A Photographic Case Study in Color

Henri Matisse - Woman with a hat - 1905

The following post is by Portland-based photographer, Tyson Robichaud, who discusses the concept of complimentary color in photography. Learn more about Tyson at the end of this post.

Applying the concepts of complimentary color contrast in a photographic sense can provide a handy compositional tool. When looking at various forms of visual art, we can draw from the creative talents of those who’ve perfected their craft. In this case, I wanted to explore Henri Matisse and his use of bold complimentary color. Visually wandering through one of his paintings and revisiting the basic concepts of color (I basically printed out a color wheel), I’ve been looking at just how much it can help direct a viewer’s eye.

Here is an example where I wanted to draw focus to the model, my lovely and very talented friend Flora, by allowing the deep green background to settle in behind her and contrast that by a complimentary pop of color. Complimentary color contrast can add dimensionality to a two dimensional photograph. A rule of thumb is that warmer colors will pull forward while cooler colors will recede.

Positioning, lighting and composition all play parts, especially in photographic output. Using color is one of many tools to help key in on the subject you would like to draw attention to, or away from while complimenting the other elements of your composition.

Read more of Tyson’s Photographic Case Study in Color on his blog.

Tyson is a Portland, Oregon based photographer, husband, dad, musician and tax payer.  You can connect with Tyson on his blog, Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography.

The following post is by Ontario-based photographer, Steve Richardson, who explains how to find the “sweet spot” of your lenses. Learn more about Steve at the end of this post.