Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Colour: Project - Colour relationships

Exercise: Colour relationships

Aim:  This exercise is in two parts.  Firstly three images expressing the primary colours with their complementary  secondary colours using the specific ratios suggested by Von Goethe and secondly three images of alternative colour combinations that appeal with an explanation of why.

Approach and results:

I found that my attraction to colour was not always down to the colour itself.  In previous ‘points’ exercises it has been necessary to view the shots in black and white to ensure that the colour was not influencing the points in the frame.  I found the reverse in this exercise; I had to dismiss the object and think about the colour.  So a blossom tree that looked spectacular because of it's scale was not necessarily a good subject when you just think about the colour.

Red:Green - ratio 1:1.  This shot was side lit to avoid any shadows and to keep the red background from reflecting the flash.  The red has varying tones that follow the same lines as the leaf.  The green has the greatest tonal range giving the leaf more depth and making it stand out more.  The ratio of 1:1 only works if the colours are of the same brightness but also the subject influences how the eye sees the picture.  In this picture the red is the background and not a specific object vying for dominance with the leaf.   

Orange:Blue - ratio 1:2.  This shot was taken early afternoon when the light was fairly neutral.  I would normally have taken the roof line further up to the corner but this would have changed the colour ratios giving me too much blue.  I like the bold blocks of colour and simple lines.  Again there is a range of tones from the softer blue sky through to the deep blue of the shadows on the wall and the more vivid orange of the door.

Yellow:Violet - ratio 1:3.  Finding violet and yellow was quite a difficult task.  It is not a popular combination in the urban environment.  I created this shot by picking the yellow flower and placing it in the shot whilst trying to keep it looking natural.  I feel that nature makes a better job of violet and yellow combinations that don't appear as pleasing or complimentary in the urban environment.

Green:Orange - ratio 4:1.  These colours are offset on the colour wheel and are therefore not obviously complimentary.  The orange is brighter and stronger than the green and provides a series of points of interest, drawing the attention of the eye.  It is definately the colour that makes this image.  If you picture it in black and white it becomes a collection of flowers and leaves that makes the viewer wonder why the shot was taken. 

Red:Orange - ratio 5:1.  There are many shades of red in this image so judging the ratio is not so easy.  These colours are next to each other on the colour wheel and both on the 'warm' side.  This creates a rich, warm, almost glowing image.

Violet:Red - 2:1.  These colours are next to each other on the colour wheel but fall on different sides, warm (red) and cool (violet).  The red is bright and vibrant so I chose to make it smaller.  The violet would have been overpowered and insignificant otherwise.  The overall result is still a warm image as the firey red is enhanced by the rich violet.

Learning points:  I find the 'supposed' complimentary colour combinations less interesting or appealing than those that create a warm or cool image.  I also prefer the offset combinations that create tension in an image.
It is important to take into account the significance of the subject when identifying colour; is it the colour or the subject that attracts?  I was completing this exercise whilst blossom trees were out but if the same colours were shown to me in say a handful of sweets would I be drawn to them in the same way? – I doubt it!
The ratios are a guideline and only work for the average brightness.  A very dark green against a bright red would not warrant a 1:1 ratio.
The colour reproduction on the blog is, as ever, not faithful.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Colour: Project - Building a library of colours

Exercise: Primary and secondary colours

Aim:  The aim of this exercise is to take images dominated by a single colour from the colour wheel, vary the exposure (over and under) and then select which is the closest match to the colour wheel.

Approach and results:

The exercise suggests changing the aperture to get the different over/under exposure.  When taking pictures where a colour fills the frame you are usually close or zooming in.  Either way you will generally have a fairly shallow depth of field.  Altering the aperture rather than the shutter has a more noticeable effect on the image.  I altered the shutter for the violet pansies as I was so close that the depth of field would be lost.  I was working with a shallow depth of field anyway as I needed to capture the flowers without motion blur created by the breeze.

Metering – the evaluative meter is ok if the colour fills the frame.  If the colour fills part or even the majority then the spot meter is better, especially if the other elements in the frame are of a distinct difference in brightness as the evaluative metering starts to compensate.  The orange tulips are an example of this.

 The results varied due to the metering on the camera and shrinking the images for the blog has made many of them look the same.  My preferences are as follows;

Yellow - overexposed.  This was closest to the real thing.  The large area of yellow (naturally bright) has caused the camera to underexpose.
Orange - correct exposure.  Over exposure produced false colour.  Under exposure lost the original brightness.
Violet - Underexposed - To keep the depth of colour the underexposed shot was most accurate.
Red - Overexposed.  Here the camera has compensated for the bright tomatoes and bright background by under exposing.
Green - Correct exposure.  A wide range of greens and more varied brightness has resulted in an even exposure.
Blue - Underexposed.  As a transparent subject with quite a lot of white reflections this looked more accurate underexposing, keeping the depth of colour.

The main learning point is that the brightness of the colour determines how the scene is metered and this needs to be taken into acount when taking the final shot.  I have experienced this when shooting in woodland and finding the camera wants to brighten the scene all the time.  I generallt need to underexpose to recreate darker scenes.

Interestingly it is the brighter colours from the colour wheel that benefitted more from overexposing to maintain the brightness and the darker colours that benefitted more from under exposing to keep the original depth of colour.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Colour: Project - Colour relationships

Exercise: Colours into tones in black and white

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to show how black and white tones can be controlled by the use of coloured filters.

Approach and results:

I chose to use jpeg images in Photoshop so that I could alter the colour sliders or select the preset filter options.  Having ‘played’ with the sliders I then chose to use the set filters for the exercise as these presumably represent existing filter standards?  It is interesting to note that in replicating the filters, Photoshop did not just boost the chosen colour.  Taking blue as an example, reds, greens and yellows were reduced whilst cyans, blues and magentas were raised.  I expected some levels to be reduced in compensation but wasn’t sure which ones.  It would be an interesting comparison to do the exercise with the camera set to black and white with coloured filters on it.

I spot metered on the grey card and lit the still life with a single wireless flash and softbox.  As this was a technical exercise I didn’t spend too much time on composition, choosing to concentrate on the colour.  However, I chose flash as my test shots using daylight were dull, rather flat and unevenly lit.  Flash gave even lighting, vivid colour and depth.

The web images below are not entirely representative of the results.  They are all darker than the originals.  This is something I find continually when using the blogging software.

The most dramatic effect was made using the blue filter.  Applying the blue filter made the blue towel much brighter but turned everything else almost black.  I'm assuming the reason for this is that there is no blue in any of the other objects.  The other filters are not as dramatic because the objects contain a range of overlapping colours and shades.  There was very little difference between the red and yellow filters.  Yellow made the red pepper and the flowers slightly brighter than the red filter.  The green filter brought the brightness of the green pepper closer to that of the red pepper giving it equal emphasis in the frame.

Altering colours using Photoshop in the past I have found any particular colour can have a range of other colours that are not obviously visible.  For example there is usually a lot of yellow in a green landscape so adjusting green does not have as dramatic an effect as adjusting yellow.

The grey card remained consistant except for the blue filter.  There is an element of blue making up the grey in the image.  I zoomed in to pixel level on the grey card and there are faint hints of blue that will have been affected by the filter.



Blue filter

Green filter

Red filter

Yellow filter

Learning points:
It was useful to note what changes Photoshop used as defaults for different filters.
It was also useful to learn how I could control the tones of any of the colours in the image altering the viewers focus on the different objects in the frame.
You can narrow the bands of colour controlled by the sliders in Photoshop if you wish to be very specific e.g. raising the orange slider can affect the red and yellow depending on how close they are to the orange.