Contrast for impact

From Fotolia Blog

Getting the right level and type of tonal contrast in a finished image is something a lot of photographers find challenging. Very often in an attempt to generate a bit of impact the contrast slider is dragged up the scale until dense shadows and over-bright highlights appear to deliver the ‘woof’ that’s required. However, in many cases by the time the desired effect is achieved the shadows and highlights have begun to conceal information rather than allowing it to help with the story. As well as hiding detail that really should be shown, deep shadows and very bright whites often create a distraction of their own and draw the eye away from the subject. It doesn’t help either that they won’t look very realistic.

The secret to boosting impact in an image, without the process costing shadow and highlight detail, is to use the curves tool and to think carefully about the tonal areas that need the help. Contrast sliders are blunt instruments by comparison and deal only with the extremes of the tonal range, while a curve allows the photographer to determine which tonal values get the separation that enhances the feeling of depth and three-dimensions in the picture…Read more