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Learn By Doing Photography

Learn by Doing Photography – Complementary Colors

Assignment #50 – Look for complementary colors in your photography this week.


What is a complementary color?

You might already know that orange and blue compliment each other, but why do they. They compliment each other because they’re on opposite sides of the color wheel. The color wheel starts off with three primary colors. Red, Yellow and Blue. All colors come from these three primary colors.
Secondary colors are what you get when you mix the primary colors. Orange, Green and Purple are secondary colors. Orange and Blue are opposite on the color wheel, that is why they compliment each other.

I found a pretty great article on color theory at Luminous-landscape.com. They talk about the first and second order colors and even color the text with the appropriate color to help you understand the color wheel. One section I found particularly interesting with the complementary ratio. Back to our orange and blue example. When photographing orange and blue you should have a ration of 3:1 (three parts blue to one part orange) to balance the picture. Purple and Yellow was a 5:1 ration (5 parts purple to 1 part yellow) and red and green where roughly equal on their affect on each other.

It’s hard to get past red and green being seen as Christmas colors. Tonight I was walking around our house trying to find complimentary colors to photograph and feeling very uninspired by my choices. I ended up choosing a print my daughter made last year that was hanging on the wall. Her color choices were red and green. Even at that age certain colors just feel balanced to the eye.

I had a hard time finding a good tutorial on the color wheel. Until I stumbled across this one! Scott Naismithis a Landscape painter, but the same rules apply to painting as in photography.

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Learn by Doing Photography - Using a Slow Shutter Speed
Abstract Photography - LBD Photography
Learn by Doing Photography - Sunburst

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