Photography Composition - Using Color to Maximum Effect in your Photographs
Color can define photography composition where the colors are striking or complementary. But get the the color composition wrong and a shot can really look out-of-whack
and be almost painful to the human eye.
I remember a shot I took years ago that contained a selection of bright colors that were in no way complimentary to each other, and showed it to a friend. Her response was that it made her want to vomit! I asked if she meant she simply didn't like it, to which she replied "No! I mean when I look at it my body feels like it's going to vomit!"
I, of course, took this as a huge compliment, and decided I had created 'true art'.
You perhaps do not wish to create 'true art' (I don't blame you), and simply want to create an eye-catching image. If that is the case then it does well to understand 'complimentary colors' from the get go.
Photography Composition Complimentary Colors
Colors really breakdown to colors that work together based on three factors:
1. The colors are opposite (ex, black & white/blue & yellow/red & green and so on)
2. Are of the same shade, but different colors.
3. Are the same color, but across a range of shades within that color.
Understanding the shades is by far the hardest of the two, and takes some practice. When the color composition of a photograph looks strange, it's usually due to the fact that there are different shades of different colors within one shot.
It's not impossible to make it still work mind you, it's just that in the beginning it'll more than likely not work until you have got a basic feel for color composition under your belt.
Shades also work well together where the hue grows lighter or darker from its original saturation as mentioned in the third point above (see below, or this Color shades chart and view left to right). These are colors that will also compliment each other in a shot.
Using Photo Editing Software to Train Your Eye
Another method you can use if you have photoshop or some free photo editing software is to open it up and then with your cursor click on the color frame selector.
A color palette should appear. If you exactly vertically drag downwards or horizontally, then all these colors are of the same root color (primary color), but of a different shade, and therefore they are complimentary to each other.
Do it a few times to train your eye to really understand complimentary colors in photography composition.
Colors can also work well by themselves to really focus the viewer on the main subject as in the above picture. In this case, the color dominates the whole shot and becomes quite striking simply because of it.
Whatever shot you decide to take, bear the color composition in mind, as it's frequently an overlooked aspect of photography composition.
Alternatively, you can join my 'true art' club :)
Find out more about photography composition by using shapes in
Digital Photography 101 Shapes and Composition
, and the use of props in composition in
Digital Photography Props Composition Tips.
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