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.