Teresa Pilcher Photography

Natural Contrast

“It takes darkness to be aware of the light.” ― Treasure Tatum

When we are  Shooting with Intent, then Natural Contrast is one of the most important elements we can focus on. We need the Blacks to see the White. So we are trying to capture a dark subject in front of a light backdrop and vice versa. This may be stating the obvious, but this is important. Natural Contrast is the one element we see most in strong images that stand out from the crowd. The subject can be quite small in scale and in comparison to the rest of the image but with natural contrast it will be a strong element. We see the world in Colour, we learn to think in tonal ranges when converting our colour images into B&W to allow for separation. I often use Lightroom to lift colours that allows for more separation.  (Lightroom Tip: By clicking on the top left circle in the B&W panel, the Black and White Mix can be adjusted by clicking and dragging on the photo.)

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This image was taken at the Altar of the Fatherland, there were people capturing the sun setting to my left when I noticed their shadows. All I needed to do was wait for my subjects to arrive before the sun disappeared. There is sufficient natural contrast even though it is not Black against White. I enjoy the layers of silhouettes in this image.

This image uses both diagonal and vertical lines as well as a strong natural contrast from shooting up at the sky. When taking silhouettes we don’t take our exposure from the foreground but from the sky. I like that there is very little detail in this silhouette, it becomes quite minimal.

Another silhouette with a difference. The light through the fountain makes for a fabulous backdrop. I timed my image so he is contrasted with the white spray and he is at full stride. A simple idea but the timing is everything.

Silhouettes are very popular and for good reason. Should we do more silhouettes when we see so many of them? I find it a challenge to produce an image that everyone else is doing and still make it feel authentic. So I say yes, do them and do them well.


Do you think about Natural Contrast or use it intuitively?

Teresa Pilcher

Teresa Pilcher Photography A Blog on Street Photography


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