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The Photographer’s Master Guide to Colour

Creating colourful close-ups

Close-up photos are a surprisingly rich source of interesting colours and colour combinations and much of the colour found in the macro world comes as a complete surprise when we capture it in photographs because so few of us take the time to go looking for it. Other than young kids, not many of us […]

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The advantages of midday light

Do you ever recall old gunfight scenes in Western movies, where the gunfighters set up their showdown for high noon, whenever you think about taking photos at midday? It was probably the worst possible time for a gun duel because the light is typically extremely harsh, there’s an ocean of glare and the eyes of […]

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The power of muted colours

Despite most photographers’ inclination to lean heavily on the saturation slider, colours do not have to scream or dance or do combat with one another to get our attention or to evoke a deep emotional response. Photographed on the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, the hazy day turned out to be a blessing, softening the […]

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How digital cameras record colour

One of the most profoundly interesting things about taking pictures with a digital camera is just how narrow the leap is between the theoretical concepts used by James Clerk Maxwell to create his first colour photograph and that is used in a digital sensor. Maxwell could certainly never have envisioned the invention of computers or […]

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When and how to use custom white balance settings

The ability for cameras to automatically set white balance according to the prevailing conditions is extremely useful, but it does have a down-side, too. Auto white balance sets your camera in relentless pursuit of totally neutral colours. Occasionally, you will need to know how to set a custom white balance. Here, the white balance was […]

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Hue, saturation, and brightness: the language of colour

For the purposes of most creative photography it’s not so important that we are able to describe colours accurately, which is a relief, given how tricky it can be. But it is very important that we learn to see colours for what they really are if we are to have any hope of capturing them, […]

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Don't ignore pre-dawn and twilight!

Compared to the scorching burst of fiery colours that sunrise and sunset unleash at the beginning and end of the day, twilight and the half hour or so before sunrise bathe the landscape in a cooler and subtler palette of blues, violets and soft purples. Whether it’s the warmth of daybreak edging into the light […]

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How to exploit a dominant colour

While it is tempting, and certainly challenging, to search out interesting combinations of colours—to create contrasts or to emphasise a warm or cool colour theme, for instance—not every photograph has to offer a rainbow of colours to be interesting. Many appealing compositions, in fact, can be built around a dominant single colour and often a […]

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Nailing neon sign photography

The height of fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, neon signs suffered a few decades of decline only to enjoy a resurgence in interest of late. And just as well it is, too, for of all the night-time subjects that are waiting out there for you to discover and photograph them, few are as colourful […]

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Perfecting snow white scenes

There are few things as pretty as waking up to a fresh coating of snow and, for many of us, it’s inspiring enough to yank us out of bed very early and get us out the door quickly, cameras and a fistful of memory cards in hand. However, the pure, bright simplicity of snow can […]

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Chasing rainbows: where and how to photograph them

Rainbows are such a rare treat that, even if you’ve seen quite a few of them, it’s impossible not to stop and admire these miracles of light and colour. Perhaps people who live in Hawaii or some other tropic environment get jaded to their beauty, but for most of us, they’re still a show-stopper. You […]

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Extreme colour: extreme saturation

Having the ability to easily hype the saturation of the colours in a photograph is a temptation that many photographers find hard to resist. There is just something creatively liberating about pushing the intensity of hues—particularly the primary hues—to levels that would satiate Andy Warhol. Saturation appeal Even if these colours mock reality more than […]

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