Using Color Harmonies in Photography: Monochromatic Color Harmony
Text and photography copyright © Alain Briot. All rights reserved.

First installment in this series - Monochromatic Color Harmony

Second installment in this series - Complementary Color Harmony

Third installment in this series - Analogous and Triadic Color Harmonies

Fourth installment in this series - Cool and Warm Color Dominance

Fifth installment in this series - Split Complementary, Tetradic and Square Color Harmonies

1 - Introduction: The Nine Color Harmonies

In order to create a specific color palette for a photograph, colors need to be organized. This is done by using one of several color arrangements. These different color arrangements are called Color Harmonies. They are called harmonies because the goal of these arrangements is to create harmonious color palettes.

There are nine different color harmonies. In this series of essays, we are going to look at examples of all nine harmonies. In doing so I will go over what each harmony consists of and provide examples of each harmony.

2 - The Three Variables of Color

Color is influenced by three variables: hue, saturation and luminosity. To create a specific color harmony, all three variables of color need to be modified. This is done in the software, either in the raw converter or for a higher level of control, using layers in Photoshop.

Here is a short description of the three variables of color:

3 - Monochromatic Color Harmony

The first color harmony we are going to study is the Monochromatic color harmony.

In a Monochromatic color harmony we use any single color plus tints, shades and tones of the same color. For example, orange with black, white and grey added.

A tint is a color to which white was added, a shade is a color to which black was added, and a tone is a color to which white was added.

In a monochromatic color harmony, the hue stays the same in the entire image. Only the saturation and the luminosity of the color changes.

Very delicate effects can be created with this harmony because the use of a single color lends itself to subtlety and refinement in art.

4 - Example: Bryce Canyon Sunrise Fog

This photograph was taken at sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park. There was a heavy layer of fog over the canyon. The sun was rising behind the fog, giving the fog an orange glow. The whole scene exhibited a natural monochromatic color harmony, the color being composed of variations of orange tones, some lighter, some darker, some more saturated and some less saturated.

5 - Remarks on this Color Harmony

6 - Continuing Your Studies

Color harmonies are one of the most important aspects of a personal style. If you are working on developing your style take a look at my just-released Personal Style Master Class Workshop on DVD. A FREE 21 pages ebook table of content is available. All you need to do is email me at with the words ‘Master Class’ in the subject line and you will receive the link to the free eBook immediately.

Alain Briot - NPN 2054

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Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, conversion, optimization, printing and marketing photographs. Alain is also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography. All 3 books are available from Amazon and other bookstores as well from Alain’s website.

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