|This is Albert Bierstadt’s painting entitled ‘Among the Sierra Nevada’ from 1868. As you can see he employed the use of what we now call color theory to create a color harmony in his painting.|
Color Theory can be an extremely complex subject, especially if you start looking at the mathematics and physics behind the theory itself. On a more aesthetic level it’s an integral part of what can make an image of a landscape pleasing to the eye. Composition, subject and light all play a considerable roll in landscape photography, but color, and more importantly the idea of color theory, helps to weave all of those elements together to form a successful image.
The most commonly utilized types of color harmonies are analogous, monochromatic, complementary, split complementary, triadic and quadratic. These color harmonies are essentially different combinations of groups of colors that work well with with one another, or for lack of a better word, are harmonious in their visual representation.
Painters such as Albert Bierstadt, who is best known for his renditions of the American West during the mid to late 1800s, utilized what we now call color theory extensively in his paintings of breathtaking landscapes. In the above painting entitled ‘Among the Sierra Nevada’ Bierstadt utilized a triadic color harmony to add balance to the scene.
In the modern era of landscape photography, the same principles that Bierstadt utilized in the 1800s, can be applied to the way we compose images today. Consider the example below taken from Ted Gore’s blog post on the subject. As you can see, the color balance that he strikes in this image helps to solidify an already strong composition with excellent leading lines by guiding your eye through the scene through the use of the colors present in the image.
|In this graphic, Ted has outlined the use of the Triadic Color Harmony present in this image taken along the Napali coastline on the island of Kauai, HI.|
The Triadic Color Harmony present in the above image combines three groups of colors that are equally spaced from each other on the color wheel. The greens, yellows/oranges and blues all work to add balance to the overall scene and to create a very well composed final product that is pleasing to the eye. This is just one example of the several provided by Ted in his blog post.
To find out more on the subject please give his blog post a read as we think that it does an excellent job explaining how color harmonies work and how they can be utilized effectively in modern landscape photography.
If you want to dive even further into the science behind color theory, give Dave Morrow’s blog post a read as well.