Mellow Yellow

Tame this strong color and soup-up your shots

Yellow is a tricky color with a split personality. It can be warm, evokes springtime, and is a sign of happiness and optimism. But it can also indicate tension, danger (why do you think hazard signs are yellow?) and cowardice. (Ya yellow-bellied varmint!)

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Yellow ranges from a vivid electric yellow to almost-orange (such as the stripes down the middle of a road). It’s a primary color, but rarely stands alone. Yellow often is accompanied by complementary colors blue or green. That’s not very surprising, considering this combination is often found in nature, where blue skies and green foliage abound.

Photo © iStockphoto/Forest Woodward

Like red, yellow is bright and draws the viewer’s eye—although if it’s sharing the scene with red, red will attract more attention. Keep this in mind when composing color images.

Here’s another tricky aspect of yellow: Yellow looks bright, when translated into black-and-white it can take on a middle grey tone. A yellow filter on your lens or a virtual yellow filter Photoshop plug-in can fix this.

Photograph the yellow around you, and be aware of it when you compose your photos. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised where you find it!

Photo © iStockphoto/Steve Lovegrove


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