The Ultimate Guide for Color Theory for Photography: Photo Editing and Shooting Tips

Managing color in photography is one of the hardest things to master. A red berry in a green bush just jumps out at you, while brown skies don't often make for great looking images. Aside from color having a profound impact on any given scene, color has its own luminosity values as well, making it color theory something to pay close attention to before your next shoot. Professional landscape photographer and instructor Dave Morrow comes to the rescue.

Dave starts his comprehensive video by analyzing why certain paintings just look great because of their color. In particular, the works of Albert Bierstadt. There's something about Bierstadt's landscape paintings that strikes the perfect balance between drama and realism. As photographers of the natural world, I think it's a good idea to follow Dave's advice and analyze paintings for yourself too. Not just for color, but for composition as well. Painters have to work with a blank canvas to create a scene from scratch, whereas we photographers deduct components from our image until we are happy with what is left standing.

Painting by Albert Bierstadt - Mount Adams Washington 1875

Albert Bierstadt - Mount Adams Washington 1875

It takes a while, but eventually Dave applies the theory in practice by enhancing his own image with the techniques learned in the first half of the video. But what I really want you guys to read is the written guide to color theory found on Dave Morrow's website. I have had formal education in color theory, but never seen anything of this depth applied directly to photography. Especially the color guide at the end of the article is really good, although it reminds me of Ted Gore's written guide a bit too much.

Give it a thorough read and tell me what you think. Will knowing this transform your images?

Log in or register to post comments


Gabe Border's picture

Great stuff

Jason Crockett's picture

one of the most informative 40 mins i have spent learning about art and colour in relation to photography/editing. Well done Dave Morrow!

John Funk's picture

Excellent. I didn't know much about color theory before watching this tutorial. This helps a lot!

Jefff Berryman's picture

Great video and article. Really helpful. Thank you!