Why Contrast Really Matter in Black and White Photography

Why Contrast Really Matter in Black and White Photography

Black and white photography is a photography genre that I specialize. For that, I always learn more and more about the photography. One thing that I always ask is what is really important in black and white photography. The only thing I can think of is contrast. Something that for some don’t even matter. But for me, it is. So why contrast really matter in black and white photography?

What is Contrast?

Well I think the word already obvious. Contrast just mean different of two opposite thing.

So I think it also obvious what it mean in black and white photography. Contrast mean the different between the white and the black.

Let’s try to look it more deeper.

Contrast in Black and White Photography

I did explain this before but let review again about black and white photography.

If you really look at black and white photography, the truth it’s not fill with black and white color. But actually with gray color which happen to have dark tone and light tone.

Read More: Defining Monochrome Photography

Let’s take a look at this image:

low contrast

As you can see it’s a box of gradual color from dark (left) to bright (right). Can’t tell? But if you look more closely there’s a distinguish between the left part and right part. Now this is because both side has a familiar tone and because of that, it almost look the same. That’s low contrast.

high contrast
high contrast

So I want a black and white. The only way to do it is by making the tone complete opposite to one another. And if you look at the image above what I did is make the left side more darker and the right side more lighter. And so we can see more obvious the different between those two. That’s high contrast.

So what contrast mean in black and white photography? It mean is to create more lighter tone on bright part and create more darker tone on dark part. Or make white more whiter and black more blacker.

Just remember this:

White + Contrast = Whiter

Black + Contrast = Blacker

Why Contrast Really Matter in Black and White Photography

It’s important in black and white photography for some reason.

Contrast Give Form

In color photography, it is easy to differentiated one element to the others, because it usually has a different colors. But in black and white photography, it is hardly the case.

Why Contrast Really Matter in Black and White Photography
Color Photography

What happen if all your image in gray. How to tell the different between one element to the other if all the colors of those element are the same. One way to do it is by adding more contrast.

Turn it to monochrome

As you can see before, adding contrast can show the form of an element much better by creating an outline between elements. With it, we can see much better of the form of one element and other element.

A bit of contrast

Contrast Give Impact

What I mean by impact is the feeling of “wow” in a photo. It is my personal opinion, but when I see a photo turn into grayscale (gray color photo) it just feel boring. But if I increase the contrast, it turn into much better and that feeling of “wow.”

Which one is better? Left or Right.

It Make Sense

I think I state the obvious. Isn’t black and white photography should be “black” and “white” colors. If I show a gray color photography and call it black and white photography, do’s it make sense? I don’t think so.

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