How photographers use colour?

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    Do you find it difficult to decide which colour combinations to use in the photographs you take? The effective application of colour in photography helps to attract the viewer's attention to the subject being photographed, producing a striking visual effect that is pleasing to the eye.

    As photographers, we have access to a wide variety of tools, such as guidelines for composition, information regarding lighting, the exposure triangle, and many others. Color is simply one of those tools among many others. The use of colour, despite the fact that it can be an intimidating element for photographers, can help to solidify a voice. A photographer can make effective use of colour in their work if they are familiar with and knowledgeable about colour theory, just as painters, designers, and artists working in other mediums are.

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    Understanding Colour in Photography

    Your photographs will have a more captivating quality to them if you make effective use of colour in photography. This will also make them more aesthetically satisfying. You will be able to take photographs of which you can be proud if you know how to use it properly. Your photographs will have a higher chance of being purchased if they feature vibrant colours and clear composition. Therefore, make the most of the use of colour.


    At one point, you thought that creating an arresting picture would require filling the frame with a multitude of bright colours. Not so. The eye is distracted and a poor image is produced as a result of colours that clash with one another. When there are too many colours that clash with one another, it creates multiple focal points, which makes it difficult for the viewer to know where to look first or where to concentrate their attention.

    Choose a single colour to be the dominant one instead, so that it becomes the focus of the picture and immediately directs the attention of the viewer to that colour. If you want your subject to stand out in a picture, make sure that they are the dominant colour in the picture. The intensity of the colour determines how much it will stand out. In the event that this does not occur, a secondary subject may overshadow it due to the predominating colour.


    When attempting to create an image with a sense of drama, isolating colours is of the utmost importance. You will be able to highlight a specific portion of a scene that stands out due to a particularly striking colour or colour combination if you make use of a telephoto or zoom lens.

    Changing the angle of your view and moving your feet around are two additional methods you can use to separate a colour from the environment it is in. Getting closer to the subject helps and enables you to combine colours that are more interesting and function well together, such as colours that contrast with one another or colours that work well together.


    The first time I read about this idea, I thought it was an interesting concept. The colours towards the warmer end of the colour spectrum are more noticeable and command a greater amount of our focus. It is said that they are the colours of progress. Take the colour red as an example; it is powerful and daring, and when viewed in a picture, it tends to predominate due to the boldness and richness of its colour. When there is only a small amount of red in a scene, such as a postbox, but it still has a predominating effect on the overall image, you will realise how powerful it is.

    Although the effect of yellows and oranges is not quite as powerful as that of red, they still have the same effect. Therefore, it is important to be aware of advancing colours so that they can work to your advantage and not disrupt an image. Another illustration of this would be a bridal scene that included a red object as a component of the picture. Be conscious of the fact that it will divert people's attention away from the bride.


    This idea is the antithesis of progressing through the colour spectrum. They are more like supporting actors in a film cast because they play supporting roles and take on background roles. They appreciate the setting and contribute to the overall scene, resulting in stunning photographs.

    Because of this, blues and greens, which are considered cooler colours, work extremely well when used as backgrounds. They become less noticeable as they move further away and allow other colours to stand out more. This occurs in conjunction with expansive stretches of blue sky and undulating green hills. If you make effective use of them, you will end up with wonderful photographs.

    Warm vs Cool Colours

    Warm and cool colours make up the two primary categories of colour. Colors such as red, orange, and yellow are considered warm, while colours such as green, blue, and violet are considered cool. If you want the appearance of your photographs to be at its best at all times, you should ask yourself which of the two categories of colour you are photographing at any given time in order to achieve the best results.

    Colors with a higher temperature have a higher level of activity and emotional charge. They leap out at the viewer, grabbing their attention and piqueing their interest in the process. As a rule, warm colours are less common than cool colours, which means that an image with even a small amount of warmth can stand out from the crowd. One of the reasons that photos taken at sunrise, sunset, and during the fall colours have become so popular is because of this.

    On the other hand, colours on the cooler end of the spectrum are softer and more subdued. They become less noticeable, especially when a colour with a warmer undertone occupies the same space as them. Even though they do not garner the same level of attention as warm colours, which is not to say that this is a negative trait in any way, shape, or form.

    Warm colours have the potential to be overwhelming, whereas cool colours are more likely to give the impression of being calming and soothing. Even though the majority of nature is composed of bluish and greenish hues, golden light can be cast upon even the greenest of landscapes during sunrise and sunset.

    The six primary colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet—as well as the feelings that are typically connected with each hue.

    It is important to keep in mind that capturing a particular feeling in a photograph is not as easy as it may seem. You can create photographs devoid of any of the following feelings simply by changing the subject matter or the composition of the shot. However, the effects that will follow do make a difference.

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    Tips For Effective Use of Colour in Photography

    How photographers use colour?

    The Basics

    Red, blue, and yellow are the primary colours. The other colour is black. When you mix these primary colours together, you get secondary colours such as green, purple, and orange. Green is created by combining blue and yellow, and purple and red (red and yellow). When you combine colours even further, you get to the next level, known as the tertiary colours.

    The colour wheel is a kind of diagram that illustrates the relationships between various colours in a visual way. They take up space along a continuum, with each colour morphing into the one that is immediately adjacent to it.

    Colour Harmony

    Harmonies of colour refer to colour combinations that are pleasing to the naked eye of a human being. The term "colour harmony" refers to a situation in which two or more distinct colours work together to create a pleasing aesthetic. In order to communicate with their audience and elicit a feeling or mood in those who view their work, artists and photographers alike rely heavily on this particular tool.

    The relationships between the various colours are of equal significance to the colours themselves. This can range from straightforward colour contrasts to intricate colour harmonies; the real world contains an almost infinite number of colour combinations. Even though it will take a little bit of practise – and frequently some post-processing – to get the exact result that you want, there are some of these relationships that work better than others.

    Warm and Cool colours

    The contrast between colours that are warm and those that are cool is an essential one. When both types are clearly visible in the same photograph, they create a vivid colour contrast that can serve as the point of interest in the picture.

    According to the traditional view of colour theory, the complement (opposite) of every cool colour is a warm colour, and the same holds true for warm colours. The colours red and green are a complementary pair, as are orange and blue, yellow and violet, and red and green.

    When two colours that are opposite one another on the colour wheel are placed next to one another in a photograph, the resulting composition has an inherent contrast that is analogous to that of a piece of art that combines black and white.

    The sky is one of the most important aspects because it is where the warm cloud contrasts with the cold background. Because there is not a significant contrast between the two in the monochrome version of this photograph, the top of the picture does not attract nearly as much attention as it does in the colour version.

    Because of the striking contrast in colour, the sky is brought to the viewer's attention, making it a very significant component of the composition. Looking for a Yarra Valley wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

    Complementary colours and Other Relationships

    It's been suggested that there are a few other colour pairings that are appealing, such as a mixture of the three primary hues (red, yellow, and blue). The same is true of colours between those listed above, such as yellow-orange or blue-green, both of which have their own unique sets of compliments to offer.

    In spite of the fact that I do not completely discount the notion that these more intricate colour harmonies are frequently stunning and evocative, the fact of the matter is that this conversation has the potential to become quite confusing when three or more colours are being discussed at the same time. The colours that exist in the real world are not at all like those in paintings. The real world is much more complicated than a perfect blue-green that harmonises perfectly with equal parts of red and orange.

    There is no harm in delving into more in-depth discussions on colour harmonies and relationships, and there is a possibility that doing so could provide you with some interesting new information to learn. However, the most important piece of advice that I can give you is to simply examine the setting that is currently in front of you and consider whether or not the colour of the environment "looks right" to you. That is an extremely imprecise statement, but when it comes to photography, trusting one's instincts is more important than striving to achieve a perfect image that may not exist in the real world.

    The one and only exception to this rule occurs during the post-processing stage, when you have slightly more leeway to alter the hue as well as the saturation of the colours in your image. If this is the case, it is time well spent to edit the photo in a manner that harmonises well, either according to the definition of a colour wheel or, more likely, just something that pleases your eye in terms of how it looks.

    Monochromatic versus Analogous

    Although these two colour harmonies are comparable to one another, analogous colour schemes have a few key distinctions that set them apart. A colour scheme or harmony that uses only one colour and varies only that color's lightness and saturation is called monochromatic. A colour scheme known as analogous colour harmony is created by combining colours that are located next to one another on the colour wheel. There is still one colour that predominates, but the addition of the second colour improves the overall appearance.

    Both of these colour combinations are simple to put together and are very pleasing to the eye once they are done. Because of their visual appeal and sense of equilibrium, monochromatic colour schemes are sometimes utilised in the process of establishing a mood.

    Your picture will have a more calming and relaxing atmosphere if you use colours that are analogous to one another. You are presented with all of the different colour harmonies when you are outside, including these two in particular. Imagine a verdant forest with its many different shades of green, or the many different shades of orange and red that make up an autumn landscape. You probably find these tones appealing, and you should have a better understanding of why that is now.

    When you want to add harmony to your images, use colours that are analogous to one another.

    The contrast between the colours is pleasing.

    But there are other times when you don't intend for there to be tension in the photos you take. There are times when you aren't necessarily looking to draw attention to certain aspects of your photograph.

    Instead, you should try to maintain a calm and collected appearance throughout the entirety of your image.

    When depicting more subdued scenes, such as yellow and green trees standing together in autumn or a blue flower resting alone in a field, it is best to use colours that are analogous to one another. This wonderfully serene feeling will be preserved thanks to the harmonious colour combination (so long as the rest of the composition is aimed at producing serenity, that is!).

    Oh, and do not be afraid to combine three colours that are analogous to one another. When you want to create an atmosphere that is especially calm, you can always use colour schemes like green, blue, and purple or green, yellow, and blue.

    Therefore, if you want your photographs to appear more muted, you should search for colours that are analogous to one another.

    Complementary colours

    On the colour wheel, complementary colours are the ones that are directly across from one another. As a result, the complementary colour of a primary colour is a secondary colour (as demonstrated by the colour wheel). For instance, the complementary colours red and green work well together because they are very different from one another. Because each colour makes the other appear more active, when both are used at their maximum saturation, the effect can be quite dramatic.

    Make your photographs stand out by utilising colours that contrast with one another. Now that you are familiar with the most fundamental piece of advice for incorporating colour into your photography, it is time to investigate particular colour combinations that are successful.

    Contrasting colours are by far the most common colour combination, and they are also my personal favourite.

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    The Key or Dominant colour

    How photographers use colour?

    A picture's dominant colour is referred to as the "key colour." The colour that predominates in an image is frequently considered to be the "key" colour in the picture. When creating a powerful image, it can be beneficial to let one colour take the lead. This is more pronounced when the predominate colour is a primary hue, such as red, blue, or yellow.

    The attention of your viewer will be captured (and kept there) by colours that have a higher intensity. Remember that in relation to how it affects the subject that you are working on.

    Advancing or Receding colours

    The range of colours found towards the warmer end of the spectrum is known as the advancing colours. The colours red, red-violet, yellow, yellow-orange, and orange are included in this category. When advancing colours predominate, it gives the impression that the objects in question are getting closer to the viewer's line of sight, as if they were approaching. The colour red is one of those that is dominant and immediately draws your attention. Consider a setting that contains only a trace amount of red (for example, a red mailbox), but the colour still manages to predominate.

    Moving from one colour to the next in an image can be very effective, but it also has the potential to ruin the scene by drawing the viewer's attention away from the main subject.

    The opposite of receding colours, receding colours have a quality more associated with the background. Consider the effect that blues and greens, which are considered cooler colours, have on a landscape. They recede into the background, creating the impression of depth, and acting as a counterpoint to the more dominant colours.

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    When you take a picture that will feature a clear subject, you should try to make the subject stand out from the background as much as possible.

    To put it another way, the attention should be directed towards the viewer. You want to make sure that they keep focusing on the main subject of the photograph.

    You can accomplish this goal by making use of colour. The only thing you need to do is make sure that the colours in your subject stand out much more than those in the background.

    Find a subject that has a lot of colour to start. The colours ought to be vivid and highly saturated; for example, a red flower, a blue building, a yellow car, and so on and so forth.

    Also, make sure that it is placed in front of a dull background—something that has fewer colours, or even something that is completely white or completely black.

    The viewer's attention will immediately be drawn to the subject of your photograph due to the stark contrast between the background's lack of colour and the vibrant hues of the subject itself.

    This is one of my favourite tips for using colours because it creates such striking images, which is why it's one of my favourites. When I look at photographs that feature a colourful subject in contrast to a neutral background, my attention is immediately drawn to the subject because everything is distinct and uncomplicated.

    Feelings and colour

    Colour provokes various emotional responses in people. Because of this, we often use different colours to describe different feelings. For instance, we might say that we are "feeling blue," "seeing red," "ticked pink," or "green with envy."

    We have a different kind of emotional connection to the cool blues of the morning than we do to the warm colours of the sunset. The application of colour in your photographic compositions should be approached in the same manner as you would use colour in your everyday life, where it serves as a potent psychological tool.

    Keep in mind that colour is a matter of personal preference; the same hue can bring joy to one person while simultaneously driving another person crazy. Altering a color's hue and saturation, as well as the colours it's combined with, can cause it to evoke a completely new set of feelings in a person. Orange, for instance, can provoke excitement when it leans towards red but can be more calming when it leans towards yellow. This is because orange can shift between these two states.

    Be intentional about how you use colour in your photographs if you want to create stunning colour images. You should give it equal weight to composition, framing, and technique in order to ensure that it tells an important part of the story that your photograph is trying to tell.

    Experiment with different combinations and play around with colours in post-production to create the mood and balance that best reflects your interpretation of the subject. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

    To create stunning colour photography with a magical quality, you'll need to tap into both sides of your brain: the scientific and the creative.

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