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Photographing Vibrant Colors

Updated on April 27, 2014
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Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

An explosion of color is quite easy to create with just a standard lens or one which allows you to get in close, not necessarily a macro but close.

The difficulty may be encountered in the selection of suitable subjects. The color is used with the intention of capturing an audience's gaze, the closeness is used to awaken their curiosity and keep them fixated on the image.

You need to procure several samples that exhibit very rich and powerful colors such as vibrant reds, blues, greens, oranges, yellows, pinks but avoid subtle shades such as whites, blacks, browns and similar colors such as any pastels or any combination which include subtle hues mixed in with stronger ones.

This projects aims to record images which are exuberant in their vibrancy of colors, shot in a close mode yet allowing some distinct details to show which will make the subjects identifiable. Good suitable subjects would be blooms of various colors strewn together or even single color flowers bunched up together.

Colored marbles of different or same color. Painted surfaces specially richly painted wood surfaces. Basically anything that has a deep rich color palette. Alternatively you can mix various different samples and record their images. The theme calls for a presentation which shows various images in close up mode next to each other such as a thumbnail. Individual subjects can also be shown on their own. These photographs are quite easily shown in fine art galleries and sold as individual prints to offices and individuals.

An excellent subject selection can be readily made by taking several clear drinking glasses, fill them with water put them very close to each other and pouring food coloring into each; one color or a mix of colors in alternating glasses. A good tip is also to illuminate them from behind or from below, thus allowing their translucency to really shine through.

Fiber optic cable strands are exceptionally great subjects as their light carrying quality makes them transmit light as very few other subjects can. And for even simpler and easy to use subjects you can try using some colored sand like the one used in arts and craft projects.

You can also emphasize their color palettes by placing some Mylar plastic sheeting which has been sort of scrunched up a bit in front of the subjects. This will reflect even more of the colored hues back into the subject, thus highlighting the subject and its color palette.

Care must be taken not to record outside elements in the composition such as the Mylar or for example the edges of the glasses and that's why you will need a lens that allows one to focus in close. You will also need the assistance of a tripod and a light source which is independent of the camera; does not sit on top of it.

For this particular project you can use a strong light source but as it is always recommended, diffused light works best. You need to cast as much light onto the subject as possible yet being careful not to overpower the subject to such an extend that the light creates a washed out effect. A photographic snoot is quite suited for this purpose and one can be easily home made. See link for a good D.I.Y snoot project.

Other good sources of inspiration can be found in colored light bulbs, the type that are factory made or carefully colored with a semi translucent paint. Christmas lights photographed with a wide aperture that throws the scene into an out of focus image are excellent subjects. The composition should be shot indoors with little or no outside light other than that of the set up light and with a dark background.

Each of us has ten fingers, at least most of us do. Paint each fingernail in a rich color, each different, and record their images by focusing as close as you can on the entire group. If you don't feel like painting your nails, then clear glass stones like the ones regularly used in flower vases that are then painted with the nail polish work quite well.

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Edited for effect CC BY 2.0
Edited for effect CC BY 2.0 | Source

Whatever your selection of subjects, the key is to choose those that are very richly colored and not subtle at all. Photograph images that appear to be macros but which allows hints of what they actually are and finally mounting them in a composition which shows them together; side by side.

When printing your final product ensure that they are printed on high quality glossy paper and if possible done by a professional studio as this will more than likely guarantee good results due to their higher quality inks and equipment which are more precisely calibrated than any home based set up.

A fun variation to do with this project is to create a collage of a figure or other item which when seen from some distance away appears as a recognizable subject but when looked at more closely its identity is not as clear cut and the audience then realizes that it is made from various different colors made up of various different subject matter.

Do not be afraid to use digitally created images, print them and then photograph them. If you have friends who are willing, splatter them with richly colored body paints from head to toe and record their images. You can have a blast afterwards by using a water hose to clean them up.

Like with any photography project and most anything you do in life, try to do your best and instill your personal touch into your images thus making them indisputably yours.

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Greensleeves Hubs: Thank you, glad that you like it

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      6 years ago from Essex, UK

      Excellent ideas for photographic subjects transormed into excellent images Luis. And all complimenting each other with a common theme. Should give readers plenty of inspiration, as well as good advice, to try out their own related ideas.

      Very very good and voted up. Alun.

    • heart4theword profile image


      6 years ago from hub

      I clicked on the pictures to see all in as a fuller picture:) These are beautiful, and the color is very vibrant! Enjoyed the pictured viewing:)

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn; I have made it my mission to keep you entertained and really

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      6 years ago

      Another awesome hub. Excellent tips for bringing out vibrant colors that I shall put on my list. I'm sort of whittling it down lol!! and everytime I do - you add more to it.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Jamie Brock: Thank you very much

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for these useful tips here on how to capture beautiful colorful pictures. I love the food coloring and water in glasses idea. The pictures you shared are amazing as well! Voted up, useful and awesome :)


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