Colour in Wildlife Photography

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Colour is an incredible creative and compositional tool in photography and can change the mood of an image completely.  Deciding which colours to include, and almost more importantly which to exclude, is an important consideration both when looking through your viewfinder and when processing your RAW files.

I’m not one for too much blood and guts in wildlife photography – I think there are more creative and powerful ways to show predator-prey interaction –  but this example shows the effect colour can have in an image.


Red is an incredibly emotive colour which evokes feelings of passion, love or as in this case, blood.

The image above is the original, with no changes to the colour during post processing, and I doubt that you can look at it without being visually drawn to the lion’s chin and your brain then completing the ‘story’ for you.

By removing some of the red from the image by using the HSL panel in Lightroom and dropping the saturation of the red channel the visual and emotional response is quite different.


Not necessarily award winning processing but it’s very obvious how the red is not as emotive and how it changes the intensity of the image.

Notice how, in the side-by-side comparison below, the red chin on the right is without a doubt the point with the strongest visual mass in the frame.  In both frames.


Composition, placement and the various other guidelines as to what make a good image still applies but always keep in mind what certain colours can add or take away from your images and then manage this as best you can.

More posts and examples to follow soon.



About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

Comments 0

  1. Carol Bell

    Thanks Gerry… I am learning so much from your “Wild Eye” posts and they are really helping and guiding me in improving my photos. A lot of the “tips” that have been posted have made me stop and think about what I am doing and why I am doing it.

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