XDrive Photography Learning – 16 – Contrasts.

We all like to view and shoot great pictures but some pictures catch our eye very easily and some just don’t get attention, have you noted that? Many times its independent of the subject. Sometimes not so interesting subject looks very interesting and vice versa. This is where great photographers shine. They shoot with the vision and are able to make the best use of conditions offered to them. They can convert an ordinary scene to a memorable one. How exactly they do?

Well, there is no “one” thing that creates a great picture, but there are a lot of contributing factors which creates a great picture. We have covered a lot of topics already, they all contribute to making a good picture. Today we will explore a new topic called “contrast”.

Contrast is one of the very important components of photography, often we overlook. We do, sharpness, brightness and colour adjustments but ignore adjusting the contrast.

Contrast is nothing but a deviation from the brightest parts of the image to darkest parts of an image. More the deviation, you have a more contrasty image in hand. The brightest parts of the image are called “highlights” and the darkest are called the “shadows”. Now the question is, I am supposed to have more or less contrast in my picture? 😀 Well, the answer is “its left to you”. You choose the contrast levels based on the picture or the story you are going to be telling.

High Contrast: Here the blacks are more black and whites are bright white. There will be clear lines of separation of black to white. It’s easy to create a high contrast image in the bright sun because you already have a strong light to help you capture the highlights. On the other hand, if it’s already a dull day with clouds then its very difficult to anticipate a high contrast image. Yes, the software post-processing will help to some extent but not much if you already have a very flat image. High contrast scenes create a drama, mood and curiosity for the viewer. But also remember that unwanted contrast also can create art-effects and harsh lines, may ruin your image very easily.

Low Contrast: Conditions such as cloudy or a foggy day offers opportunities for a low contrast pictures. here whites tend to be shades of lighter grey whereas the blacks tend to be high greys. You try to create a dreamlike environment with low contrast images. Low contrast images are more of an art.

In my case, I do very little low contrast images. My images have different levels of contrast. Whenever there is a chance of having high contrast images I take that opportunity. I like the drama and the punch the high contrast pictures offer. But all these are done in post-processing. Care must be given not to blow the highlights just to achieve a high contrast!

While shooting one has to identify that there is a contrasty scene available and shoot accordingly. Its always better to expose to the highlights so that your highlights are safely exposed. Backlit scenes create good contrast images. Contrasty images are always good candidates for monochrome photography. Whenever you need to show textures think about high contrast output.


The best example of high contrast picture. Contrast creates a well-defined edge between black and white pixels.

Normal contrast enhanced to show better contrast.
Becuase of the shooting conditions, it is a low contrast scene, but then post processing I added a bit of a contrast. In this case, contrast adds depth to the image.
Backlits creates great contrasts, carefully adjusting one can create
The contrast highlights the lines and shapes.
A typical low contrast scene. No amount of post-processing could add contrast here.
Contrast makes things pop up.
When you have only blacks and whites in your picture just make the blacks more black and whites to more brighter.
Contrasts enhance the rim lighting greatly.
A low contrast scene, but post-processing has given some shadows to the image.
A typical low contrast image.
The contrast shows better details.
Contrasty objects catch eyes very easily. In fact, our eyes look for contrasts to recognise the objects. Camera’s focusing systems also depend on contrasts. This is the reason why at low light camera’s autofocus hunts for focus.
Generally, low contrast images lack details and sharpness. The image becomes flatter.
Low contrast images give a sleepy or dull mood.

Makes sense? Well, hopefully by now you know what is the idea behind this post today. It’s not about whether you should do high or low contrast. It’s about the importance of contrast, why enhance it, and how much to push? Contrast is a great tool for us to make our story straight. The amount of contrast you apply dependent on shooting conditions and your vision of the story in your hand. I have seen a lot of people (who are participating in the sessions here included) posting pictures which really lacks the contrast. Believe me, it makes the big difference in the final output!

Well, that’s all for the week guys. Hope you liked this post. Now time to see your contrasts.

Please make sure to check out my earlier sessions here.


  1. Post at least one or two pictures you have taken with your camera where you thought contrast played a great role. Fresh or existing images are fine. Apply all the things we learnt in the previous sessions.
  2. Let me know type of camera(mobile, DSLR, point and shoot)
  3. Try to put EXIF data (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) so that I can comment better.
  4. Add a tag ‘XDrivePhoto’.
  5. Add a pingback to this post. (Basically, copy the URL of this post, and paste to your post. (Anywhere)
  6. Title the post as “XDrive Photography Learning – 16 – Contrasts.”

Your ping-backs may not appear immediately as I have to enable them later. I will check your post, and I will comment on your post itself. I will post selected contribution links to this post later so that others can also see and learn from them. (Please note there is no time limit for your contributions, you can post them anytime, I will respond to them as you contribute. You can also make more than one contribution to the same topic)

Although these lessons are geared towards newbies, expert photographers also welcomed heartily. I need to learn too! There are no teachers here everyone is learning.

Cheers and Happy clicking!


XDrive Photography Learning – 16 – Contrasts


XDrive Photo Lesson 16 – Contrasts (NaBloPoMo Day 26)



25 Comments Add yours

  1. Yoly says:

    I went to Disney and got on a ride called soaring over the world …it took me to India …reminded me of you. Your pictures are so rich and unique. So now every time I see India…I think Raj’s pictures..lol…just needed to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      oh that’s so sweet of you! 💗 💗 Thank you for your appreciation and support always. So I am your “Raj from India” 😀 Cheers to you! But one day you should visit India for sure! Lot more to see that what Raj is showing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yoly says:

        Yes, one day I will. Thank you for your kind words.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful the way you presented the images !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Tanvir for your support! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Leya says:

    Always something to reflect upon and learn from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Leya… 🙂


  4. Amy says:

    Hi Raj! I appreciate how you explain the contrasts in such details. These pictures are perfect examples which help us understand.
    Will turn in my assignment after Thanksgiving. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Amy. Yes, I understand, its gonna be very busy week ahead. Even though we don’t celebrate thanks giving this part of the world, I have cousin’s wedding this week so gonna be very hectic schedule! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amy says:

        I have heard about the wedding in India, a huge event that lasts for days.
        Thank you for finding time for this lesson, I so look forward to the weekly lesson!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Raj says:

        Yes, its is a huge event with lots of food! 😀 Also work-wise bit under the gun as we have some kind of inspection due at our university. Somehow squeezing in some time for the tutorials .. Don’t want the tempo to come down! Cheers and good night!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Helen for the heads up, responded.. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. brenda says:

    Happy Monday! Or are you moving into Tuesday? As I published this lesson, I realized that processing these images while writing the blog adds to the element of learning. I don’t know how to thank you enough for these lesson plans.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj says:

      Thanks Brenda, yes they do. Thats the main advantage of participation on such activities. Reading the stuff is one thing doing it and then writing clarifies so many things. And then there is a comment section.. if still not satisfied.. 😀


  6. brenda says:

    And, then to silence the student’s defensive ego as she reads the instructor’s comments and then to implement the variables of the critique during a “redo”… priceless _()_

    Liked by 1 person

  7. shalini says:

    Such a fine eye you have Raj.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Raj says:

      Thank you Shalini.. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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