Contrast Part 5: ………………… Contrast Adjustment Basics

The series’ previous posts illustrated both color and tonal contrast and explained their importance. Today’s post is step-one in showing how contrast can be adjusted.

Part 5 of a series

“All About Image Contrast for Photographers”

SO MANY USERS, SO MANY DIFFERENT POST-PROCESSING TOOLS

Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, GIMP, .. the list goes on

The number of contrast adjustment options is even greater

This post introduces the grand-daddy of

All contrast adjustment tools (& the most powerful)

Subsequent posts will elaborate and

Discuss other members of granddad’s family

D800E_130617_181422__DSC8837-1

Cloud

Walking the dog in the late afternoon

Saw this enormous cloud

Ran back inside, grabbed the D800E with 70-200 f/2.8 & tripod

Took this shot (the cloud already had lost some of its “punch”)

6-26-2013 4-12-25 PM

Alfred Stieglitz, a famous photographer,

Made a series of cloud photos (1925-31) which achieved fame

I have to admit that I don’t get it


To recap the message of this series’ earlier posts –

There are two basic types of image contrast

Tonal & Color

Each has a different impact on the human vision system

Proper contrast is important for

Image impact (eye-catching vs. ho-hum)

Most  images need post-processing to achieve the best contrast

Straight-from-the-camera contrast is often flat


I plan to do the rest of this series,

The what, why, and how of Contrast Adjustment

In small bite-size pieces (500 words or less)
Maybe 10 or so bites

For the most part I’ll be using Figure 1 (all or pieces of it)

To illustrate the what/why/how

Download a copy and follow-along day-by-day

Reference Print printer 2362x3543pixel

Figure 1


Lesson #1 – The Hallmarks of High & Low Contrast

To begin, we need to recognize high & low contrast when we see it

6-26-2013 9-10-43 AM

Figure 2

Figure 2 shows that the difference between high and low contrast

Manifests itself in two ways

Visually – image “Pops” (high) or it’s Flat (low)

“Pops” is a technical photography term 😉

Histogram – Wide (high) or Narrow (low)


Ed, what is this “grand-daddy” of all contrast tools?

It’s Levels & Curves, or to be more precise

The Curves portion

This is a tool found in one form or another in

Any post-processing software that’s worth using

If you learn to use it,

There is virtually nothing than can’t be done contrast-wise

At least nothing important


Tomorrow, all you ever wanted to know about

Levels & Curves

If you downloaded Figure 1’s test image

It’s an exercise for the interested reader to

Do the high-to-low contrast conversion shown in Figure 2

The high is taken directly from Figure 1

The low was made using Levels & Curves

Easy; not rocket science


Time to go; word count is over 450


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