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The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

Hot pink Gerbras 1red The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

It’s quite an extraordinary thing, colour. It can enhance or diminish emotion in a digital photo. It’s really that powerful. Yet working with colour, it can assist the photographer to emphasise, dramatise or detract from a certain feeling in a digital photograph. Its funny that colour can impact our senses to such a degree. When there is the absence or presence of certain colours we can feel a certain level and depth of emotion.

So how can we add drama to photos by using colour? Well the first thing to understand about colour is what it does to our senses as I have just briefly mentioned. To understand what impact colour has on us, we need to look at a digital photo and look at what each colour means.

834096 yellow flowers like a sun The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

For example think of a photo that has lots of yellow in it. A photo with a colour like this reflects energy, a sense of optimism, extroversion. The same goes for red, which is quite an intense colour if used as the main subject colour. Red can have an impact especially if its against a contrasting colour, which we’ll get into in a moment. These warm colours such as yellows, oranges, reds, etc have a strong photographic presence. In other words it’s kind of hard to ignore them.

836317 lifegaurd tower The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

Now let’s take a look at the other side of the scale; the cooler, more introverted colours. Colours that are emotionally quieter are blues, purples and greens.  These colours tend to be a little less energetic but don’t be fooled into thinking they are any less passionate as the bold reds.  These introverted colours tend to offer us a depth, visually, that we would not get from the warmer colours.

834027 sad flower The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

“That’s all very nice” you say, “but how can you bring this altogether to create dynamic colour in a digital photo?” Well first of all you can improve your colour skills by having a look at a colour chart to tell you what colours work together really well and what clashes. In my book “Digital Photography Success” I’ve explained about the magic of bringing colour together and what a dynamic impact that creating colours, united well, can have.

Yellowflagonbeach The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

Let’s take for example your blues and yellows. Completely opposite but they work together beautifully. Here’s a quick snap I took at Stradbroke Island (Queensland, Australia). I wanted to capture the enticing contrasts of blue and yellow on a natural background.

So lets look closer at what colours work together well so you can improve your digital photography.

You’ll notice that all the basic colours are there. And what works really well are the opposing colours, the blues and yellows. They are almost opposites on a colour wheel. In fact in the picture, visually they are opposite. Colours that have this opposing nature tend to work together so well that we can’t help but be captivated by the contrast. So as a big hint from me, look for these opposing values in colour and you’ll find you have a lot of brilliance in your colours in your digital photography.

Now with portrait photography this is going to change again. Peoples “colours” vary according to skin tones. For example, you may be photographing someone with blonde hair, very fair skin and green eyes. This means that people with that colouring look best in earthy colours, pinks, greens, browns etc. Whereas someone else may have blue eyes and dark brown hair and a medium skin tone. So if you are taking some one’s picture, it is very important to encourage them to wear something that compliments their skin tone.
Once again, colour can play a huge part in your photography.

Look at colour wheels, look at skin tones and charts and really examine colours that can work well together and what don’t.

colour wheel The Secret To Getting Vibrant Colour In Your Digital Photography

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time. DigitalPhotographySuccess.com

Comments (7)

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  1. I really like your article! Great info!

  2. Yan says:

    Color is the essence to many things from photographs to a blooming flower to a deep blue ocean. The ability to take color photo prints has changed the world of photography in more ways than one but then it never used to be so colorful back in the early 19th century.

    In the initial days, film rolls and photography were in black & white format, but the search for color film rolls continued throughout the 19th century. There were experiments conducted but the colors in the photographs could not be retained and they faded away fast. According to history, the first color photo was taken by James Clerk Maxwell, a physicist in 1861. One of the earliest methods of producing a color photograph was painstaking and a total of 3 cameras had to be used.

    ProkudinGorskii, in 1915, was the first one to use this process to take color photographs. He used a color filter and placed it in front of the lens for each of the three cameras. This way he was able to get three basic channels also famous as the RGB or Red, Green, and Blue. ProkudinGorskii followed this by another technique in which he utilized threecolor plates, and used them in succession.

    As more experiments continued, H. W. Vogel was able to produce emulsions in the early 20th century that could generate the required sensitivity to red and green light. Later on, the Lumière brothers invented the very first color film called Autochrome. The Autochrome was launched in the market in 1907. This process involved the use of a screen plate filter, which dyed dots made from potato starch.

    The Autochrome was the only available color film until Agfa, the German company, introduced a color film in 1932 called the Agfacolor. Following its example, Kodak introduced an integrated tripack color film in 1935 and it was called the Kodachrome. Kodachrome was based on three color emulsions.

    Following Kodachrome, Agfa in 1936, came out with Agfacolor Neue. Agfacolor Neue had color couplers that were integrated with emulsion layers and this simplified film processing and created an impact in the photography industry. All color films except for Kodak, are based on the Agfacolor Neue technology.

    Creativity begets creativity!

    It can be proved from the fact that the Kodachrome color films were invented by Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky, Jr., two very accomplished musicians. Leopold Godowsky, Jr. was the son of one of the greatest pianists of his time, Leopold Godowsky.

    Color photography actually revolutionized an era and brought out the impact of colors through vivid and detailed images including the ones from the World War II and the destruction caused by natural disasters.

    The color photographs captured emotions and the surroundings in such a way that they were being used more and more in newspapers, magazines and even for book covers.

  3. I am doing research for my university thesis, thanks for your brilliant points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

    - Lora

  4. Bob Johnson says:

    A great piece – thank you so much for posting it. I would definitely recommend thet every one else should have a look at it.

  5. Marc says:

    I discovered this article rather intersting, thought provoking at the very least. I get what is being stated, but really? I do feel that the writer, or whoever did originally write had some valid points in there. That’s for certain. Just I tend to read with a very cynical opinion, I guess, so bear with me here on this 1. I did appreciate the write-up and thought I spent my time nicely on it. I discovered. I just do not get involved with every idea introduced prior to me all the time. That’s all where I was heading with that I guess. So anyway definitely please keep the information coming in as I’ll be back to check it out further. I’m curious as to what else you are going to come up with and see what other people are going to say. The biggest thing I’m just wondering is what other people think or don’t think I suppose lol. Sometimes there are so many different opinions going on any given topic and it’s like ‘aghh’ – I’m so confused. I dunno you gave me some clarity that I desparately needed, so thanks.

  6. Tony says:

    Lots of interesting tips. I just shoot away and hope for the best but I guess I need to start getting a bit more scientific about it!

  7. Cheryl Hanson says:

    Brilliant article on brilliant color. It is always best to take a photo of your subject in black and white setting, to see the contrast and the positive and negative values that a subject may have to offer. A great way to do this, is to take the shot, with a professional Polaroid camera. The edges and crispness will not be there, but you can see the areas where you can adjust on lighting, and focus.

    Lighting and shadows of light are going to create the gradation of color that you may be looking for. It is not easy to always decide what is the best way to bounce the light off your subject, but with a light meter and a quick black and white shot, you can tell where the best angle is going to be for your shot.

    That is if your subject can sit still!

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