Contrast in photography

Contrast in photography is the element of an image, which separates out the main subject from the background. This can be created with tones, colors, size, focus and texture.

Light colored object on dark background or dark colored object on light colored background are simple examples of tonal contrast. It always works well if we want to keep the story simple.

Color contrast can be achieved by using opposite color of the object in the background on color wheel. Example is red apple on cyan backdrop. There are other combinations, and all of them creates very strong color contrast. If we select a color on color wheel at four o'clock or eight o'clock position, then the punch in color contrast is reduced. Examples are red on blue or green on red.

Variation in size of objects also emphasis the main object. This is contrast in size, and it is a way to create a contrast in a cluster of other similar objects. It requires proper placement and composition to work well. This technique is used in a creative shot in industrial photography. Other example of creating a contrast with size is to give additional negative space, so that main subject is isolated from the background.

By use of selective focusing and shallow depth of field, we can bring out the main subject from cluttered background. This has a good pictorial appeal, as the background is not having any sharp and define lines, which can be a distracting element.

A smooth object on rough or textured surface or rough object on smooth background is a demonstration of contrast in texture. This effect works well in food photography and glamour photography. However, it requires help of other elements like color and tonal separation.

This element of contrast has to be blended with other elements to bring out most from an image.

Learn more about:

Color in photography

Form in photography

Line in photography

Negative space

Pattern in photography

Perspective in photography

Positive space

Shadow in photography

Shape in photography

Size in photography

Texture in photography

Tone in photography

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