Effective Colour Isolation

There's more to colour isolation than just colour!
Colour isolation, the concept is simple, the technique likewise,  this post is not a tutorial on what tools to use, this is a personal observation on what makes an overall effective composition for colour isolation.

As with any form of art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while there really is no right or wrong way to apply the concept of colour isolation there are a few things you may want to keep in mind that can make the difference between an 'OK' or a 'GREAT' final image.

Rather than rattle of a list of Do's and Dont's let me instead explain what I did with this picture right here.

The basic concept of colour isolation obviously is to isolate a feature and make it stand out, not necessarily in stark contrast to the rest of your composition but certainly in a subtle enough way that it draws your audience's attention to the intended centre of interest. There are many effective techniques to draw attention, in my example I have used 3.

This photograph was one of a themed sample set shot for a CD cover, the focal point of the concept was the make-up, in this particular case lipstick. So what did I consider when composing the shot?

Drawing the viewers eye
It is a well known aspect of human nature that where your subject's eyes are looking can strongly influence where the viewer of your image also looks, here the girl is directly focused on the lipstick in her hand, thus compelling the viewer to also focus on the lipstick.

Focus 
I used shallow focus to emphasize only the important parts of the image - the face and the lipstick. By keeping the face in focus there is the added effect of the subjects eyes drawing the viewer's attention to what she is looking at, as described in the previous point.

Colour Isolation 
The final step is isolating the colour of the important lipstick from the less important background, this is partly where personal views on aesthetics comes into play and here's my take on what I did.

  1. Many people will isolate colour in the whole composition of a scene, in this example the Indian head dress has red material in it also BUT the intended centre of attention isn't supposed to be the colour red but only the red of the lipstick, isolating all the red in the scene would have detracted from the intended focal point and lessened the impact of the techniques being used to draw the viewers attention. 
  2. I find bright colours against a purely grey-scale image offer far too much of a contrast. Technically yes, there is a more distinct difference between the red of the lipstick and the non colour shades of grey-scale which offers up the concept of isolation quite efficiently, but as this work is intended to be nice to look at I decided to tone back this contrast by introducing a hint of sepia into the picture.

About " Auki Henry "

Auki Henry (www.aukihenry.com) is an Australian presenter, photographer and producer based in Darwin, Northern Territory. When not eating steak or cheesecake he can usually be found doing a bunch of cool stuff for television, radio and print media but still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up!

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Copyright © 2014 Auki Henry Photography