Winter tree Bright 3
Winter Tree Bright

Despite not having much color, this image catches the eye. It is a very good example of the adage: “Color gets the credit, but value does the work.”

The importance of value (light and dark) is something we tend to forget about, given the ubiquity of highly saturated color photographs.  Yet it is the foundation of a good image. We just tend not to recognize value’s importance. One of my favorite examples of value is Unkoku Tōgan’s (1547-1618) ink on paper, Descending Geese.  He depicted a flock of geese coming in for a landing next to their compatriots on a sand bar. Here, value first directs you to the subject, then softening, creates both place and depth.
Unkoku Togan 1
Unkoku Togan Descending Geese