Black & White, oil & water, hot & cold our everyday life is filled with contrasting elements, Photography is no different. without these contrasts, we would struggle with composition. Without Contrast, our chosen scene may blend together and we would have no expression.
Contrast In A Nutshell
Contrast in photography refers to a visual difference in the nature of the subject/s we chose to frame in our composition. Contrast has to be substantial enough between the two or more elements within the frame to differentiate and separate them.
When we put visual contrast to good effect we are able to guide the viewer to an area we chose. Highlighted areas will stand out but not in a way that will cause a distraction and confusion.
Using Contrast For Composition
When you are out looking for interesting subjects and something catches your eye it's possible that the contrast of that subject has caught your attention. These are like Eureka moments, our brain has latched on to something it can identify through simplicity, it can decipher that information and not be confused. Simplifying a chosen scene is one of the fundamental parts of landscape photography and using the techniques we learn about why something works we can put that to use and produce compelling images.
Putting It To Use
In the image below this tree has either been hit by lightning or wind and damaged it at some point in its life. Over many years the elements of wind, rain, snow, warm & cool air have weathered and bleached the fallen branches. This has created a contrast from its surrounding area. I used this contrast to draw the viewers attention directly to the branches and to then continue further up the tree trunk. The image is visually interesting and one that tells a story of a tree clinging on to mother earth continuing its struggle to survive.