Project 52/Framed: Creative Use of Tone

In the first three weeks of this month, the Project 52/Framed group took a disciplined approach to tone in composition. We explored the effects of enforcing consistency of tone in our backgrounds and often even our subjects:first bright/high tones, then low/dark tones, then a middle level. The resulting mosaics of our collected photos at whowebecome.com were remarkable for their cohesiveness and harmony. This week, expect some more variety as we each explore mixing tones in creative ways. Some of us will reintroduce dramatic contrasts to our compositions by combining different tones. Some may toy with the expected mood conveyed by tone, for example with a serious expression from a subject in a light, airy high-key photo. Others will play with tone in post-processing,perhaps with split toning of black and white photos, a technique that goes back to the days of the darkroom.  The “split” part of the technique introduces a color cast that can be isolated to highlights without affecting the mid-tones or shadows, or vice versa. In this scene from Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA, on an overcast day, the original lighting was fairly flat. Adding blue to the highlights and brown to the shadows created a sense of depth and richness.

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Project 52/Framed: Mid key

This week we continue to experiment with tone and mood in our compositions. While high key images are created with bright light tones and low key photographs rely on shadowy dark tones, mid key images are created by isolating the mid-level tones. It may be subtle and pleasing rather than dramatic and often appears better in color than a monochromatic scheme. Colors can be complimentary and yet the same key, so although in black and white everything would blend, in color it works. In this photo, the brighter colors of my daughter’s clothing help bring the focus to her.

See the whole collection at Who We Become.

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