This week was pretty intense for me, so I didn’t have time to take pictures. (Sadness!) Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the tips I’ve learned from John Hedgecoe’s book, which has been, by far, my fav. photography reference I’ve used this semester. If you want to get started with photography, I definitely recommend checking it out from Simpson. For using color in photography, Hedgecoe discusses different types of color to a satisfying extent without taking it beyond a beginner’s comprehension. Over break I plan to take some photos to experiment with what I post about here. PS Art majors out there, feel free to interject wherever I screw up with this, because color theory is completely new to me.
It turns out my last post about light was a a perfect segue into color, because apparently it has a significant effect on what colors your camera captures. For example, the camera can obscure true colors by over-correcting for white balance. At least in digital photography, this problem is easily corrected for in the editing stage. For example, these photos from cambridgeincolour demonstrate incorrect (left) and correct (right) white balance.
Light affects color intensity. Direct/harsh light tends to enhance colors, whereas reflected light mutes them. Sometimes the light is “just right” to capture a subject. In this case, don’t wait–just shoot! Good lighting is often fleeting and difficult to recreate.
Different color moods are created by the “warm” and “cool” ends of the color wheel. Hedgecoe categorizes colors as “hot” (reds), “cool” (blues), “calm” (greens), and “bright” (yellows). Thus, each color category has a different effect on the viewer.
Among other things, colors can be abstract, harmonic, or monochromatic. “Abstract” colors are easily captured in close-ups so that color dominates the subject composition. Hedgecoe points out that “the bright artificial colors” of man made materials are also a good place to start when looking for abstract color compositions.
I’ve never been completely clear on “monochromatic” until Hedgecoe explained it in terms of paint swatches. (I’d always thought of it in terms of black and white, which can be monochromatic, but monochrome isn’t limited to B&W. However, black and white are “neutral” colors, so they can be present with other colors and a monochromatic scheme won’t be affected.) To create a monochromatic composition, constrain the colors in your photo to different shades of the same color.
The most aesthetically pleasing combination of strong colour contrasts are created by complimentary colors (left). Primary/triadic colors (right) also pair well together for a dramatic color effect.
Lastly, a photographer should be careful not to use too many colors. Sometimes “a little bit goes a long way,” especially if the colors in a composition come from random places on the color wheel. Hedgecoe suggests placing a strongly colored subject against a monochromatic, muted, or blurry background to achieve a color-popping effect. Not only do the harmonic colors work well in the following image, but the blue and yellow also stand out because of the relatively homogeneous background.