I talk a lot about contrast in photography. Our eye/brain combination has a tremendous dynamic range — the ability to see complete detail in the shadows and highlights of a subject or scene — but the digital sensor (and film in the past) doesn’t have the same ability to capture subtlety.
In a contrasty situation, like the sunlight striking a wall in the 15th-century Jewish cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic, my eyes saw a great deal of detail in those shadow areas. The photo, though, turned out very differently. The shadows went dark. In most situations, this is not desirable. This is why so many photographers use the HDR technique now. We want to reveal all the detail we can see.
HDR stands for high dynamic range, which, just as the name implies, allows us to see detail in a large range of tonal values (the result of making several exposures of the same scene and then combining them in the digital darkroom).
In this case, though, I like the contrast. It adds drama and visual impact to the subject. This goes to show that in art, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Note: Jim Zuckerman is a top stock photographer who teaches at BetterPhoto's digital photography school online, including these courses: Perfect Digital Exposure and Techniques of Natural Light Photography.