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Four steps for taking portraits with blurred backgrounds


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Black and white photos have a degree of detail and contrast that confers them a unique, moody intensity. However, a carefully-composed, artistic photo is easily ruined by background objects, which can distract the viewer. Good photographers sometimes manage to use creative camera angles to keep some of this "background noise" out of shot, but such techniques only get you so far.

For example, I originally intended for the photo below to center on the removal men at work, but they were drowned out by other objects in the foreground and background.

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I took the following photo at a low angle to try to give the teddy bear a "larger-than-life" look, but once again background objects stole the show and detracted from the desired effect.

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When I place my photos side by side with some of the slick, glossy photos my friends share with me, I'm too ashamed to even contemplate posting them on social media services such as Instagram and Facebook.

However, more recently, I discovered a clever trick on the HUAWEI P10/P10 Plus that can be used to blur out background objects and make the subject more prominent. This technique produces absorbing, arty shots that are guaranteed to garner you more "likes" on social media. Moreover, no fancy camera angles are necessary; simply take your phone, find an interesting subject, and point and shoot.

When you take ordinary black and white photos, usually both the foreground and background are in focus, so there is no obvious subject or theme. However, by combining the black and white and wide aperture shooting modes on the HUAWEI P10/P10 Plus, you can blur out the background and place emphasis on a particular object or person.

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If you look closely at the images below, you will observe that the photo on the left is overexposed and has a cluttered background. The photo on the right, on the other hand, was taken with the HUAWEI P10/P10 Plus and effectively combines the black and white and wide aperture shooting modes to reduce background interference and create a more dramatic contrast. This is particularly noticeable in the "Cloud Park" lettering, which has a much clearer outline.

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After learning and applying this technique, and with a bit of practice, my black and white photos now look infinitely better, to the point that I can proudly post them on social media for my friends to see. To achieve similar results yourself, simply follow the four steps that are set out in the animated graphic below.

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By combining these two shooting modes on the HUAWEI P10/P10 Plus, you can produce photos with that timeless black and white look, while enjoying all of the speed and convenience that modern technology can offer.

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