Colour and Tone Seminar 3rd April 2019
Dave Williams is a travel photographer and social media influencer, writer, educator, and blogger, based in London, UK. Dave will be carrying out a seminar at our Hatfield showroom on 3rd April to discuss in detail about colour and tone in photography. Below we share some of his thoughts, more of which you can find on his website https://capturewithdave.com and If you’d like to come along, book your £10 ticket to secure your place.
Colour and tone in photography
When we take a photograph we all know there’s so much more to it than pressing the shutter. We consider everything from the subject, through to light, composition, and importantly the colours and tone. These last two aren’t commonly discussed, but they should be.
Colour and tone are hugely important in photography, both in taking the shot and in post process, because ultimately they set the overall mood and ambience of the image. The colour and tone are very powerful. It’s been proven with many, many studies how much our subconscious is affected by colour. It gives buying power, it changes our mood, it evokes reactions and emotions. There are lots of ways to change the tone and colour in your image such as using off camera light, changing the colour temperature, or using post processing methods. Whichever way you choose to do it, it’s good to know what will change when you change the tone.
Black and white photography
In black and white photography the tones are a lot more obvious. The photo changes so much more drastically. The toning of colour photography, even though it is more subtle, is still very powerful.
With colour photography we can alter the feel of the image and even go so far as to change the appearance of the time of day. The whole meaning of the image can be changed.
Colour in photography
Let’s look at colour in a little more depth and start thinking about tones. Start with warm and cool colours and think about their properties. Warm colours like reds, yellows, oranges and browns can lend a variety of different feelings to an image, ranging between excitement and welcoming warmth. Cool colours like green, blue and violet, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxing and refreshing but blue can be used to indicate sadness – that’s why people are described as feeling blue when they feel sad.
Colour tones can be broken down even further still. As you are choosing a tone, it helps to think about the psychology behind colours and that’s something I’m very interested with in my photography. Think about how colours affect people. Here is a quick list of the meaning of various colours to help you arrive at the perfect tone:
- Red is a rare colour to use as a cast in a photo. In general, red has warmth and energy to it but it can also be used to convey a sense of strength or danger.
- Orange tones make people think of comfort or activity — good food, warmth and a sense of security.
- Yellow is a commonly used tone, and in fact it is the tone that you’ll get when you take photographs as the sun is getting ready to set for the day — that rich, golden colour that makes everything seem more cheerful and alive.
- Green is the colour of harmony. It tends to make people feel refreshed, so when you add a green cast to an image, make sure that the subject material matches the fresh and tranquil tone you’ve chosen.
- Blue is likely the most versatile colour overall. Depending on your subject matter it can indicate serenity or tranquility. Because it is such a chilly colour, however, it can also lend a depressing sort of feeling to your images.
- Violet tends to make images feel more authentic, and with certain subject material, the image may see more upscale or luxurious.
A big consideration with toning is its overuse. The temptation is there to go a step too far and create unrealistic images, and with certain toning techniques, such as cyanotypes, this may not be the right path to choose. However, other times, a subtle tint is all you need to influence the image. In general, less is usually more. When printing your photographs, fine art prints show each and every bit of detail so are a good choice for toned photographs.
With every image that you create, don’t hesitate to play with the tones. You’ll be amazed to find that slight adjustments can make a huge difference. Working in a digital lightroom rather than the old school darkroom gives us much more flexibility to experiment endlessly to learn what works best for each individual image.