Frequency modulation atomic force microscopy (FM-AFM) experiments were performed on the calcite (1014) surface in pure water, and a detailed analysis was made of the 2D images at a variety of frequency setpoints. We observed eight different contrast patterns that reproducibly appeared in different experiments and with different measurement parameters. We then performed systematic free energy calculations of the same system using atomistic molecular dynamics to obtain an effective force field for the tip-surface interaction. By using this force field in a virtual AFM simulation we found that each experimental contrast could be reproduced in our simulations by changing the setpoint, regardless of the experimental parameters. This approach offers a generic method for understanding the wide variety of contrast patterns seen on the calcite surface in water, and is generally applicable to AFM imaging in liquids.