Color has become such an important tool to the photographer today. It evokes varying emotional responses such as excitement, awe, wonderment, joy, peace, fear and many more. These colors will be one of the first things to capture a viewer’s attention, creating an emotional impact.
Color comes in all kinds of flavors, from being bold to muted, with billions upon billions of combinations in between. Another compositional tool, when it's used successfully it will permit you the artist to create the emotion allowing your photographs to shine.
Complimentary colors are best described as being opposites on the color wheel. They are my favorite color tool to use when; of course they are available to be included in the composition. I’ll use my logo (which uses a color wheel) as a reference color wheel. It’s handy to have around when using it to reference colors and figure out their place in the color spectrum.
Look at the colors opposite each other on the color wheel. This is what draws the viewer’s eye to these colors giving a feel good feeling at what they are seeing, it’s pleasing to the eye. It allows your viewer to feel an emotional response.
Gold (Orange) on Blue
Complimentary Colors Purple and Green
I highly recommend looking for subjects with complimentary colors as it will give a lot of power to your pictures. Perhaps that’s why sunsets and sunrises are considered so beautiful and popular. Blue and orange being complimentary colors in the following examples.
Then we have what are called primary and secondary colors. These are not to be discounted as they are also possibilities to be used with great strength in your composition when they are available.
Primary colors are simply the boldest of the colors, those colors being red, blue and yellow.
Primary Color Blue
Secondary Color Orange
Secondary colors are just a mixture of two of the primary colors. Blue and yellow primary colors will give you a secondary color of green. Blue and red primary colors will give you the secondary color of purple and so on.
Using either primary or secondary colors by themselves or in combination with each other can make for some stunning photography.
Unfortunately most times you won’t be able to choose your color or colors in a scene with your subject. You can include or exclude colors from your composition with careful positioning, movement, or adjusting the field of view with your capture.
I like to hover around like a fly moving in and out, up and down, left and right looking for that perfect angle, using different lenses or focal lengths and a different field of view. Many times changing the aspect ratio will help with the selection of your colors, square versus rectangular and so on.
Colors can be strong with the use of complimentary colors, multiple colors or as a single color. The color or colors can dominate the scene or perhaps a single color could be just a small part of your scene. The colors can be bold and brash, cool or warm, or with high contrast or muted subtleness. When used effectively they will create an emotional response from the viewer which will make your pictures more pleasing to look at.
The main point here is to keep your eye out for color which can make your photograph visually stimulating. Don’t hesitate to add color to your photographic tool box, experiment and enjoy!
Orange with Blue
Well that concludes this installment in Composition, Elements for Photography series.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog entry, stay tuned as next week I'll share another.
Please leave me a comment or two and let me know what you think!
Keywords: Color, bold, complimentary, composition, elements, emotion, muted, photo, photography, primary, rule, rules, secondary
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