Contrast and Affinity

Contrast and affinity of tone is easy to understand, because the gray scale organizes tone so perfectly. Remember that contrast and affinity can occur within the shot, from shot to shot, and from sequence to sequence.

Maximum contrast of tone is black and white. Maximum affinity is any two grays next to one another on the gray scale.

Tonal control must be overt if it's going to be useful. A shot designed for maximum contrast of tone must eliminate the intermediate shades of gray.

This picture illustrates contrast of tone within the shot. The tones in the shot emphasize black and white, with no middle grays at all.

Affinity of tone is difficult to achieve and maintain. It's impractical to create a series of shots using only two similar shades of gray. Limiting the tonal range of a shot or sequence to only one third of the gray scale is a more practical way to create tonal affinity. Restricting the tonal range to only the upper or lower half of the gray scale is not as effective, because a middle gray and a white or black tone can appear too contrasty.

This shows the gray scale divided into thirds.

This picture condenses the tonal range into the middle third of the gray scale. The upper and lower portion of the gray scale has been reduced or eliminated. This picture illustrates affinity of tone.

Although the concept of contrast and affinity of tone is easy to understand, it is surprisingly difficult to use. Middle gray tones often creep into contrasty shots of three-dimensional objects, eroding the tonal contrast. Affinity of tone is also tricky to maintain, because darker and lighter tones are hard to remove. Color complicates our ability to evaluate tone, because it distracts our attention. Reducing or removing color makes evaluating tone much easier.

+2 0

Post a comment