Or better, the loss of it?

If I take a picture of a uniformly white wall, I don't expect contrast at all and that's ok.

But sometimes I take photos of a a scene where there are light areas, dark shadow, lot of different colors...and I end up with a "lovely" grey covered image, with a typical histogram all by a side; nothing I can't recover by working the raw, but...I'd like to know what makes or remove the contrast.

My camera is not top notch, and moreover my usual lens is not that good so ok, that can make things worst.

But, even considering it...where contrast exactly come from? Is it really just the "difference" between the blacks and the whites? So why my camera sometimes take a "normal" scene with poor contrast? Is it the scattering in the air? How the lens can physically "lose" contrast?

I know my eyes can deceive me, for they take lots of different pictures and my brain (or whatever else is inside my head, not sure) compose them together, but I thought this works for high dynamic range situation...is it just that my eyes are really that good and use the same technique to improve the contrast?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/85254/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 10:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11323/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/40153/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like maybe you are trying to describe veiling flare ("...and I end up with a "lovely" grey covered image...")? Without some example images, it is hard to tell for sure exactly what you are asking, and therefore it is very difficult to answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 16:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you post a picture that you feel has dark shadows, and light highlights, but which has low contrast? Sometimes the words used in other people's descriptions make us think a specific thing, and it's not always what the person doing the describing intended. I feel like this might be one of those cases. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


The lighting. Basically, a "large" light (like in open shade sky, or like an umbrella) makes soft light, with the desirable gradient shades of tone. A close umbrella appears much larger than a distant umbrella.

Whereas a small light (like a small 2 inch direct flash, or like the direct sun) makes a sharp hard light.

See http://www.scantips.com/lights/flashbasics3.html for an example of the principle.


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