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Black And White Japanese Art.

Use Filters. Graduated neutral density (AKA ND grad) and polarizing filters are simply as useful in monochrome photography as they are in colour. In fact, because they manipulate image contrast they are arguably more advantageous . An ND grad is collaborative when you want to retain detail in a bright sky while a polarizing filter should be used to reduce reflections and boost contrast. Alternatively, put down as,take for,account,reckon,treat,adjudge,size up,value,rate,gauge,sum up,weigh up taking two or more shots with varied exposures to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite. Don’t be afraid to use a ND grad with a standard neural density filter if the sky is brighter than the foreground in a long exposure shot. Coloured filters, which are an essential tool for monochrome film photographers, could also be advantageous for manipulating contrast in digital images. They work by darkening objects of their opposite colour while lightening objects of his own. An orange filter, for example, will darken the blue of the sky while a green single will lighten foliage.

Dodge and Burn. Dodging and burning is a approach that comes from the traditional darkroom and is usually used to burn in or darken highlights and hold back (brighten) shadows. Photoshop’s Dodge and Burn tools allow a level of control that film photographers should only thought of taking a degree of because you should target the highlights, shadows or mid-tones with both. This means that you should use the Burn tool to darken highlights when they are too bright, or the Dodge tool to perk up them to increase local contrast. It’s a good oddity of sharing a sense of greater sharpness and enhancing texture. Plus, because you may set the opacity of the tools, you may build up their effect gradually so the impact is crafty and there are no hard edges.

Take Control. Although coloured filters may still be used to manipulate contrast when shooting digital black and white images, it’s more common to save this work until the processing stage. Until a a couple years ago Photoshop’s Channel Mixer was the favorite means of turning colour images monochrome, but now Adobe Camera Raw has more powerful tools (in the HSL/Grayscale tab) that allow you to adjust the brightness of eight individual colours that make up the image. It’s possible to adjust single of these colours to make it anything from white to black with the sliding control. However, it’s important to keep an eye on the whole image when adjusting a particular colour as crafty gradations could become unnatural looking. And adjusting the brightness of a red or rosy shirt with the red sliding control, for instance , will have an impact on the model’s skin, especially the lips. The Levels and Curves controls should also be used to manipulate tonal range and contrast, but the HSL/Grayscale controls allow you to create separation between objects of the same brightness but with unique colours.

Look for Contrast, Shape and Texture. The complimentary and opposing colours that bring a colour image to life are all decreased to black and white or shades of grey in a monochrome image and you have to look for tonal contrast to make a shot stand out. In colour photography, for example, your eye would right now be drawn to a red object on a green background, but in monochrome photography these two areas are likely to have the same brightness, so the image looks flat and monotonous straight from the camera. providentially , it’s possible to work adjust the brightness of these two colours separately to introduce some contrast. However, a great starting point is to look for scenes with tonal contrast. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule look for scenes that contain some strong blacks and whites. This can be achieved by the light or by the brightness (or tone) of the objects in the scene as well as the exposure settings that you use. The brightness of the bark of a silver birch tree for example, may inject some contrast (and interest) in to a woodland scene. Setting the exposure for these brighter areas also makes the shadows darker, so the highlights stand out even more. Look for shapes, patterns and textures in a scene and move around to find the most excellent composition.

Shoot RAW + JPEG. The most excellent monochrome conversions are got to by editing raw files which have the full colour information, but if you shoot raw and JPEG files simultaneously and set the camera to its monochrome photograph Style/Picture Control/Film Simulation mode you get an indication of how the image will look in black and white. As many photographers struggle to visualise a scene in black and white, these monochrome modes are an invaluable tool that will help with composition and scene assessment. many cameras are also capable of producing decent in-camera monochrome images these days and it’s worth experimenting with image parameters (usually contrast, sharpness, filter effects and toning) to find a look that you like. Because compact peculiarity cameras and compact cameras show the scene seen by the sensor with camera settings applied, users of these cameras are able to preview the monochrome image in the electronic viewfinder or on rear screen before taking the shot. DSLR users should also do this if they activate their camera’s live conceptualization pathway , but the usually slower responses mean that numerous will find it preferable or check the image on the screen post-capture.

Try Long Exposure. Long exposure shots could work really well in monochrome photography, especially where there’s moving water or clouds. During the exposure the highlights of the water, for example, are recorded across a wider place than they would with a short exposure and this could help enhance tonal contrast. The blurring of the movement also adds textural contrast with any solid objects in the frame. If compulsory , use a neutral density filter such as Lee Filters’ Big Stopper or Little Stopper to decrease exposure and extend shutter speed (by 10 and 4 stops respectively). classically , when exposures extend beyond as for 1/60 sec a tripod is required to keep the camera still and avoid blurring. It’s also advisable to use a remote release and mirror lock-up to minimise vibration and produce super-sharp images.

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Hitotzuki, which translates as ‘sun and moon’, are a Japanese husband-and-wife duo of highly talented mural painters Kimi and Sasu, who are often referred to as the most successful urban artists to emerge from Japan’s graffiti scene. The extraordinary duo of self-taught artists, Hitotzuki have been painting murals for years before they met each other and began working together in 1999. Their large-scale, geometric and brilliantly colored murals represent the fluid interaction between Kami’s dynamically flowing curves, and Sasi’s strong and flamboyant symmetric motifs, fused together with natural and urban elements. Since their participation in the critically acclaimed Barnstormers projects in 2000, Hitotzuki have been gaining huge international attention while trotting the globe with their son and leaving their mesmerizing pieces in the streets of cities worldwide.

Jun Inoue is a key figure on the Tokyo street art scene, widely recognized for his energetic and vivid artworks, a combination of graffiti and shodo, traditional Japanese calligraphy. Jun has been creating art since he was a kid, making cars, trains and trucks from cardboard. As a teenager highly influenced by American youth culture he evolved his work into graffiti, but it was not until he studied art that he began to identify with his roots and incorporate Japanese culture into his art. As he starts working on a new piece, Inoue prepares his body and dances to hip-hop music in front a blank canvas, before he storms the canvas and attacks it with spray paint, brushes and rollers. His extraordinary process is a true theatrical performance and it often takes place before an audience.

Editors’ Tip: Warriors of Art: A Guide to Contemporary Japanese Artists

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Riusuke Fukahori is a rather unique Japanese painter from Aichi, widely famous for his extraordinary three-dimensional paintings of Japanese goldfish, he creates using his own complex technique of pored resin. After completing his design studies at Aichi Art University in 1995, Fukahori has pursued full-time art career with little success and in 2000 it reached a low point, when he suddenly became fascinated by his goldfish which stayed alive even though it was abandoned for years. Ever since this incident Fukahori refers to as Goldfish Salvation, he turned to goldfish as the exclusive subject matter of his works, without restricting himself to one genre. Meticulously painting layer by layer, and alternating between pouring resin into cups and bowls and painting goldfish with acrylic paint, Fukahori’s mesmerizing works are both paintings and sculptures, similar to the products of a 3D printer.

Extremely talented street artist and painter Hiroyasu Tsuri, aka TWOONE, was born in Yokohama in 1985. He developed an interest in drawing and crafting at an early age through skateboard designs and graffiti. In 2004 he moved to Melbourne, Australia where he joined underground street art scene, quickly gaining prominence as one of Australia’s finest street artists. After graduating from Visual Arts New Media at Swinburne University, Melbourne in 2006, TWOONE started exhibiting his paintings in galleries across the world, but mural painting remained a big part of his prolific output, and he continues leaving captivating public artworks in every city he visits. He is widely known for his magnetizing depictions of hybrid, animal headed and human bodied creatures. In 2013 TWOONE left Australia for Europe, and currently resides in Berlin, Germany,


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Famous Japanese artists under fifty years of age on our list are the best contemporary and urban artists Japan has to offer. Ever since Takashi Murakami paved the way for new generations of young artists with his postmodern Superflat movement, Japanese art has been thriving and today is fast becoming one of the most sought after in the art market, finding strong roots in Western culture. Its edgy character has a unique sensibility to it, varying from daintily intricate and innocent, to the outrageously provocative and highly sexual, borrowing various influences from pop culture, commercialism and eroticism, as well as from Japanese painting, traditional art and its iconography.

Usugrow is one of the most prominent Japanese urban artists of younger generation who has created a widely famous name for himself with his instantly recognizable black and white artworks. His passionate dedication and meticulous craft was spawned from Usugrow’s early obsession with Japan’s punk and metal scene when he started drawing and creating fliers for bands in 1993. Largely inspired by the infamous Los Angeles Cholo graffiti, Usugrow fused it with the spiritual skills of Asian calligraphy, creating captivating works which feature beautiful portrayals of opposing elements such as skulls and flowers, yin and yang, and black and white. Today Usugrow exhibits his works internationaly and works mainly in illustration, painting and calligraphy, often collaborating with other artists and numerous skateboarding and fashion brands.

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Kenta Matsuyama, better known as 281_Anti Nuke (or simply 281), is a (in)famous and widely respected Japanese street artist whose engaged and intelligent works focus on troubling issues of politics, law and nuclear weapons and energy, creating awareness through seemingly simple, yet deeply meaningful art. Born and raised near Fukushima, 281_Anti Nuke broke to fame shortly after the nuclear power plant disaster in 2011, when he started posting provocative stickers along Tokyo’s shabby streets. Soon enough these stickers became a cult phenomenon among Tokyo locals and caught the eye of an international street art audience. Thanks to his exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles and a documentary film about his art, directed by British expat photographer and filmmaker Adrian Storey, 281_Anti Nuke’s work is today known all around the world. 281_Anti Nuke lives and works between Tokyo, London and New York City.

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Are you interested in Japanese contemporary art? If you follow contemporary art developments, you certainly noticed the need to understand the unique approach of contemporary Japanese art. If you take a look at 10 young contemporary Japanese art talents, you will notice a small difference from the “Western” approach. The book entitled Warriors of Art: A Guide to Contemporary Japanese Artists provides you with important insights into Japanese contemporary art. Warriors of Art features the work of forty of the latest and most relevant contemporary Japanese artists, from painters and sculptors, to photographers and performance artists, with lavish full-color spreads of their key works. Author Yumi Yamaguchi offers an insightful introduction to the main themes of each artist, and builds up a fascinating portrait of the society that has given birth to them.


Son of Katsuhiro Otomo, legendary Japanese manga artist and creator of the cult classic animated film Akira, Shohei Otomo  is a widely praised graphic artist, best known for his highly detailed and instantly recognizable works that fuse together Japanese and western cultural iconography, while portraying the realness of the Japanese society. Using an unlikely medium, a ballpoint pen, Otomo creates awesome illustrative artworks which provide an insightful and captivating depictions of Japan, often featuring samurai, geisha, stereotypical punk youths and Japanese delinquents, known as furyo. Initially turning to cost-effective pens, Otomo developed an unique, extremely dramatic and bold style, often illustrating fighting scenes and twisted thematic elements of violence and vulgarity, exposing consumerist culture and underground urbanites, in a highly realistic way.

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Haroshi is an avid skateboarder, self-taught woodworker and sculptor from Tokyo, praised around the world for his striking and stylish sculptures made from used and broken skate decks, trucks and wheels. Working on his extraordinary pieces, Haroshi carefully selects skateboards, glues them together and then carves and polishes them into into various forms such as hearts, skulls, and body parts.. As skateboard decks are made of layers of processed wood, the final sculptures have distinctive striped appearance. Without using any additional paint or pigment, Haroshi allows the bright colors of graphics originally printed on decks to serve as his color palette. Following the practice of Unkei, a 12th-century sculptor who used to place a crystal ball inside his Buddha sculptures, Haroshi puts a broken skateboard piece into the core of his eyecatching works, giving each piece a ‘soul’.


Former model and fashion designer Mariko Mori is an acclaimed master of contemporary Japanese photography, video and installation of international renown, best known for her works that juxtapose Eastern mythology with Western culture. She broke to international fame in the mid-1990s, with her large-scale self portraits, but had since moved on to adopt multi-media techniques, and today creates installations, video, and performance art that incorporates pop culture, high-fashion, science fiction, traditional Japanese rituals, Shinto spirituality and music. Mori’s rather versatile and eclectic work covers such themes as spirituality, technology, feminism, and sexuality, often with the use of futuristic images and photo editing, while re-contextualizing traditional customs, mannerisms, and trends. Her most recent works fuse collage with computer generated graphics to create otherworldly, mythic spaces, with a capsule, symbol of metamorphosis, as a recurring motif.


Here are the ten famous Japanese artists under 50 you should know.


Iwamoto Masakatu, also known as MR. is a multi-faceted contemporary artists from Saitama, whose creative output includes painting, sculpture, performance art and video. During his studies at the Sokei Art School MR. was discovered by Takashi Murakami, and he worked as Murakami’s assistant for eight years, as a member of his Kaikai Kiki studio. MR. is a self-proclaimed passionate follower of otaku subculture which emerged in Japan in the 1970s and consisted mostly of males consumed by manga comics, anime animation, sci-fi literature and video games. Masakatu’s often explicit works, that express his provocative Lolita-esque fantasies, depict young boys and girls painted in an anime and manga style, taking inspiration from the aesthetics and attitudes of otaku subculture, and lolicon themes.


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