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Published by Steve Gottlieb

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Published by: Steve Gottlieb on Oct 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ron Rivers’
photo of a roadside watermelon display table features strong primary colors — greens and reds — thatvibrate well together. As to why this “works,” Picasso might be right: you can’t really explain it, it just does. For those insearch of explanations, color theory says greens and reds are a strong combination because they are on
opposite ends
 of the color spectrum. That maximizes visual contrast. Which is why juxtaposing red and orange, which are
“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No.” 
Pablo Picasso
Student Photos Up Close
With foliage season around the corner, we got to thinking about photographs in which color is a dominant feature of the image. How can photographers make color “sing,” as Picasso might say? Here are a few thoughts, illustrated by four outstanding (non-foliage) student photos.the color spectrum, is usually less appealing to most eyes. Another way to enhance color vibrance is to include black,white, and/or grey elements in the picture because these “non-colors” serve as contrasting elements to any color. In Ron’sphoto, the paper plate serves that purpose. (Imagine the picturewithout the plate...less color pop, yes?)Capturing one single color set against a black, white or greybackground is another effective way to call attention to color; theeye steers away from “neutrals” and toward colors. It’s hard totake you eyes off the Crayola crayon in
Morgan Foery’s
elegant-ly simple shot. Ditto the yellow line in
Brenda Kolb’s
road detail. (It’s hard to detect the crayon in Brenda’s shot, butthat’s the idea behind this visual joke.)Bright colors make for high impact. Subdued colors, thoughthey have less punch, can be every bit as pleasing. The pas-tel hues in
Alan Wiener’s
shot of an old Chevy truck interactbeautifully together…and the soft palette is perfectly suited to thedecomposing subject matter. As you seek out foliage images — and other pictures in whichcolor is critical — be conscious of color juxtapositions to createstronger and more varied images. (More on color >> next page.)
Oversaturated with Oversaturation
by Steve GottliebWhen I judge camera club com-petitions, I explain at the outsetthat, like every human being, Ihave my prejudices, both proand con. I identify some of them.One of my strongest prejudices isagainst images that, to my eye,are
saturated. I’m particularlyput off by nature photographs thatdon’t look natural.It seems like more and morephotographers these days arecranking up the saturation. Intensecolors certainly catch the eye —no doubt that’s why most
Outdoor Photographer 
covers are heavilysaturated— but this is like gettingattention by playing music too loudor over-seasoning food. Catchingmy attention is not the same thingas pleasing me.To enhance color 
satura-tion overkill you might try minimiz-ing those elements in a picturethat distract from the colors. Here’san example, using a ne photo by
Alan Wiener 
(who produced theChevy Truck detail on the prior page.)The top picture is Alan’s un-retouched image. The middle ver-sion is heavily saturated. The bot-tom is unsaturated, with distractingelements — sky, signage and such— either removed or toned down.Result: colors stand out more with-out looking fake.

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