Photographing Colorful Landscape

Photographing Colorful Landscape

  • Memories of landscapes often throb with vibrant color. We reminisce about last spring in shades of green, from the pale tints of new shoots to the black-greens of the yew tree. Summer sunsets are remembered as warm oranges, reds and purples. Seascapes we recall as the deepest of blues and greens. It's surprising then that the most evocative of landscape photographs are often those with subtle coloring of a particular hue.

  • The hues in a landscape, though, can be elusive, and are changing constantly. Memory is frequently deceptive, and scenes that we remember as vivid turn out to look delicate when we return to them or look at them on film. Often the subject itself changes, as when wild flowers bloom and turn a meadow from uniform green to a pointillist riot of color. Other times, changing light alters the balance. It all depends on the angle from which you view the scene: with the sun behind you, the subject's colors will be strong and vivid; when against the sun, the subject's shape becomes more important, silhouettes are created, and colors are more subtle. Similarly, a view that seems washed out and pale at noon may seem painted in the richest of palettes in the late afternoon.

  • Capturing these colorful moods of landscape thus means observing and understanding the cycles of nature, and the direction and color of the light. Careful selection of the subject and creating a balance between the colors included are often the key. In this way you can fill the frame with colorful elements chosen from a much broader scene that is predominantly monochromatic; or find a small splash of bright color to react dynamically with otherwise dull hues.

  • Certain of the skills that you need to enrich color are uniquely photographic, for example, a polarizing filter cuts glare from the landscape, making colors richer and darker. Exposure is crucial too as a little underexposure increases color saturation of pictures shot with slide film.

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