Home > Advice/Tips > Capturing Colour – Part 5

Capturing Colour – Part 5

by Coole Photography on December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Skin Tones

My final blog post about colour and its use in both general and travel photography, is based around skin tones. For me a really good portrait makes the subject’s skin one of the main focal points of the image. I prefer to keep portraits quite simple, making the person the focus, however you can still achieve this by having really bright colours and complicated backgrounds – it just makes it a lot trickier!

When it comes to travel photography, bright or bold colours play a significant role in any photograph. Whether you want the viewer to feel happy or sad, see the warmth or the cold or simply notice the photograph to begin with – all this rests in the capable hands of colour. Kiff Holland, a famous painter, once said “Colour creates, enhances, changes, reveals and establishes the mood of the painting” and the same applies to photography.

Colour calibration really is essential when it comes to getting your post production colours accurate, and errors are far more visible when we are dealing with skin tones. I use the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo as it suits my professional needs, although there are a few simpler options available on http://www.xritephoto.com, even the most basic of tools is better than nothing!

The following images were chosen as they show simple portraiture at its best. There are no distracting backgrounds or colours; everything is earthy and neutral, making the human element the most prominent. I also wanted to show you that no matter where you are, even if it’s some of the smallest villages in Asia, there will always be a background available that helps your photograph be true and honest, each of the 3 images below shows the person’s home behind them, which is one of the reasons I think that they are so happy and relaxed.

Portrait of a Lu hill tribe boy sitting outside his stilted house, located in small village near to Binh Lu.

This photograph almost didn’t happen. I was actually taking another portrait of this little boy’s mother when I noticed that he had walked around the side of his house to watch me. I asked, as I always do, if it was OK to take his picture and he really was delighted.

The multi toned wooden planks behind and beneath him really add to the image and the contrasting colour of his shirt makes him stand out from the background.

Portrait of a White H’mong hill tribe woman with distinctive big hair and traditional clothing, in Muong Hum market near to Sapa.

I do love Northern Vietnam and its tribes, and this is one of my favourite images taken a few years ago of a White H’mong tribal woman. The simplicity of the background coupled with the bright red string in her hair, plus the vibrant blue of her clothing, really made this image jump out.
Portrait of a Black Dzao hill tribe child standing in a wooden doorway wearing traditional clothing, located in small village near to Sin Ho.

Innocence springs to mind whenever I see this image and I feel the colours and composition reflect that also. This young girl was simply stood watching the world go by in her doorway and was more than happy to smile for my camera. Everything in this shot is natural and earthy, from the background right the way through to the main subject.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed my posts about colours and if you have any feedback or would like to know something that I haven’t covered, please do get in touch by leaving a comment at the end of the page.

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