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Fifth in a series of short articles on how I approach digital photography. (Links to previous parts: 1, 2, 3, and 4)

C(3)

Do you sometimes “feel blue”? Or do you see the world through “rose-colored glasses”, and want to “paint the town red?” Or… perhaps you feel “green with envy” when others do? Yup… the third C is for Color and everyone knows that color relates to mood, emotion and feeling.

Reddish-yellow hues, as from a campfire, elicit warm feelings of closeness, but we associate blue, the color of a clear sky, with a cold, lonely experience. Perhaps we should call that feeling… the “morning after” (that warm campfire) …
…Or maybe not :)

In creating an image I must make decisions about the dominant color, or color-cast that I may want, if any. Does color even add anything to the image or would a black & white or monochrome treatment better communicate what I see with my “mind’s eye”?

Such questions help me pick the best time of day and atmospheric conditions for optimal color. Then, in the digital darkroom I can further fine tune the final hue, saturation and brightness of the overall scene or perhaps work with selected colors to get the effect I want.

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As mentioned in part 2 (on Light) adjusting either brightness, contrast or color impacts the whole image; these are key elements of the visual ‘context’ of the image. And depending on context, the same color may look different — a point well illustrated in the short article that I mentioned last time. So I must keep context in mind when attempting to adjust any one color.

On a technical note, to help me in making color decisions I also keep my computer screen calibrated to the international Pantone standards. This way I know that others who see my work on similarly calibrated screens, or those who purchase a print made on properly “profiled” printers, will see the exact same colors I see on my screen.

Finally (and this may be of more interest to graphic designers or computer graphics people) FYI…for fun & inspiration with color I sometimes visit sites like “COLRd.com”)

Coming up… last but not least: Detail