The Color of Light An Emotional Tool

The color of light may not always obvious when you are just starting out, but photographers recognize it as one of the defining aspects of their pictures. That's because we tend to respond subliminally and very strongly to color. Two of the more frequently bandied terms used by pros when talking about the color of light are warm and cold.

Warm light has a reddish hue to it. You'll often find it at sunrise or sunset, or in candlelight. As humans, we tend to react with, well, warm feelings to it. It can impart a sense of romance, comfort or tenderness (see Color Figure 16 in the color insert in the back of the book for an example of warm and cold lighting).

■ Cold (or cool) light tends toward blue, and it's often found in shadowy areas and under certain types of artificial light. Sometimes we think of cool light as imparting a crisp, antiseptic sense to a photo. When you're talking about machinery and precision, cool is often better than warm, though a warmly lit picture of machinery can defuse antipathy toward it.

Yellow, as the color of sunlight, is also quite important in photography. It makes us feel happy and secure and open to suggestions.

When you're contemplating taking a photograph, consider the color of the light and how it makes you feel. (See Chapter 8 regarding your camera's color controls.)

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