5 compelling and emotionally effective instances

Though, in many ways, this subject has been debated ad nauseam, black and white art photography still is something that reveals the utmost important aspects about the scenery before the lens. In the same manner, it can also bring out and challenge the true capacities of the photographer behind it. Acknowledging the fact that color really can be overdosed, we retreat back to the fundamental duo of colors that represent everything life’s really about. From its modest beginnings in the 19-th century to the mainstream appreciation it receives these days, black and white art photography is still going strong and unlocking new horizons of conveying an array of emotions. We’ll take a look at 5 compelling and emotionally effective instances of the subject.

Shikari to Nowhere


“Kashmir” by Amit Dey
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Amit Dey is a renowned fashion, portrait, beauty and fine art photographer based in New Delhi, India. Kashmir is a geographical region in the northwest of the South Asia, jointly administered by three Countries: India, The People’s Republic of China and Pakistan. None of this, however, concerns the lonely inhabitant of the traditional shikari fishing boat. Though a common sight in the largely agriculture-based region, it exposes an uncommon sense of loneliness, enhanced by the ubiquitous white of the fog. The black silhouette succumbs to the sameness of his routine, letting his piece of wood drift right into the early morning fog which might offer the long awaited release. That is our narrative, though. What black and white art photography excels at is definitely creating the sense of a story being told. The interpretation is up to your preferences.

Diggin’ in the East


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Sibylle Bergemann was a Germany-based photographer who, among all the beautiful things in the world, seemed to have a particular appreciation for all the cityscape-related things. Of course, it only makes sense, considering that the documentation of the East Berlin during the 60’s was her main source of income. This is the grim of Berlin at its finest. It’s the city that survived the tense bombardment and “street fighting” of WW2, reprehensible post-war delirium and the aftermath of a more than 40-year long division. Surely it has a lot to offer both history and atmosphere-wise. It seems that its urban landscape is scarred for life, encompassing pain, hope and hopelessness that even modern architecture finish is incapable of disguising. Everyone who’s been there will agree that the weird vibe of tension and Cold War sentiment is still pretty much present on every corner. This is not your typical Berlin Wall graffiti exposition. This is an East Berliner digging. In the background, we have a heavy block of communist architecture aesthetics. There’s no question of crossing the wall, as you’re already living in one. This is an almost unintentional fine art photography where bleakness becomes impenetrable.

Suburban Tension


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Natalie Arriola took a walk through California’s Central Valley from which a photo series entitled “Coming Home” was born. The series capture the somewhat grotesque nature of the suburban existence, depicting authentic sceneries of the Californian routine, including this starkly contrasting one-story house. White clashes with black, creating an almost disturbing sense of tension. A happy consumerist housing of the 40’s-50’s Americana becomes a ghost for an era in the 21st century. It’s also a sharp illustration of where you wake up after another American dreaming though it would be a completely different story had the photo been shot in color.

Railway to Heaven


Photo by Steve Harrison
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Black and white art photography can also offer space, airiness and a healthy prospect of the future. Even with the lack of certain hues, this particular image is an imprint for the colorful Arizona folklore with a railroad once used to transport gold but abandoned because of the regular train robberies carried out by horse-riding six shooter virtuosos. Again, it’s just our imagination in action, ignited by the respective scenery. An appealing vista of clouds gives the composition a nice, dreamy ambiance while the railroad, just like roads in these photos usually do, seems to transcend into another dimension at some point. There is a pleasant sense of an undiscovered America where the only thing you’ll most likely find is yourself.

I’ve Been Around the World but the Blues Is All the Same


Photo by Tim Duffy
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Alright, this is another rather unintentional black and white art photography and, judging by its format, it might as well be considered to be a portrait photo. However, Tim Duffy, during his decades-long quest to encapsulate the essence of blues in his photos, might as well have finally done it with this one. It’s the roughness, the ever-present suit, the swag at its most brutal, authentic and impressive form. This is how a photo can transfer not only a certain emotion but also a certain sound! Looking at the experienced master and his “been-through-it-all” guitar, it is almost possible to hear that old wolf howlin’! It’s a picture of a blues musician that could easily become a textbook image to illustrate the particular genre of music, the embodiment of soul and style!

Tips to Make Your Own Monotone Beauties!

Black and white art photography is not something that only elite photographers with thousand dollars’ worth of equipment are allowed to take. These days, with everything getting simpler and cheaper with every passing day, legit black and white art photography can be easily taken via your smartphone! Here are some hints to stick to for a guaranteed success!

- Shoot only high contrast scenes to avoid unnecessary shades. High contrast photos will have a greater impact while low contrast photos will only give you a low-res sea of gray! When considering the scenery for your photo, pay attention to shapes, lines, and shadows.


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- Pick a place with great natural light! While a strong (not oppressive) sunlight will only enhance the natural contrast, you must avoid the over exposition! Be sure to always convert your color photos for a black and white preview, as it often happens that what looks bad in color, works wonders in black and white. A great photo might even consist of pure white and nearly black hues in some places. This is were all of those large format inspirational canvas prints are born!


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- Use the optical filter known as the polarizer.


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- Try to play around with HDR (high-dynamic-range) imaging. It will make your dynamic range go over the top, therefore bringing out the best of the black and white hues! However, be considerate for this is an easy route to tasteless results!


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- Black and white photography can work magic if it’s taken as long-exposure photography. Have some long-exposure color pictures? Convert them and see for yourself.


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- Use silhouettes. Although somewhat an art photography cliché, the use of silhouettes always provides an additional sense of mystery. You can also use interesting and sharply depicted geometric figures with prominent outline against a blurry backing. Also, look for an interesting shadowing that could emphasize the bright aspects of the picture!


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- Try to observe your environment. If you encounter an interesting geometric pattern in the nearby architecture, encapsulate it with your camera. It could be a set of windows, iron stairs or anything that has a certain dynamic (urban dynamic, for example). Even better if you can make a composition with a white sky in the background! Repetitive and symmetrical architectural motive is another secret to great black and white art photography!


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- Observe the texturing of the environment! Black and white photography is the best way to emphasize the detail of a certain space. Water, an old plaster, the surface of a tree, all of these are a great photo material even if there’s nothing else in the frame!


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- Use dark areas or the so-called negative space. Though it might take some time to pick the right place for it from the compositional point of view, negative space makes your picture more “artsy” and leaves something to the viewer’s interpretation. They will also transfer attention to the focal point of your photo! In case you decide to make a print out of a photo like this, we recommend to use acrylic cover, for it will enhance the depth of the black!


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- Try to capture moody clouds. Though somewhat of a safe game, they always look great when taken or converted into black and white.


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You can also try to apply black and white format via our website It is available as an effect, and if the results truly satisfy you, it is possible to get your black and white art photography as a superb quality wall art decor!

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