Using Contrast to Improve Your Architectural Images

This week, let’s talk about a simple way to improve your architectural images: contrast. If you want more compositions and retouching tips, check out our Tips + Tricks post category. We regularly write about different ways to create stronger compositions, as well as post-processing techniques.

Contrast can be as simple a dark vs bright. Using light and shadows can help draw attention to your image. With dodging and burning you can also draw the viewer’s eye to the most important parts of the image.

But there are many other ways to create contrast in your images. First, you can use contrasting colours. Think warm/cold for example in the image on the left below. It will work well with any complementary colors: yellow/purple, orange/blue, red/green.

In the image on the right, it’s simply two buildings with different colors. But on the left, the difference in color is because one side of the building is in the sunlight while the other side in the shade, creating different white balance.

You can also contrast different types of architecture, as you can see below. On the left, it’s a classic old vs new take at the Louvre in Paris. On the right, you have multiple levels of contrast with the modernist cold black building, the warm old building reflected and the warm curvy modern sculpture.

When photographing architecture, it can be useful to include natural elements to contrast with the man-made structures. Good examples are trees and clouds, as they are easy to find.

To go one level further, the nature vs man-made contrast can be complemented by connections. In the image on the left, the spiky building mirrors the starburst of the sun. In the image on the right, the architecture mimics the palm tree.

A more subtle contrast can be captured with texture. In the images below, the wispy clouds contrast with the rugged stone and the soft, curvy facade opposes the rougher straight facade.

We hope this will give you some inspiration to include more contrast in your compositions. Now, time to go out and shoot! Don’t forget to share your images in our Facebook Group.



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