Color Isolation in Photography

This article is based on concepts from Creating Rich & Vibrant Color Photography if you want to dig deeper for further training.

Color photography can be so confusing.

Why does one color photograph knock the socks off of everyone who sees it, and another leaves viewers feeling bored and uninspired?

Yes, the subject matter does play a significant role.

Yet even a majestic mountain scene can fall flat (euphemistically) – when the color isn’t given an appropriate consideration.

With today’s quick tip, I’m going to share with you a fabulous (and easy to use) tool of color photography that can put the bazzinga into your images.

green color isolation example

Photograph #1 By Kent DuFault

Photo #1 is an excellent example of the topic that we will be discussing today.

Here’s your quick tip:

When a given color within a photograph is isolated from the rest of the picture, either through color contrast, composition, or lighting, it creates a visual tension in a viewer’s mind.

Photo #1 is primarily flat green grass. However, it’s the pathways, and the driveway/farmhouse, that create an overwhelming visual tension.

The man is the subject. The red car is a focal point, and the green grass is an isolated color.

If you remove any of those elements, the photograph loses all its steam.

blue monochromatic color photo

Photograph #2 By Kent DuFault

Is Photo #2 an example of isolated color?

No.

This photo uses a different (and also very useful) color tool known as monochromatic color. We will discuss that at some other time.

But, learn to recognize the difference.

For Photo #1, the green color becomes isolated because the pathways, the driveway, and the house break it up, separating it, and as a result creating isolated blocks of vibrant color.

Photo #2 has nothing ‘breaking up’ the vast expanse of blue. It’s monochromatic (singular in color) across the entire image and thus the color blue is not isolated.

color isolation apple photo

Photograph #3 By Kent DuFault

Isolated color is so visually compelling, that anytime you incorporate it into your photo, you can virtually guarantee an elevated level of reception from anyone who views it!

yellow hose photo color isolation example

Photograph #4 By Kent DuFault

Isolated color can even turn the most mundane object into artwork! So go ahead and give it a try. You might be surprised how easy it is to draw viewers’ attention just from using this one quick tip.

About the Author:
Kent DuFault is an author and photographer with over 35 years of experience. He’s currently the director of content at the online photography school, Photzy.com

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