Color Photography: understanding complementary colors

Composing photos boldly

Composing photos boldly

Composing photos boldly

Try deliberately finding and isolating subjects with opposite colors, setting them up artificially if no ready-made subjects present themselves.

The blue-yellow combination works well for reasons we’ve already explained, but try combining red and green, despite what we’ve said about clashing colors. You can do this, for example, with many bedding plant varieties.

Nasturtiums and geraniums have particularly vibrant red/orange tones and contrasting green foliage to go with them.

Try taking portraits of subjects wearing clothes that either contrast or harmonise with the background.

Now’s a great time to experiment with still life set-ups, where you have precise control over both the colors and the arrangements of the objects within the frame.

To create a nostalgic, antique look, for example, choose harmonising colors consisting of largely brown tones, say, with only a few extra colors that are nearby on the color wheel.

PAGE 1: Using opposite colors on the color wheel
PAGE 2: Allow for a dominant color
PAGE 3: Composing photos boldly

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