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This week’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) Theme is Color Basics and will be open for two weeks.

5-gold-starsFor your assignment I would like to see at least 3 warm colored photos and 3 cool colored photos.  Please describe what you learned in this lesson as well.

Each week I will select several features from everyone who submits an entry.  And from those posts that I feature, I will grant one blogger the Gold Star Award.  To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Features Week #15 Cropping Tips.

Note:  Participants who do not have at least 6 photos showing their attempt at this week’s topic in their post will not be featured nor be considered for the Gold Star Award.


When I started putting this post together, Chris asked me what color had to with photo composition.  To her, color was just there.  You got what you saw.  That is true to a certain degree and in some cases you can’t control the color.  But as with all the other compositional tools that I am teaching in this challenge series, it’s nice to know the practicality of colors and some of the basic rules.

These compositional lessons are all part of your bag of tricks to take better photos.  If a trick doesn’t apply, don’t try.  Don’t try to force a rule that doesn’t apply, but do look for ways to bend the rule if that helps.  This is why we can break all the rules in photography and still have a stunning composition.

Color Basics

color-wheelI’m sure most of you have heard about the color wheel.  The wheel consists of twelve basic colors and looks somewhat like a rainbow.  From this there are several combinations you can work with.

Depending on which website or book you are reading about color, there are three basic types of color combinations:

1.    Warm and Cool Colors – this is pretty self-explanatory because the colors makes you feel warm or cool.  (We will be covering these today.)

2.    Complementary – colors that are next to each other on the wheel.

3.    Contrasting – colors that are opposites on the color wheel.

In the next couple of challenges I will go through Complementary and Contrasting colors.

Which Colors are Warming and Which are Cooling

The color wheel below will give you a quick idea on which colors will give you that warm, cuddly feeling and which colors will make you want to put a jacket on.

color-wheel-warm-cool-1You see that the warm colors are red to yellow-green.  If you want to warm up a photo, add a little bit of orange or yellow to your photo.  You can do this with the white balance on most post-processing software.  You can even change your camera settings to help.  I usually wait until I do my post-processing because it all depends on the feeling I want from the photo once I decide to edit it.

Warm Colors

The warming colors also tend to energize you, especially the bright reds and oranges.  You want to keep those colors out of your bedroom.  The best places to use these colors are in your kitchens and dining rooms.  They would be good for classroom or art rooms as well.

Sepia (brown) tones fall on the warmer side of the color wheel.  Brown comes from the color orange.

Cool Colors

The cooler colors are in the range of the violets to dark green.  These colors tend to calm you down and are soothing. These are wonderful colors for your bedrooms, reading and meditation rooms.  Or any other place you really want to calm down.

Cooler colors tend to make your photo look sharper and clearer.

Black and white photography falls into the cooler category because black and silver actually fall into the blue color.  That is why black and white appears to crisper and more dramatic.


In these series of photos, think about which ones make you feel warm or which ones make you want to put a jacket on.

Which ocean scene would you prefer to stick your toes in?  The only differences between these two variations of this US Coast Guard Ship is the light balance and toning.

In this cooler photo, I added more blue to the white blance temperature making a cooler color.  I also added a little more exposure to the photo.  (This could have been done on my camera as well as in post processing.)

020816cool USCGIn this warmer colored photo, I added more yellow to the white balance temperature.  I also took down the exposure slightly which made it appear that I took the picture much closer to the golden hour of sunset.

020816warm USCGIn this example, I used the same original photo and used post-processing software (Adobe Bridge) to create the warm and cool effect.   This first photo is of a dahlia in black and white (cool).  Notice the sharp details it has.

020816cold dahliaHere is sepia (warm) version of the same dahlia.  I used a slight orange color in the sepia.

020816warm dahlia sepiaA warm colored gallery.

A cool colored gallery.

Upcoming Challenges

  • #17 Complementary Colors (starts 4th Wednesday of February)
  • #18 Contrasting Colors (starts 2nd Wednesday of March)
  • #21 Geometry (starts 4th Wednesday of March)
  • #20 Balance (starts 2nd Wednesday of April)

Qi (energy) hugs


48 replies »

  1. Very interesting Cee. I never got round to joining in the cropping but time permitting, I’ll be in on this one. I’ve been enjoying Jennifer’s colour challenge, and whilst I appreciate colour I don’t make many changes. You’ve inspired me to consider that more.


    • I don’t change color often and will sometimes. I’ve been enjoying Jennifer’s color challenge too, but I’m not participating in some other one’s I’d like to. But with Jennifer’s only being 120 days I figured I could get in those I really want to play in.


  2. Great photos and fun concept! I will have to get out shooting this weekend since I have a few days off:) And then maybe compliment with some other pics. Looking forward to playing with this some.


  3. I feel so drawn to the warm gallery! All the photos seem so full of light. I hope I can stop feeling so overwhelmed by things so I can participate with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Right now, the only cool colors I see are white and gray. My world looks cold. Full of ice and snow. Brrr. Pale is cold! I find violet rather warm and some shades of blue, downright hot. But maybe that’s just me.


    • I adore blues too. I go in phases and making my photos warmer and cooler. Probably depends on if it hot outside I will tend to cool photos down a bit and if it is cold outside …. well bring in the yellows 😀


  5. Interesting. I am looking forward to giving this a go. I think I would move the wheel ever so slightly and say the lime green is a cool colour and hte violet red possibly a warm one.


  6. Thanks, as always, Cee. I don’t know how you have the energy to host your challenges with so much thought and kindness but I really appreciate the push it gives to dust things off we’ve half-forgotten about, look at them in a slightly new way and share them with others. My link is above.


    • I have fun with my challenges. I agree it keeps us challenged to constantly take photos and re-look at old photos different and expand our post processing skills. 😀


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never look directly at the sun, instead, look at the sunflower, uplift, motivate, photography, Cee Neuner,, sunflower, macro, yellow

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