Green All Around – Common Photo Themes

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For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, summer is here.  And so we are going to take a look at the subject of green.  Green is the color of new life, of new beginnings and it is calming.  Of course for those of you in the southern hemisphere, you probably have a desire to look forward to greener times.  And so I’m going to introduce you to a number of photos from our Flickr pool contributors that features the color green.  Green may not be a primary subject in each of these, but it will serve a prominent role or purpose within each photo:

“Green Railings” by Mike Osborn

"Green Railing" by Mike Osborn

"Green Railing" by Mike Osborn

The use of color in a photo doesn’t always have to be blatantly obvious.  Well, the green railings in Mike Osborn’s photo, Green Railings, is a little obvious (especially thanks to the title), but it is not the prominent feature of this photograph.  This is a well balanced photo, right down to the color scheme:  The orange leaves in the background are a stark contrast to the green of the weather beaten railings, and the misty gray fog serves as a great neutrality between the two colors.

“Hidden Poppy” by Christoph Hetzmannseder

"Hidden Poppy" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

"Hidden Poppy" by Christoph Hetzmannseder

Christoph Hetzmannseder also didn’t use green as the subject of his photo, Hidden Poppy.  In fact, he used it to flood the image with a contrast to his actual subject, the single, solitary poppy.  The use of a contrasting color – or a contrasting texture or a field of anything that is different than the actual subject – is a focusing technique.  It seems counter-intuitive, but think about how your eye is naturally drawn to the red poppy.  The technique works quite well.  But we cannot overlook the overall quality of the photo.  Thanks to the field of green, it is calming and captivating photograph.

“5″ by Ozzy Reyes

"5" by Ozzy Reyes

"5" by Ozzy Reyes

As is the case with any color, Green comes in so many shades.  Darker shades of green tend to be more cooling and calming, while lighter, more yellow shades of green can actually be warming.  That is an interesting conflict when viewing a photo like Ozzy Reyes’s photo, 5.  A photo of a fern, or any plant, would have a calming affect, and I suspect that most would agree that Ozzy’s photo is quite calming.  But the green appears to be back-lit in this case, or perhaps this is a very young fern, and so we have a yellow-green coloration.  Some viewers might feel differently about this photo because the yellow-green can be warming.  So to some, this might be representative of a warm, sunny morning.

“Think Green – Brings Out HOPE!” by Alexandra Iordachescu

"...Think Green...brings out HOPE!" Alexandra Iordachescu

"...Think Green...brings out HOPE!" Alexandra Iordachescu"...Think Green...brings out HOPE!" Alexandra Iordachescu

Yes, green can indeed bring out hope.  But that’s not the only reason why Alexandra Iordaschescu‘s photograph, …Think Green…Brings Out HOPE!, is so compelling.  Line is a very powerful building block, and the radial pattern of the leaf structure clearly pulls our eye to the center.  But what I like most about this photo is the three prominent and contrasting colors:  Green (obviously), Black (the shadows) and White (highlights).  Each leaf seems to pick up a few extra stripes, and the combination gives us a feeling of great depth, despite the short depth of field.  Paired with white and black, green seems to be that much more serious and bit more rigid.    Sure, it’s a plant, but new beginnings and/or life is not a theme I draw out of this photograph.  I feel motivated and energetic.  What do you feel?

“Keeping Track” by Peter von Seth

"Keeping Track" by Peter von Seth

"Keeping Track" by Peter von Seth

Vanishing points are always compelling, despite their over-utilization.  I do love them, but I am constantly looking for a subtle, yet appealing, twist to an old theme.  And I think Peter von Seth caught such twist in his shot, Keeping Track.  The concept is simple, really:   Tire tracks worn into an otherwise pristine lawn.  It’s not just a vanishing point shot, the composition makes us all wonder how the path was created (or should I say, trampled?), and why.  Green is incredibly appropriate here, because it could lead us to believe in new beginnings or the journey ahead of us in our work.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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