Using Color to Create Strong Photo Compositions

Color is one of the most obvious elements of composition. Everyone knows that intense colors make people take notice of your images. Ever wonder why there are so many sunset and flower shots? Color is the reason.

Color has a couple of functions in photographs. First, color grabs the attention of the viewer. Perhaps, because this function of color is so palpable, many photographers miss the more sophisticated, and in some cases far more powerful, function of color: color sets the mood of an image. Since color is such an important compositional ingredient, the experienced photographer will want to use color to its fullest extend — incorporating both functions of color into images.

Grabbing the Viewer’s Attention

Utilizing color to grab attention is often rather straight forward. Generally, what is required is a saturated or intense color. This type of color tends to grab the viewer’s attention and focus it on the area of color. Furthermore, the color tends to keep the viewer’s attention for an extended period of time. When the viewer’s eyes do wander, the color tends to bring the attention back.

There are a couple of primary ways to use color to grab a viewer’s attention. The first way is to use very saturated, bold colors. An example of this approach would be a dramatic sunset. The second way of using color to grab a viewer’s attention is to use a mix of contrasting colors. An example of this approach would be an image of fall colors where there is a combination of red, orange, and yellow leaves.


Setting the mood through the use of color tends to be a more subtle application of color than when color is used to grab the attention. However, that does not mean that it is any less powerful.

Different colors elicit different moods. Since there are a huge number of colors, it is not possible to cover all of the colors and their impacts on viewers’ moods in an article such as this one. Instead, a few colors will be reviewed in an effort to convey how colors affect viewers’ feelings.


Blue tends to bring forth feelings of calm or cold depending on how the color is used. This is a reflection of how we perceive the color in nature: the deep calm ocean is blue, peaceful cloudless skies are blue, and large amounts of ice have a blue tint. Therefore, a photographer that wishes to create a feeling of calm in an image should include blue objects in the image such as a peaceful blue stream or a blue lake.


Green often communicates a feeling of lushness and freshness. Again, our feelings about this color are tied up with how we frequently experience that color in nature. We tend to associate green with spring and new growth. Green is frequently used in landscape photography. Green meadows, plants, and fields can be used to convey the mood of a flourishing scene.

Yellow, Orange, and Red

The last colors to be evaluated are the warm tones: yellow, orange, and red. These colors are associated with feelings of warmth and comfort (again the colors are tied to how we experience them in nature). Sunsets are a perfect example of how these warm colors create a comfortable feeling. Photographers that wish to take advantage of these colors can include, in their photographs, objects such as flowers, plants, food, and rocks that contain these colors.


So far, we have looked at using color to create mood in photographs by means of including objects, with the appropriate colors, in an image. However, there is another way to use color to create mood in an image – the use of light. Early morning and evening provide a photographer with colored light which can be used to powerful effect in images. Before sunrise and about twenty minutes after sunset, everything is bathed in a soft blue light. This light can be used to create a calm mood such as an early morning shot of a beach bathed in the cool, blue light.

Just after sunrise and before sunset, the light is often very warm with red, orange, or yellow hues. This light can be used to create feelings of comfort such as a beautiful mountain peak bathed in a soft, warm, golden light.


When properly utilized, color can be one of the most effective methods of conveying mood in an image.

Harnessing Soft Light: Where & When to Find Diffused Lighting

As a photographer, understanding light is as fundamental as understanding your camera. One of the most flattering and universally appealing types of lighting is diffused light. This kind of light is soft, gentle, and does not cast harsh shadows, making it ideal for a variety of photography genres. But where and when can you find the best diffused lighting? Let’s dive into some key tips to help you harness the power of diffused light for your photography.

1. Golden Hour – Dawn and Dusk

Golden hour is that magical time just after sunrise or just before sunset. The sun is low in the sky, and its light is filtered through a greater amount of the Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters the direct sunlight and reduces its intensity. This natural diffusion creates a warm, soft light that is not only less intense but also casts long, gentle shadows. It’s perfect for portrait photography, landscape shots, and even urban scenes where the golden tones can bring a new dimension to your compositions.

2. Overcast Days – Natural Soft Boxes

Cloudy days might seem dull to the untrained eye, but they are actually perfect for diffused lighting. The clouds act like a giant softbox in the sky, scattering and softening the sunlight. This eliminates harsh shadows and provides a clean, even light that is excellent for shooting portraits, macro photography, or any scene where you want subtle details and colors to emerge without the interference of strong shadows.

3. Shaded Areas – Soft Shadows

When the sun is too intense, look for shaded areas under trees, buildings, or other large objects. These spots can provide a sanctuary of diffused light. The key here is to find areas where the sunlight is not directly hitting the subject but is instead filtered through or bounced off other surfaces. This setup is particularly useful for achieving beautifully lit portraits without squinting subjects or harsh facial shadows.

4. Using Windows – Indoor Diffusion

Indoors, windows can serve as excellent sources of diffused light, especially when covered with sheer curtains. The fabric acts to scatter the light, mimicking the effect of a softbox used in studio photography. This method is ideal for product photography, food photography, and portraits. The directional light from a window can also create a dynamic range of light and shadow, adding depth to your indoor shots.

5. The Blue Hour – Twilight Ambience

Following the golden hour, the blue hour provides a brief period where the sky takes on a predominantly blue tone with a cool, soft light. This light is diffused through the absence of the direct sun and offers a unique quality that is excellent for cityscapes, landscapes, and even nighttime portraiture. The softness helps to smooth out imperfections and brings a tranquil and ethereal mood to photographs.

6. Tools to Enhance Diffusion

While natural light provides many opportunities for diffused lighting, sometimes manipulation is necessary to achieve the perfect shot. Tools like diffusers, reflectors, and softboxes can help recreate or enhance the qualities of diffused light. These are particularly useful in harsh lighting conditions or when shooting in direct sunlight.


Finding the perfect light can sometimes be a challenge, but with an understanding of where and when to find diffused light, you can significantly improve the quality and aesthetic of your photographs. Whether utilizing the golden tones of the early morning, the soft evenness of an overcast day, or the subtle hues of twilight, mastering diffused lighting can transform your photography. Always be prepared to observe and adapt to your environment to make the most of the light available to you, and don’t hesitate to use tools to create or enhance light diffusion where necessary.

Dive in Low light & Time Lapse photography

Timelapse photography is an awe-inspiring technique that compresses hours of footage into just a few seconds, revealing the subtle beauty of slow-moving changes. Whether it’s clouds scudding across a blue sky, a bustling cityscape, or a blooming flower, timelapse allows photographers to capture the dynamics of scenes that would otherwise be too subtle for the naked eye. In this post, we’ll explore the essentials of timelapse photography, providing you with the knowledge to start capturing your own stunning timelapse videos.

What is Timelapse Photography?

Timelapse photography involves taking a series of photos at regular intervals and combining them into a seamless video. By speeding up time, timelapse photography can turn seemingly mundane scenes into captivating sequences.

Equipment You’ll Need

  1. Camera: Any camera that has a manual mode and can shoot in RAW will work well. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are popular choices due to their high-quality sensors and versatility.
  2. Tripod: Stability is key in timelapse photography. A sturdy tripod will ensure your camera stays immobile during the shoot.
  3. Intervalometer: This device or camera feature allows you to program the shooting intervals. Some cameras have built-in intervalometers, but external ones offer more flexibility and reliability.
  4. Memory Card: Since timelapse photography involves taking a large number of photos, a high-capacity memory card is essential.
    Extra Batteries: Running out of battery during a shoot can ruin your timelapse, so having extra batteries on hand is crucial.

Setting Up Your Shoot

1. Choosing a Subject

Pick a dynamic subject that changes over time, like a sunset, a busy pedestrian area, or changing weather patterns.

2. Framing Your Shot

Compose your shot as you would any other photograph. Remember, though, you’re capturing movement over time, so anticipate how elements might move within the frame.

3. Setting Intervals

The interval between shots depends on the speed of the subject’s movement. Faster movements (like clouds on a windy day) might require shorter intervals (e.g., 2-5 seconds), whereas slower movements (like shadows moving across a building) can use longer intervals (e.g., 30 seconds to 1 minute).

4. Manual Settings

Set your camera to manual mode to keep exposure consistent throughout the shoot. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO should be manually adjusted based on the lighting conditions and desired effect.

Shooting and Post-Processing


Start your intervalometer and let your camera do the work. Monitoring the process is crucial, especially for long-duration shoots, to ensure everything operates smoothly.


Once you have your series of images, you can use software like Adobe Lightroom and LRTimelapse to edit and stitch your photos into a timelapse video. Post-processing allows you to adjust exposure, color balance, and other elements to ensure a consistent look across all frames.

Tips for Success

  • Weather Check: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Unexpected weather can not only ruin your shoot but also damage your equipment.
  • Golden Hours: Shooting during sunrise or sunset provides beautiful lighting conditions and adds dramatic effects to your timelapse.
  • Experiment: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different intervals, settings, and subjects. Each location and subject will require a unique approach.

Timelapse photography is not just about capturing stunning videos; it’s about viewing the world in a new way. With patience and practice, you can unveil the hidden patterns of nature and human life, providing a mesmerizing perspective on the world around us. Happy shooting!

How to Fit Photography Practice into a Busy Schedule

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, finding time for hobbies and personal interests like photography can be a challenge. However, with a bit of creativity and planning, it’s possible to carve out time for your passion. Here are some effective strategies to incorporate photography into your busy schedule.

1. Carry Your Camera Everywhere

The best way to ensure you get more photography done is by having your camera accessible at all times. Whether it’s a DSLR, a compact camera, or just your smartphone, having your camera handy means you can capture those unexpected moments of beauty or interest in the midst of your daily routines.

2. Make it a Daily Ritual

Set a daily goal, even if it’s just taking one photo a day. This could be during your morning walk, on your commute to work, or even during lunch. The key is consistency. Over time, this daily habit not only improves your skills but also helps you see the world through a more artistic lens.

3. Utilize Your Lunch Break

Instead of spending your lunch break scrolling through social media, grab your camera and go for a walk nearby. Even a short, focused photography session can be refreshing and creatively fulfilling. This also helps you to explore and photograph your local area more extensively.

4. Join a Photography Group

Participating in a photography group can motivate you to practice more regularly. These groups often organize weekly or monthly meet-ups and challenges, which can be a great way to schedule your photography practice. Moreover, being part of a community provides you with immediate feedback and tips to improve your skills.

5. Attend Workshops or Classes

Enrolling in a photography class or workshop can force you to dedicate specific times to your photography. It also adds the benefit of learning from professionals and networking with fellow photography enthusiasts. This structured approach can be particularly effective if you find self-directed practice challenging.

6. Plan Photography Trips

Occasionally, plan for longer photography sessions during weekends or on days off. A half-day or full-day trip dedicated to photography can significantly boost your skills, allowing you to experiment with different techniques and subjects that you don’t usually encounter during your daily routine.

7. Set Project Goals

Create a personal project with clear objectives and timelines. This could be a 365-day photo challenge, a thematic portfolio, or a documentary project. Having a specific goal helps to maintain focus and gives your practice purpose, making it easier to justify and set aside time regularly.

8. Combine Activities

Combine photography with other activities that you do for relaxation or exercise. For example, if you enjoy hiking, bring your camera along to capture landscapes. If urban exploration is your thing, a camera can accompany you on city walks. This way, photography complements your lifestyle rather than competes with it.

9. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Utilize apps and tools that can help streamline your photography practice. Apps like Lightroom Mobile allow you to edit photos on the go, and various online platforms provide tutorials that you can watch during downtime.

10. Reflect and Adjust

Regularly reflect on how well your current schedule is integrating photography. If you find certain strategies aren’t working, adjust them. Flexibility is key to maintaining any hobby alongside a busy life.

Incorporating photography into a packed schedule requires intentional planning, but the rewards are well worth the effort. As you progress, you’ll not only improve your photographic skills but also find that photography enriches your daily experiences, providing a creative outlet that nurtures your overall well-being.

Rembrandt Lighting: Creating Mood & Depth in Portraits

Rembrandt lighting, named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, is a popular lighting technique used in photography and cinematography to create a dramatic effect that draws attention to the subject’s features. This technique is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject, on the less illuminated side of the face. This lighting style emphasizes depth and dimension, making it a favorite among portrait photographers.

Why Use Rembrandt Lighting?

The allure of Rembrandt lighting lies in its ability to add a sense of volume and drama to a portrait. It enhances the facial features and brings a sculptural quality to the photograph. This technique is particularly useful for creating moody and evocative images that convey emotion and character, making it ideal for artistic portraits, actor headshots, and even moody fashion photography.

Setting Up Rembrandt Lighting

To achieve Rembrandt lighting, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Light Source: Begin with a single light source, such as a strobe or continuous light. The key is to use a light modifier like a softbox or an umbrella to soften the light, reducing harsh shadows.
  2. Positioning the Light: Place the light at a 45-degree angle from the subject, slightly above the head level, so that the light points down towards the face. This angle is crucial as it determines the shape and presence of the characteristic triangle of light.
  3. Adjust the Subject: Have the subject turn their face away from the light until the shadow of the nose and cheek meets to form a small triangle of light on the cheek opposite the light source. This triangle should not be larger than the eye and no longer than the nose.
  4. Experiment with Modifiers: Utilizing different modifiers can alter the softness and spread of the light. Experiment with reflectors to fill in shadows mildly, which can be particularly useful in softening the contrast for female portraits or commercial shots.

Visual Examples and Their Analysis

When examining photographs that utilize Rembrandt lighting, you’ll notice the play of light and shadow creates a compelling visual narrative. For instance, a portrait with Rembrandt lighting can highlight the rugged features of a male subject or the gentle curves of a female subject’s face, adding layers of depth and emotion to the image.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Overexposing the lit side of the face, which can lead to loss of detail.
  • Underexposing the shadow side, which might bury essential facial features in darkness.
  • Misplacing the light, which fails to form the triangular highlight and loses the effect.

Applications in Different Photography Genres

While traditionally used in portraits, Rembrandt lighting can also be adapted for use in various other genres like fashion photography, where it can add a dramatic flair, or in product photography, where it can enhance texture and contrast.

Rembrandt lighting is more than just a technical skill; it’s a creative tool that allows photographers to explore the interplay between light and shadow. By mastering this technique, photographers can elevate their portraits, capturing not just images, but stories and emotions. Whether you’re a budding photographer or a seasoned professional, incorporating Rembrandt lighting into your photographic repertoire can significantly impact your visual storytelling.