ISO 200, 1/50 sec., f/4, 60mm lens
There’s no hiding it. We photographers are working with a two-dimensional medium. We print our images on paper, and we look at them on flat digital screens. We can’t reach into the image and walk through it. Luckily, our eyes are magnificent organisms, and they perceive depth and dimension.
Colors help us construct that dimension, from both a visual and a conceptual or interpretive perspective (the latter of which will be discussed in the next two chapters). Knowledge of color theory helps photographers build an eye for existing color, construct environments that use color to command the viewer’s attention, and enhance a sense of dimension in an otherwise flat medium.
A Quick Note About Using Color Theory
This chapter introduces certain terminology that you have probably been familiar with since elementary school. But as with most discussions of theory, color theory can be tricky to put into practice. Studio photographers or shooters who create entire environments from scratch offer examples of how to put such principles into practice, since they construct the photographic situation.
For this type of photography, much of what is about to be discussed can be put into action in any number of ways. If you’re a photographer who documents what you see more than sets it up, color theory is still relevant, even if your goal is to create more naturalistic images, regardless of what color happens to be in your frame. Having a minimal understanding of color theory influences how you see the environment in which you are shooting. It helps you guide the eye of the viewer in ways that the previous chapter discusses, especially when it comes to composition.
With that being said, let’s dive in, shall we?