How to Use the Color Wheel to Enhance Your Photos

color wheelNo doubt, you’ve heard of color theory and the color wheel. But did you ever think about it when taking photos? Probably not. In this post we’ll tell you how you can use the color wheel and basic color theory to improve your photos.

The Color Wheel Theory

First of all, let’s recap the color wheel theory. The first known color wheel was created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. It was a pretty cool one too because it correlated colors with musical notes and planetary symbols. But, from the color spectrum point of view, it wasn’t as advanced as the modern one with all the different shades of color.

The color wheel is a handy tool for every artist and photographer because it shows the relationships between primary, secondary and tertiary colors. There are analogous colors, for example, green, light green and yellow. And there are complementary colors, for example, yellow and purple. You’ll find the analogous colors side by side on the color wheel and the complementary colors are opposite from each other. While analogous colors create a natural harmony, it’s the complementary colors that give your artworks and photos contrast.

Using Analogous Colors

If you want to create a sense of calm and peace with your photography, analogous colors should dominate your photo. Good example of photos that mainly use similar colors are landscapes where most of the photo is green (countryside), blue (seascapes) or orange (sunsets). Be careful with sticking to analogous colors only, though, because that’s the road to boring photos.

Adding Contrast with Complementary Colors

Why does everyone love a photo of an orange balloon against the blue sky? Or a red poppy in a green field? Because these photos use complementary colors in the right proportion. Remember that one color or a set of analogous colors should dominate your photo and the complementary color should be the contrasting element. Like a yellow autumn leaf on dark purple-ish waters. That would make your photos more dramatic and draw the viewer’s eye to them.

Most of the time your eye will guide you and tell you which colors work together. After all, color perception is a very natural thing!




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