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How To Use Color Contrast in Photography

February 25, 2021 in Photography



How To Use Color Contrast in Photography

We are attracted by some colors and repelled by others. Some arose as an eye-pleasing experience while others are not so attractive.

In a photography career, if you could understand the art of using these color contrasts in photography, maybe playing with the viewer’s mood would be a piece of cake.

You surely won’t be manipulating them like sci-fi technology, but we can assure you that you would be imprinting your work in their heads, to help you grow your photography career.

In this article, we are going to help you learn everything related to color contrast in photography techniques and the right ways to use it. Here are the 10 Best Techniques for using color contrast in photography.

But before jumping right on to them, let’s answer some of the most common questions related to the use of color contrast in photography techniques.

What is Color Contrast in Photography?

Contrast basically means difference. Color Contrast in photography techniques is the difference between warm and cold colors shown in a single frame. These are the colors that are opposite to each other in the color wheel and often are complementary to each other.

Difference between Tonal and Color Contrast

While we are on the topic of photography techniques and grow your photography career, you may also know about the two types of contrast that you can use in an image.

Tonal Contrast

Color Contrast in Photography

Tonal contrast is the difference between the tones, that is the lightest and the darkest tone within an image. The following photography techniques don’t have anything to deal with the colors and hue within an image. More specifically, tonal contrast works with black, white, and grey shades.

Color Contrast

Color Contrast in Photography

While Tonal contrast deals with the tones of an image, color contrast in photography techniques is all about showcasing the different contrasting colors in a complementary manner. The following contrast has nothing to do with the dark or the bright side of an image but only deals with colors that are contrasting. Now this contrast can as obvious as the camera image above, or as subtle as shown in the image below.

Color Contrast in Photography

Remember not to use both, Tonal and color contrast as the primary contrasting element. Use one as your primary style and the other in a much subtler, un-catchy way.

Best Techniques for using Color Contrast in Photography

1. Use Complimentary Color

color contrast in photography

To understand color contrast in photography techniques, look at the above color wheel and check out the colors that are opposite to each other. They are completely different and yet complementing each other.

color contrast in photography

Use the wheel to get familiar with color contrast in photography techniques. To start with, we recommend you go for a minimalistic approach. Just find the objects with complementary colors and you will be all set get to capture a picture-perfect presentation.

color contrast in photography

The above image clearly depicts the contrast of a yellow ball and the court. Similarly, if you are just starting out, look out for such day-to-day contrast, and start capturing them.

2. Understand the Dominant and Receding Colors

Color contrast in photography

Color contrast in photography techniques is about bringing two polar opposites together. You would be using warmer colors and cooler colors together. Hence you need to know a core fact about them.

Warmer colores like Red, yellow, orange, etc reach our eyes faster than the colder colors like blue, green, and purple. This means when you would be using them together, warmer colors would grab the attention and focus first.

If you wish you could create a sense of depth in your image by just adding in the right color temperature and contrast.

3. Start with Two Colors in the Frame

color contrast in photography

Understanding color contrast in photography techniques to its fullest takes time and experience. But in order to get your creative juices running, start with the two colors contrasting. Pick an object with a singular color and look out for the contrast. Do this several times and start exploring what works best for you.

4. Do not Put in more than Three Colors

While playing with colors is intriguing, too much of anything can turn out to be bad. Stick your dial to three or less than three colors and you will be all set to get the best images. 

Moreover, experiment with bold eye-catching colors rather than going subtle at the start.

If proposing model photography, decide on an outfit that stands out and brings contrast on its own.

color contrast in photography

The contrast of the outfit with the background still makes the model stand out on its own in the first two images (from the left), whereas the last image on the right struggles to stand out due to too many colors being put together.

5. Use Color Contrast and Composition in photography techniques 

While you are learning one of the best photography techniques, never forget the other. A much better rule you could follow is to combine them and get the best results. Moreover, use contrast and composition techniques together.

Both are very important and they serve one common goal only, i.e. Catching the attention of the viewer. Some common composition techniques are the Rule of third, frames, rule of space, golden ratio, etc.

If you are interested, we highly recommend you read our recent blog on Top 24 Composition Techniques That will Improve your Photos.

6. Look For Natural Color Contrast

color contrast in photography

One easy photography practice that we highly recommend you to try out regularly is to step out of your studio and doing unplanned shoots.

Especially if you have found a newborn interest in color contrast in photography techniques, step out and find contrast in nature or your surrounding. 

Wiring your mind to observe the contrast in the right way is crucial for a photographer.

Look out for opportunities and create an album based on Radom shoots of color contrast in photography.

7. Use Color Contrast to Highlight your Subject

color contrast in photography

As said above, the main purpose of color contrast in photography techniques is to make your subject stand out in the frame. Hence you can even use it to highlight your subject. Choose the background and colors in the frame very consciously. Ensure that while you are trying to bring attention to the subject, the props used aren’t eye-catching.

8. Be Dramatic With Framing

color contrast in photography

In order to stand out, you need your images to be different, attractive, and if not more a little dramatic. Pop in contrast and different elements.

Use props that compliment your overall image and make it look naturally perfect. Color contrast in itself would be enough to catch the eye, but the composition and framing would make an image memorable.

9. Break a Monochromatic Palette

color contrast in photography

According to us, the most beneficial move in the above image was to add the leaf. The table and the pear share a monochromatic palette, but with the addition of the dark leaf, they break the pallet and make the subject stand out.

The point we are trying to share is to try breaking a monochromatic palette by adding subtle contrast to it.

You need to remember that contrast shall not always be as bold or direct. Using it subtlety can also help you out in getting an amazing result.

10. Use Colors to Create an Abstract Photo

color contrast in photography

An abstract image is a kind of image that has a minimum number of components. Using color contrast in photography can really make the image much more fulfilled yet minimalist. 

You can follow the same rules as we have discussed above. In addition, leave a lot of negative space, as we are trying to capture an abstract photo. 

Bonus Read

While we have discussed some of the Best photography techniques for using color contrast in photography, we would like to share one additional tip that can help you get your desired result. That is the editing of your image.

PixelPhant is a product image editing service helping eCommerce and photographers around the world with their photo editing requirements. Hence we totally understand the importance of editing in your photography career.

Make sure that before you showcase your work to the world, you remove the dust, flaws, and unrequired object from the frame. Also, ensure that you set up the tone and temperature of your image in favor of your contrast.

If you are a product photographer and are wishing to get your image edited by professionals, contact PixelPhant. With real professionals on-board, we are the best product image editing service offering a turnaround time of 24 hours or even less, with a cost of less than a dollar for an image. Get your free trial now, by clicking on the “Get Started” button below.

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