The popularity of our post on the X-Rite Color Challenge got me thinking, just how well do we know our colors in regards to color theory? I used to think that it’s just something intuitive, what we just see in the real world. But why do we react to colors and color combinations like we do?
Well, Luminous Landscape has several excellent articles that talk about the basics of color theory from a photographer’s point of view. Here are the three articles on their website, as well as my brief summary for each article.
Color Theory and Orders of Colors
The first stop in learning about color theory is getting to know about the colors themselves and the orders of color on a color wheel.
There are three primary colors which are considered “pure” colors because they are not “are not created though mixing any other colors.” The three primary colors are RED, YELLOW, and BLUE
These are colors that are created by from a 50%-50% mix of two primary colors.
These are colors created by a 25%-75% or 75%-25% mix between a primary color and a secondary color
Image courtesy of Off Book PBS
What’s great about the Luminous Landscape article is that it goes into the psychology of each color, as well as certain color combinations like RED-GREEN. To learn more about this, read the article on Colour Theory as Applied to Landscape Photography.
Monochromatic Color Harmony
This is the first of nine article by Alain Briot on color harmony. The first article of the series talks about the three variables of a color: Hue, Saturation, and Luminosity. These are the basic building blocks of every shade of color.
Hue: The name of the color
Saturation: The intensity of the color
Luminosity: The brightness of the color
Alain starts off with the easiest color harmony principle, which is the monochromatic color harmony. Here, the hue stays the same and only the saturation and luminosity changes.
Image courtesy of Luminous Landscape
To learn more about the monochromatic color harmony, as well as see an example of this principle, please take a look at Alain’s article on Monochromatic Color Harmony.
Complementary Color Harmony
The second article on color harmony starts to more in-depth on why we should be aware of color harmony and how it really contributes to our growth as a photographer and artist. Controlling color harmony is something that I don’t hear enough photographers talk about, and it is just as important as learning about composition and other shooting techniques.
Complementary color harmony is about using two colors that are directly opposite from one another on a color wheel.
Image courtesy of Luminous Landscape
You can see many examples in nature of complementary color harmony like the blue-orange skies during a setting sun. It is a relatively simple harmony to work with since it only involves two colors and it is something we see everyday.
To learn more about the complementary color harmony, you can read Alain’s article on Luminous Landscape: Complementary Color Harmony.
Bonus: Effects of Color Video on PBS
This is a great video by the educational folks at PBS where industry professionals explain how we are affected by color. It’s a great watch!
It’s particularly interesting to see the color trends by decades.
Reference Chart on Color Theory from Visual.ly
And here is a reference chart that you can keep/print from Visual.ly. Click on the image to go to Visual.ly where you can download the high-resolution version.
- How To Make Colors Pop In Photoshop
- Clearing The Smoke Around Grey Market Gear, and Why It Ma...
- IKEA's Hyper-Renders Could Be the End of Product Photogra...
- Shooting with the $165k Canon 1200mm Limited Edition Camera
- Nikon Df vs Canon 6D: Creating a 'Drivelapse' Timelapse S...
- The Taser Photoshoot: Because Why Wouldn't You Want to Ta...