As wildlife and outdoor photographers, we want the viewers of our work to be immediately attracted to our wildlife photography images and there is nothing like using the elements of color to grab a viewer’s attention.
Color is an important sensory input that the brain uses to interpret important elements of your surroundings and used in photography, color excites, draws focus and provides emphasis so as to enlighten and engage a viewer.
Scenes with color keep a viewer locked onto the image making them want to explore every fine detail. Contrasting or opposing colors also hold attention and even subtle differences in texture and contrast can be successfully used to gain attention to your imagery.
However, as a caution, too much color can also confuse the viewer so try and keep colors simple. In the images below, I used the magic hours close to dawn and dusk to maximize when color saturation is at its best to “pop” and warm color.
Shooting in the middle of the day creates glare, robs a subject of its rich colors and makes it flat and uninteresting.
1. The pale blue and pinkish background help accentuate this Cape Buffalo bull that has just emerged from wallowing in the shallow waters of Lake Nakuru in order to escape the heat of the day.
2. Contrasting colors help focus attention on your subject, in this case a Fairy Tern hovering against a blue sky.
3. The vibrant red bill and eye of this Purple Swamphen focus attention on the head of the bird.
4. Black subjects are best photographed against a pale uniform background. Here a mother and calf Southern Right Whale surface for a breath of air in the shallow protected waters of De Hoop Marine Protected Area.
5. This yellow Namaqua daisy stands out against the pale blue and deliberately blurred smaller flowers that immediately surround it.
6. Ladybirds that are already very colorful immediately "pop" out against contrasting colors as is the case here with the ladybird climbing out of a bright yellow daisy.
7. The ring of yellow anthers balanced on red stalks lead the eye to the center of this pin cushion flower.
8. Male Flat Lizards use vibrant coloring to show status and health that attracts females for breeding.
9. The paler background colors of dawn make this African Black Oystercatcher silhouette easily stand out, making this an eye catching image
10. The magical hours of dusk and dawn help saturate colors making them more vibrant as is showcased with the golden coloring on this relaxed Rock Hyrax. Later in the day this color fades to a drab brown, making the subject flat and uninteresting.