Cool tone stippled-photo

Warm Tone stippled-photo

This weeks Tricks of the Trade article is on warm toned images of architecture and interior design.

When I was working in photo labs back in the eighties one of the first things I was taught about printing color images was to alway warm the images up just a bit by adding an almost imperceptible amount of yellow or red to the image. The reason for this is that people always respond more favorably to a warm tone image. Of course there are many situations where this doesn’t apply, such as adding yellow to a predominantly blue photograph will create a green cast.

You can see in the images show here the difference that only allowing the warm tones of the tungsten light to shine through make to an image.

In the warm tone image the yellows mellow the space and create mood and atmosphere that is comforting and warm, inviting the viewer to enter, relax and experience the character and charm of the design.

In the cool tone image the warmth has been removed by balancing the light to a scientifically “perfect” white. The color is very stark and is appealing to the rational mind. Quite often I see photographers who shoot their images so that the color of the light is perfectly white, this allows us to represent the spaces in technically accurate color. I feel much of the character of the space has been lost but the technical representation of the features is remarkable.

Generally I will balance my light to the absolute neutral color that provides the best technical representation of the colors and then shift back into the warm tones until I find a pleasing mix. It’s a matter of style as to which image you prefer. I prefer to work with warm tone images because I want my photographs to appeal to the emotional mind of my clients prospects rather than the rational. 

And that is this weeks tricks of the trade article. I hope it helps you create better photographs, but when the time is right and you need images that are infused with character, mood and capture the true ambiance of the space please call me and I will do all I can to help you.


P.S. I will use this warm tone trick even in commercial spaces and exteriors, I just apply it with greater discipline, especially to commercial interiors. The mind set of buyers of commercial architecture and interior design is different from that of the residential buyer. We need to respect that difference and alter our presentation accordingly.

Photographs used to illustrate this article were created for Gina Viscusi of Viscusi Elson Interior Design in Los Altos, CA.