How to Use Colour Effectively in Landscape Photography

Jun 02, 2021

Colour is one of my favourite topics in photography because, when used correctly, colour will elevate the visual impact of any landscape image instantly. The topic of colour in photography can be covered at length; however, today, I want to offer you one simple way to begin using colour in your landscape images to elevate visual appearance. 

This simple tip is to look for complementary colour schemes in landscape locations. 

Complementary colours are found at the heart of any colour theory conversation and are the simplest form of colour combinations. Complementary colour schemes are composed of one primary colour and the mix of the combined other two primary colours. For example, red is a primary colour, and the mix of blue and yellow is green which is the complementary colour to red. Orange and blue are complementary colours, as are purple and yellow. 

Take a look at the colour wheel below. You'll immediately notice that red falls directly across from green on the colour wheel, as is orange and blue and purple and yellow. 

Another point of note is that each of these primary complements consists of a warm and cool colour tone, which is another concept within landscape photography worth the attention of a photography tip in an upcoming week. 

Wildflowers are already popping up here in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This short but highly anticipated season is an excellent time to look for opportunities in which the intentional use of complementary colour can infuse cohesion and dynamic visual interest into your photography.

Colour compliments often exist side by side in a landscape scene. Nature is the most beautiful artist. 

The image below is an example of the use of the red and green complementary colour scheme. The red colour of the sunset in the sky, the reflection of that light in the water, and the red flowers in the frame paired with the green foliage combine in a beautifully eye-catching way.

ISO 100, 35mm, f16, 160 sec

There is much more to colour theory than the primary compliments; however, don't underestimate the power of these pairings. Keep your eyes open for opportunities in which you can use colour compliments in your landscape images. Complimentary colour schemes will cohesively unify elements within a landscape scene in an attractive way and are simple to use and common to discover.