Composition: Contrast and Tone

Quiet. Reverential. Contemplative.

If you are going for a feeling like the above with a photograph, the below characteristics will do well:

Soft light
Gray tones
Pastel colors
Curved lines
Rounded forms
Subdued contrast

Loud. Quick. Excitement. Spontaneity. Punch.

With these feelings, the below characteristics will do you well:

Hard light
Black blacks and white whites
Vibrant colors.
Angled lines.
Edged forms
Unrestrained contrast.

Be careful, as heavy contrast is easily overdone. Be sure to check in and feel the emotion you are trying to conveying in a photograph. Some do better with more contrast, some do better with less.


Up near the Fire Trails in Berkeley, I started on a mission to Orinda BART. I don’t know if I’ve been anywhere quieter in the Bay, so I wanted to show that, along with the fog that was sweeping through. Very low contrast between the tree branches created the quiet, mystical, and simple feeling I was going for.


This tide pool in a pocket of ironshore beach was created by a storm that you can see is leaving. I wanted to show the reflection of the stormy sky, the sharp edges of the rocks, so I increased the contrast for more punch and excitement.




Shooting some photos at Berkeley Park for the first time in a while, Dylan was getting creative with a nollie back 180 melon. The sun was going down, and the sky was darkening to the blue shade you see here. I was using flash to freeze the action and light him properly. There is a lot of contrast between Dylan and the dark sky, and the colors of the sunset, creating the bold image I wanted.



In this photo of the mountains surrounding Ollantaytambo, you can see the three different tones in the photo, the first hill, the peak, and the sky. Not much contrast was added, each layer stood out on it’s own.

The nest post will be about: DOF!