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Using Color Harmonies in Photography

# 3 and 4 of  9: Analogous and Triadic Color Harmonies

Alain Briot 

1 - The Analogous Color Harmony
This month we are continuing my series of essays on the Subject of Color Harmonies.  If you have not read the previous essays, you can can do so now.  The first one, which is about  Monochromatic Color Harmonies is available at this link and the second one, which is about Complementary Color Harmonies is available at this link.  These previous essays cover the reason why color harmonies are important in the creation of fine art photographs and cover color theory as it relates to color harmonies.

Now on to the third and fourth color harmonies in this series: Analogous and Triadic.  In an Analogous Color Harmony we use colors located next to each other on the color wheel.  For example orange, yellow-orange, yellow, and yellow-green.

Analogous color harmonies are often found in nature because natural elements often feature colors that are close to each other. It is also a visually pleasing harmony. 

To make this color harmony particularly effective, you need to first select a dominant color, second select a supporting color and third select an accent color.

 An analogous color harmony that uses
orange, yellow-orange, yellow and yellow-green


2 – Examples

Example 1 – Aspen Forest, Eastern Sierra Nevada


Example 2 – Mauve Playa, Death Valley National Park

3 - Notes

At first glance this harmony can look similar to the monochromatic color harmony (see the first essay in this series).  However:

- It is quite different because several colors are used instead of 1

- It is also different from a cool or warm color harmony because 4 colors are used instead of 6

- In this harmony the colors are closer together than in acool or warm color harmony

- This harmony is located somewhere in between monochromatic and cool/warm harmony

- We will see what a cool/warm color harmony is later in this series

4 - Triadic Color Harmony

In a Triadic color harmony we use any three colors located at equal distance from each  other on the color wheel. For example yellow, blue and red.

This harmony has a tendency to be quite vibrant, even if the hues are unsaturated. To be effective, the colors used in this harmony need to be well balanced.  The best  way to achieve this is to let one of the colors dominate and use the two other as accents.

 A Triadic color harmony that uses 
Yellow, red-violet,  and blue

5 -  Examples

Example 3 – Capitol Reef National Park

6 - Notes
This color harmony is characterized by having a widespread range of colors, 
- Colors can be primary, secondary or tertiary
- It features colors that are very different from each other  
- For this reason I find the Triadic harmony to be a less artistic and a ‘harsher’ harmony

7 - Exercises

Create a photograph that features an analogous color harmony.
Create a photograph that features a Triadic color harmony.

8 – 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.

9 - About Alain Briot
Alain Briot creates fine art photographs, teaches workshops and offers DVD tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing and marketing. Alain is the author of Mastering Landscape Photography. Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography.  All 3 books are available in eBook format on Alain’s website at this link:

You can find more information about Alain's work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to Alain’s Free Monthly Newsletter on his website at To subscribe simply go to and click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page.  You will receive information on downloading the table of contents, plus over 40 free essays by Alain, immediately after subscribing.

Alain welcomes your comments on this essay as well as on his other essays available. You can reach Alain directly by emailing him at

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
November 2012

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Concepts: Color, Color wheel, Color theory, Primary color, Hue, Complementary color, Yellow, RYB color model

Entities: Vistancia, Alain Briot, Arizona

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