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The secrets of a nostalgic and artistic black and white photo

Black and white photography, as the name suggests, generates a striking effect that is both unique and nostalgic. Who hasn't stopped scrolling on Instagram, captivated by an artistic black and white photo? You love this style, but your tests are inconclusive? Black and white photography is all about skill that we present to you here through five major points.

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Choose a suitable subject for the black and white photo

While the monochrome photo is very flattering on some subjects, such as a black and white portrait, others may be disappointing. Most of the time, the magic of the black and white photo operates when its subject overflows with life or emotions, think of the famous cliché of the lovers' kiss by Robert Doisneau.

You can also choose a subject that has an interesting texture that will attract attention, just like a vivid hue jumps out in a color photo. A horse's mane, the rough skin of a fruit or a black and white landscape saturated with clouds, nature offers many subjects with interesting texture. Architecture and interiors are a good testing ground for using straight and curved angles to create a striking black and white image.

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Work the framing

artistic photography black and white is often distinguished by in composition. First of all, without the notion of color harmony, the photographer is free to use all the visual elements in front of his lens. Let’s take the example of the exercise of the black and white portrait, a profile or a three-quarter immediately becomes more interesting if one has the impression that the subject is interacting with an element outside the composition. The scenes of life also rely on the framing talents of the photographer. When the exercise is successful, it gives shots that are as striking as they are timeless.

Composition and framing are key aspects of black and white photography. The famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson mastered this art of composition wonderfully to tell a story or stimulate our imagination. He succeeded in capturing his subjects in such a way that they seemed both alive and suspended in time.

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Play with shadows and shapes

Without the color, one can exploit other essential elements to create an artistic black and white photo. Some would say it's all about contrast ! Shadow games can make all the difference and turn a photo into black and white without much interest in a captivating shot. Understanding what makes a beautiful scene in monochrome means being able to ignore color when evaluating a subject.

In fact, it's about look for contrasts to accentuate them. For example, the shadow of foliage on a smooth floor can create poetic patterns, or the raking light filtering through a window can give a theatrical quality to a black and white portrait. Back when color didn't exist, well-known artists like Man Ray used shape and light extensively to create surreal black and white photos.

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Should flash be used in a black and white photo?

Many will tell you that flash, which tends to flatten surfaces, should be avoided in black and white photography. However, flash can be used to introduce a powerful light source. Be careful, if the sun gives the color a bright effect, on a black and white photo, the tendency of the flash to whiten its subjects will give a different effect. It will take several tests to achieve the desired effect. Some artist photographers specializing in black and white photography choose to work with this element as a signature. In short, some types of images render very well with a flash, such as black and white portraits for example, others require a softer or natural light, but it all depends on the rendering you are looking for!

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Use the right type of digital file

This last piece of advice is for photographers with a digital camera: it is better to shoot in Raw mode, in an uncompressed digital file (the digital version of the negative), and rework your photo in black and white afterwards. This will allow you to adjust contrast, brightness and white balance on editing software. However, if you are into black and white photography for its nostalgic and puristic side, then you can choose the monochrome mode to directly create your image in black and white. All you have to do is give it a try!

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