How Color Affects Leading Lines in Landscape Photography

On the Phoblographer, we tend to talk a whole lot about color, black and white, and how incredibly important it is to use them effectively in your photography. We typically apply them to portraiture, but it’s also not too terrible of an idea to apply it to landscape photography. You see, in landscape photography there are a few basic rules to creating better landscapes photos and for the most part they apply to creating better color images. But when it comes to making black and white or even just creating more striking color, there are a few other techniques you may not have tried yet.

The Basic Rules

Some of the most basic rules of landscape photography include:

  • Don’t put the horizon in the halfway point of the photo. Try to emphasize either the land or the sky more
  • Use the rule of thirds to make this more effective
  • Use leading lines to tell viewers where to look

There’s a whole lot more that can go into all this and we do in our premium publication, La Noir Image with an interview with Minor White. (you need to subscribe to read it and many others.)

But I’m going to add a bit more to this based on portraiture. You see, in portraiture there’s a big rule about keeping colors minimal. You typically only want to work with the subject’s skin tone, their wardrobe color and the backdrop. Landscapes can more or less be the same thing, but there are four defining colors:

  • The land (can be mixed sometimes)
  • Water
  • Sky
  • Light

So trying to find a balance between all of these elements sometimes isn’t simple. The lead photo for this story is the original image that came out of the Canon Rebel T7i.

Black and White Rendering

So when shooting this scene in black and white, what I was able to find is that it took away all the colors and reduced it all into three: greys, blacks and whites. But it made the scene overall much more effective. Notice how the lines tend to stand out more here in this scene? It’s because the color isn’t made out to be so important but instead the tonality is.

Tungsten 3200K Rendering

Now here’s what the scene looked like when I rendered it in tungsten. You get a whole lot of blue and some brownish red. Then there’s green with shades of blue and white with shades of blue. But in this scene, we can surely say that the color isn’t very effectively used, but the leading lines are. However, those lines aren’t emphasized due to the color.

Daylight 5500 Rendering

Now when I switch to daylight white balance, we get a whole lot more color. There are greens, browns, reds, oranges, blues, and whites. All of these colors have clear separation and the leading lines are used effectively due to the tones and the colors. Can they be emphasized even more? Sure; but that’s very subjective to each user based on how they edit the images.

Keep all this in mind, and happy shooting!