Let's begin with the four basic characteristics of color: hue, temperature, value and saturation (also known as Intensity.) Notice where the colors (or hues) lie on the color wheel.

  1. Hue is basically the color's name, blue, green, red, orange, etc. 

  2. Temperature, is a subset of hue, but just as important as the other three. Warm colors range from Red Violet through Yellow. Cool colors between Yellow-Green and Blue-Violet. Notice that half the color wheel is warm, half is cool.

  3. Value is the lightness or darkness of a color or shade. If a photo has equal values throughout the image, with no contrast or accent color, it runs the risk of being boring, uninteresting. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. ( Rules in art are made to be broken creatively!) 

  4. Saturation is the purity or intensity of the color. When I squeeze paint directly from the tube, it is of maximum intensity. A good rule of thumb is to compose your image so that there isn't an overabundance of high intensity colors. Of course there are times to break this rule! You'll develop your own style and preference. There are artists whose works are riots of fully saturated colors and they are wildly successful. 

Now, what does all that have to do with achieving balance in your photograph? Let me throw out another "rule" to consider: the most, some, and a bit rule.  Simply put, this rule states that for an image to be dynamically balanced color wise, most of the colors should be of the same temperature, value and intensity, some of the colors should be opposite those, and a little bit will be in stark contrast.  

For example, if MOST of the colors are warm, bright, and light,then SOME  of the colors should be their opposite: cool, dull, and dark. And finally, there should be a small BIT of color that contrasts with all the others in as many characteristics as possible. Think of the BIT  as the accent color.

Grab your camera and go look for color. Look for ways you can follow the rules or break them to capture a photo that pleases you. And find me on Instagram or Facebook and tag me in them.


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