Cindy Mondrian arms

Why I Love Color

Color is one of my favorite visual stimuluses:

Infinite variety

The fascinating thing about colors and photography:

There is an infinite way color can be expressed.

For example,

  1. Color-combinations and coordinations of colors
  2. Colors you discover in the streets
  3. The way you post-process colors, or the way that color is rendered into film (or any other medium)
  4. The randomness of color
  5. The emotions that I get from color

One of my favorite places for color — Mexico City:

Most of these photos shot on RICOH GR II in macro mode and flash:

How to discover colors/shoot better color photos

Some tips:

  1. The camera you use is important. Certain cameras/sensors express colors differently. For example, I’ve been able to obtain this lovely high-saturation color via the RICOH GR II by using flash, shooting in ‘positive film’ preset, and by post-processing the images using Lightroom. To exaggerate colors, I played especially with ‘blacks’, ‘whites’, and ‘contrast’ sliders.
  2. Generally speaking, I’ve discovered the best color-combinations/grit is from older neighborhoods — where you can find more peeling paint, and generally in more ‘ghetto’ neighborhoods. Also, the benefit of shooting in back-alleys. A city that was VERY colorful (I didn’t expect) was Denver, Colorado (my new favorite American city).
  3. Post-process your photos based on your taste, and keep processing your photos until they look the way you want them to look! Once you’ve discovered a certain technique, camera-equipment/setup that you like– stick with it for a while!

How to best present your color works

For myself, I really delight in using the ’tiled galleries’ function in (what runs this blog).

Also the new function in wordpress is that you can display your photos ‘full width’; which creates a much more immersive online photo-viewing experience for color images.

Are there such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ colors/”ideal” color-combinations?

I think ultimately all colors are subjective. To me, what interests me about color is the PROPORTIONS of colors in a frame.

Analyzing color-proportions

To analyze deeper, let us inspect some of these photos.

First photo is this blue/red photo:

This is what I see:

And the yellow line demarcates the center of the frame:

And here is the rule of thirds grid applied:

And with a gaussian blur filter applied:

Technically if I colored in the areas (using the Photoshop ‘Eyedropper’ (I) tool and the ‘Polygonal Lasso’ tool (L) — this is what it looks like:

So for myself, it seems interesting that these color-abstract images are just a blend of different colors and proportions of color in the frame.

Think about proportions

Cindy Mondrian arms

Ultimately I think photography composition and color (and abstract art) can be distilled into proportions:

  1. Proportions of a certain color vs another color in the frame.
  2. Placement of visual elements within the frame
  3. How the frame is sub-divided.

Let this lead your photo composition forward!