3 tips for shooting HIGH CONTRAST photos

3 tips for shooting HIGH CONTRAST photos

Want people to stop and admire your photography? Want your image to nearly pop off the wall and say “LOOK AT ME!!!”

High contrast can help you do it! There are 3 different kinds of contrast in photography: High, Normal, and Low. 

Low contrast means that there is very little value change. It could be that the the light is mostly dark, mostly grays OR mostly light. The key is that there is not a lot of contrast in low contrast.

Normal contrast means that there are some bright lights, many mid tones, and some darker tones. This type of contrast will likely make up the bulk of your photos.

High contrast means that you have a lot of bright lights and a lot of dark tones with very little middle gray. And this is the contrast that we will be focusing on this week.

When taking photos for high contrast, think drama! Don’t think that normal or low contrast is bad, they certainly have their place, we just want to focus on high contrast for this week!

  1. The right time of day. Golden hour (if you aren’t familiar with this term click here to read my post on light). One good way to guarantee that you will have good contrast is by taking your shots at dawn or dusk. Not only is the light AMAZING, but you can also look for good opportunities for silhouettes, which you know are going to have good contrast! (SIDE NOTE: you can also simulate the silhouette affect by putting a bright light of some kind behind your subject.)
    golden hour
    image source


  2. Black and white. I talk a lot about how distracting color can be, and this is one of those cases. Not all photos that have good contrast are in black and white, but there is something about stripping the color from an image that makes it look more classy and contrasty. Try it and see!
    black and white
    image source


  3. Post editing. So once you have taken your amazing high contrast photo, you can enhance that contrast in your photo editing software. In Photoshop, the #1 way to do it is to adjust the levels. Cut out all the empty space in the histogram for each of the colors. Then make the “S” curve on your curves adjustment. And if that is not enough, you can always go in and dodge and burn sections of the photo.edits


Got to love that contrast! If you found this article helpful, click the box below and download the FREE project outline for High Contrast Photography. Happy shooting! (…with a camera…don’t get any violent ideas out there!)