Shoot in two colors
I’m looking for a way to improve my photography. One of the least efficient ways of doing it is watching movies. Well, It’s not only just watching movies but finding what makes the scene good in cinematography terms, and hope it can use to improve my photography.
One of the best films I watched is “Her(2013)”. My favorite movie since it was about AI set in the near future. It’s already a good movie in terms of storytelling. It won an Oscar for best writing, of course. Her was good to use color in scenes to express the mood and feel. Some scenes were used only 2 colors to create a mood and tell the story. The main character was wearing a bright red-orange shirt. Sometimes he is just the only one in the scene that wears the bright color, everyone else just wears soft plain mud color cloth blended in the background. It’s felt like he is lonely and he just doesn't care about the world surrounding him. Sometimes It just uses less color and color grading to fit the mood of the scene the technique that I know for such a long time but not using it often enough.
The one film that uses this 2 colors technique very well is Ad Astra(2019) but its archives with the carefully selected color of the objects and light color in the scenes along with color grading. There are some scenes on Mars that use red and orange colors even the place in an underground space base to tell the story that we are on Mars(Or Mexico if you think about it) and use gray and gold when we are on the Moon.
Using only 2 dominant colors is different from shooting black and white. The B&W is used to show contrast shadow highlight and form. While 2 colors can do the same but more of storytelling.
Let's see how I can apply it to my work. I shot a cityscape from my room because I am too lazy to do any work after the movies. The first photo was using normal color processing high contrast to create the silhouette. It is fine with 3 colors blue, green, and orange on sunset in the city but I want to create more mystery in my shot. I lower the contrast and color grading to blue and red. The blue on the shadow and red on the highlight. I like the color-graded version more. It tells the story about the night is coming.
Above is another test shot that uses only 2 dominant colors eggshell light yellow and tiffany blue. The glass window is already tiffany blue. I use the eggshell light yellow to set the mood for the warm sunlight.
I would apply this technique more in the future but It’s really hard to set the tone for only 2 colors in the real world. I have to imagine the picture further to the mood at the end.