When you set up a picture, you look for centering, shadows, subject matter…what about color?
Color plays a major role in the pictures you take. Finding the right contrasts will make a picture pop while a monochromatic look can provide a stark and mellow mood.
Once you start realizing the role color plays in pictures, you can take your photography to the next level.
Not sure how to use colors to up your photo game? Here are a few tips.
The Color Wheel is Your Best Friend
Start by consulting the color wheel. The color wheel has the primary colors, as well as a few blends listed side by side.
The colors close to each other on the wheel are complementary while the ones across from each other are contrasts. Contrasting colors will make your photos pop while complementary colors will provide more of a monochromatic look.
But there’s no reason to stop there. Try using two complementary colors with a contrast. Draw shapes on the wheel to combine colors on either side of the spectrum. You are bound to find some winners.
Think of Colors on an Emotional Level
Colors work on a psychological level and have an emotional effect on our mental state. For example, red is a passionate color. Blue stands for serenity and loyalty as well as sadness. Purple stands for mystery, luxury and serenity.
If you are trying to convey a certain feeling in your photography, try using a color that is indicative of that emotion. It will set the tone for the photo making it that much more meaningful.
Make it About the Color
Colors give that extra something to your photos, but you can change the dynamic by making your photos about the color. Here are some examples of things you can try out.
· Take three different colored objects and put them together. Put the camera on a macro setting to provide an abstract look. The picture will look more like a blend of color than the actual objects.
· Make a color pop by finding an object that stands out in a ‘sea of sameness’. One example would be a single red rose in a field of pink ones or a brightly colored shirt in a sea of black suits.
· Go into a night club to determine how the artificial lighting effects the photo. Take pictures that bring out the effect more than the subject matter.
Think of How Time and Season Affects Color
Try taking pictures of the same object at different times of the day and during different seasons of the year. The lighting will affect the way the color is picked up by the camera.
You can experiment to determine the best time to take pictures depending on the color that’s being captured or make a photo series of an object as it appears at different times of the day and year.
Playing with Colors in Post
You can actively seek out color schemes to use in your photos, but sometimes they’re just not there. In these cases, you can work in post-production to add your own color effects.
For instance, you can color photos so they look monochromatic, sepia toned, or pastel. You can also use split toning to make shadows and highlights seem more dramatic.
You can also play with the color already in the photos. Tools like Adobe Camera Raw and Lightloom allow you to play with clarity, hazing, saturation and other elements. These can make photos look more vibrant or provide a toned-down effect.
Use the Right Gear
The gear you use during your photo shoots will also help you get different color effects. Here are some examples of how tools will help you get the look you are after.
· Polarizing Filter: This adds vibrancy and reduces glare.
· Lens Hood: A lens hood eliminates flares making color appear more natural.
· Shoot in RAW: This will give you more control over the color you get in the post-production process.
Composition can also do a lot in helping colors stand out.
For instance, if you see a dark metal building against a blue sky, instead of taking a conventionally centered photo, go at it at an angle incorporating plenty of blue sky against the dark structure. This will bring the contrast to the viewer’s attention.
Color plays a major role in the photos you take. The tips in this article will help you make the most of your colors so your photos are eye catching and unique. What tips do you have for making colors pop when you’re out shooting?