2017 Week 6 Theme: How To Use The Color Blue Effectively In Your Photos

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Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky

This week, we’re setting out to capture shots featuring blue as their predominant color. This brand new weekly theme can be considered the yin to the yang of last year’s Red weekly theme. How’s that for bringing some balance to the universe?

Before we get started, last week’s Architectural theme was brought to you by PhotoBlog’s very own Helen Hooker. Helen had this message to share with everyone who participated:

“I’ve been away this week, with restricted access to the internet, so it was wonderful to see the huge variety of entries for my architecture theme when I got home – we have everything from domestic architecture, to modern skyscrapers and tours of historic cities! It was fantastic to see folks running with my suggestions. I particularly enjoyed some of the more selective shots where you picked out architectural details or looked for patterns.”

2017 Week 5 Theme Winners:

“All three of Lucas’ photos tell a story about the buildings and the people who use them. His photo of the Forbidden City in Beijing, where the man in a wheelchair contemplates the steep slope ahead of him, is highly poignant.”

“Abigail has found so many great lines and patterns here. I love the way the architectural lines interact to create graphic works of art.”

“Becky has shared a huge range of styles here, from historic churches to modern city architecture.  However, I’m most taken with the simple image of the barn at her family home. Its peeling paint evokes a wonderful feeling of nostalgia and gives a sense of the barn’s long working life.”

Congratulations to these members! Helen and I want to thank everyone who participated in this weekly theme. You can check out all the entries here.

2017 Week 6 Theme: How to Use the Color Blue in Your Photos Effectively

It’s said that just looking at the color blue can bring about a sense of inner peace. Therefore, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to learn how to use blue effectively in your photos?

Nowhere have I felt the calming power of blue more strongly than when I traveled along the ancient Silk Road in Uzbekistan. The enormous blue mosques, madrasahs, minarets, and domed tombs of the Timurid Empire dwarfed me at every turn. Recently, I published a blog about this trip over on the PhotoBlog platform. Take a look here to see exactly what I’m talking about.

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I saved this photo to share for this brand new weekly theme. It was taken at the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis in the city of Samarkand. I got into position, selected my settings, and played the waiting game for locals to pass between the buildings.

When people ask me about my favorite experiences in Uzbekistan, my answers get some strange looks:

“I sat in a huge graveyard, surrounded by ancient blue domes, and it was amazing!”

What can I say? That’s just the power of the color blue! This week, go out and show us you understand this power. Think of all the different ways to incorporate the color blue into your photography. Then, share your best shots with the community!

How to Participate:

Deadline: February 12th, 2017

How to submit: Add 2017theme6 as one of the tags in your post on the PhotoBlog platform

Check out the submissions: Use the Weekly Theme tab

Support and encourage: Like and comment on your favorite posts

Color Theory: Cool Vs. Warm

I’ve already mentioned the effect the color blue can have on a viewer. At this end of the color spectrum are cool colors. These soothe and relax. Just look at this image by PhotoBlog member Arif Rudiana. How does it make you feel? I want to jump right in!

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Photo by Arif Rudiana

At the opposite end of the color spectrum, we find  warm colors such as red and orange. Warm colors excite and energize. Here’s a great example of a photo that can get you fired up:

Photo by Paul Morris
Photo by Paul Morris

I hope now you can not only see the difference, but feel it too. This week, try to use the color blue to subtly manipulate viewers into feeling relaxed and peaceful.

Complementary Colors

Next, I’ll introduce you to a different way to use blue effectively. Let’s talk about pairing two complementary colors together in a single composition. To help you visualize, take a look at this color wheel:

Image 1

Choose any color on the wheel, then find the color directly opposite. Pairing those two colors together is a foolproof way to strengthen your compositions. As you can see, pairing red with green is a classic power combo. Remember the Afghan Girl? Her red-tinged skin is echoed in her red hijab, while her green eyes are echoed in the green of the walls behind her. It’s an incredibly powerful photo.

So, what about blue? Opposite blue on the wheel, we find orange. Therefore, you can feel confident pairing blue with orange will help you create a strong image. This photo by PhotoBlog member Kelly Derushia caught my eye the other day:

Photo by Kelly Derushia
Photo by Kelly Derushia

In the image, we see Buddhist monks creating a mandala out of colored sand. The process is painstakingly slow and results in this exquisite work of art. I love how the dominant blue color is balanced by warm oranges and reds throughout the frame.

For another fine example of blue and orange working together as complementary colors, how about this shot of a tropical fish? It’s certainly striking!

Photo by Marius Masalar
Photo by Marius Masalar

Your Mission

Show us what you can do with the color blue! I’ve given you three main ideas. The first is shoot a composition with a blue subject, or which features blue as the dominant color. The second is to shoot a scene using blue with the intention of relaxing the viewer. Try to soothe people with beautiful skies, water, or blue backgrounds. Third and finally is to practice using complementary colors. Pair blues with oranges for powerful effects.

I hope you enjoy yourselves this week. I’m looking forward to seeing a ton of beautiful pictures! Speaking of beautiful pictures, have you seen this feature put together by Tiffany? It’s titled 18 Brilliant Photos From The PhotoBlog 365 Project Calendar Challenge. So much talent right there! Please share with your friends on Facebook if you agree. Cheers!

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About the author

Ben McKechnie

Ben is a photographer, writer, and editor. His work is driven by a fascination in people, and the relationship they have with their culture. Currently to be found editing, photographing, and eating his way around beautiful Taiwan. Ben is a graduate of MatadorU's Advanced Travel Photography course. Check out more of his recent India-based photojournalism over on on his Facebook page and Instagram using the links above.

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