How to control color in digital photography (III)

0 15

In the previous article dealing with color in digital photography, we defined it and started talking about the color wheel. Today we will start talking about harmonies. It’s time to find out which color combinations look good to improve our images at the time of capture and improve them during development.

One of the big problems of photography is that we do not often control the color combinations at the time of shooting. We do not care about relating the colors to each other. We see the situation, we shoot and we’re done. And that’s the big mistake we make. If we want to evolve to get closer to what Navia or Alex Webb are doing, it’s important to pay attention. A person dressed in blue or red in front of an orange wall is not the same. You can completely change the aesthetic sense of the picture.

To overcome this problem, we use colorimetry, a branch of psychophysics that associates physical energy with human perception, which can be very different. It is responsible for quantifying, qualifying, and correlating them, creating harmonies. And in this issue we will stop today. It’s time to know the color harmonies to apply at the time the photos are taken. And if necessary, strengthen it during development.

The color harmonies

To edit and understand the color harmonies, it is necessary to see the color wheel that we can see in our own programs like Capture One or Adobe Photoshop. As we discussed in the last article, on pages like Adobe Color, Paletton, Colorsupply … Various applications that are fundamental to understanding how far color photography can go.

What we will lose next is fundamental in the direction of photography in the cinema, in fashion, and in all the manifestations in which color plays an important role. One of the most interesting exercises is to discover the color palettes of the great images of history, when all the concepts we are going to talk about were not even collected but were there.

The color wheel or the color wheel is a two-dimensional representation of the tones. Part of the basic colors (in this case light colors) and their combinations. They are separated gradually. The 0 is red, the beginning and the 360 ​​is red, at the end.

According to this section, we start with red, orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, cyan, cyan, blue, purple, purple, magenta, rose, and red.

How to control color in digital photography (III)
Chromatic wheel

The circle is filled with the mixture of primary, secondary tones and with a separation of 30º. Each of them always has 180º to its complementary. It’s a seemingly perfect distribution. They are even separated in warm and cold colors , perhaps the first clear division that we can talk about just by contemplating it.


The monochromatic colors is a harmony in which we will work with a single tone with all the variations that we want of its luminosity and saturation .


Harmony full of contrast that combines those colors that are 180º apart , that is, they are opposite:

  • Red with green
  • Orange with cyan.
  • Orange yellow with dark blue.
  • Yellow with violet ..
How to control color in digital photography (III)

There is a very interesting variety of this harmony that is divided Complementaries in which we work with three colors: one main and the two that are next to their complementary , giving rise to an isosceles triangle:

  • Blue with orange and yellow.
  • Red with yellowish green and cyan.
  • Yellow with magenta and purple …

We can also talk about the Tetrada and the complementary Doubles . The first harmony combines complementary pairs separated by 60º , that is, red and orange with cyan and green.

The complementary Double combined in the same way but the tones are spaced 90 ° : as the red, green and blue plus orange.


On this occasion the combination is based on three colors separated by an angle of 60º . It differs from Complementary divided in that the three shades form an equilateral triangle :

  • Green, purple and orange.
  • Magenta, cyan and yellow.
  • Red, blue and yellow …
How to control color in digital photography (III)


Combination of three or four colors that are close on the color wheel:

  • Green, yellow and orange.
  • Red, magenta and purple.
  • Cyan, blue and purple …
How to control color in digital photography (III)

And it has a variant known as Accentuated Analogs that adds the complementary of the main color of the analogues :

  • Green, yellow and orange with magenta.
  • Red, magenta and purple with yellowish green.
  • Cyan, blue and purple with orange …

These combinations are not the Bible. They are an excellent guide to seeing where the colors in our photographs go. And achieve the best possible effect. All we have to do is analyze the images on our hard disk and understand everything that surrounds us. And why work and not? Color is the key to good results. In the next article, we’ll see how you work with all this information in both recording and development. And it may be that the sample photos are already presented in harmonies …

You may also like

How to control color in digital photography (I)


You might also like

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

16 + 4 =

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More