Complementary colors

This image is a case where I saw the background first and then looked for a subject. I found a bank of purple flowers (Dame’s Rocket) I knew I had the color material for an interesting, saturated background. The subject I had in this location was a modest one, yellow mustard flowers:


After I took this I saw a color wheel, and realized that yellow and purple are on opposing sides – these are complementary colors or pretty close to opposites, the kind of color contrast graphic designers use to create visual interest. Those flowers would look nice on a green monochrome background, but the yellow/purple contrast has more impact.  It makes a nice but forgettable flower look more interesting. Too bad yellow lady slippers weren’t growing in front of the Dame’s rocket!

Here’s another image, Helianthus, that I took a while back with a similar color scheme.

8 thoughts on “Complementary colors

  1. This is really nice. Beautiful color work. Just gorgeous.

    Can I ask you for your advice?

    I’m a bit of a photography amateur and
    I’ve only put up one or two photographs that
    I’ve taken recently up on my blog.

    But I didn’t put the copyright notice on the bottom.

    Would you recommend me doing that?

  2. Funny – I was doing this exact same thing this morning with primrose and lupine. It is amazing the increase in impact you can get from doing this – this image is no exception.

  3. Hi, Thomas

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. I like the details you tell, like the color wheel idea. I have never thought of that.

    Please put a RSS (add to Google, etc.) feed button on your blog so I and all your other viewers can know when you update your blog with more photos.

    I look forward to seeing nature through your eyes. Thanks for sharing.

  4. A very effective combination of colors – great use of that wonderful background. This is an excellent illustration of the value of combining complimentary colors resulting in a most pleasing and interesting image. Thanks for the tip.

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