Colors that lie immediately next to each other
on the color wheel (see p. 54) are said to be
analo gous, or adjacent, colors. Examples of these
include light green and yellow, dark green and
blue, purple and cyan, and so on.
Color and harmony
Although it is difﬁcult to generalize about what are
essentially subjective reactions to the inclusion of
particular colors, as a general rule if you include
combinations of adjacent colors in an image you
create more of a harmonious effect. This is especially
true if the colors are approximately equiv alent to
each other in brightness and saturation. As well as
being pleas ing to the eye, color harmony also helps
to bind together what could perhaps be disparate
subject elements within a composition.
Color and mood
There is much to be said for learning to work
with a carefully conceived and restrained palette
of colors. A trick of landscape photogra phers
at some times of the year, for example, is
to select a camera viewpoint that creates a
color scheme that is composed predominantly of
browns and reds—the hues redolent of autumn.
Thus, not only does a harmonious color
composition result, all of the mood and
atmosphere associated with the seasonal change
from summer to winter are brought to bear
within the image.
Depending on just how the photographer wants
a picture to communicate with its intended
audience, images that feature gardens as the principal
subject might be dominated by colors such as
various shades of green or blues and purples.
Another type of picture harmony results when the
colors are all of a similar hue. The subtle tonal
variations can impart a sense of quiet tranquillity or
reinforce the drama of the scene. Duotone or
sepia-toned effects (see pp. 238–41) are highly
mono chromatic, as are views of the sea and sky
containing a range of different blues. Red and
orange sunsets may be lively or serene, while ﬂower
close-ups are often beautiful because of their
delicate shifts in color.
As the French painter
Paul Cézanne taught us,
every color of the rainbow
can be seen in any scene
if you look hard enough,
especially in a landscape.
However, the dominance
of yellows and browns in
this image encourages the
viewer to admire the
chiaroscuro and shape
of the slopes without the
distraction of color
Even though all the main
colors in this photograph
are tonally very close, the
image lacks impact when
it is rendered in black and
white. The emotional
content of the warm reds,
pinks, and purples is
essential to the success
of the study.
Blue on blue
Although the strong and adjacent blues, which have been
given extra depth by the bright sunlight illuminating them,
are what this picture is all about, a total absence of some
form of contrast—provided here by the small red label and
the subject’s ﬂesh tones—would have left the picture
unbalanced and overstated.
Red and purple
When I ﬁrst noticed this painted wall, it appeared to have
promise, but it was not until it was strongly lit by oblique
sunlight that the picture really came together—the
dominance of the red and the strongly graphic crack
both being powerful visual elements. A little post-
processing work served to heighten the colors and
strengthen the shadows.
First, choose a color. It could be your favorite
one—blue, yellow, orange—or any other. Next,
set out to photograph any thing that is largely or
wholly composed of that particular hue. Allow
only vari ations of that color within each picture.
If any other colors are present, don’t take the
picture—unless you can get in close enough, or
change your camera viewpoint, to exclude them.
When you are done, put your collection of pictures
together. The assembly of similar colors in different
shades will have an impact that may surprise
and delight you.