In a contrast study, this week’s theme examined light—and lack thereof. While darkness often carries a negative connotation, its presence brings essential balance. Without it, splashes of sunlight wouldn’t be so spectacular. This week’s Photo of the Day winners submitted thoughtful reflections on the duality of light and dark, from silhouetted figures to reverend rays.

Want to be featured in a future gallery? Weekly themes are posted Sundays. To enter, you can upload your submissions to our Flickr pool, tag them on Instagram and Twitter, or join/upload them to our (NEW) Photos of the Day Facebook group.

Lead image by Robert Lalancette. See more of Robert’s work here.

Afternoon pause

paris third arrondissement
See more of’s work here.

Ah, Paris in August. In the third arrondissement, no less. (It’s one of my favorites). on Instagram perfectly captures a summer Paris afternoon when the Parisians have fled and quiet descends. I can picture myself there already.

The monk

monk Shechen Monastery in Kathmandu nepal
See more of Yasser’s work here. Yasser Alaa Mobarak

Yasser Alaa Mobarak photographs a monk at the Shechen Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal finding respite in the gentle shade of a tree. The dappled light hits his face as he looks out calmly—I love how patchy light can convey the best feeling on a warm day. 

Stranger things

man looking at night sky
See more of Gary’s work here. Gary Gustafson

The haze of a night sky photoshoot gone awry gives Gary Gustafson’s image a supernatural feel.

“My grandsons wanted to see me photographing the night sky. The fog came in and cut it way short, so this turned out to be my favorite of the night,” Gustafson shares.”

Midnight dinner

eating dinner alone
See more of Annsley’s work here. Annsley Bangkas

A meal in solitude—Annsley Bangkas captures the quiet ritual of a meal after a long day.

“Eating alone in my hotel room after watching pro tennis just outside Bangkok; fried rice and Coke from the street vendor; my friends already asleep,” Bangkas writes. 

Absolute monarchy

palace of versailles
See more of Raj’s work here. Raj Bose

Streams of light illuminate the ornate trappings of Versailles, as shot by Raj Bose. The contrast of light and shadow adds to the mystery and grandeur. 

“What I like about this composition is the depth of field created by the doors—it is like a frame of a frame. This effect is enhanced by the shadows on the floor,” Bose explains. 

The celebrants

family birthday party
See more of Hank’s work here. Hank Gans

Hank Gans’ photo instantly recalled the tableau vivant—a painting that blends art and theatrics. The perfect composition and stark contrast of light and dark give it a Norman-Rockwell meets Carravaggio flair.