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When to shoot color

From: Foundations of Photography: Composition

Video: When to shoot color

I've been asking you to shoot in black and white so far throughout this course, obviously in this chapter we're talking about color. But the reason I've been asking you to shoot black and white is because color can be confusing sometimes, it's difficult to compose with color. Color creates an extra layer of information for the viewer, and sometimes that's just more information than you need. As I said earlier, when you strip color out, you get down to really basic composition. But take a look at this, right now I'm standing here against a background that is a peach color.

When to shoot color

I've been asking you to shoot in black and white so far throughout this course, obviously in this chapter we're talking about color. But the reason I've been asking you to shoot black and white is because color can be confusing sometimes, it's difficult to compose with color. Color creates an extra layer of information for the viewer, and sometimes that's just more information than you need. As I said earlier, when you strip color out, you get down to really basic composition. But take a look at this, right now I'm standing here against a background that is a peach color.

In black and white, the tone of the background and the tone of my skin are almost exactly the same, which means it's hard to get separation of me from the background. Tone is simply the brightness of a particular gray value. The brightness of my skin, the brightness of the back wall, they're about the same, and so I am kind of disappearing here into the wall. There are a couple of ways of dealing with this. In my black and white conversion, I can make sure that this peach color gets rendered maybe as a darker tone, but there's another option and that's to go to color.

Now, this doesn't really solve our problem, but I wanted you to see what I look like in the real world, in the real color world, up against this wall. I've got two problems here, I am still the same tone as the background. As we saw in Grayscale mode, tonal values are the same, the brightness of this particular peach color is the same as the brightness of my skin and so I am fading into the wall. When you throw in the fact that it's almost the same color as my skin, I really get camouflaged here, and I don't really stand out. I want to create some separation here.

Let's go back to black and white, and I want you to see what it looks like if we shoot a reverse angle, we're going to move the camera around here and shoot the opposite direction. Now I know you can't see this because we're in grayscale, but that wall behind me is green. However, notice I am still getting lost in it. That green again is the same tone as my skin tone, and so I am not seeing a lot of separation. So we've had a peach wall that I get lost in, and now we've got this green wall. Colors even if they have a different hue can still have the same tone, that is, the same brightness.

So I am facing the same problem that I had before. Now, I could of course tone the green in a way so that I stand out more. I could go to a darker green or a lighter green, but there's another option. If we go to color, we see now that even though I am the same tone, the difference in hue makes me stand out more. My reddish skin against the green wall makes for better separation than it did against the peach wall. So this is a great example of using color in a compositional sense. I am using color to separate a foreground from background.

in this case, it's a better choice than working with black and white. There are a lot of reasons you might choose to shoot color and work with color. For example, you might use color as an accent. You saw this earlier actually when we were shooting on the set in front of the computers and there was that nice thin strip of stuff. These are some examples of other times when color can make a nice accent. Now, sometimes when you're working with color, you need to really concentrate on your simplify step, because color does add this extra complexity, you want to make sure that you're working with a very simple composition, so that the extra color element doesn't make things too overwhelming for the viewer.

Color can have an emotional quality to it. Warmer colors can feel very different than bluer colors. So you might choose to build a composition with a color tone in mind, or a color quality in mind to get a particular emotional choice. For the most part, you will choose to work with color at the most basic level in the same way you work with simple shapes and geometry, a patch of color can effectively be a geometric shape in your image that you can compose with. Composing with color is a huge topic. You should be able to get started with it based on the simple compositional ideas that you've learned here.

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Foundations of Photography: Composition

86 video lessons · 55719 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 12m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Using this course
      7m 27s
    3. What you need to know
      2m 50s
  2. 2m 47s
    1. What is composition?
      2m 1s
    2. All form, all the time
      46s
  3. 12m 34s
    1. How your camera is not like your eye
      2m 52s
    2. Looking vs. seeing
      2m 25s
    3. Vision and attention
      2m 13s
    4. Dynamic range
      1m 59s
    5. Seeing exercises
      3m 5s
  4. 36m 48s
    1. What all good compositions have
      1m 8s
    2. Subject and background
      3m 5s
    3. Balance
      7m 20s
    4. Point of view
      3m 22s
    5. Simplicity
      2m 59s
    6. Finding and capturing a good photo
      2m 11s
    7. Working the shot: Why one is never enough
      6m 41s
    8. Practicing
      3m 24s
    9. Why black and white?
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Practicing the fundamentals with points
      4m 17s
  5. 41m 48s
    1. Lines
      7m 7s
    2. Analyzing lines
      6m 35s
    3. Exploring a town
      4m 7s
    4. The Franklin Hotel
      2m 7s
    5. Shapes
      10m 13s
    6. Repetition: Arranging the elements
      1m 37s
    7. Rule of threes
      1m 36s
    8. Perspective
      1m 47s
    9. Symmetry
      1m 10s
    10. Focal length, camera position, and depth
      2m 27s
    11. Intersections
      1m 41s
    12. Exercise: Practicing fundamentals with geometry
      1m 21s
  6. 10m 38s
    1. Working a shot, revisited
      3m 21s
    2. Understanding the photographic impulse
      2m 58s
    3. Warming up
      2m 16s
    4. Exercise: Get your feet moving
      2m 3s
  7. 35m 7s
    1. Thirds: How rectangular frames are weighted
      2m 20s
    2. Tonal balance
      3m 52s
    3. Content balance
      1m 20s
    4. Squares: Weighting the corners
      2m 24s
    5. Composing people
      3m 42s
    6. Composing landscapes
      3m 53s
    7. Sometimes you can't get the shot
      1m 12s
    8. Practicing thirds with points and geometry
      1m 45s
    9. Practicing squares with points and geometry
      1m 12s
    10. Image analysis: The work of Steve Simon
      13m 27s
  8. 19m 6s
    1. It's the light
      1m 50s
    2. Direction of light
      8m 30s
    3. Texture
      2m 7s
    4. Shadows and negative space
      1m 19s
    5. Exposure concerns
      2m 44s
    6. Keeping one eye on post
      58s
    7. Light as subject
      1m 38s
  9. 18m 59s
    1. Introducing the workshop location and instructors
      1m 2s
    2. Assignment: Finding light
      5m 17s
    3. Shooting the light
      3m 14s
    4. Critiquing the light assignment
      9m 26s
  10. 22m 11s
    1. The basics of color
      1m 4s
    2. When to shoot color
      3m 56s
    3. How to shoot color
      2m 47s
    4. Practicing color composition
      1m 4s
    5. Image analysis: The work of Paul Taggart
      13m 20s
  11. 16m 48s
    1. Entry and exit
      5m 41s
    2. Framing
      2m 17s
    3. Examining the composition of this set
      2m 28s
    4. Narrative
      1m 55s
    5. When the scene doesn't fit in the frame
      3m 13s
    6. Guiding the viewer's eye
      1m 14s
  12. 13m 36s
    1. Assignment: Foreground and background
      3m 4s
    2. Shooting foreground and background relationships
      2m 19s
    3. Critiquing the foreground and background assignment
      8m 13s
  13. 34m 24s
    1. Planes
      5m 13s
    2. Controlling depth
      4m 54s
    3. Juxtaposition
      2m 58s
    4. Fear
      4m 3s
    5. Layers
      55s
    6. Image analysis: The work of Connie Imboden
      16m 21s
  14. 41m 21s
    1. Recomposing an image with the Crop tool
      7m 23s
    2. Resizing an image
      8m 9s
    3. Tone
      8m 54s
    4. Altering the perspective in Photoshop
      4m 38s
    5. Changing composition through retouching
      6m 16s
    6. Vignetting to drive attention
      6m 1s
  15. 10m 22s
    1. Workshop wrap-up and exhibition
      3m 13s
    2. Workshop students' final thoughts
      7m 9s
  16. 1m 0s
    1. Final thoughts
      1m 0s

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