Eye-Popping Color

Eye-popping color attracts a viewer into a photograph.
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Eye-popping color attracts a viewer into a photograph. It can be used as a design element, a way to grab attention, a means to show comparison or contrast, and even as a main subject. As a design element it's wise to keep the composition clean and simple. Color can be used to grab a viewer's attention especially when it's bold and vibrant. When used to contrast or compare, be cognizant of the colors that are included. When used as a main subject, patterns, textures and abstracts come to mind. How you choose to incorporate all the above into an image dictates its outcome.

Scenes with contrasting color makes the viewer move back and forth from one object to the other. If the objects are connected, side by side, or right next to each other, each will compete for attention. Careful choice of what to include in the image is essential as it's not wise to have opposing subjects compete for attention. Look for situations where one of the objects is much closer to the front of the frame. It becomes the dominant element. Another good strategy is to look for elements that show a large variation in size. When a large, boldly-colored object is compared to a small boldly-colored object, the large one wins the battle for attention.

So, how does a photographer achieve eye-popping color? One way is to shoot when color saturation can be maximized. The magic hours of sunrise and sunset allow this to occur. At these times, the warm colors caused by pollution, dust, and particulates near the horizon bathe subjects in a rich and golden hue. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day as the cool tones caused by strong blue skies robs color saturation. If you have to shoot during this time, try to get in the shade or work on overcast days. On sunny days, glare robs a subject of its potential saturation. A polarizer helps minimize this negative effect.

Postprocess your RAW files to punch up the color but, don't overdo it. I've seen far too many images where the photographer was too aggressive with the saturation and vibrance sliders. The result was an image that presented a false rendition of the scene. Beginning Photoshop users tend to exaggerate saturation. Don't fall into this category. I speak from experience. I had to reprocess many of my early files to bring them back to reality. At the time I created them, I thought they looked great. Be aware—just because you can doesn't mean you should.

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