Introduction to Composing with Light and Color

Introduction to Composing with Light and Color
There are many articles, blogs, and even whole books out there discussing how to record a composition, and introducing you to the most known and famous rules or guidelines of composition such as the rule of thirds, converging lines, looking for patterns, utilizing surrounding texture, filling your frame, and on and on and on… and I 100% agree with all that. In fact, these are the ABCs of photography, and whether you choose to follow or break those rules, you should be familiar with them to begin with.

COMPOSING WITH LIGHT AND COLOR

There are many articles, blogs, and even whole books out there discussing how to record a composition, and introducing you to the most known and famous rules or guidelines of composition such as the rule of thirds, converging lines, looking for patterns, utilizing surrounding texture, filling your frame, and on and on and on… and I 100% agree with all that. In fact, these are the ABCs of photography, and whether you choose to follow or break those rules, you should be familiar with them to begin with. What I want to focus on today though is, how you can achieve intriguing results by composing your shots with light and color. The things we’re going to talk about today are meant to give you a lead on how you can creatively make use of a better sense of understanding of light and color to create unique, unconventional, and dramatic compositions that can set you apart from the rest. Light is the very essential part of photography. Without light there is absolutely nothing. No matter how sophisticated your gear is, how large your sensor is, how long your lens is, it all comes down to light entering the camera traveling through the lens and registering onto photographic film or digital sensor. Every photographer, regardless of their level of expertise, study the light characteristics of their scene; how harsh or soft, how cold or warm, how high or low, and so on before making the decision of how to pursue. On the other hand, color is also a very important component of a successful composition. Photographers, unlike painters, find colors rather than create them (at least for the most part!), and this is why they are less informed of color theories, how to use them, and how to intensify existing colors to better serve their needs. Nevertheless, photographers are well served understanding the basics so that they can appreciate why some color images work while others don’t. To be honest, color is a huge subject of its own that no post or a dozen can give justice to. However, we are going to be looking at the fundamentals of color that can assist us to better understand how we can make the best of it in our photos, and how to utilize it to convey the intended emotional and perceptual responses of our photos.

LIGHT AND KEY

One important element that supports a successful composition is contrast, and most importantly tonal contrast. Tonal contrast is the difference between the highlights and the shadows in a photograph. The greater the difference, the more contrast a photo is said to have. Tones in between are known as the midtones,and are where most information in a photo lies. That said, light and dark areas in an image strongly contribute to the feel and mood of it. When the photo is mostly dark, favoring shadow tones, it is low key. When a photo is mostly bright, favoring light tones, it is high key. Maximum contrast demands more or less equal areas of black and white.

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