Colour Theory

During 2020 I ran a photography challenge over on my travel blog looking at different techniques throughout the year. I was not expecting that the year itself would prove to be a challenge in that the Covid-19 pandemic hit us and not only put paid to any travel plans, but also altered the way in which we conducted our lives. This year I am going to look at those techniques again using new photographs as and when I get the opportunity.

August was about the use of Colour Theory. Successful colour photography means learning to use colour as a compositional tool – a form of visual communication – rather than just reproducing a scene that happens to be in colour.

Colour theory is not just knowing what colours are: primary, tertiary etc and how to make them, but understanding cool and warm colours, complementary (next to each other) and contrasting colours (opposites), neutral and bold colours and how colours can affect our emotions or perceptions of a scene.

  • Don’t overdo it. Too much colour or too many clashing colours can be confusing to the eye and create a chaotic scene.
  • If you are not happy with the colour in your image then try adjusting the saturation in post-processing. Think about the feeling you want to convey with your image before deciding how much or how little saturation would best suit the scene.
  • An image with lower saturation seems softer, dreamy and idealistic.
  • An image with high saturation seems bright and exciting.

I haven’t had chance to practice my skills this month as I have been without a car since the end of June and to get anywhere by bus involves a 20 minute scoot down the hill and a rather laborious 30 minutes puffing back. Some of the route is shaded by the woodland, but half of it is in full sun and it’s been a bit too hot for me. So here are just a few of the colour shots taken this month in and around my garden.

Bright and bold flowers: Nature seems to get it right in the way it combines colours.

Pay attention to the way you frame colour and use light and shade to enhance it.

Opposites attract

Look out for colour combinations – take this bright violet-blue echinops flower with the opposite primary colour being provided by the yellow stripes of the bee.
In this image the pink and the purple of the flowers stand out from the background of green (opposites) with the orange of the butterfly adding a clash of colour.

Consider the time of day and the type of light which can affect how different colours appear.

The blue hour is the period of twilight when the Sun is at a significant depth below the horizon. During this time, the remaining light takes on a mostly blue shade.
Twilight is the light from the sky between sunset and full night produced by diffusion of sunlight through the atmosphere and its dust. Here the sky has all the pastel shades of sweet sugared almonds.
During August the colour of the sky as the sun sets has been predominantly pink, ranging from pale shades to deep carmine pink. Here is an example of sky-blue pink.

If you would like to have a look at the different techniques covered throughout the year then you can see them here. Please note that I am not running this as a challenge, but merely using the old one as inspiration for my photography this year.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. margaret21 says:

    STILL without a car Jude? What IS going on? Lucky that your garden is so very lovely

    1. Heyjude says:

      No, thank goodness, but only got it back mid August! Too busy here to go anywhere then.

  2. restlessjo says:

    Love that fuchsia shot, Jude! How was Wisley? Catastrophe- I almost missed Rafa this morning. Got my hours confused.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Didn’t bother with Wisley, had a lovely walk in Richmond Park instead. Back’s killing me though, got worse not better… 😭

      1. Suzanne says:

        Big sympathies regarding the back. Painful to say the least!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Thanks Suzanne, it was very bad last night, could hardly get out of bed, ended up having a hot shower at 5 am. Painkillers and heat pad now!

        2. Suzanne says:

          Thank goodness for medical intervention and a heat pad😊

  3. beetleypete says:

    I agree, Nature does get the colour combinations just right. It is only humans that deliberately mis-match them. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

  4. bushboy says:

    Nature does know best 🙂

  5. Gorgeous, especially the flowers.

  6. It’s interesting at the minute re where we are with the pandemic, you know, and therefore your opening paragraph intrigued me. That pandemic didn’t stop us travelling – each time the UK Govt said we could fly, we were off again straight away to wherever didn’t require quarantine. And as for changing the way we live…that sentence really throws me whenever I hear it. Our lives now are exactly how they were pre-COVID, it hasn’t changed our conduct in the slightest (well, apart from when we’re told we have to wear a mask). I know we’re very lucky health wise but personally I think the way it was all handled by Govt(s) has skewed people’s decision making ability and magnified fear until it is out of all proportion to reality. There’s no need to be scared any more.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Ah, but you are younger than us and have no health issues as well as being hungry travellers 😂. We are lucky enough to have done some travelling and we’re already happy enough to do more in the UK. Australia is where I want to go to as I have family there, but they closed down completely.

      1. Well I didn’t mean you personally Jude – I just mean that I think the scaremongering by Govts was OTT and people are just not weighing up the facts and probabilities properly. But yes we are very aware that we’re lucky (and grateful) that we both enjoy good health. Probably not much younger than you though, I reckon…

        1. Heyjude says:

          There were a lot of bad decisions made during the pandemic. Let’s hope lessons have been learned (though I doubt it).

  7. For your sake I’m sorry you can’t get out and about, Jude, but if it means we get to see photos like these, I don’t mind in the least. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Fortunately I have the car back now so all good, but I am glad that I have a garden ☺️

  8. Suzanne says:

    Thank goodness, your wonderful blooms distracted me from replying to one of the above comments. We need a dislike button 😉

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, well you and I both have loved ones with serious health issues so we are rather more cautious and careful and not going to take risks. Glad the flowers were able to distract you 💐

      1. Suzanne says:

        I was going to ask you to remove my comment. We are more cautious in many aspects and thanks for understanding my overreaction, Jude.

  9. I’m opting for clashing citrus & pinks colour on front garden which is part shady. A beautiful shot of your pinky purple pelargoniums – almost silvery in that light

    1. Heyjude says:

      The citrus clash sounds divine.

  10. Cathy says:

    What an interesting post, Jude, with some interesting and useful pointers

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