Sunday, 12 August 2012

Exercise 25 : Colour relationships

This exercise investigates the relationship between colours and examines the influence of their proportions.  The first part requires the capture of scenes or parts of scenes that have the following colour ratios:

Red: green                  1:1

Orange : blue              1:2

Yellow : violet              1:3

I elected to use different approaches to these and chose to set up a basic still life, again using the peppers, to cover 1:1 red:green.  Although this was a very simplistic approach, it gave me a further opportunity to examine the role of exposure in getting the ‘correct’ colour.  I went with f/22 to get a good depth of field in the peppers and after looking at several different exposures, worked with EV of -1.5 to get the colour as close as possible to ‘true’ red and green that I wanted.

A second attempt at red:green 1:1 came from a pair of poppies that I photographed in a roadside garden.  The intense red of the poppies showed well under the natural light although the green was a little muted as the leaves and grass behind were in shadow.

Orange:blue at a ratio of 1:2 was quite a difficult combination to find.  Some other students have used orange life belts and blue swimming pools for this option, although lacking either around here, I decided to use an image of a kingfisher for this one.  It was surprising just how many of these kingfisher images I’ve got that failed to fulfil the required ratio of colours!  I had not intended to start using any of my bird images in the OCA work at this stage, as I regard that as a separate area of my photography entirely, but there is a need to fulfil the brief and move on.
Yellow:violet with a 1:3 ratio is a shot of part of a violet flower.  It was shot using a Sigma 100mm f/2.8 macro lens and at f/11 to ensure that the undulations of the petal surfaces were in focus.
The second part of this exercise required the production of images with colour combinations that just appealed to me, and to take note of any tensions that were created with the combinations selected.
My first photograph is from the hull of the replica ‘Golden Hinde’ in London along the Thames embankment.  Whether the original boat ever had the clashing red and yellow paintwork is unclear but I thought it created a strong visual tension, exacerbated by the sharp and alternating lines which separated bands of each colour, as well as the fact that they were set against the black pitch side of the boat hull.  Red and yellow are separated in the colour circle by orange and create a strong contrast, often used in warnings and to make an eye catching and attractive visual statement.  Black backgrounds are also frequently found adding to the impact.

I think the most striking, and indeed visually violent, colour combination I found was on the South Bank in London and featured bright orange and yellow, with a splash of bright pink .. Orange and yellow are adjacent to one another in the colour wheel and have complementary properties.  I thought these did indeed go well together in this image, but the introduction of the lurid pink completely unbalanced the image in my view.  It was clearly intended to create a ‘can’t miss it’ impact to draw people to the ticket office, but I thought it was a great example of how colours that go well together can be completely dislocated by the introduction of a small area of another colour.  It really appealed to me, but not in a comfortable way!

My final photograph is of a series of coloured stars on a window with the reflection of the blue sky and London skyline in the background.  The colours appealed to me as they were quite muted, yet I felt were striking as a visual device to advertise Team London before the Olympics.  The blue and yellow are separated by green in the colour wheel and are therefore not complementary and may be seen as clashing in some situations.  I felt they went together well in the situation, helped by the muted tones of the colours themselves and also by the dominant blue of the background reflection.  The pink, or at least red, is also a third of the way round the colour wheel from the other two colours and again would be predicted to clash, although I think that they are complementary in this particular situation.
This exercise, or at least the first part, was more difficult than I had expected it was going to be.  Finding appropriate colours, whilst largely avoiding painted surfaces, is not an easy task, and I was surprised just how much of the world is grey, brown and a plethora of shades of green.  There is therefore a tendency to look towards set up situations and still life to address this exercise, and indeed several of the others as well.  Found situations with the right colours and ratios are hard to discover, even with careful thought and judicious cropping.  I had hoped to be more imaginative in my photographs and especially to try and settle on a specific theme as I had done for Elements of Design, but I had to widen the net to address the exercise. 

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