Just like any other creative art, photography also needs its steroidal shots of inspiration. I guess, just like a writer has a Writer’s Block, a photographer could have his own version of an idea famine. Thankfully, the world around us gives enough clues to show the way. Color is a definite topic for a photographer to pick upon. Yes, just simple color. If abstract artists can explore a single color in their paintings – an art form loosely defined as monochrome painting – surely photographers can view the world in the same palette. In fact, monochrome photography is an established art form. It is a frequently touted photo-challenge too.
We have played with color before. Erez showed us how to find beautiful color photography schemes for any project. If you are a web designer of any hue, creating color palettes is a part of the job. Color grading is an art and science you have to learn if you are an aspiring filmmaker. Just goes to show the creative impact of color and how it affects us in subtle ways. But what about the photographer? How can he use color for his photography inspiration? These six resources could help.
At its most basic, Spectrum is a visual discovery tool. Beyond that as the name indicates, it is a kaleidoscope of color and photos. The screenshot above should give you a quick idea. The eye-catching application is probably designed for visual inspiration. Shutterstock is a stock photo website, but by no means is this tool limited to photographers. In fact, any designer can use the tool to browse and build their own color palettes. Spectrum gives you a keyword filed with helpful auto-suggestions. A keyword search displays images taken from Shutterstock’s vast library, but only in the color indicated on the slider. Instead of keywords, you can move the slider to different hues and spark your visual creativity. The small black and white button brings up corresponding monochrome photos.
You can view a larger version of the photos by clicking on them. As against Spectrum, there is the less exciting option of Instant – which is again a keyword based search of Shutterstock. I guess I will stick to Spectrum and play around with it.
10 million Creative Commons images on Flickr and you get to play around with them using a single color or up to five colors as a reference. The Multicolr Search Lab is a visually addictive search engine for images. The idea behind the image engine is very similar to Spectrum’s. The only major difference being the use of Creative Commons images here. Multicolr also powers it up by giving you finer control over the colors you pick. You can start with a single color, let’s say what I think is a shade of yellow (as in the screenshot above). From here on, you can select a panel of five colors and also adjust the weight or percentage of each.
You can drag the three panels you see in the above screenshot with your mouse and change the percentage each color will represent in the Creative Commons images. Now, you can go through the multi-page results if you have the stamina. Clicking on any of the tiny thumbnails opens the original source on Flickr. Multicolr does not have a keyword based search, so you cannot narrow down the results to the ones you want specifically.
Can there be a better source for photographic inspiration than National Geographic and its endless collection of famed photographs from around the world. Life in Color isn’t a color tool, but a photo section within the online site. The series is beautifully put together and it forces us to look at things in a different light. The concept is common enough – a series of photographs shot around the theme of a single color. It is an idea that you can take up and force yourself to shoot within the “limitation” of a single color.
This site (and the apps for iOS and Android) is less inspired by color, and more by the interplay of light. As you can’t have one without the other, the Phillips supported website finds a place on this list for your inspiration. The tools were developed by lighting consultancy Light Collective and electronics brand Philips as a way for lighting designers, architects and others to share their inspirations with the world. The photos showcase the impact light has on design, art, architecture, and nature. The photos are contributed by users from around the world and in many cases are also geo-tagged.
On this blog, the pictures speak for themselves. There is very little text (I couldn’t spot any). Photos are arranged around color themes. From orange to tan, with camo, leopard, and burgundy thrown in for equal measure. The photos scroll from right to left and you have to keep up.
In the midst of all the visual razzmatazz, we shouldn’t forget that Google Image Search has long had the ability to search for color. With the streamlined interface, now it is far more accessible under More Tools on the image search page. The color palette is limited to the basic colors. You can even filter by type of image and image size. Plus, you can search with any keyword you want.
Colors are all around us, but we usually focus on the entire mix instead of just one. Limiting our scope could make us better photographers because our eyes will adapt to recognizing patterns where earlier there seemed to be none. Try it out yourself and tell us about the experience. Do you have your own take on using color photography tools for creative inspiration? Tell us about any tool or website that should find a place on this short list.
Image Credit: Background of Multicolored Paint via Shutterstock