The Viewfinder

A Very Basic Look At Color Theory by Teri Whittaker

19 Feb 2020 10:20 PM | Teri Whittaker, M.Photog.Cr., CPP (Administrator)

I do not have an art background as so many in photography do.  So, as I endeavor to grow my photographic art, and I try to consider color harmony (one of the 12 elements of our PPA photographic competition), I ask myself what is it and how do I apply it?

So I started doing a little sleuthing to find out the things I did not know.  Like did you know that hue simply means color?  You are probably thinking to yourself, Teri, did you not learn this in kindergarten?  No, I didn’t go to kindergarten, but I didn’t learn it in first grade, or second grade, or third grade…you get the idea.  I only recently came across this little nugget of information.  But maybe there is someone else out there who is as clueless as I am, so I am going to be vulnerable and share my ignorance.

So in addition to learning that hue means color, I also learned that color value is the lightness or darkness of a color.  The lightness of a color is referred to as a tint, and the darkness of a color is referred to as a shade.

And that is not all!  If I add gray to the color, I reduce the intensity of that color.  When I add gray to a color the result is a tone of the original color.

Okay, so now I know that hue equals color, that color value equals the lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a color and I found out that I can create tones of a color by adding gray.  What else did I want to understand? Oh yeah, what is color harmony?  Color harmony is using a pleasing color palette or color scheme in our photographs/art.  I learned that there are six commonly used color schemes.

So there you have it!  Color schemes that will help establish color harmony. I have found my little journey into the world of color theory helpful when planning for image creation.  I hope you find the information useful as well!


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