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Warm and Cool - Mixing Color With Feelings

December 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Pepper on Ice

The use of certain colors in photographs helps to convey feelings to the viewer. One of the best cases is the use of blue and orange, complementary colors on the color wheel.  Blue tends to evoke a sense that an object is cool or cold while orange gives the sense that something is warm or even hot.  When I process photos I think of objects in the image as cool, warm or neutral.  I tend to add a little blue to "cool" objects such as water, shadows, ice, and sky.  I then add a little orange to "warm" parts of the photograph such areas around the sun and places where light is falling.  I use the term "add" loosely, as it usually is just intensifying the color that is already there by adjusting the hue or saturation sliders in Lightroom.  This doesn't work with every photograph but when done right it can add a nice "punch" to a photograph and make it stand out. 

Silkstone-140307_0087-1817Silkstone-140307_0087-1817Sunset in Highland County, Virginia, March 7, 2014.

Cold snow and warm sunlit clouds

A little blue tint to the snow and shadows along with the orange clouds really adds some color contrast that would otherwise be dull and flat.  

Cool moutains and shadows and a warm sunrise gives the sense that the day starts off cool and warms up.

BLUE Ridge Mountains?  PURPLE mountain majesties? Yep.  

Silkstone-140328_0197Silkstone-140328_0197The Boneyard at Botany Bay, Mar. 28, 2014.

Cool water and clouds with warm sunlight give this photograph some much needed tension

Next time when you're out photographing ask yourself if the scene before you would be better if you used blue and orange to represent cool and warm areas of the photograph.  If so, I think you will find that it spices the photograph up just a notch.  Enjoy.

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