Using Orange and Yellow in Photography

The Tutor competition this month was ‘Orange and Yellow’.

In the competition brief, we asked students to experiment with different lighting conditions using the vibrancy of yellow and orange and to play with natural sunlight, golden hour, or artificial lighting to create the desired mood and atmosphere. 

The winner of this competition is Paul Armstrong with this vibrant image of a welder at work. You can click on this image to view it on Flickr. 

Parkol 427

The judges felt that Paul had used the colour orange to great effect in this composition. Not only was the colour integral to the composition but the skill in this capture is very evident. Congratulations Paul, you are the winner of the IOP June competition.

Let’s explore this topic further….

One of the critical elements that can significantly impact an image is the creative use of colour. Among the vast palette of colours available, orange and yellow hold a special place, bringing warmth, energy, and vibrance to photographs. In this article, we explore the magic of orange and yellow in photography and how to use these hues to create captivating images effectively.

Expressing Emotion: Orange and yellow are inherently warm colours that evoke happiness, joy, and enthusiasm. These colours can infuse an image with a sense of optimism and positivity. When used strategically, they can help convey emotions and set the overall mood of a photograph. For example, a golden sunset bathed in warm hues can evoke a sense of tranquillity and contentment, while vibrant orange tones in a street photograph can express liveliness and energy.

Creating Contrast: Orange and yellow can act as powerful contrasting elements against cool or complementary colours. The stark contrast between warm and cool tones can create a visually striking effect, drawing the viewer’s attention and adding depth to the composition. Incorporating orange and yellow in a predominantly blue landscape or pairing them with shades of purple or green can yield a visually dynamic image that captures the viewer’s gaze.

Enhancing Composition: The presence of orange and yellow can act as strong focal points within a photograph, guiding the viewer’s eye and creating a visual hierarchy. These colours naturally draw attention due to their vibrance, making them effective tools for highlighting specific subjects or elements within the frame. Photographers can emphasise their presence by placing a subject against a backdrop of orange or yellow and creating a visually compelling composition.

Conveying Seasonal Themes: Orange and yellow are often associated with specific seasons, such as autumn and summer. Incorporating these colours in your photography can enhance the seasonal narrative and create a stronger connection between the viewer and the image. The golden hues of autumn leaves or fields of sunflowers in full bloom can instantly transport the viewer to a particular time of the year, evoking memories and emotions associated with that season.

Experimenting with Light: The interplay between orange and yellow and the quality of light can produce stunning effects in photography. During the golden hour (shortly after sunrise or before sunset), the warm sunlight bathes the surroundings in rich, golden tones. This soft, diffused light can enhance textures, add depth, and create a magical atmosphere. By playing with the direction and intensity of light, photographers can capture captivating images with mesmerizing orange and yellow hues.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance: Colors often hold symbolic meanings and cultural significance. Orange and yellow are no exception. They can represent themes like energy, vitality, creativity, and hope. Depending on the context, these colours can evoke cultural or religious associations. Understanding the symbolic value of orange and yellow can help photographers tell more meaningful stories and connect with their viewers on a deeper level.


Join an IOP® online photography course today and start your flexible online learning now. 
Check out some Distinction Students and their work.
If you have any questions about our courses, have a look through the FAQ or get in touch.

Any questions?

If you need to ask anything
about our Diploma in Photography or other photography courses, read our FAQs

Hints, tips and offers

Read our blog for the latest special offers and photography hints, tips and articles.

Rated 5 Stars

We've been rated 5 stars by users on TrustPilot and we're trusted by over 20,000 users. Read our reviews

Enrol Now

Join over 20,000 students and learn a new skill in your own time and at your own pace.
Enrol now