Tag Archives: colour

colour # 3 – colour relationships

 Part 1 – Primary & Secondary Colours

“Produce one photograph for each combination of primary and secondary colours, adjusting the distance, focal length or framing when you shoot so that you compose the picture to the proportions listed […] — or at least close to them” – TAoP Coursebook

Continue reading

assignment # 3 – tutor’s comments & re-edited set

I got the feedback for Assignment 3 in time for Christmas. Dave, my tutor commented: “The log is coming along well. I’d like to see a little more content generally but there is plenty of time for this over the next two chapters.” The fact that that I’m only posting this now, 3 months later shows that there’s still a fair bit of work to do on this front. I have done the exercises for both part 3 and part 4, but have been appalling at writing them up. I have no real excuse for this and can only say that my intention is to rattle them off in parallel with doing the narrative exercises over the next few weeks.

But now onto the main part of Dave’s feedback, relating to the pictures submitted for Assignment 3. The slideshow below is a revised set of pictures, incorporating the areas he identified as needing work. I’ll get them reprinted before I submit them for assessment. The original treatment of the pictures can be seen here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall, the feedback was generally very positive – “Firstly I should say that the colour relationships were mainly all clear and well spotted so well done –this assignment is particularly difficult to do when out of the studio so you have done well. Your diagrams show that you are seeing the different relationships well and composing the frame accordingly, which is the primary objective of the assignment.”

Where it wasn’t positive, it was, I’d say, fair and tended to chime with what I’d thought myself as I was completing the assignment:

  • “There was one image that stood out as not really up to the quality of the others -AoP-A3-06. The sign and shop front are all a little soft from camera shake.” – Premier Halal Butchers is on my way home from the tube; I reshot the picture on a night when it was rainy enough for the neon to reflect back from the paving (Fig 6 in the slideshow above).
  • “The only overall concern I had was that you seem to have had a slightly heavy hand with the saturation controls –presumably in an effort to really make the colour relationships stand out. I would advise against this, you are better off keeping the colours a little more natural. […] The assignment is all about seeing the colour relationships when you are framing, not about creating or highlighting them in post-production.” – I had come to the same conclusion myself when I realised that some of the “accentuated colour” versions of the assignment pictures weren’t all that more accentuated than the “normal” ones; I had spent a fair bit of time isolating the colours I wanted to stress in most of the pictures, reducing the saturation and shifting the hue of things that reduced the clarity of the main colour relationship in the picture; some of the results were downright garish. Ugh! I have now restored the pictures to something much closer to what came out of the camera.
  • “I would like to begin to see is some effort to link the images in later assignments together thematically or narratively.” To an extent, I felt – and still feel – that these pictures all link together in the sense that they were taken on my way to or from work, and my original intention as I started to compile the set was to come up with each of the four categories containing one picture from each four sub-groups – Walthamstow, Public Transport, Glasgow and Oxford Circus with one night shot in each subgroup – but this quickly became more of a hindrance than a help in getting the assignment completed.
  • Finally, one of the pictures was picked out as having a rather tenuous colour-relationship, Fig 9: Red and Blue – London. Again, guilty as charged, I think. It’s probably only there as a throwback to the 4 public transport pictures idea. I shall go through the rejected pictures from the other shoots and see if I can find something that more clearly shows Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours.

Throughout Part 3, I had been reading and thinking around the work of the New Topographics photographers; following on from this, Dave suggested I look at the work of a number of more contemporary (and more British) photographers, to develop further my thoughts on depicting landscape. I have worked through the list and have particularly enjoyed work by Jem Southern and Fay Godwin. One of the posts I need to write here over the remainder of the course is one that goes into all this more, as I try to make my thoughts on town and country, America and Europe, wilderness and “man-altered”, home and away, past and present etc etc coalesce into something I build on. Watch this space…

colour # 1 – control the strength of a colour

Find a strong, definite colour – a painted door for instance – and choose a viewpoint so that the colour fills the viewfinder frame. Find the average exposure setting […] Then take a sequence of pictures; all composed exactly the same, but differently exposed from bright to dark.

Arrange the […] images together . Apart from the obvious fact that the […] photographs vary from over-exposure to under-exposure, what other difference is there in terms of the colour?

– AOP Coursebook.

The photos that follow were all taken on a sunny afternoon in my back garden using my D50 with a 35mm 1:2 AF lens on it. They are of a Camden Council recycling tub that I’ve used as a laundry basket ever since I moved north of the river at the turn of the century. There are seven pictures rather than five, because it was only a few weeks ago that – playing with the various menus on my camera – I realised that I could set the increments by which exposure compensation worked at anything other than 1/3 of a stop. Further evidence if it was needed that you can never spend too much time playing with your camera…

All h-s-l values were calculated in Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac and were based on the centre of the embossed cross.

From looking at the the pictures, I can see that the lightness (brightness in Adobe-land) does indeed decrease quite dramatically as the sequence goes on; the saturation likewise increases and the colour temperature (hue) moves up from being closer to cyan to a much more obvious blue and end almost in the region of violet. The truest blues seem to be in the three pictures starting with the one shot at the meter reading and continuing into slight underexposure.

Likewise, doing the same thing with a red storage tub and a yellow council grit container showed similar results, although the red showed a slight drop off in saturation below an average exposure and yellow seemed most saturated either at average or slightly higher.

I’ll have a go with some pictures containing more than one colour, to see if I can emphasise a particular colour by choosing the correct level of under (or over) exposure while reducing the impact of the others.

(Postscript – I have also played with one of the standard exposure pictures and have found that  – providing the highlights or the shadows aren’t clipped – a raw image can be moved up and down the exposure range in Lightroom, creating the same colour effects to my eye as can be created in camera by altering the exposure; another thing to try while editing, I guess …).

assignment # 3 – colour: pictures and commentry

Take about sixteen photographs:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

…that illustrate the following colour relationships:

1: Colour Harmony through Complementary Colours

I spotted the building while I was walking from the subway on my way to a meeting at Pacific Quay. On my way back, I had enough time to loiter, waiting for people to walk by in both directions. The pale orange of the brick is matched by the reddish orange of the trim to the gable and the door and contrasts nicely with the pale autumn blue of the sky to the north; I like the tiny bits of colour reflected in the gutter. A very flat image (with flat lighting – it was taken at noon)  with a lot of horizontal lines running through it: the kerb, the line in the middle of the road and the bottom of the building wall; the diagonals of the gable add interest. The eye moves between the two points made by the door and the walking man (who is surprisingly close to the wall, if you look closely).

The orange and blue of the sign stands out strongly here and there’s lots more of both colours in the traffic and the pedestrians who occupy the space round it. Your eye moves then to the green and red barriers that enlose the sign, making an inverted vanishing point in the centre bottom of the image, with the red also turning up as highlights in the fragments of distant buses on the road and reflected in the plate glass of the window on the right.

An astonishing corner on the Lea Bridge Road, composed as four quadrilaterals united by the sense of movement provided by the striding man in the jersey that managed to be a gloriously matching blue to the door.  There’s a minor violet and yellow thing going on in the upper right quarter as well. There is an interesting absence of any scale to the various bits of the building too.

Essentially a diagonal band of orange, a diagonal band of blue and a second diagonal band of orange, with your eye drawn to super-bright highlight of the central streetlight, which is casting all the yellowy-orange glare in the street. I’ve been walking on my way home from the tube at dusk a lot these past few weeks, and this is probably the best representation of it that I’ve managed to take.

2: Colour Harmony through Similar Colours

Lots of lines pointing in towards a vanishing point on the platform, held together by the overall warmth of the colours in the station. The lightness of the yellow contrasts to the dark orange-brown of the tiles where the stair dips down to the platform while the brigthness of the orange (sort of) cross formed by the sign, its reflections and the train give a focus and depth to the picture.

Reflections after rain stop this being boring, while a walking man (central and pulling the attention in from the edges of the frame) gives the composition focus and a point of balance. The violets in the this are very cold somehow, with the reds providing no sense of warmth.

Despite the sense of forward movement into the space between the nearer two buses here nothing was moving (possibly a faster shutter speed might have spoiled this while sorting out the slight sense of softness across the image) and I was safely stood on a crossing in the middle of Walthamstow Bus Station. Again, there is something quite cold about the image, despite the warmth of the colours.

More streetlight, mostly a rather bilious yellow provides an out-of-focus backdrop for the leaning sign. Despite the possible depth off to the left and the right, a rather flat image.

3: Colour Contrast through Contrasting Colours

Red and blue fighting one another with the orange relating to both (opposite to blue and comfortably similar to red) and so making it less uncomfortable somehow. compositionally arranged around the triangle betwen the seats occupied by the man and his rucksack.

A striking yellow gable end with the shadow of a perpendicular row of houses cast on it by the late afternoon sun. The blue of the eastern sky contrasts with the yellow strongly.

Nice shapes at the entrance to work. For some reason on the day I took it, I was able to notice the strong contrast between the yellow of the artificial light inside and blue light coming in from the windows to the west. Compositionally a mass of quadrilaterals, capable of further abstraction.

An objet trouve. A strong colour contrast between the red of the flowers and the blue of the rubbish sack and the lighter emphasises the softness of the abandoned roses and the hardness of the plastic; the light green of the leaves’ underside contrasts with the red of the flowers while stopping the blue jarring as much as it might. The lines between paving slabs and the stems of the roses adds a sense of movement through the frame.

4: Colour Accent using any of the above

A very centralised composition with the cyclist frozen within a a central diamond formed by the cars’ slanting windscreens, the roofs and the tree. An obvious orange point amongst the blues and greens of the foliage and the sky’s reflections on the shiny surfaces of the cars.

Taken through a 1 inch square mesh, covering a window on the hoarding that surrounds this building site, hence the vignetting at the bottom of the image. I got the lens in a better place for this with a second shot, but the man’s legs were no longer in a perfect inverted ‘V’… The picture is further held together by two triangles (or one quadrilateral) formed by the man and the two orange-red bands above him on the building and the orange net at the bottom left.

If William Eggleston can do pictures with their composition based on the confederate flag, I can take a picture composed like a saltire. Particularly when I’m in Glasgow. The greenish-blue of the building, the sky and its reflection in the puddles along with the green of the leaves contrast strongly with the red of the no entry sign.

The sight-lines of the woman at the bottom left and the man taking up the whole of the right side of the frame all point in towards the woman in the red coat, with the colour hopefully stopping the tall man in the hat being the sole focus of the picture.

All pictures taken with a Fujifilm X-100s apart from Fig 3 which was taken with my Nikon D50 and a Nikkor 24mm 1:28 lens. All editing on the main images done in Adobe Lightroom 5.

More general thoughts on these pictures and how they relate to my reading will be contained in the next post.

in today’s guardian

The Guardian, 14/10/2014 (either Jerome Daly/AP or John Moore/Getty Images - the paper doesn't say)

The Guardian, 14/10/2014 (either Jerome Daly/AP or John Moore/Getty Images – the paper doesn’t say)

When I saw this on the front of today’s G2, against a black background rather than the white here, I thought this was a splendid photograph; 14 hours after I first looked at it, sat on the tube, somewhere between Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale, I still do. Continue reading