Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

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Color is all around us. As beautiful as black and white can be, color gives us variety and sometimes, unpredictability. But funnily enough, it’s also easy to take it for granted.

Over time, I’ve come up with a few exercises to keep color at the forefront of my mind. One of these exercises is to focus on photographing a different color each day. It’s great for keeping your photography fresh and training your eyes to look out for new photographic opportunities.

Getting started

Color may make up the majority of our world, but photographing it might not be as easy as you think. Sometimes the abundance of color can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s hard to find the color you’re looking for at all! Before taking up the challenge, grab a pen and paper. Write down a heading for each color and list as many different things you can think of under each. Sometimes it’s even worth Googling specific color schemes, just to give you some ideas of what to look for.

Next, designate a day for each color you would like to photograph. And it doesn’t have to be the generic gamut of colors either. Why not try looking out for a more pastel pallet? Soft pinks, greys, and blues make wonderful, atmospheric photographs. More earthy colors like oranges, browns and dark greens are great colors to keep a look out for in Autumn.

Look for bold colors…

Humans have evolved to seek out bold coloration. Deep, saturated colors catch the eye and pull the viewer in for a closer look. A bold color scheme emphasizes texture and shape, especially within a limited color pallete.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

Deep, saturated colors catch the eye and pull the viewer in for a closer look.

And a softer color pallete…

Color photography doesn’t always have to be about a bold color scheme. Subtle or almost monochrome color schemes emphasize detail and lend a softer atmosphere to a photograph.

Pastel photographs are best taken during cloudy or low-light days to minimize shadows for a more even-toned image.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

Softer pastels like pink and purple can add color without overpowering the image.

Why not both?

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

The foreground of this image is made up of bold, contrasting colors while the background is predominantly made up of a soft pink pallet. The bold and soft colors emphasize each other and create a more dynamic image. The negative space around the top half of the image is important too, it maintains balance, making sure the full extent of the color palette isn’t too overwhelming.

The opportunity to combine both soft and bold colors doesn’t happen frequently, but you’ll know when it does. Combining the two color schemes creates a dynamic image where bolder and softer colors reinforce each other and bring the image together.

Using movement

Color can accentuate camera movement, and movement can accentuate color. It’s a well-loved dichotomy that is great for abstracted imagery.

Try taking photographs out a moving car window or bus. A slow shutter speed in the late afternoon will allow enough light to create a softness of color.

This image was taken with a slow shutter speed while traveling through the outback. The afternoon light mingles with the light of traveling cars to make a soft, atmospheric abstracted photograph.

Detail

Colour has the power to illuminate detail, adding to the depth of a photograph overall. In a good image, color is the cherry on top – the final pop of color to resolve your photograph.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

The subtle yellow road sign and red symbols add detail to an image and invite the viewer in for a closer look.

Look for color in unusual spots

Like I mentioned before, finding your selected color of the day may prove surprisingly tricky. Focusing on red one day will take you on a completely different journey than if you were looking for blue subjects.

Try looking in less frequented locations for unusual colors and patterns. Or take a drive and explore a new location altogether. Changing your perspective or focusing on compositional techniques like leading lines and texture can help get those creative juices flowing.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

A red pallete for Monday. Trying to look for unusual perspectives often yields unexpected results, revealing your color of the day in new and interesting ways.

Focus on Photographing a Different Color Each Day to Practice the Art of Seeing

Wednesday’s color pallete, green and blue tiles adorn an urban walkway.

Conclusion

While color is all around us, it’s easy to take for granted. Simple exercises like focusing on photographing a particular color each day help keep your practice fresh and unique.

Keep your eyes peeled and don’t be afraid to explore, color often reveals itself in unexpected and fascinating ways!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Megan Kennedy is a photographer and writer based in Canberra, Australia. A lifelong fascination with flight has inspired her photographic practice in documenting the intricate form of aircraft. Megan is also interested in travel photography and documenting human interaction with the modern landscape, through both intentional and incidental intervention. She is well versed in both digital and film practice. Both her writing and photography has been featured in numerous publications.

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