Factors to Consider When Balancing Color Saturation in Your Photographic Composition
Color saturation can be subtle or bold when creating the perfect photograph. Decide on the tone you want for the photo and make your selections based on the emotion you want to elicit from the viewer. You can make a powerful statement by ramping up the hues or toning them down.
Did you take a photograph in low light and it is not quite as bright as you would like? You can use color saturation and lighting to make it appear more like what you were trying to capture. You can also change only certain aspects of a photo, such as making the sky a brighter pop of blue, or the trees muted and faded into obscurity while a subject in a bright red dress pops.
Anyone who has ever snapped a shot of the sunset knows color saturation is fickle. Things do not always appear on camera the way they do to the naked human eye. You can adjust the difference with a bit of creative editing. Here are the things to consider as you decide on levels and settings. Cover photo by Mahbod Akhzami.
Light has the ability to impact the emotions of people. A dark photo with muted tones sets a sinister feel to the entire design. On the other hand, a bright, well-lit photograph can evoke joy and memories of happier times.
You can only accomplish so much in the editing phase. Take the time to think through the best lighting for the emotional impact you want the photo to have. The closer you are to the balance you want, the easier it is to make minor adjustments.
When deciding on a composition, you have numerous options for where to place the subject. Although the rule of thirds states you should place them within thirds — perhaps near the bottom or top of the screen — it is okay to take creative license.
Consider famous examples like the Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry, where she is front and center. Most of the colors in the image are muted except for her brilliant eyes, which hold pain and sadness. The color saturation makes a strong emotional connection with the viewer.
3. Color Variations
Although the human eye can decipher a broad spectrum of colors, technology can go even deeper, sensing variations impossible for people to see. The result of tapping into color variation technology through AI means you can ensure your image has consistency early in the process.
For example, if you take a photo of a client’s product, they might use the image across various media. The colors should appear the same on a billboard, print ad and their website for a consistent customer experience. Tap into tools that fix any issues before they start.
4. Harmony of Color
Color saturation and harmony might not seem like they go together at first glance. However, if a bright pop of accent shade is muted rather than allowed to shine, the entire composition can change from the original intent.
Keep colors harmonious by checking out the color wheel. It is a good idea for photographers to bring one along before snapping a photo, as glancing at what shade are complementary can improve your composition. Moving a few degrees to one side might incorporate purple with yellow rather than purple and red, for example.
Consider the contrast as well. Does the object you wish to pop in the image stand out from the hues surrounding it?
5. Trends’ Impact
More people set out their shingles as photographers every day. Photography is growing annually, bringing in new faces and new methods. Trends emerge daily, so you may need to toss aside the color saturation you have always used and embrace new methods.
Try new things and see how they work for your needs. One client might like more traditional color saturation, while another likes something a bit out of the box. When you understand your clients’ needs, you will be better prepared to give them the style they seek.
Decide whether you want the photo to be warm or cool. There is not a right or wrong answer, but once you understand the temperature goals, you can better set up your composition for the right color saturation.
If taking an image with a more serious purpose — such as for a funeral home — you might go with cooler, softer tones. Warm shades like bright oranges work better when taking a photo to advertise a preschool.
It is much more difficult to change temperatures in editing than to enhance the colors a bit or adjust the lighting. Try to stick to the final choice you will want after processing the image.
In a survey, 44% of users associated joy with orange and 52% with yellow. If you want your photo to show happiness, add an orange scarf, bright yellow rain boots, flowers in a bright hue and so on.
The more you can tap into the emotion you want people to feel when they see your photograph, the more the little things you hone in on with color saturation will make a difference. A bright, sunny yellow is going to elicit more of a joy response than a muted, pale yellow.
Edit in Color Saturation
If your photo does not have the level of color saturation you would like, you may need to add it through some editing software. Make adjustments in small increments until you get to what you want. Huge swings in saturation may make the other elements in the image look odd. Select the items you wish to change, step back from the screen to see how they look and make a final decision on what works best for your needs.