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Photography 101: Triumph

Today, let’s bump up the contrast for a bold take on triumph.

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Triumph comes in all shapes and sizes: finding enough coffee to make a full pot. Having just enough gas in the tank to get to the filling station. Finding out your story was accepted for publication in that awesome magazine.

My triumph was fighting inertia to walk through the park on a cold winter day. My reward was this photo of a massive, naked elm tree with a bit of sun flare and bold shadows from thin light.

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What does triumph mean to you? It could mean that goal in the dying seconds, nailing “tree pose” without quivering, or any victory — big or small, personal or public.

Tip: Triumph usually denotes drama of some sort, no matter whether it’s big or small. Playing with contrast is a great way to enhance your photos for a more dramatic effect.

Tips on increasing/decreasing contrast:

  • Increase to bring out bold colors and accents (a red lantern, a yellow balloon).
  • Increase to make the blacks blacker, the whites whiter.
  • Decrease slightly to even out a blue sky.
  • Don’t boost the contrast too much — you’ll lose the details.
  • Be careful when tweaking pictures of people — you can easily “wash out” faces.

Contrast in photography generally refers to the difference between the lights and darks in an image — and the interplay between white, black, and gray. When someone says a black-and-white photo has high contrast, oftentimes the white and black are prominent, while a low-contrast image includes subtler tones and layers of gray. In color images, contrast might refer to the juxtaposition of two bright colors, or a cold color (blue) next to a warm color (red).

While you can use Photoshop, Pixelmator, Lightbox, or other software to tweak the contrast on your images, you don’t need to spend money to enhance your photos. PicMonkey and PhotoCat are two sites that allow you to edit photos (including contrast) for free.

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