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Photography has always been about contrast. Black and white, tonal range, high key, low key, these are all terms that we associate with contrast in photography. There is another element to this equation that is just as important, colour. We can use color to create scenes that are low contrast, high contrast or to isolate our subject from its background. Color is an important part of our photographic compositions and using it to create contrast can lead to powerful, emotive images. Today we are going to take a little look at using color to create contrast.
What You Should Know About The Color Wheel
Before we go too far, we should have a brief look at the colors we get to play with. Although we, and our cameras, can see millions of colors, they are all variations of just three, red, green and blue. These are known as the primary colors and each of these has a secondary or complimentary color, red with cyan, green with magenta and blue with yellow. This is why when we are working on removing a yellow cast in post production, we add blue into the image, the blue neutralising the effect of the yellow.
What You Should Know About Hue and Saturation
Color can also be defined by hue and saturation. Hue defines the amount of red, green and blue in an image. For example, a pure red will be 100% red, with zero green or blue. It’s complimentary, cyan will be 100% green and blue but zero% red. Most colors are a combination of red, green and blue and by understanding their relationship to each other, we can create color contrast in our images.
The other part of this equation is saturation. Saturation is the intensity of the color and is something that is primarily dealt with in post production.
Creating High Color Contrast Images That Pop
As we mentioned above we can create images that are similar to high key and low key using color. To create a high contrast color image we are looking to find scenes that use primary colors. In the example below you can see that all three primaries have been used to create a bright high contrast scene. The red of the building contrasts against the blue of the sky and the green of the grass.