Reina en Rojo Pt3: Color Tones


  • harmonize with (something) in terms of color.


  • the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.
    an atmosphere of respectability or class.

“Your images should have a message.” Every photographer has heard this line at least once. And it’s very true – your photos should have a message, and setting the tone is a very fun tactic you’ll learn in photography.

You can have a harsh tone, or you can have a soft tone. It all depends on the color temperature you’re using.

Remember when I said that “Color and tone emanates the mood and character of photography” in Complementing Colors? Well, this also applies in the color temperature of the light you use.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Kelvin temperature. Let me start by sharing this graph with you:


Color temperatures set different tones. For example, red is a strong color often associated with energy, war, danger, as well as passion, desire, and love. Where as blue, the opposite end of the color temperature chart, is associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, and truth.

In this photo series, my message was strength of a women in power, hence “Queen in Red”. So I used a red temperature light bulb to set that strong tone. I also used a blue bulb to create split lighting. Usually, split lighting is created by using gel color filters, but as I’ve mentioned before, I love hard light – and I enjoy experimenting.

I also used an incandescent 2800° K light in one soft box (please make sure you know how many watts and volts your soft box can handle if you want experiment to avoid blowing a fuse). On the other side I used the 3500° K CFL light (most soft boxes come with these lights). For this particular series, I didn’t use a back light. 3-point-lighting
2800°K is hitting model on her back to add a glow to the portrait

Playing with different lights and temperature is a great skill to learn in photography. You’ll have fun playing with tones. And as you master this craft, I recommend you try using different color temperature bulbs, as well as different color gels.

Don’t forget to be creative and free! As always, I would love to see what you create. Please leave a comment with the link where I can follow your work.

“Tone has the living soul.” – Shinichi Suziki

Click on the image to view full size

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