Friday, 21 September 2012


Large sized assignment images for assessment can be found on my flickrPro account at the following address.  Go to actions\view all sizes\original to access full sized images.

The basis of Assignment 3 is that I should be able to identify and use colours that are complementary (face each other across the colour circle), are similar to each other in the circle (as in the cool or warm colours), are spaced about a third of the way round the circle and are therefore very different to each other and potentially clash, and finally the type of colour relationship where a small area sits against a much larger background and may be regarded as a ‘spot’ or ‘accent’ colour.  This boiled down to the table below in terms of what I needed to shoot for assignment material, where according to the course notes I also needed to ensure that I introduced variety into the ways in which the colours are generated and use a mixture of found situations, still life and possibly filters to create the colours. It is also a requirement to make a sketch of each image to show the balance of the colours in the image.  I last sketched something about fifty years ago, so this element should be interesting! Where I thought it was appropriate, I have indeed made sketches of the distribution of the colour areas of interest, although I have not done this where the zones were obvious (as in examples where there were only two blocks of colour in the image anyway) and I have additionally not done so for the colour accents.  I did this simply by changing the image to black and white and then using the brush tool in CS5 to roughly sketch in the areas of colour.
Along with his assessment for Assignment 2, my tutor offered the following guidance for Assignment 3 .. “The next assignment is quite straight forward and my advice is to read the assignment brief very carefully and check you images against the colour wheel.   My advice is also to avoid colours which are on the border between a primary and a secondary colour and also colours which are too neutral.   Finally, remember that black through all the greys to white are not strictly speaking colours or hues, they are tones and cannot play an effective role in a colour harmony.”  I have tried to do this throughout, but the comments regarding the primary/secondary border are highly pertinent and I found achieving this to be challenging at times as clearly the incident light quality and angle can have a significant impact on the final colour recorded, and it proved to be a valuable lesson in controlling exposure through the camera to try and hit the colour I was after rather than being tempted to manipulate it in CS5 afterwards!

I also needed to consider the ratio in which the colours appear in the images as was the case in Exercise 25 (Colour Relationships) where to maximise the harmony, especially between the complementary colours, it is vital to consider the relative brightness of each;  red and green have the same brightness, so a ratio of 1:1 is appropriate, whereas orange is about twice as bright as blue and a ratio of 1:2 ‘works’ and finally yellow is three times as bright as violet, so a ratio of around 1:3 would be appropriate.  Freeman (2007) shows a very helpful graphic (p121) which illustrates this point.  These colour ratios were first suggested by the German poet Goethe who assigned values to the colours to describe the relationship which he believed showed that colours harmonise with one another the best advantage when their areas are in relative proportion to their relative brightness, although long before that the ancient Greeks had sought to ally colour harmony with musical harmony in terms of what went pleasingly with what.

I boiled this down to a checklist of required combinations to ensure that as I set about generating and finding the images for the assignment, I would have something to work to; it also acted as encouragement as although the concept of taking pictures of anything coloured seemed appealingly simple, I found this a struggle at times as the need to capture specific images proved difficult for some reason.  I needed to produce around sixteen images, about four from each ‘category’ of the following colour relationships.

Complementary : red/green,  orange/blue,  yellow/violet

Similar :  yellow/orange,  orange/red,  green/blue,  blue/violet

Contrasting :  from blue/red,  green/orange,  yellow/red,  blue/yellow,  green/violet,  violet/orange

Spot/Accent :  any of the above

1  Complementary : Red/green.  I had three original contenders for this image, having discounted the poppies which I had used in Exercise 24 as I felt that the bright light in which the image was taken generated too many areas of unpleasant (at least to me) contrast.  The first selection was of two pedestrians with a green bag and a red coat, with the colours in about the right ratio of 1:1.  I liked the way that the earthy tones of the browns from the surrounding garments really pushed the red and green to the fore.
1  Complementary  :  red/green
2  Complementary : Red/green.  The second selection was a still life of some peppers as I was after exploring the colour relationship with the two target colours right next to one another.  The two sections of colour in the image are certainly complementary and blend comfortably at their interface.
2  Complementary  :  red/green
3  Complementary : Orange/blue.  This is an image taken in Cape Town and shows some of the houses in the residential district.  I feel that the orange of the house and the blue sky dominate the composition and draw the eye as the majority of the other colours in the scene have very muted and neutral tones.  I found it a pleasant balance between the colours as they are in about the ‘right’ ratio of orange to blue 1:2 and they are separated by the pastel pinks and fawns of the other houses to give a visually pleasing balance.
3  Complementary  :  orange/blue
4  Complementary :  orange/blue.  I wanted to have a still life image where the colours were again adjacent to one another to explore the full benefit of their complementarity, and chose this still life option with orange/blue as it was very different to the wide angle Cape Town street scene.  I liked the added interest of the contrasting logos as well.  This was taken under bright natural light with a diffuse cloud cover and was exposed at -1EV to enhance the colours; colours were not further adjusted during processing.
4  Complementary  :  orange/blue
5  Complementary : yellow/violet.  I wanted to maintain a variety of different approaches to this assignment in terms of the type of images that I submitted and here went for a macro shot with this close up of part of a Gladiolus flower.  This was shot with the Canon 5DMkII with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lens attached as opposed to the 24 -105mm f/4 zoom used for the other shots in this series.  The 1:3 violet to yellow ratio, with the lesser amount of the brightest colour, produced a pleasant harmony between the two colours, and I felt that the way the yellow bled into the violet as it became more diffuse, added to the appeal of the image.
5  Complementary  :  yellow/violet
6  Similar :  yellow/orange.  This just had to be the eyeball burning orange/yellow combination that I found in London along the Embankment.  Both coming from the warm range of similar colours in the colour wheel, this highly saturated orange and yellow combination was eye catching and probably a good choice given that its intended purpose is to advertise art, music and dance tickets for sale.  It’s bright, fun and vibrant and offers the warmth that is suitable for this intent.  Whoever put the hideous clashing pink pillars around the base was either intending to create a compelling colour clash to draw attention or was maybe colour blind …
6  Similar  :  yellow/orange
7  Similar :  orange/red.  These also come from the warmer range of colours in the circle.  The image I chose is of the performers in Covent Garden market in a superbly colourful jacket and making coloured balloon animals as well ..  Five colours of the colour circle are brought together in this image (only yellow is missing) and I thought that the red and orange were especially prominent as the red occupied the centre of the image and the two areas of orange of the hat and balloon were placed roughly on ‘thirds’ of the frame.  In one case the orange of the balloon and the red of the sleeve merge harmoniously in the direction the woman is looking whereas the orange of the hat is separated from the red sleeve by the contrasting violet and green parts of the costume.
7  Similar  :  orange/red
8  Similar :  green/blue.  The harmonious relationship between the cooler green and blue is exemplified by these two lovers on the beach .. well, a pair of bins anyway, I just liked the way they tilted slightly towards one another!
8  Similar  :  green/blue
9  Similar : yellow/orange.  This sunflower provided a good example of the warm harmony achieved by the similar colours of orange and yellow when they are placed close together in an image.  The yellow of the petals gradually blends into the orange as the centre of the flower is reached and continues into the developing seeds.
9  Similar  :  yellow/orange
10  Contrasting :  blue/red.  The first of my contrasting colour images, blue and red are placed a third of the way round the colour circle from one another and are therefore one step away from being complementary.  These colour combinations can be considered to be clashing and not very harmonious, but they certainly attracted attention in what I felt was quite a discordant way.  The image shows some drinks set out for a barbecue event and the red table cover and blue cooler box provide the most dominant blocks of colour in the image.  The colours are repeated to a more limited extent further back in the photograph with the plastic glasses and the other table corner as exemplified in the sketch.
10  Contrasting  :  blue/red
11  Contrasting :  red/yellow.  The red and yellow decoration on the sides of the Golden Hinde reconstruction in London are certainly eye catching and demand attention, especially when they are set against a black background as they are in the case of the ship.  Red/yellow is often used to draw attention to warning signs and I think is the most potent and clashing of all the contrasting colour options.  Whether Sir Francis Drake’s ship was ever adorned with such lurid colours is open to speculation, but you certainly can’t miss it!
11  Contrasting  :  red/yellow
12  Contrasting :  orange/violet.  There are many examples of contrasting orange and violet in the floral world and it is a colour signature that is often used to attract attention to flower borders, as indeed was the case here with an image taken from Kew Gardens in London.  Several hundred metres of border were planted with this combination and acted to almost underline the stature of the Palm House where they were placed right across its front elevation.  I opted to go for a close up view and set the frame so as to place the junction between the two colours on a diagonal which I felt conferred more energy to the image in addition to the clash of two such vibrant and contrasting colours.
12  Contrasting  :  orange/violet
13  Contrasting :  orange/green.  This shot of Kew Palace was shot for the contrasting orange/green, but it works in other ways as well I think.  Firstly, I needed to wait for the morning light to hit the front elevation of the building and make the brickwork turn orange, which set it off well against the complementary blue of the sky.  Secondly, the similar green/blue of the grass and sky were also prominent.  So complementary, contrasting and similar all in the same shot.
13  Contrasting  :  orange/green
14  Colour accent :  red.  This image was taken near The Scoop on the London Embankment, and shows someone who was sketching the area around.  Much of The Scoop is granite and is a fairly flat and monotonous grey, so the red jacket of the artist really made him stand out from his environment – even the drink and his trousers blend into the background to make the red accent of the jacket really catch the eye of the viewer.
14  Colour accent  :  red
15 Colour accent :  orange.  This shot of the London Eye was quite bland in colour with the clear exception of the one capsule that was bright orange which was very prominent as a colour accent.  I think the orange capsule set against the blue of the sky makes a really harmonious combination from these two complementary colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel.
15  Colour accent  :  orange
16  Colour accent :  red.  This was shot from the cactus collection at Kew Gardens and shows one single red flower as a colour accent.  It was one of the only flowers visible in a large carpet of cacti and as such really stood out as an eye catching feature of the scene.
16  Colour accent  :  red
A moment for reflection ..
The Colour assignment has been harder work than I was expecting it to be.  It is indeed straightforward, as my tutor had suggested at the outset, as there were few exercises and a fairly clear assignment brief.  However, although I would not offer lack of focus over the summer of the Olympics and a number of work commitments as an excuse, both certainly impacted upon the continuity and flow of the work.  In Elements of Design in Assignment 2 I kept a steady pace with only minor breaks and I felt that this really helped me to maintain the flow; Colour was a rather fragmented affair and I think that is reflected in the output.
The most significant issue I found with Colour was that I ended up generating an eclectic mixture of images to capture the colours I required which took me away from the focus I had intended to develop; this had been one of the major successes of Elements of Design and the London Embankment theme kept me on the straight and narrow.  My original intent with Colour was to develop a set of images based on aspects of the natural world, but this was quickly usurped by the difficulty found in capturing all the relevant colours.  Much of the world is green, certainly in the countryside at this time of year, and that had a significant impact in pushing me towards a wider selection of images.  In future assignments I must retain focus on my plan, and if circumstances push me outside its definition, then I need to rethink the plan rather than expand its intent!
As far as the actual colours go I learnt a lot from this section of the course, especially through the research I did into the role of colour in emotion and its significance in creating certain ‘feelings’.  The colour wheel and the way that colours complement or contrast with one another was a revelation as I had not to this point really given that a great deal of consideration in my photography, and I now feel that I am able to add this to the thought processes behind my work generally and build on what I have gleaned from this section of the course as I progress onwards to Light and beyond.


1 comment:

  1. This is very thorough Dave (and colourful!). I hope you enjoy Light and also look forward to seeing you at the next Study Visit.