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CCYL 17: Opposing Colors

Since most of us are stuck inside our homes, I decided to rerun a series I did several years ago, called Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson (CCYL).  This is not a challenge, but I suggest you play with new ideas or ways of looking at taking photos.  Hopefully this will fill your day with a little excitement and joy.  Please feel free to play along and join in the fun.

Opposing Colors

This is our final week where I will discuss photographic color tips for composition.  This time I’ll talk about opposing colors, those that are opposite to each other on the color wheel.

You can see on the chart (to the right), the colors that I refer to as opposing are opposite.  These colors pop with each other.  These color combinations will also have one cool and one warm color.  Remember the saying that opposites attract?   I believe they do, and in that attraction make a strong statement.

The most popular combinations are:

Red and Green

Mexican Flag

  • Christmas Colors
  • Logos:  7 Eleven logo, Papa John’s, Quizno’s Sub sandwiches
  • Flag colors: Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Italy

Blue and Orange

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.


  • Sports team colors, Football-Denver Broncos, Hockey-Anaheim Ducks, Baseball-NY Mets
  • TV shows and movies often have a theme color such as NCIS’ famous orange wall with the dark blue accent color
  • Posters, especially for movies and TV shows 

Purple and Yellow


  • Sports Teams – Basketball-LA Lakers
  • Amusement Park Rides – Rollercoasters
  • Kids toys
  • Clothing



Why should this be important to you as a photographer?  If you like vivid colors that pop, you will want to make sure you have one cool and one warm color in any picture you compose.  An example might be if you are doing portrait work and you really want your subject to stand out, make sure that the person is wearing the opposite color as the background.  If you are shooting food, make sure your background opposes with the primary color of your food.  Things like that.

The point is to do a little planning to create the shot you want.  It’s as true of color as it is of perspective, placement of lines, or any other principle we’ve been discussing. 

In Review

Color theory for photography is really quite basic.  Here is a recap of what we learned in this series.

  • The Color Wheel.
  • The colors that are considered warm (reds, oranges, yellows, lime greens) and cool (greens, teals, blues, purples).
  • The colors that are harmonious with each other or match closely with each other.  Colors are next to each other on the color wheel.
  • The colors that are considered to be opposing because they are exactly opposite on the color wheel and bring out the differences.

If you want to find out about more about color in general for matching clothing, designs, graphic art, you may want to study up on color theory.  It is much more complex than that of color for photography.

Photo Examples

Here are just some examples of opposing colors.  This should give you an idea of what I am looking for.

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs


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