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Using Colors for Effect in Photography


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Every designer knows the art of using colors to elicit a desired emotion.  Whether it is to create a certain comfortable feel in a bedroom, setting the right tone for a web page, or creating a mood for shops or restaurants; choosing the right color palette is a critical design decision.  But did you know the same principals apply when creating a work of art?

 

Take photography as an example.  Manipulating elements within the image can produce a dramatic difference to the feeling of the shot.  Understanding the elements involved – and the techniques for manipulating them – can help the new artist achieve results that go beyond creating beautiful images and instead help make a deeper emotional connection with the viewer.

 

Color of Light

Photography is often referred to as painting with light.  And light has its own color.  Light falls on a sliding scale of warm (yellow and orange tones) – most often associated with sunshine or daylight, to cold (blue tones) -  created by man made florescent type lighting.

Light sources can even shift within the scale, like sunlight depending on the time of day.  The hour just sunrise or before sunset is called “The Golden Hour”the blu by photographers because the sunlight has a soft, warm, golden hue.  But the hour just before sunrise or after sunset is referred to as “The Blue Hour” because the angle of the sun to Earth is allowing only the blue spectrum light to appear.   Photographing the same subject just hours apart will produce dramatically different feels to an image.

 

Filter effects

Light can be manipulated through the use of filters.   In prehistoric times, photographers had to physically attach gels to the front of the camera lens.  Fortunately today the same effect can be achieved within your Smartphone or by using post processing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.  Use them to enhance the feeling you are looking for with an image, or to completely change the feel of it altogether.

 

Dominate Color

The most obvious place to identify a dominant color is in the main subject of the image.  A photograph of a field of lavender – or a green meadow – are pretty obvious examples as to their color palette.  Subtler can be the hues of a sunset, or uniforms of a marching band on the streets.  Controlling the dominant color sets the feeling for the piece – both the positive or the negative.

 

Red

Passionate, aggressive, important, warmth, anger, revenge, attention

Orange

Playful, energetic, cheap, enthusiasm, courage, creativity

 

Yellow

Happy, friendly, warning, joy, laziness

 

Green

Natural, stable, prosperous, tranquility, calm, money, jealousy, envy, hope

Blue

Serene, trustworthy, inviting, coldness, fear

 

Pink

Feminine, young, innocent

Purple

Luxurious, mysterious, romantic, royalty, foreboding

 

 

Brown

Earthy, sturdy, rustic

 

Black

Powerful, sophisticated, edgy, formal, evil, darkness

White

Clean, virtuous, healthy, cold

 

Grey

Neutral, formal, gloomy

 

Beige

Accentuates surrounding colors

 

 

 

Primary and secondary color

Combining colors will also have the effect of combing emotions.  A woman in a red dress against a black backdrop can show the darker, evil side of passion.   A green plant sprouting in a brown forest shows hope or renewal, while the same plant shot in a sun kissed meadow can show tranquility.

 

So the next time you are out shooting with your camera, stop a minute to think of the emotion you want to elicit from the viewer and apply your color palette well.

 

These colourful images were provided by Dreamstime.com.

 


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