Hot or cold? The mood of colour
Digital Camera World|August 2020
Hot or cold? The mood of colour
Use temperature to evoke different emotional responses and change your visual story

Humans are hard-wired to react to, and be influenced by, colour. Sometimes our reaction to colour can be triggered by natural experiences or cultural references, but we see its influence in all manner of objects and situations as we go about our daily lives.

You can easily see the psychology of colour at play in advertising. Companies use the colour green to persuade us that their product is fresh and ecologically friendly, for example, or the power of red to convince us that something is exciting and dynamic. In your photos, the predominant colour, whether it’s created by the subject in the scene or to a large extent by the temperature of light, has a large part to play in how the viewer perceives them.

You can emphasise a different mood in your photo simply by changing the colour temperature of the scene. In the ‘hot’ image of a woman looking out at a setting sun, the scene is recognised as instantly warm and welcoming. The mood is uplifting and has energy. However, simply by taking the white balance into the blue side of the temperature scale, we can change the story being told.

As the golden hues are replaced by cooler blue tones, the scene becomes calmer, the evening light feels less inviting and the mood becomes more one of solitary contemplation.


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August 2020