Color Tips for Everyone!

It is difficult to imagine a world without color.

Helen Keller said:

“I understand how scarlet can differ from crimson because I know that the smell of an orange is not the smell of a grapefruit…Without color or its equivalent, life to me would be dark, barren, a vast blackness…”

Yet most often, we take color for granted and often do not really see its true spectrum. Like light or air we know surrounds us, we miss the nuances. Learning about color opens eyes and enhances photographic vision.

As photographers, we focus on color and color’s narrative voice adds emotion, impact, and metaphor.

Color affects the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our purchases, our moods, even our body temperature. Marketers are well aware of the psychological and biological powers of color, and they use these factors to influence our behavior. Consider that nearly 85% of all purchases are powered by color, decisions are made within 90 seconds based on color, and color can improve reading, learning, and comprehension. (Psychology of Color, Hubspot, Lindsey Kolowich).

Read along to learn some interesting information on the colors red, yellow, and blue (pigment primary colors).

Photography by Cheryl Machat Dorskind

I often suggest that young children wear red shirts when photographing in a field of greenery. Red and green are complements, colors opposite each other on the color wheel (a topic thoroughly explored in both my color classes). Pairing red and green creates color harmony and adds contrast – POWer.

 

RED

The human eye is most sensitive to red and red evokes strong emotions. Seeing the color red can raise blood pressure and stimulate appetite – that is why so many restaurants use red as wall coloring or décor. Red, an attention grabber (think stop sign), is often used in packaging to stimulate impulse buying.

Red sits on top of the rainbow and brands such as Netflix, CNN, LEGO, Canon, Adobe, and YouTube embrace the power of red in their logos.

 

Notice how red logos pop or move forward against a white background. Red, considered a warm color moves forward. The use of black in the font adds contrast to the logo.  White enhances the space of the name. Consider these same logos against a black background. I offer these logos to ignite thought. Are you using the right color in your logo and background to best convey your brand’s essence?

Notice how red logos pop or move forward against a white background. Red, considered a warm color moves forward. The use of black in the font adds contrast to the logo. White enhances the space of the name. Consider these same logos against a black background. I offer these logos to ignite thought. Are you using the right color in your logo and background to best convey your brand’s essence?

 

 

Food for thought, as some photographers prefer a black background for their websites. Notice how the yellow outline in the LEGO logo creates a shimmery effect and is therefore more eye-catching. Which background do you prefer, white or black?

Food for thought, as some photographers prefer a black background for their websites. Notice how the yellow outline in the LEGO logo creates a shimmery effect and is therefore more eye-catching. Which background do you prefer, white or black?

 

 

 

Yellow

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

 

Yellow connotes cheerfulness, optimism, intuition, and warmth. Yellow stimulates the nervous system, encourages communication, but causes fatigue and eyestrain. For many yellow awakens our inner child – maybe we think of the yellow-rubber duckies or the happy face emoticons 😀

Yellow is used to grab attention, show clarity, and represents optimism. Notice how companies such as National Geographic, IMDb, Best Buy, Sundance Films, and Nikon incorporate yellow into their branding.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

A yellow shirt was selected purposefully to create a high key (light tones). In addition to yellow’s warm qualities, a high key image evokes purity and hopeful notions. The yellow shirt adds a happy notation.

 

Yellow is the lightest of colors and evokes warmth, therefore it is the most common color found in home décor.

 

Blue

Blue, perceived as a constant, represents calmness and serenity and is associated with water and peace. Arguably the most popular universal color, the color blue also curbs appetite.

 

Blue, a cool color, recedes, creating depth and makes a perfect background for white. This color pairing fact can be applied to clothing, still lifes, and landscapes to enhance compositions.

Blue, a cool color, recedes, creating depth and makes a perfect background for white. This color pairing fact can be applied to clothing, still lifes, and landscapes to enhance compositions.

 

Why are so many corporate offices decorated with blue? Working in a blue environment is known to increase productivity. Blue also infers trust and security – a blue suit remains the symbol of professionalism. Think about how many tech and social media companies use blue for their branding. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Dell, and Tumblr are just a few examples of corporations reinforcing trust, reliability, and confidence with color.

While these companies use blue as the hue (another word for color), you can see that there are many shades of blue and each has its own cultural connotations. For instance, dark blue is often associated with trust, dignity, intelligence and authority, whereas, bright blue connotes coolness and strength.  Blue works beautifully against a white background.

While these companies use blue as the hue (another word for color), you can see that there are many shades of blue and each has its own cultural connotations. For instance, dark blue is often associated with trust, dignity, intelligence and authority, whereas, bright blue connotes coolness and strength. Blue works beautifully against a white background.

 

So how do these color facts fit in with your photography?

First, learning about color theory, color psychology, and color biology will sensitize you to the world and your environment. Like wearing 3-D glasses, you will see depth and added clarity and feel more alive. You will be in tune with the power of color and understand how it is affecting and influencing you.

Second, you will notice more about your color preferences and hence your photographic motivations – chances are they are not as arbitrary as supposed.

As an exercise, review your photo library surveying color. I bet you will see a pattern, a propensity for a certain color or a category such as warm tones (red, yellow) or cool tones (blue, violet).

Lastly, strategize using color on your next photo outing. If you are photographing people, think about the colors of the clothes. Create color harmony and experiment to narrate personality. In my examples, I used family and children to illustrate the color theory logic, but the theories apply to all types of photography.

 

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Quick question: Which do you prefer the cool blues or the warm reds?  Send me an email: cheryl@cherylmachatdorskind.com and let’s start a conversation.

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Join me for All About Color and More About Color (July only) and allow me to share my passion for color, a topic I have spent over ten years researching. I fell in love with the theory of color while working on my first book, The Art of Handpainting Photographs. Using washes of oil paints to enhance my photographs, I discovered the power of color and have been sharing my discoveries ever since.

 

Click here to read testimonials about how my color class has impacted students’ vision.

I also teach Photographing Children Naturally, based in part on my eBook and Painting Photos at bpsop.com.

I hope to see you in one of my online classes sometime soon!

All my best,

Cheryl

PS I am running a sweepstake on my FB page. I am giving away three Premium codes to a fantastic task management and to-do-list app – Todoist (yearly subscription $29 value).

Come on over to Facebook, like my page, and sign up (click the sweepstake tab) to win a fantastic tool to stay organized. Three winners will be chosen on July 15th. And of course, color labels are an intricate detail of this popular app.

 

Color Matters

By Cheryl Machat Dorskind

ABOUT NEGATIVE SPACE

Few weeks ago we had in our Project52  group theme called “Negative space” and I was surprised to find out, how many people had a trouble to visualize this idea. Many many times it was represented by something negative. Negative emotions, negative thoughts, negative places etc… But the idea of negative space has nothing to do with any negative thoughts! To help my fellow friends and photographers, I have decided to go through my library and put together images from my archive, which I believe represent powerful photography concept of negative space quite well and will help to get the idea by examples.

using negative spaceSpain

When shooting negative space, don’t forget – it is not about negativity… it is more about the space! You want to find vast spaces, mostly without anything or with a boring, uninterested pattern… and then somewhere in the picture (typically towards the corner and at the intersection of golden thirds) BOOM! there’s something unexpected, which will break the picture. This “unexpected” will bring the meaning, will give the scale, will explain the rest of the space… So it will be the contrary (hence negative, meaning opposite) to the rest of the available, but unused space…

As always, picture is worth thousand words, so let me show you what I mean in following examples.

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Switzerland

 

 

This photo tip with and many other fresh photography ideas you can find on my blog here.

Think negative! 😉 And have fun!

Patrik Banas | www.patrikbanas.com

 

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Death Valley, CA

 

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Greece

 

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Greece

 

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Death Valley, CA

 

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Greece

 

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Switzerland

 

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Greece

 

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Corsica, France

 

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South Korea

 

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Switzerland

 

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South Korea

 

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Greece

 

Looking for something specific!

One of the things we do in our Art of Seeing class is how begin seeing things by looking for something specific.  We start with line, pattern, color and texture and our students are always amazed by how much they SEE after these lessons.  It’s a great exercise to give yourself if you are walking out the door to go shooting.  When people have a couple hours to go out and shoot in the weekend they often find themselves coming home with mediocre images.  The reason is that the world is overwhelming and when you look at everything, you often see nothing.  On a recent workshop I sent my students out on what I call a speed round.  We were in downtown Seattle and I set a goal of line, pattern or something like that and everyone went out  and met back at the same place 20 minutes later to compare results.  Once we had done a few of those, I sent us all out to capture Reflections.  Reflections in the city can be a LOT of fun to play with.  A puddle on the ground….


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Can be far more exciting when you get down on the ground.


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Cities are filled with building fronts made of glass and getting right up against that glass can also turn out some really dramatic and surprising results.


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I captured a few as I walked around with those 20 minutes clicking away in my mind.


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Then I ended up down by Seattle’s famous Public Market and found JUST what I was looking for…


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The interesting thing was, our group had spend a significant amount of time at this intersection earlier in the morning, but we didn’t happen to be looking for reflections.  It was a wonderful surprise and possible only because I was specifically looking for something.  So, grab your camera, head out the door with a time limit and something to look for.  Check out the Art of Seeing class and have some fun seeing your world through a whole new set of eyes!
By Chris Hurtt

Beraking The Rules

Never place your subject in the center of the frame; it will create a static feeling. Never place your horizon line in the middle of the frame; it will create a feeling of indecision and negative tension. And, whatever you do, don’t forget to always fill your frame—move closer or change to a longer focal length.

Don’t you just love rules? As my parents will attest, I have always loved rules. Not so that I could follow them, but rather so that I knew where the boundaries were. That way, I could clearly see that I had crossed a boundary and could take delight in knowing that I was clearly breaking a rule. Fortunately, my rebellious phase didn’t last too long. Had it gone on much longer, I very well might not be writing photography books but instead standing in front of a judge.

DAM!

Dam-image

There are always exceptions to rules. You don’t always have to follow the rules. They are just suggestions. Sometimes, a subject looks best centered in the frame. Sometimes, a horizon line that divides a picture directly in half works. There is a certain importance in not always relying on rules, otherwise you might not develop confidence in your vision when it differs from that of others. Take a look at these three images and realize how all three are far being frame filling ‘portraits’, yet when it comes right down to it the ‘portrait’ despite its incredibly diminshed size is truly the star!

How can such a tiny subject grab your attention when it doesn’t even come close to filling the frame? The answer lies in a basic law of visual perception: The smaller a subject is in relation to its surroundings, the more unusual it appears; and, the more unusual it appears, the more it stands out. This is similar to disrupting a pattern (see the lower image on page 71): Whatever interrupts the pattern then becomes the focus of attention.

On closer inspection, this image is, in fact, filled to the edge of the frame with contrasting tones and shapes. Since the woman walking up the steps (of La Defense in Paris) jumps out in contrast to the surrounding tones and shapes, she becomes the focus. If you were to place a lone figure anywhere inside this frame, you would achieve the same effect—the figure would always remain the point of interest.

amazing-photography-angels

How big is that haul truck? Since there is nothing that comes close to replicating the human shape, (other than monkeys and apes) the odds are quite strong that when one see’s a silhouetted shape that replicates the human form, the eye will assume it must be “one of us” and quickly judgments about the size and scale of the surroundings based on the shape fo the human form. So how big are those haul trucks they use at gold and silver mines around the world? Really BIG!

giving-images-size

THIS WEEKS SPOTLIGHT IS ON THE PHOTOGRAPHER, SHERRY BOYLAN…

When I first met Sherry, I recall vividly her level of determination and stubbornness. I did not see these qualities expressed with her camera and lens, but rather I saw it being expressed at a local coffee shop in Cape Cod regarding her desired coffee order. “Assuming she has this kind of attitude with image making, she will go far”, I said silently to myself. 

More than seven years have passed since that day and it’s fair to say that Sherry was and still is a fiercely determined and still stubborn photographer who settles for nothing short of excellence! She is in many respects a Rock and Roll band’s dream PR machine, as any one of her many ‘band’ images not only speaks a thousand words but it does so in 4/4 time!  As you are about to find out, Sherry knows the art of image making!

Sheery-Boylan-1

1) When did you first pick up a camera and do you remember your first picture?

Probably before I even remember. My grandmother always had a film Nikon camera in her hands, and the magic of the darkroom always fascinated me. I received a Polaroid camera when I was 7 and used it on a school field trip, a Circle Line boat tour in NYC, my first shot was a photo of the Statue of Liberty.

 Sherry-Boylan2

2) How long have you been shooting?

I have always had an interest in it…we lost all our family photos/history in a fire when I was 4, so I have always had an urge to document and preserve memories. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really thought about it again, & once she took up horseback riding and competing, I found that those 12 hour days were best occupied with a camera in my hands and I was able to photograph her without the “oh mom” complaints.

Sherry-Boylan-3

3) Why did you choose your particular specialty?

I didn’t choose music photography, I sort of fell into it. As a digital scrap booker, I met a bunch of women online. To improve our photo skills we took one of Bryan Peterson’s field workshops, where I met some wonderful folks, that to this day, I still travel and correspond with. That led to Photoshop World and various Photography seminars…one struck a chord with me. Alan Hess’s concert photography. Music Photography is very challenging to do well. Lighting, if/when its available changes by the second, people are always in motion, there is stage clutter, obstacles between you and your subjects, you have to be mindful of everyone’s expressions, move quickly, anticipate the action, stay out of the fans way, work your camera in the dark, know it inside out, and capture a 200th of a second that expresses something, be able to post process the shot and there are no second chances.. Either you get the shot or you don’t. You have no control over lighting, expressions, poses, or placement. You watch, you study, you pray… a lot. Combining my love of music with photography… win/win! I am on the board of our local weekly photo club, and to keep 180 people engaged is a chore, so one of the projects I started was a themed project 52 (365 was too much for me). Mine was inspired by what Alan was doing, at the time his focus was musicians hands, so for me to stick with completing the task, I choose to photograph a musician a week.. I printed up a coffee table book at the end. Everyone wanted this book, I ended up having a book release party at The Norva, sold 200 books and haven’t looked back since. I am now a full fledged band-tographer.

Sherry-Boylan-5

4) What are your top three destinations for shooting? Is there somewhere you have NOT shot but you hope to shoot there one day?

I love National Parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, even though the landscape may not change, the light sculpts it beautifully and uniquely if you pay attention. New England with its rugged shorelines, rocks, crashing waves, simple colors, I could not imagine every living away from the ocean, and it reminds me of less complicated and less industrialized times from my younger years. My hope is to shoot far up north and be able to capture the Northern Lights, the magic of nature and science. Alaska would be on my bucket list also, to document one of our dwindling natural expanses and the animals of that region.

Sherry-Boylan-6

5) Which, if any, photographers inspired you the most? 

Jay Maisel, for two reasons. I am very much an introvert, my camera is my safety net, my comfort zone, I can hide behind it and work instead of socializing. The concept of just being able to walk around and meet so many fascinating people without fear absolutely had me in awe. Then I met him, in Orlando, in the hotel hallway, I was starstruck, I exclaimed to him that he was Jay Maisel! He replied, “Yeah, what’s it to you?” I said, “Not a thing, just checking…” we laughed, continued our mutual NY style banter and he asked me what I like to shoot, so I replied to my world famous street/people photographer idol, “anything but people”… insert awkward silence…. He looked at me and said, “What the hell are you so afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen?” For once in my life I didn’t have a quick comeback.. I never forgot that conversation or my promise to him to try.. we laugh about it now when I see him..

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6) How do you create income from your work, e.g. gallery sales, stock, assignment, workshops, books etc.?

You don’t make money with music photography… you do it because you love it and enjoy the perks along the way.. Having said that, I seem to have created a unique local niche for myself. I shoot both national and locals acts, but I love my locals! I have been documenting our local music scene since 2012. I publish books about our local rock stars, their original music and do well with that. I have work everywhere, billboards, magazines, websites, papers, merchandise, CD’s etc. I consider it my resume which opens up a lot of paid event work and band promo shoots. I have an online gallery of all my show shoots that they purchase from for their promo stuff… every little bit helps. (SherryShootsShows.com)

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7) What one thing fuels your photographic passion more than anything else?

Feedback from my audience fuels me. I meet fascinating people, people come up to me that I haven’t met saying they enjoy my work, or even better that they discovered a local artist thru my photos. I introduce musicians to each other, showcase my engineers, put a spotlight on our local music scene and people are responding, so having an impact on our local music area is quite a feeling.

8) Where do you find inspiration? 

My inspiration comes from happy accidents… continued learning, trying new things. I love online classes, dissecting photos that others take, and trying to recreate things I see. I don’t want to copy anyone, I use it as a fun way to continue to build a solid knowledge base for myself. Out of that comes happy accidents and you find yourself going down a different road of discovery of new techniques.

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9) What camera system/equipment you use? Do you have a favorite lens? 

I use Canon gear, the factory is literally down the block from my house. I have a pair of 5D Mark III’s , one with a 24-70 f/2.8 the other with a 70-200 f/2.8. I have used the Canon line from the 20D on up.. but for what I shoot, the Mark III’s low light capabilities are invaluable. I have a dozen lenses but my go to lenses live on my cameras.

Sherry-Boylan

The photographer, Sherry Boylan

 

10) What, if any, advice do you have for our BPSOP members?

Never stop learning or having fun with photography.. Shoot for yourself, shoot in raw and practice as much as you can. Embrace and learn from your mistakes. Learn new techniques and shoot things beyond your likes and/or comfort zone because it will expand your photographic knowledge which will help across the board. Find or start a photo group of like minded people.. it will energize you and keep you on your game.

 

“You keep shooting!”

Bryan F Peterson/Founder BPSOP

 

How big is that haul truck? Since there is nothing that comes close to replicating the human shape, (other than monkeys and apes) the odds are quite strong that when one see’s a silhouetted shape that replicates the human form, the eye will assume it must be “one of us” and quickly judgments about the size and scale of the surroundings based on the shape fo the human form. So how big are those haul trucks they use at gold and silver mines around the world? Really BIG!

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    Linda Shorey Black & White Fine Art Photography
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