Almost any image-editor worthy of the name offers curves adjustments, but they can be tricky...Read More
Contrast, in its simplest sense, is the different in brightness between two tone. In photography it’s usually taken to mean the brightness range of a picture – the difference in brightness between the brightest and darkest parts of a picture.
But the appearance of ‘contrast’ doesn’t always depend on this full brightness range. You can often get images which have a full range of tones from dense black to a brilliant white but still look ‘flat’.
This is usually because they have overall contrast but lack it in the most visible part of the image – the midtones. So often you can give a picture more apparent contrast by using a curves adjustment to steepen the curve in the midtones. Where the curve is steepest, the contrast is strongest.
Now, there’s also ‘localised contrast’. This is where the contrast is increased or optimised differently in different parts of the picture. Lightroom’s Dehaze effect uses localised contrast enhancement. Clarity and Structure tools also increase localised contrast around object edges.
Contrast is an essential ingredient in almost all pictures, but getting enough of it and in the right places can often be a challenge.