Mastering Low Contrast Light in Nature Photography

Contrast is the difference between various light or color values in naturally low or high contrast conditions. Nature photographers play with color and light value in post to change the impact and overall resolution of images.

See how making the most of the low contrast in the bottom half of Abraham Lake Aurora accentuates the subject, which is the Aurora Borealis.

Low contrast light reduces an object’s contours and colors, giving them a dull, faded look. Be a photographer who knows how to turn low-light conditions to your advantage. Here’s how.

Use Fog to Your Advantage

Foggy conditions remove color and contours from an image. Looking on the bright side is important when you can’t see ten feet ahead of you. Since the only bright spot on a foggy day is the fog, why not focus on that?

Work with the little clarity that you have by capturing a clear foreground deviating into a foggy background. Use the difference between a high-contrast foreground and a low-contrast background to depict the fog slowly taking over the Canadian landscape.

Stick to Black and White

Do you see how the background in the above landscape picture is reduced to black and white colors? Some nature photographers use a black-and-white palette intentionally when the fading colors are too dull to add an element of interest to the overall image.

You can focus more on an image’s texture, tone, and form when you take the lackluster colors out of the picture. Show an uninterrupted expanse by removing textural and tonal imperfections. You can do this while capturing the image. For instance, you can wait for the waves to wash away fresh footprints or when fine-tuning it in post.

Wait for a Rainy Day

Rain is the quintessential low-light event, but some nature photographers wait for such days to arrive because of the interesting reflections it creates on the ground.

Save some space in your camera for a rainstorm and click away at the natural ripples, patterns, and reflections on your favorite landscape. The upside of capturing rainy images? They are one-of-a-kind—every single time.

Learn by Looking at the Low Contrast Nature Photography at Jardene Photography

Learn how to capture nature at its darkest, dullest, and/or foggiest by example. Visit the Jardene Photography galleries online to view the celebrated landscapes, wildlife, and bisons immortalized by Andy Denton, an award winning landscape photographer and nature enthusiast whose photography prints are available for perusal and purchase across North America, the UK, and some parts of Europe.

Share your thoughts and feedback with the Alberta-based landscape photographer and his team.

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