All photos have contrast: what is contrast in photography?

Contrast in photography is key. An image is said to be contrasted when there is a marked difference between its light and dark parts. This means that there are few intermediate tones and that its content is portrayed by playing on light and gray areas.
It’s essential to understand what contrast in photography is in order to know how to apply it correctly and obtain quality shots.

Contrast in digital photography

Contrast varies greatly depending on the situation, and it’s not always easy to adjust it correctly when shooting, also because often the reduced view of the image visible on the camera monitor doesn’t make it easy to really understand if the contrast is good or not.

Many cameras feature settings that allow you to adjust contrast using filters. It’s always best to use the RAW setting and later correct the lighting and contrast during post-production, to avoid applying filters that can’t be undone.

A great tool for ensuring correct contrast is the histogram. A histogram is a diagram that can be set in the camera to show shadow, mid-tone and light levels. Depending on the result you’re expecting from your shot, the histogram can help you understand if the levels are balanced and therefore if the shot will be balanced and correct.

If instead you want to take pictures without immediately having to worry about contrast, you can always correct the contrast values in the post-production phase. However, remember that post-production can’t do miracles, so try to get to this point of the photographic process with quality shots that only need a few tweaks, for example contrast adjustment and balance.

Now that you know what contrast in photography is you can start taking amazing pictures and uploading them to Gallerist: you may just find a buyer interested in purchasing your photos!

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