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“The best way out is always through.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Isolate Color Contrasts

Bright, contrasting colors are very effective at getting people's attention in a photograph because the eye is naturally curious about the interaction of colors. Nature is full of color contrasts and all you have to do is flip through a flower seed catalog to see some of the wild combinations that exist. But you can also find a lot of strong contrasting colors in man-made objects. I spotted this yellow and blue color contrast on a dock on Cape Cod from a few hundred feet away and was so curious about what the colors were that I walked out to see what the subject was--and I was glad I did. I thought the hose and the sprayer were such an interesting combination that I spent about 20 minutes shooting various compositions.

The key to capturing strong color contrasts is to isolate them from their surroundings: all that you want to show is the contrast in colors. It really doesn't matter if the subject is "real" (like this one) or more abstract, like drips of paint on a Caribbean wall, the interaction of the colors will carry the photo if you compose tightly enough. Finding color contrasts is a good self assignment, so if you're bored some Saturday afternoon, take a walk around and see what you can find.

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