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How to Capture Orange in Photos

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by Erin (subscribe)
I travel as much as possible at home (UK) and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences!
Published February 17th 2015
Create beautiful photos using the colour Orange
Orange is a dynamic and vibrant colour - associated with the sun, fire, the tropics, and dazzling autumnal trees. As such, capturing orange in photographs will obviously involve specific times of the day or year. But, what are the best places to maximise the beautiful orange of sunrises, sunsets, or nature? The following list provides some options and examples, as well as some tips on how to capture the richness and intensity of orange using photographic techniques.

Sunset in the Countryside

The image below was taken in the countryside outside of Nottingham. However, 'countryside' can be taken to mean any wide open space that conveys distance, freedom, a far horizon line, and a big sprawling sky full of colour. In this case, the image is free from buildings or obstructions and the orange of the sunset is central.

Light conditions change quickly with sunrises and sunsets. Monitoring the exposure in photographs is key to creating a beautiful image. When the sun is high in the sky, the light may still be too glaring, which results in a washed out photo. The obvious solution is to wait until the sun is closer to the horizon line (as in the image below). If you do not have time to wait, it is also possible to obscure the sun using a feature of the landscape or to correct glare using editing software.

Sunset near Stapleford. Photo courtesy of Deborah Watmough.


Sunset in an Urban Landscape

In contrast to the openness and sense of freedom created by photos taken in unpopulated areas, an urban landscape offers a different kind of visual appeal. Buildings become transformed by the colours and clouds surrounding them. As demonstrated in the images below, a common suspension bridge (full of steel, wires, cars, and construction equipment) takes an intriguing form when juxtaposed with a dynamic orange sunset. The image asks the viewer to see these everyday objects in a different way. Likewise, the second image shows the transformed façade of Strasbourg Cathedral (stone grey in daylight) in the soft orange light of the setting sun.

Capturing warm colours like orange in a photo is as simple as adjusting the white balance setting on your camera to suit the conditions of the scene (e.g. cloudy, daylight, direct sunlight). At the editing stage, software also allows for colour balancing and adjustment of hues and saturation. Other times, as in the second image below, the light conditions do not require additional editing.

Verranzo Bridge, New Jersey. Photo by Bob Jagendorf.


Strasbourg Cathedral. Photo by Erin Connelly.


Bodies of Water

Water features are fantastic places to capture the colour orange. The reflecting capability and the juxtaposition of water and sky make this one of the easiest places to create beautiful photos.

To follow-up with a point made in the first section about exposure issues, note that in the image below the sun is still high in the sky, and subject to producing glare in a photo, but the trees allow for a natural obstruction point. It is also a good idea to avoid photographing sunlight directly shining on water, as this also produces glare.

Sunset at Highfield Lake. Photo by Erin Connelly.


Autumn and Spring

Orange appears in the most colourful seasons of the year - in the changing colours of autumn trees and the emerging flowers of spring (and summer) gardens. Capturing close-up photos of flowers is more difficult than it may first appear and often requires special equipment, such as a macro lens, reflector, or tripod. Lighting must always be considered, but particularly so when working with close-ups and minute details. Orange conveys a great deal of warmth and intensity on its own, so bright sunlight is not as necessary when photographing this colour (as in the images below). For further tips on photographing flowers in general, see the Digital Photography School.

Photo by Erin Connelly


Photo by David Monniaux.


Mountains

Like the juxtaposition of sky and sea, mountains also provide a special dynamic in photographs. These photos should evoke strong emotional responses - a sense of wonder, awe, and a feeling of being lost in the image. Orange is a warm colour and coordinates especially well with blues, browns, and greens. This colour combination is naturally present in a mountain setting at sunrise/sunset with the blue and orange of the sky, brown earth, and green pine trees, as demonstrated in the image below.

Mountains are most photogenic when lit from different angles, juxtaposed with dramatic cloud formations, or illuminated by sunrise/sunset. If the goal of mountain photos is to create mood and emotion, then the bright harsh light of mid-day (in a cloudless sky) should be particularly avoided. This article by Photography Life has many more excellent tips from an experienced mountain photographer.

Rocky Mountains. Photo by Erin Connelly.
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Why? Create stunning photos using the colour Orange
Your Comment
Congratulations on getting second place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12048) 1321 days ago
Erin, thanks for the tips. I have struggled with colours at sunset, but now I have a few ideas as to how to make them better.
by Steve Hudson (score: 3|1245) 1329 days ago
This is a beautiful article! The sunset pictures are especially stunning.
by Sandy L (score: 2|111) 1334 days ago
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