Understanding how contrast works in photography is a milestone on your journey towards successful images. Skilful operating with contrast allows to direct viewer’s attention within our image, with contrast we can drag his eye towards the subject. Contrast largely contributes to building a mood and storytelling with images.
Typically when people speak about contrast they relate to luminosity contrast - dark vs. light. High contrast images tend to be dynamic, strong and very often have a graphic quality to them. By enhancing tonal contrast in post production we can simplify images and reinforce their visual impact.
Beside tonal contrast we can introduce color contrast into our images. To be able to efficiently operate with color in your images it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of Color Theory. To build a contrast in an image with color we would take advantage of Complementary Colors rule. I would like to encourage you to experiment with colors and play with Paletton - a fantastic, intuitive online tool that generates color combinations that work well together. So Complementary Colors are colors that oppose each other on the Color Wheel. The well known, visually pleasing “amber and teal” cinematic color palette is based on Complementary Colors rule.
Opposite colors placed next to each other within an artwork enhance themselves, make elements of your photographic composition pop: blue pairs with yellow and red with green. Color contrast is most intense when we are working with colors at their highest level of vibrance.
Similar, eye-catching effect can be achieved as well by placing together cool and warm colors.
Strong color contrast can be used to compensate low tonal contrast.
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