10 Easy Steps for Better Colour in Your Pictures

Have you ever had a vision for a colour image fall flat and you couldn’t figure out why?

Has it taken you hours, or even days, to figure out how to accomplish that vision?

I’ve had this happen to me so many times, and over the years I’ve collected a few tips on how to create beautiful colour images that draw you in. These steps cover everything from shooting to corrective and creative post-processing.


1. Look for colour behind your subject

This is one of my favourite creative tools because it’s so easy to get caught up in the colours of your main subject. Colour behind your subject can change the mood of your image, adding a beautiful and intriguing background.

2. Use negative space

Not only can you isolate your subject visually, but you can also use colour to stimulate the senses. In this image, the white of the jasmine plays on the purity and newness of the wedding day, represented by the rings. Since the viewer has less to process visually, the calming white of the jasmine lets them relax and imagine the fragrance of the flowers.

3. Fill the frame

The opposite of negative space! A little bit of drama goes a long way when you use colour to draw the subject’s eye into the image. Using one colour can really define the intent of your image. Red, for example, can create a feeling of love, passion, and power in an image like this.

4. Use complimentary tones

Colours can be the strongest form of communication in your images, due to our biological and psychological responses to them. While the subjects in this image have fallen, the deep earthy tones of this photograph give us a sense of nurturing and hope for regrowth.

Corrective Post Processing

5. Remove distractions

Have you ever taken the best photo, pulled it into post processing, and suddenly noticed a red sign in the background? An orange car? A bystander’s blue shirt? Remove these distractions in post processing to keep the focus on your subject.

6. Remove Chromatic Aberration (CA)

I really do love my Nikon 85mm f/1.8, but it does produce a lot of CA. This is an easy fix in Lightroom, by selecting “Remove Chromatic Aberration” under the Colour tab in Lens Corrections. Play with the sliders to defringe – it really makes a difference!

Creative Post Processing

7. Add pockets of colour to create depth

I love using the colour brush in Lightroom. There is so much you can do with a brush, and my favourite trick is to use triadic colours into the background of an image to make it pop. Choose 3 colours that are equally apart on the colour wheel, like blue, magenta, and gold.

8. Add a pop of colour!

Don’t be afraid of Vibrance, Luminance, and Saturation. They’re easy to play around with, and they can really make or break the vision you have for your colour images. This image would have been pretty bland without it. The orange plays against the blues of the rocks and adds intrigue to the overall image.

9. Artificial Sunflare

Some say it’s tacky, but I love a little artificial sun flare! Sometimes you just have to bring a little imagination to an image, and this is a great way to do it. I added this sun flare in post processing because I love how the neon colours brighten up the overall mood of the image.

Printing and Sharing

10. Check your Gamut

Just as you would check if your blacks are clipped or your highlights are blown, checking your gamut ensures that you won’t lose any information in your colours.

By Soft Proofing in Lightroom, you can see where the colours in this image are too saturated and colour information will be lost. In just a few seconds, I dropped the saturation in the reds to fix the problem.

Colour is such a beautiful way to express yourself. Using some of these tools in your work will allow your vision to come to life!

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