Tonal Contrast Project

It’s almost miraculous to be talking about stormy weather this summer but it arrived last week in deluges. Twice I planned to go walkabout with my camera only to be beaten back – bad light and rain stopped play indeed. Instead I read up on one or two articles on photography with particular interest in tonal contrast. Confined indoors mean making do with whatever was at hand and practising with simple compositions in high contrast mono.

“Tonal contrast is when light tones and dark tones lie alongside each other – to create a clear separation between shadows and light – making the contours in the image more evident- giving the image more volume”

By sheer coincidence yesterday I also picked out a ‘Tonal Contrast’ knowledge card from the flashcard assignment pack* coupled with a Task card theme of ‘Locked’. The day was dry and grey and for this project, I kept my camera in the more straightforward monochrome mode.

 Shoot tightly locked  subjects such as doors, crates, boxes, packages etc

The difficulty with black and white photos on a grey day is to capture the range of grey tones when the shadows are few and far between – fortunately the topic meant looking in the darkest of places!

And just as I had imagined that that is all there is to it, I read an excellent article by Anand Chaudhuri* which took me further into the zone – the Zone System which requires further digestion, for another day.

In a properly exposed black and white shot from a typical scene and with normal contrast you should be able to identify all the zones. Each zone represents a tone or a different grey. At higher contrast we have fewer tones and at lower contrast we have more tones

locks_TC (7)

For Photographers:
*Understanding Tonal Contrast – Anand Chaduri

7 Creative Indoor Photographic Projects for you to try 

See the Bigger Picture flashcards- also available as an App

Introspectives: Continuing this series from my previous blog where I think out loud with an aim to improve and learn more about photography. Hence the images are not always for show – feedback is welcome.

2 thoughts on “Tonal Contrast Project

    1. It is yet another dimension we have to be aware of before we press the shutter – eventually all these aspects might become more natural and automatic

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