Color Theory Tip 05 Taking it further – how lighting affects color
Getting color to work isn’t just about picking the right shades; lighting is also crucial.
Colors photographed under harsh sunlight will look very different to the same hues in soft indoor light, and the positioning of your light source is key to how colors are perceived, as our three shots demonstrate.
In each position to the light the colors in our model’s scarf look very different.
While front lighting shows colors accurately, back lighting mutes them into pastel shades and side lighting creates different contrasts. We took these in natural light, but the same principles apply to artificial lighting setups too.
Keeping the sun or other main light source directly behind you will show colors as we perceive them in real life, with all the tones uniformly and brightly lit, as we can see in this shot of our model’s rainbow scarf.
Back lighting, when you shoot into the sun, shows more muted versions of the colors in shot. In this photo, the soft, reflected light created a harmonious, romantic feel and the scarf’s colors are more subtle and toned down.
Side lighting your shot will create strong shadows on your subject and areas of contrast in the color palette. In our photo, the parts of the scarf that are in direct light show bright, color, while areas in shadow are darker.
Color Theory Tip 01 A touch of color
Color Theory Tip 02 Matching complementary colors
Color Theory Tip 03 Shades of a single color
Color Theory Tip 04 color clash
Color Theory Tip 05 Taking it further – how lighting affects colour