Using Color to Emphasize Your Subject

cracked cd 1024x768 Using Color to Emphasize Your SubjectColor often sets the mood in a photograph but it can also accentuate a point of interest. You can use colors to make an image stand out, such as by playing with contrasting or complementary colors or setting the colored subject against a muted or monochromatic background.

A standard color wheel or spectrum is halved into two sides: cool and warm. A cool color such as green will have an opposite (and warm) color which is red. Contrasting colors are those which are far apart in the wheel, the further they are from each other, the greater the contrast. If you pair contrasting colors in your image, you can make the image appear more striking. However, too much color contrast can soon be exhausting to look at.

Another type of pairing are complementary colors. These are color pairs that are on opposite sides of the wheel such as red and green or blue and orange. But just because they are called 'complementary' does not mean they are complimentary and some pairs will not look that attractive if you use them in the shot.
zipper 300x224 Using Color to Emphasize Your Subject
Colors also stand out in a shot if there are no other colors that might steal its impact. By placing a colored subject against a background with little or no color, the subject will immediately draw attention to itself. You can then fully present and appreciate the beauty of a subject's color.

A little splash of color can be enough to bring focus to the subject. Some photographers experiment with a post processing technique called 'selective desaturation' where the image is monochromatic except for a point of interest which remains colored. It is often regarded as 'cliché' and is over-used by beginner photographers but if applied successfully, this technique adds to the message you are trying to put across.

By using the backlighting technique, you can make your subject's colors look more vibrant and intense. Look for subjects that are transparent or translucent and hold them up against the light. You will notice that the colors look different; they may even appear to be glowing. Plastic objects and thin items such as paper often make great subjects for backlighting since they allow some light to pass through them, highlighting their colors and details.

Use other techniques to bring out the colors of your subject. Try to capture its iridescence, its muted softness, or its vibrancy. Play with color combinations but do not go overboard by showing too much color or the photo will turn out look garish and be an eyesore.


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How to Photograph Leaves

One of the most versatile subjects you can find is a leaf. There are thousands of different kinds of leaves. If the saying is 'no two snowflakes are alike' then I would also argue that no two leaves are alike. Not only do they differ in family but also in shape, color, texture, pattern and size. Each leaf of the same plant is distinctive which just goes to show the intricacies of nature.

goldenleaf 300x224 How to Photograph Leaves

Leaves are easily accessible. They can be found almost everywhere you look, from the ones in the garden to the produce section in the grocery.

Your subject may be just a singular leaf, it may also be a pile of leaves. It can be in its natural state hanging at the end of a plant stem in a field, it might also have fallen and drifted to the edge of a concrete sidewalk. The possibilities of capturing stunning leaf shots are only limited by your creativity and skills as a photographer.

Did you know that leaf shots make great stock photos? Some clients buy them because they can be the perfect background for a magazine cover or a blog template, others buy them purely because they look interesting. You can upload hundreds of leaf shots to your online portfolio and each one would be unique and a possible sale.

The question is how do you make each shot interesting? Sure, the leaf itself is one of a kind but if your shot is uninspired, it will be obvious and your good shots will be buried under your mediocre ones.

Here's what you can do to spice things up:

Highlight its best feature. What is it about the leaf that makes it so special? Is it the strange patterns or the large veins? Maybe it is the color? If so, play around with the lighting to show it off. With this photo, I used the backlighting technique to further enhance the golden color of the leaf. A simple black background was used to add contrast to the gold hues. The lighting method also brought attention to the fascinating vein patterns.

Add 'props' such as water drops. Yes, dew or water droplets on a leaf would be considered a 'cliché' shot but if it does make your shot more interesting then why not. Try to surprise the viewer by going one step further such as overdoing the number of droplets such as in this leaf shot. The droplets make wonderful patterns and you might notice that they also magnify the details of the leaf which add to its 'interestingness'.

Do something to the leaf itself. Capture it as it is burning, cut it into strips, write on it, tear it, bend it, fold it, weave it, roll it, freeze it, dry it out in the sun, press it, wrap it around something. The shots you take after doing any of this are bound to be attention-grabbing. Of course, still keep the basic photography principles in mind or else you might end up with a very unappealing shot of some green mush that barely looks like a leaf.

Close up and macro shots are often used for leaf shot but it really depends on how you compose the shot. Depth of field can provide focus on only a few leaves while keeping the other leaves blurred and therefore less distracting in the background. The more you shoot leaves, the easier it will become for you to know how to show its uniqueness.


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Using Your Surroundings As Your Subject

When we look at photographs of scenes, we tend to be so fascinated because we've either never been there or we haven't seen it in that particular way. We're naturally curious with what the rest of the world looks like, and the next best thing to travelling to other places is to look at pictures of them instead.

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