Understanding Color Contrast in Photography
Autumn is my second favorite time of the year. I absolutely love the bold colors of the changing trees and the crisp air. The colors always seem to pop more against a crisp blue sky. Today’s post it going to be about photographing the autumn leaves and color contrast. There are so many different leaf variations that have their own unique way of changing; I’m sure an entire photo library could be generated if someone had the ability to photograph them all.
Today, I would like to discuss Color Contrast.
Getting good color contrast in your photographs starts with understanding the color theory and the color wheel. On one side of the wheel you’re presented with the warmer colors: shades of pink, red orange and yellow. On the other side are the cooler colors: shades of violet, purple, blue and green. No matter what color you choose there will always be another color that would complement it on the opposite side of the wheel. Choose a shade of purple and draw a line straight through the center of the color wheel to the other side, and you’ll land on yellow…Red to green…Blue to orange… I think you get the point. For every “cool” color there is a “warm” color that complements and vice versa.
Complementary colors are simply more pleasing to the eye. Even if the colors don’t sit exactly opposite each other on the wheel, take for example, red and blue, the complementary effect is still there and still pleasing to the eye.
Keep these complementary color pairs in mind when you’re composing your photographs. A lush green forest is could be a wonderful image, but it could be enhanced with a splash of red or deep pink flowers. A photograph of plump bold orange pumpkin could be interesting but adding the leaves to contrast the orange could very well make the image pop.
For the best color contrast, use the K.I.S.S. method that I use throughout my life: Keep It Simple Silly! The fewer colors involved in the photograph, the more dramatic the contrast will be. The splash of red in the forest scene we discussed earlier can easily get lost if there are dozens of other bright colors causing a distraction to the viewer’s eyes. If you want to create a moody try to fill it with shades of color that are all huddled in one section of the color wheel like the image above.
About the Author and Photographer:
Melissa Fague is a professional landscape and nature photographer from Bear, Delaware USA. In just a few short years her work has been published over two dozen times and she has won multiple national and international awards for her beautiful photographs of nature. Melissa is passionate about the art of photography and nature. Exploring areas and creating her style of nature photographs is her form of stress relief and art therapy, but she also loves to share her visions so that others can enjoy. All of Melissa’s landscape and nature photographs are available for purchase, visit Pi Photography and Fine Art.