A fine art photograph of a Low Tide by Barbara Stevko.

3 Types of Contrast

Contrast is an interesting subject of composition.  Contrast allows us to distinguish one part of a picture from another.  It can draw our attention to a specific point, create drama, or offer a visual clarity of a subject that otherwise be hard to view.  This is true for any art form.

  1. Visional –  Visional contrast is the view of an object by it’s defining lines of color or light.  The old fashion football (soccer ball) is a good example of a visual contrast.  You have white spaces that are offset by black spaces.  This type of contrast will draw the eye to that object, the ball, naturally.
  2. Form –  Contrast in form is easily created using opposite or geometric value.  In other words,  short or tall, fat or skinny, rough or smooth, or concave or convex, these are all types of form contrasts that can add power and motion to your photographs.
  3. Negative –  negative contrast.  When I think of the negative contrast I  imagine the old Japanese minimalist approach to art and design.  The amount of open space in a picture  highlights a single solitary object in the photograph.  This type of photography exists a great deal in various fine art magazines.  Sculpture is usually photographed against a solid black or white background allowing the art work for sale to receive the greatest attention.

By studying and experimenting with contrast you can bring your photographic and design skills to a higher level.  Contrast allows the artist to capture  the viewer’s attention and show, or hide, areas in the picture that might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked.

While the rule of thirds and the golden ratio are all good suggestions to follow they only offer the answers of where a subject in a photo belongs. Contrast will finish the other side of the placement equation with the answer of what or how you place a subject to draw attention to it.

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