In photography, contrast is the degree to which the tones in the picture differ. A high-contrast black-and-white photo, for example, will feature mostly black and white objects with few grey tones. A low-contrast photo, meanwhile, will have very little tonal variation.
A photographer who has paid proper attention to contrast in his or her work will direct a viewer’s attention to the most interesting aspect of the photograph. Also, the picture will be more pleasurable overall to look at. There are many different techniques that a photographer can employ to achieve effective contrast in a photo. First, special care must be taken to provide adequate and appropriate lighting. Another way to ensure proper contrast is to regulate the amount of time the film is exposed to light.
When deciding how to light a scene, the photographer must consider how the lighting will affect the contrast on film. Too little lighting and the tonal differences may not be apparent in the photograph. On the other hand, too much lighting may make the subject appear washed out. If relying on natural light, special equipment called filters can be used to improve contrast. Filters are pieces of colored glass that are usually screwed on to the ends of the lens. When properly used, the filter can make certain colors appear brighter and others duller.
Aside from determining appropriate lighting for a scene, pleasing contrast can also be achieved. This can be done by paying special attention to the amount of light the film is exposed to when actually taking the picture. In photography, this is called exposure. Exposure can be manipulated by changing either the aperture (the opening in the lens that allows the light to come in) or the shutter speed (the speed at which the window in the camera remains open). Fortunately, choosing the proper exposure time does not take a great deal of technical knowledge of cameras. In fact, by experimenting with the camera, even an amateur can figure out appropriate exposure times for different subjects.
If a photographer is unsure of how long to expose the photo, he or she can also employ a technique called bracketing. Bracketing is when a subject is photographed multiple times using different exposure times. Bracketing allows the photographer to choose which of the exposures will render the best contrast.
Tone: the quality or shade of color
Variation: a small difference in something
Direct: to control something
Regulate: to adjust
Filter: a piece of equipment used to remove certain kinds of light
Manipulate: to control something with hands
Render: to make or cause something
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