Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

In­ject life into the frame by ac­tively com­pos­ing with vi­brant con­tents

When you come across bold and vi­brant hues in a scene, it’s likely you’ll want to make the most of them. There are a few tech­niques for en­hanc­ing tones and mak­ing an im­pact. To start with, you won’t be able to record bold hues with an in­cor­rect ex­po­sure. Un­der­ex­po­sures give an over­cast look, whereas a shot that’s too bright will have blown out the high­lights that wash out un­der­ly­ing colours. One method for cap­tur­ing vivid colours in na­ture is to po­si­tion your fo­cus on a neu­tral green, then use ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion to un­der­ex­pose by around two thirds of a stop when you shoot.

The eye is al­ways drawn to the bright­est coloured part of a frame, and if you have two el­e­ments of the same size, a warm one is ‘visu­ally heav­ier’ than the cool one. Along with colour the­ory, you can use this knowl­edge when ap­proach­ing your com­po­si­tions. Com­ple­men­tary hues (that are op­po­site each other on a colour wheel) cre­ate an en­er­getic, bold and more dy­namic feel. Eye-catch­ing pic­tures are much more likely when you in­clude con­trast­ing colours. Use a tele­photo lens and long fo­cal length to iso­late spe­cific colours in your com­po­si­tion, or hone in on a par­tic­u­lar part of a scene that has a strik­ing colour com­bi­na­tion.

Cre­at­ing dra­matic images is about far more than cram­ming the frame with hun­dreds of hues. Us­ing too many colours ac­tu­ally cre­ates a con­fus­ing and visu­ally dis­en­gag­ing frame, so it’s a good rule to keep things sim­ple. De­cide what the key el­e­ment in your scene is, then choose which sur­round­ing de­tails you need to keep in the frame.

Once you’ve nailed your com­po­si­tion for max­i­mum im­pact, try work­ing with fil­ters. A po­lar­is­ing fil­ter en­hances blue skies, adding con­trast and rich­ness to washed-out colours on a bright, sunny day. A grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ter is handy when the light­ing across a land­scape is un­even and you only want to en­hance colours in the sky.

Touch­ing on cam­era set­tings again, try man­u­ally chang­ing the de­fault colour sat­u­ra­tion of images from the Pic­ture Styles menu of your DSLR. If you boost the sat­u­ra­tion to a higher num­ber, you should no­tice the colours be­com­ing more vi­brant.

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