The Color Complement
The day was gray and overcast. There was no sun and everything looked dull and lifeless. Without the opportunity to “shoot shadows”, I was searching for another interesting subject on which to focus. My experience has been that the most interesting images can be found behind buildings rather than on the public-facing side. As I explored the back of a restaurant, I discovered this outdoor patio area.
My attraction to this image was two-fold. My eye was immediately drawn to the interesting lines, angles and geometric shapes formed by the girders sheltering the building below. But then, it was all about the colors. That juicy orange and deep royal blue – a complementary color scheme that buzzes and vibrates with energy. In terms of the psychology of color, orange engenders feelings of vitality and warmth while blue creates a sense of protection and calm. One is perceived as warm; the other as cool. These color contrasts make for a very dynamic composition.
But as you can see from the original image, this photograph suffered from washed-out colors and a barren and lifeless sky that added nothing. This is a situation where texture application can bring an image back to life. In this case, textures added significant interest to the sky area. In addition, the choice of blending mode for each layer increased the color saturation, further enhancing the vibrant complementary color scheme. Now the colors almost leap from the screen. This is definitely a circumstance where the after image has been greatly improved through some Photoshop magic.
Here are the steps that I followed to rescue this drab image:
- Silence texture, Linear Burn blend mode at 80% opacity
- Golden texture, Linear Burn blend mode at 100% opacity
- Luminous texture, Overlay blend mode at 50% opacity
- Processed my pencil sketch action to define the edges
How do you use color in your images? Does formal color theory inform your photographic choices?