click photo to enlarge
When photographers use the word "contrast" they usually mean a marked difference between dark and light areas in a photograph. In black and white photography this can be achieved by seeking out compositions that naturally feature areas that are white or almost so as well as very dark or black areas. Another means of increasing contrast in this type of photography is to use a red, orange or yellow filter. In wet photography, of course, it can also be introduced during enlarging and developing too by techniques such as "burning" and "dodging". Contrast in the light/dark sense of is clearly possible in colour photography too, not least by shooting against the light.
However, the word contrast can be used in a different way, to mean a clear and visible difference of character (rather than tone) between one part of the image and another. This photograph of two adjacent shrubs shows that sort of contrast, as do aspects of this shot of Southwold Pier, particularly where the name sits against the clear sky and the dark shadows of the railings overlay the concrete and wooden decking. Architects often make use of contrast (or counterpoint) particularly when they use the soft, irregular lines and textures of natural vegetation against the hard, sharp surfaces of their buildings. This photograph of the City of London Information Centre (near St Paul's cathedral) exemplifies what I mean. So too does today's photograph.
The shot shown above has little contrast in the light/dark sense, but plenty as a result of the ragged lines of the tree branches against the hard, straight lines of the external louvre screening. The latter is used to moderate the solar gain affecting these buildings on the edge of More London. I've photographed details of these particular buildings before, but on a recent visit I stepped further back to capture the contrast that the architects had introduced into the composition.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On