Thursday, 10 June 2010

Assignment 3 - Colour

Take about four photographs each (16 altogether) that illustrate the following colour relationships:

  • Colour harmony through complementary colours (colours that face each other across the circle)
  • Colour harmony through similar colours (those near each other, as in a cool or warm range of colours)
  • Colour contrast through contrasting colours (colours spaced about a third of the way around the circle)
  • Colour accent using any of the above ( a small area of colour which sits against a much larger background of another colour as a spot or accent)
Try to vary the subject matter, including both arrangements (such as still-life) and found situations.

Colour Harmony Through Complementary Colours

Red & Green

This was taken at Kew Gardens, a couple of weeks ago. I placed the rose on a rule of thirds hot spot, but also wanted to include the bud for added interest. 

The stem acts as a leading line, but also, the stark red against the cool background makes the flower 'pop' and draws the eye to it.
Warm colours colours are sometimes described as 'aggressive' whereas cool colours are 'regressive'. This concept works in this image because the rose is in the foreground and the leaves disappear into the background.

Orange & Blue

This is a shot of oranges in a chrome fruit bowl, with the camera tripod mounted and pointing up. I used a tungsten white balance to achieve the blue background, and the inspiration for this came from Joe McNally's "The Hot Shoe Diaries".
The orange:blue ratio of 1:2 has been ignored because even though the orange colour occupies most of the frame, it does not over-dominate because it is being broken up by the chrome bars.

As demonstrated in the previous section (Elements of Design), curves suggest movement. In this example, the fruit bowl and the shape of the oranges imply movement across the image in all directions. The repetitive pattern also gives rhythm. This is another example of a warm foreground against a cool background which reinforces the relative importance of the oranges in the frame.

Yellow & Violet

This is a section from some graffitti in the East End of London. Violet is a tricky colour to find, and this colour appeared much lighter in reality than it does on my monitor!
I shot it at an oblique angle to retain the texture in the surface, but also to eliminate other colours. I tried to incorporate more violet than yellow to show a 1:3 division, which was made difficult due to the nature of the design and my angle of view.

The curves lead the eye around the image in a random, but almost circular manner. The yellow colour occupies a smaller surface area than the violet, and because yellow is brighter, I suppose this makes it 'easier on the eye'. This image is two-dimensional so I'm not conscious of any tension between the colours.

Red & Green

This is a macro shot of a tomato taken with the Nikon 105mm. Of all the complementary colours, the red/green combination appears to be the most prevalent, in plants especially. I have filled the frame with the stem as it is usually such a small and not so significant part of the fruit, and I tried to aim for the 1:1 balance between to the colours.

This is another random visual journey but the red:green combination is different because this time the background is red. The stem is so prominent in the frame, it doesn't appear to be regressing. Also, the red is graduated due to the incidence of light, and so does not consume the green colour.

Colour Harmony Through Similar Colours

Cool Colours

This was taken at Kew Gardens, and does not contain any warm tones. I have cropped to remove part of another flower in the top right corner. There is a little detail in the background, but not enough for it to detract from the flower.

The edges of the leaves in the background have caught the light, and all seem to point in the general direction of the flower. The petals are spread to display the central part, which is also a vivid shade.

This was taken in St Ives. The scene is almost equally balanced between cool blue and green hues, with the house providing some interest where they intersect.

The house is at the top of a hill so the slopes on either side act as leading lines. Originally, I thought the house might be slightly yellow, but the colour picker in Photoshop rendered it grey.

Warm Colours

This was taken in the playground of a local park. The colours are garish because they are aimed at very young children.

There are many interesting shapes in this structure, primarily because of the target audience. There is no main focal point - framing was chosen to exclude other unwanted elements.

In this shot of my garden wall, I have chosen a subject with a range of warm tones, rather than solid blocks of colour as per the previous example.

There is a range of warm tones which blend together. Again, there is no overall focal point so I cannot see any specific movement - it's quite arbitrary.

Colour Contrast Through Contrasting Colours

This is the Palm House at Kew Gardens taken using an infrared filter. I swapped the red and blue channels in Photoshop which is a common technique in infrared photography to achieve a blue sky. I particularly like the effect of the long exposure (30 seconds) on the clouds and people passing through the frame. 

Apart from movement suggested by curves and the clouds, it was difficult to identify other forms of movement as there is quite  alot going on in this picture. Blue is dominant in both the foreground and background and the palmhouse itself is a mixture of contrasting blue and red tones.

Another shot from Kew Gardens, this time using a polarising filter. The only adjustments made in Photoshop were levels and curves. The effect of the filter has enhanced the contrast between the different shades of yellow, and the blue sky.

Initially, the eye is immediately drawn to the bright yellow foliage on the left, but then there are numerous patterns, rhythms and curves which divert attention to other parts of the image.

This is a lifeguard on one of the beaches at St Ives. I zoomed the lens to exclude other people and paused just long enough to include his reflection in the small pool. I cropped a little from the top and bottom because of a lack of detail/interest in those parts, but left the horizon in to give the image context.

I think movement is directly towards the lifeguard due to the absence of any other significant subject, and because the colour of his clothing is markedly different to his surroundings. Red and yellow provide a strong contrast from each other and perhaps this was the thinking behind the design of this particular uniform - it is highly visible.

This flower includes green, orange and violet/purple, which form a triad of contrasting colours since they are equidistant on the colour wheel.

The stem acts as a leading line, though it is almost camouflaged by the leaves in the background. The small depth of field combined with cool tones help the green to blend away so that the orange and purple can come to the fore.

Colour Accent

This was taken in a local park. These red bins were strategically placed throughout, and were very noticeable. I have not placed this on a third because I wanted to frame it between the trees. Initially I thought about changing my position to exclude the white structure in the background, but decided to keep it as it appears to be indicating towards the bin rather than detracting attention from it. Again, I am aware of many lines - horizontal, vertical and diagonal - in this image.

This is a very simplified rendition, but shows that although there are many tones in this shot, red bin is clearly the main focal point even though it is not situated in the foreground. It is the only warm colour in the shot.

My original intention was to capture this seagull, but I noticed the young girl on the beach while framing the shot, and decided to include her as well - it's as though the seagull is sizing her up! 

There is an implied line between the two and the beach surf and wall also lead the line of sight towards the girl. The background is made up of pastel shades which enable the seagull's beak and the girl's clothing to stand out.

This was taken in St Ives. There were two young boys in this boat and I took a few shots of them trying to negotiate the waves. I chose this image because of the neat lines running across the frame. The position of the dinghy is such that only one of the boys is visible which helps to tidy up the shot - this was more by luck than design.

This shot has been reduced to solid blocks of colour and in doing so, reveals that it is predominantly made up of cold colours. In fact, the only warm colour is the dinghy which, against the almost monotone background becomes fluorescent. The position of the dinghy is also emphasized because of the way it interrupts the surf.

My local branch of Tesco Express was doing a special offer on Irn Bru, so I bought a couple of bottles and emptied them into a white enamel bowl, placed by a window. I searched, unsuccessfully for something that would float but settled for these paperclips, which were deliberately placed. I chose 3 because a solitary paperclip didn't show up that well and I quite like the cumulative effect of the bubbles.

I think that the eye is immediately drawn to the paperclips because of the contrast with the background, and due to the higher concentration of bubbles in that part of the frame. However, the saturation of the red is lessened by the bubbles and the colour cast due to being submerged in the orange liquid.

What have I learned?
In addition to placement within the frame, colour can be used to make subjects more or less prominent in an image. In fashion, there are colours which simply do not work together, but surprisingly I was not aware of any colours that really clashed and could not work together in the images I examined.

I noticed many interesting colour combinations in food packaging and company logos, and I now have a better appreciation of colour as more than just a decorative element.

This assignment has been useful in forcing me to analyse my images in ways I have not done previously. It was also an exercise in consolidation, since many of the themes from the first two sections of the course frequently reoccurred here.

1 comment:

  1. Some excellent work! I'm really struggling with this assignment & section so well done!