Using color

Like shape and pattern, it may be the color in a scene that first attracts your eye and becomes a dominant feature in your picture. (Just switch your TV or computer screen between color and black and white settings to prove how much color contributes to an image.) Color can help create harmony or discord. It may pick out and emphasize one important element against all others, or link things together as in Figure 6.1, by repeating the shape of the chairs and then contrasting them with different colors. A more varied pair of colors will interact and gain contrast from one another, especially if they are strong hues, well separated and 'complementary' in the spectrum. The resulting effect may then shout for attention and be lively and exciting or perhaps just garish.

It is interesting to notice, in pictures that combine contrasting colors, that the reds often seem to advance or 'come forward' while greens and blues 'stand back'. Even black or white is influential. Areas of black surrounding small areas of color can make them seem luminous and bright, as in Figure 6.2, whereas colors against white make the hues look darker.

Once again, the key to practical success is selection - mainly through tightly controlled framing and viewpoint. You should rigorously exclude from your picture any elements that confuse or work against its color scheme. Where possible, select lighting conditions that help rife

Figure 6.2 The red apple, when contrasted against the black background, seems to be more vibrant, almost glowing, than if the fruit was photographed with a brighter backdrop.

to present colors in the way you need. For example, have you noticed how a car that looked brilliant red in hard sunlight appears a diluted color in overcast weather conditions as it reflects light from the white sky in its polished surface? Similarly, atmospheric haze or mist in a landscape scatters and mixes white light with the colored light reaching you from distant objects, so that they appear less rich and saturated. Then, if dull overcast conditions change to direct sunlight (especially immediately after rain), clear visibility enriches and transforms all the colors present in your photographs.

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