In photography, contrast is one of many tools used to draw attention to your subject while also creating a mood. There are a few different types of contrast. Today, I have tonal contrast on my mind; the difference between the light and dark areas of a photo. When there is a greater difference between the light and dark areas it is considered high contrast and conversely when there is not much of a difference between the two it is a low contrast situation. Higher contrast images tend to be more dramatic and convey a sense of power while low contrast images have a softness to them imparting a feeling of gentleness. There are a few methods we can use to create high contrast images. One is to choose subjects with contrasting colors, such as piano keys.
Adjusting your lighting is yet another way of achieving greater contrast. In a darker room using a strong light source from the side of your subject will bathe that side in light while leaving the rest in the shadows.
Using this technique, you can highlight the area of your subject you wish to call attention to while creating a dramatic mood at the same time. Underexposing your photo by a stop or two, which is similar to adding black to your image, will enhance your shadow areas. If you don’t want such a dramatic difference in your light and dark areas keep your exposure at the proper exposure determined by your light meter.
An additional technique for creating high contrast is placing your subject in front of a bright light source (a window or a sunset for example) and exposing for the light source, which results in a silhouette of your subject.
I challenge you to go out this week and look for the contrast in your world and try to enhance it.
Keeping in mind, “where there is much light, the shadow is deep.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe