when I'm working with shades of gray I'm relying heavily on contrast to develop a successful image.
"Looking south from Shadow Mountain toward Snow King Mountain, I discovered this riot of fall color (above). I used my Singh-Ray thin-mount LB Polarizer at about 1/2 polarizing power to give the sky more pop. I also used a 3-stop soft-step ND Grad to balance the brightness of the sky (only pulled down slightly to around 2 stops) with the shaded foreground.
"Any time I'm using a wide angle lens to photograph a grand scenic, I'll limit how much polarization I use. This often means only using the polarizer at 1/4 power. If I'm photographing an interior forest scene or an intimate landscape that involves a creek, waterfall, leaves or any other reflective surface, I'll crank up the polarizing power to 1/2 or even full power.
"Here we see fog beginning to clear, exposing the high peaks of the Teton Range in early summer above the placid waters of Jackson Lake. I used the 3-stop soft-step ND Grad pulled part of the way down (about 2 stops) to hold back the brightness of the snow covered peaks and fog. I also used my Singh-Ray thin-mount LB Polarizer to reduce the glare reflecting off the water. When photographing in the Tetons I do not advise traveling light! Most of the landscapes are best photographed with wide angle to moderate telephoto lenses, i.e. 16mm to 100mm. In early summer and autumn, macro lenses may be handy to photograph wildflowers and intimate scenes of aspen or cottonwood leaves.
"It was a real thrill to see these crepuscular rays emerging during a stormy sunset over the Teton Range. This is a classic scene photographed from the Snake River Overlook. I used the 3-stop soft-step ND Grad to balance the exposure of the bright areas of sky with the colorful aspens in the shaded foreground.
"I really don't change the way I photograph for different markets. I create photographs knowing that I might some day need to make a large (32" x 48") fine art print for a client. Any image that prints well at 32" x 48" will also print well in an 11"x14" calendar or in a magazine. Obviously, images with lots of fine detail are going to look best as a large print where all that detail can truly be appreciated. I do a fair amount of business in stock imagery and it's always good to have both a horizontal and vertical of the same image when possible. When I can, I always try to shoot both but it doesn't always work out. Something I learned a while ago is that it never hurts to have two verticals -- one with lots of extra sky and another without it. Photo editors love it when you can give them a photo with plenty of negative space in which they can drop in text.
"Another afternoon storm swirls around the Grand Tetons above Jackson Lake in early autumn. I used the 3-stop soft-step ND Grad to hold back the brighter clouds and darken the exposed areas of sky. Here again, I feel the black & white version is the stronger image. Puffy clouds in the sky add tremendous depth to any image and when included in a black and white photograph, the stark contrast of deep black sky to bright white clouds is stunning. I do believe one needs to pay more attention to composition with black and white photography as I don't have bold colors to "hide" a lackluster composition."
Bret's main website has many more images, plus information about his upcoming workshops. He recently released his first e-book, The Essential Guide to Photographing Arches National Park. It includes tips for getting the best shots, maps of the park and trails, schedules of when the light will be optimal, and suggestions for what gear you'll need. You can keep up with Bret's adventures by following his blog or adding him on Facebook.