Thursday, October 01, 2009

Contrast vs Sharpness : Digital Photography

This is one of the by-far toughest to differentiate and comprehend in the photography world. I have tried my best to share my knowledge in the simplest way. If you want to skip all the details, here it is for you “Sharpness will only be concerned with the outlines of the different objects that appear in your photographs. Contrast will differentiate the texture, highlight the difference in color or shade amongst two adjacent surfaces making their clarity and outlines more prominent.” Didn’t make any sense? Read on!

When you are adjusting the sharpness in your camera, you are basically focusing your attention to make each an object very clear and distinct from one another. It helps make the edges and lines that are present look more distinct. When you buy expensive lenses this is one of the major factors which makes it expensive. So it apparently seems that why even consider contrast when sharpness alone can make our photos better. But one unavoidable scenario is that noise is bound to come with increasing sharpness. So you have to choose it wisely.

Contrast also contributes in making your photos sharper. When you are adjusting the contrast in your camera, you are making the surface texture more distinct, more emphasized than it is. So the border between two such surfaces is bound to get more pronounced along with the surfaces themselves. As the surfaces and the shades of colors gets their importance, the separation zones between them become clearer and the overall picture looks sharper. So is the contrast contributing to the sharpness of the image? Yes it is! So both of them virtually play a role together in the sharpness of a photo.

An example would make it clear. Here below in the original photo you can see the sun, boat, waves and the reflection on the sand. The waves are not very clear near the coast and the reflection on the sand spreads away lightly. Now see the next photo.
Now in the picture below, only the contrast has been adjusted. See the difference. The boat, the waves near the coast as well as the reflection has become sharper. They are visibly highlighted than the above picture where they dissolved with their neighbors.   
And now below only the sharpness has been increased over the first original picture. The beach and the waves with the boat already seem to have lots of more detailed black lines. However, the texture around them has remained the same. That’s why the reflection doesn’t look as good as the above picture (where the contrast has been adjusted, which indicates that only by adjusting the contrast your picture can look a lot better.) But for best results, an optimum level of sharpness is essential. Notice the noise over the waves on the center and right side.
Now in this final picture, both the contrast and sharpness has been adjusted to give the best possible effect. The boat, waves and the reflection are distinctly pronounced along with the minute details on the sand, the curves of the waves and the outlines of the boat.
Contrast   Sharpness     
As much differences may exist between the two, contrast and sharpness are essentially the two most closely related aspects that sets every photographer uniquely apart. Perfect combination of both these often produces some master-pieces. If you are new to this, just keep on practising and you will soon find your own unique combination of both you will enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. loved it :-)
    well explained.. and with relevant examples


“Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” ~ Mark Twain