Saturday, 31 December 2011

Self Assessment and Reflections on Assignment 3

This has been a hard section for me - not because the subject of colour is itself difficult but because I aimed too high too soon. In my minds eye there was a cohesive set of colour images around a theme or in a particular style for this assignment.  

My first set of images were completed within the time line suggested by my tutor but were boring. Most were staged with items of the required colour placed before another colour. Not very creative, not very difficult but would have met the brief. That's not the way I intend to complete this course by taking the easy option. To get the most out of this learning opportunity I need to improve both my camera skills and creativity - even if that means the course overall takes longer. 

The second set of images are now 6 months late. I'm still not entirely happy with them, by that I mean there is always room for improvement, but they at least demonstrate that I understand Von Goethe's colour theory and can use it -  although in some cases I have chosen to ignore it if I think it improves the image. (Not sure how that will be received by my tutor when it comes to marking but I'll find out soon enough)

Some of the most important learning points for me relating to colour are:
  • Colours provoke a psychological effect, a feeling, an emotion. They are a very powerful non verbal language which we react to subjectively, depending on our experiences, but which are largely instinctive.
  • Colours convey different meanings to different cultures but some colour effects have universal meaning e.g. Blue = cool.
  • Colours are also known to have a physical reaction. E.g. when surrounded by the colour yellow a person feels more optimistic because the brain releases the chemical serotonin.
  • There are prescribed relationships in colour and ways of combining them that are acceptable to the viewer therefore personal expression in the use of colour demands creativity.
  • Generally there is more of a sense of movement in an image with contrasting colours and accents than there is with similar or complimentary colours. A colour accent acts in the same way as a small object stands out clearly from the background to create a point of interest.   
In working through this section of the course I have learnt how to better use colour as a tool in composition and to be far more self critical of my work. Perhaps in this case too self critical. I have given myself until the 7th January to complete the write up and post the completed assignment to my tutor. On reflection I need to accept that an assignment may never be perfect, (One of my worst faults is that I am a perfectionist) and that only completing the work to the best of my abilities at the time is not the same as failure.

Colour Contrasts - Red and Blue

Colour Contrasts - Red and Blue

Both of these images show a red/blue colour combination but are markedly different in style.

Image 1 - Trawlers at Pittenweem
ISO 125, shutter speed 1/100 at f/11
Both the blue and red are powerful colours in this image which has been cropped tightly to remove any distracting elements and ensure that the colours are the dominant features. In this instance the image was underexposed by 0.3 stop to increase the colour saturation.

Image 2 - Poppies
ISO 100, shutter speed 1/320sec at f/8
In order to balance the deeply saturated red with the paler blue in this image the blue needs to occupy a larger proportion of the frame. This has been achieved by using a low viewpoint when taking the image to increase the area of sky. In hindsight the saturation of the blue could have been increased by using a polarising filter to increase it's depth further.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Colour Relationships and Orange

The next few images show colour combinations including orange.

Image 1 - Walking In The Rain
Similar Colours

ISO 400, shutter speed 1/100 sec at f/5
 The harmonious colour combination of yellow and orange is demonstrated here. The yellow is created by the fluorescent indoor lighting. The passer by with orange umbrella provides a focal point in the image . The juxtaposition between the actual cold wet weather conditions and the usual association of warmth and bright sunny days with these colours adds an extra element to the image.

Image 2
Colour Contrast

ISO 400, shutter speed 1/400sec at f/14
 This is an example of contrasting colours in an orange and green combination. The colours of the fishing nets being repeated on the old harbour masters house.

Theoretically there is too much orange in the frame to qualify as a contrasting colour combination and likewise there is too much green for the colour to qualify as an accent. Despite this I think the colour contrast is demonstrated well. The orange is eye catching and energetic immediately grabbing our attention.

Both colours in the foreground being repeated on the house helps to add depth to the image.

Image 3
Colour Accent

ISO 125, shutter speed 1/100sec at f/9
This image could have been cropped to show only one orange buoy which would have created an image with the colour ratios nearer to the prescribed "ideal". However I find the image more interesting with the 3 orange elements. Cropping would also have removed the darker area in the top left corner or the rope detail at the bottom right corner.

Image 4
Complimentary Colours

ISO 100, shutter speed 1/250sec at f/7.1
Generally it is suggested that there is more of a sense of movement in an image with contrasting colours and accents that there is with complimentary colours.

In this image however, despite being complimentary colours, there is a strong sense of movement between the orange and blue. There is tension in the image because the proportion of each colour is approx 50/50.

Because orange is a brighter colour than blue a 50/50 split creates a sense of imbalance. Orange being the brighter colour attracts the eye first which then travels to the blue but soon travels back to the dominant orange. Took me a few minutes to sort that one out in my head  - 50/50 = imbalance - but i got there in the end....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Colour Relationships and Violet

The following 3 images show examples of colour combinations including violet.

In J.W. Von Goethe's theory of colour ratio's and brightness both blue and violet have relatively low values. Blue 4 and violet 3. They are also adjacent to each other in the colour wheel and are therefore similar colours. Blue is a cool colour but as violet sits next to both blue and red in the colour wheel it can add a warming effect to an image.

Colours are subjective and violet is one of the hardest colours to identify.

Image 1 - Ice Dancers
Similar Colours

ISO 400, shutter speed 1/30sec at f/5.6
The blue/violet colour combination is created by stage lighting in this image.

Image 2 - Blue Flowers
Similar Colours

ISO 100, shutter speed 1/125sec at f/5.7
This second image also demonstrates the similar colours of blue and violet but with a slighter higher proportion of blue creating a cooler effect. During the course of this Assignment I have come across the work of both Peter Turner and Ernst Haas and have experimented here with an interpretation of their blurred style.

Many of the images by both of these photographers use motion or blur to remove the fine detail from their images leaving only a suggestion of the subject and the intensity of the colours. E.g. in Pete Turner's - Taxi Central Park, 1957 image or Ernst Haas - Regatta, California 1957. In my own interpretation I have resisted removing too much detail, particularly as I am unsure how these would be accepted as part of the Assignment. However it is a project I would like to follow up on at a later date.

This is one of my favourite images for Assignment 3. I particularly like how the subject matter is the colours themselves and the striking relationship between the blue and violet.

Image 3 - Purple Cabbage Flower
Contrasting Colours

ISO 450, shutter speed 1/30sec at f/1.8
This is an example of contrasting colours in a green and violet combination. Both the violet and green are similar in that neither colour is shown in a pure hue. The violet errs towards magenta and the green towards yellow. In order for the image to balance according to the "rules" the proportion of violet should be twice that of the green. Proportionally I think this image demonstrates less green than it should to be "correct" according to the rules but it still makes a pleasing image demonstrating contrasting colours and is a good example of how the rules can be broken to effect.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Assignment 3 - second time round.

Colour Relationships
Having re-worked this Assignment I have now completed some of the required images. The first three here demonstrate the relationship between green and red. These two colours are complementary colours as they are opposite each other in the colour wheel. In order to produce a sense of harmony in an image the ratio of red must equal that of the green. Any more or less of either colour creates a colour accent.

Image 1 - Field of Poppies
Complementary Colour Combination

ISO 100, shutter speed 1/250sec at f/8

Despite the hues of the greens being relatively pale compared to that of the red, the combination here works well because the reds are scattered throughout the whole image.

Image 2 - Jelly Babies
Colour Accent

ISO 100, shutter speed 1/320sec  at f/9
The ratio of red to green is totally out of balance producing an image demonstrating colour accent.

Image 3 - Lost Trainer
Colour Accent

ISO 100, shutter speed 1/250sec at f/5.3
In lots of ways this image breaks the rules. The trainer is very nearly central in the image and so breaks the rule of thirds and proportionally the ratio of red to green is closer than you would expect for a colour accent.

In this instance the image shows a scene exactly as I found it in the street. I resisted the urge to tamper with the trainer and change the composition. I think the combination works as the red is scattered throughout the image and this carries your eye to various areas giving the impression of more red than there actually is, while the green demands attention creating the accent.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Thank You.

I'd like to say a big Thank You to my fellow students at the OCA who have provided support and encouragement recently whilst I have struggled for what feels like forever with Assignment 3. The good news is that it is progressing slowly. 

That's not all the good news either- earlier this month I received notification that my image "Winter Pavilion" has been accept for the Dingwall 2011 Exhibition. As this is the first time I have entered an image into an external competition I am chuffed to bits.

Winter Pavilion

Although I've never considered giving up the course I definitely needed to lay it aside for a couple of weeks to give my brain a rest. I don't recommend concentrating on the same topic for so long - it would seem I  have encountered the same problem as with Assignment 1 in being overly self critical. That's not to say I haven't been out taking photographs though.

Earlier this week I paid a visit to the Mcmanus Gallery in Dundee where there is currently an exhibition of photographs by Cecil Beaton. These are mainly black and white portraits of the Queen taken through the years. It's an interesting exhibition and I would recommend it especially to anyone studying portrait photography. I don't suppose you photograph the Queen without giving it some thought but I was amazed at the amount of work that went into hand painting the elaborate backdrops and time spent planning costumes in extraordinary detail.

Another reason for my visit is that the gallery itself has been refurbished and is a lovely mix of old and new architecture.

There are two spiral staircases in the building. The original has mosaic tiles, wrought iron rails and flagstone treads which are nicely illuminated and the new stairway looks like a steel and concrete structure. No prizes for guessing which I prefer..although both are beautiful in their own way.

Spiral Stairway - original
New  Stairway
At the corner of the new staircase there is an art installation which reminded me that I should be taking pictures for Assignment 3 - colour.

Artful Recycling
This artwork seems to be made up of waste disinfectant bottles - there was definitely some "toilet duck" in there. It's a very original and colourful use of materials.

It's just a pity it wasn't two tone -  then I could have used it for my Assignment!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Colours into tones in black & white

Exercise - 4 photographs

This is the final exercise before the colour assignment in part 3 of the course and looks at the effect colour filters have on black and white image processing. Coloured filters are a creative tool that photographers have been using for many years with film cameras. These days it's much easier to get the same effect in Photoshop post capture. 

This exercise involves taking a straight forward image containing the colours red, green, yellow, blue and neutral grey. The image is converted to black and white and the effect on each colour is compared when a coloured filter is applied. My understanding is that a coloured filter will let it's own colour light through but block it's complementary colour light. E.g. a red filter will allow red light to pass through and therefore appear very light but will block it's complementary green light which will therefore appear very dark in a monochrome image. The strength of the colour filter will also have an effect on the image e.g. a yellow filter will have a stronger effect than a light yellow filter.

My only previous experience of using this technique is when taking landscape images in black and white and applying a red filter effect post capture in Photoshop to darken the sky as in the image below.

Tay Road Bridge Footpath
Filters can also be used in portrait photography to adjust skin tones.

These first two images show the before and after in a straight forward conversion to black and white with no colour filters applied.

These next two images have a yellow and blue filter applied respectively.

Yellow Filter
  • allows yellow light to pass through so it appears very light in tone
  • blocks blue light so it appears a much darker tone
Looking at the results above it would also appear to allow some red light to pass through as this is also lighter than the default image and has a slight darkening effect on green light.

According to the course notes a coloured filter will lighten any object of the same colour and darken the tone of the others. However the image using the yellow filter definitely shows the red object lighter than the default image.

Blue Filter
  • allows blue light to pass through lightening the tone
  • blocks yellow light so it appears much darker in tone
 In the image above the blue filter has little effect on the green area but the red area also appears darker.

The next two images show the effect of the green and red filters respectively.

 Green Filter
  • allows green light to pass through lightening the area
  • blocks red light making it appear darker
Surprisingly the most noticeable and strongest effect on this image appears to be with the yellow when it should be with the red. The yellow is much lighter than the red. The green area appears only slightly lighter than the default image.

Red Filter
  • lightens red in tone
  • blocks green light making it appear darker
Both the blue and yellow areas have also been quite strongly affected in this case.

As the results are not as I anticipated or suggested by the course notes I'm wondering if the initial default conversion in Photoshop has applied some changes in the colour range that have altered the expected outcome. There is no doubt the the original colours are red, green, yellow and blue. My understanding is that the only area that should have remained unchanged throughout the series is the mid grey colour which is unaffected by the coloured filters and that all the other colour changes are predictable.

Regardless of the results here I now have a better understanding of the effects created by the use of coloured filters and how they can be used in black and white photography. They are a useful tool that can be used to suppress or highlight areas of an image when converting to monochrome.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Colour Relationships. Part 2

Exercise - 3 or 4 photographs

For this exercise I have to produce 3 or 4 images with colour combinations that appeal to me and don't necessarily follow the rules of colour relationships.

This first image was taken at the Railway Museum in York and is an abstract shot showing the reflection of a car on an old railway engine.

Red and yellow when combined in an image are contrasting and create an element of tension. In this case the red is not a pure hue but more a deep, dense burgundy colour. Likewise the yellow is not a brilliant, bright yellow but slightly darker. The proportion of each colour within the image helps this combination work.

The relative brightness of the yellow reflection, although occupying a smaller area, draws your eye and brings the reflection to the foreground. Whereas the deeper, heavier red acts as a solid background.

This second image to me just says summer. The bright sunshine makes the image feel warm even though the colours are essentially cool. The fresh green leaves and peaceful garden bench in the shade suggest a quiet place to rest on a hot summers day.

St Andrews Botanical Gardens
In contrast to the first image, I like how this image makes me feel rather than just the colours for their own sake.

The Gyles - Pittenweem, Fife

According to Von Goethe's theory on colour values blue has a value of 4 and orange a value of 8 therefore in order for the image above to be harmonious there should be twice the area of blue to orange to balance the scene. This isn't the case but the addition of the neural fawn area of stonework breaks up the two areas of orange which reduces their overall intensity and the green accents help to direct the viewers gaze away from the blocks of colour and create a pleasing image.

Colour Relationships - Part 1

Exercise - 3 photographs

A complementary colour is one which is directly opposite the other in the RYB colour wheel.

The theory of colour continues with each colour being assigned a value dependant on it's relative brightness. This theory was first suggested by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, a theoretical physicist and writer, in 1810 when he assigned the following values to colours.
  • yellow 9
  • orange 8
  • red 6
  • green 6
  • blue 4
  • violet 3
 In order to combine colour harmoniously within an image the ratio of each colour should adhere to these values.

This exercise is to produce one photograph for each combination of primary and secondary colours as close as possible to the proportions suggested by J.W. Von Goethe. So the 3 images should be:
  • Red/Green 1:1 - red and green have equal values
  • Orange/Blue 1:2 - orange is twice as bright as blue
  • Yellow/Violet 1:3 -  yellow is three times as bright as violet

Field of poppies
The image above demonstrates the use of a red/green colour combination in a balanced ratio. It would be easy for the red to overpower the green in this image as the green has a more subtle, less bright hue. The fact that the red is scattered intermittently throughout the image helps to balance the interaction between the two.


Aperture Priority f/11, 1/4sec at ISO100
 This image has orange and blue in combination and is framed and cropped quite radically to a more abstract image. The lighting has created shadows and areas of increased/decreased saturation. Despite the crop the area of blue is proportionally still too large to meet the correct ratio. I feel this image is more blue with an orange accent.

This image below is more in proportion.

Taken at f/11, 1/250sec, ISO100


This has been the hardest colour combination for me to capture. I can't think of too many everyday areas where I have seen this colour combination except for in flowers, the most obvious being pansies or violas.
I took this image of a violet clematis flower in the garden.

Initially I tried to compose the image in camera to the required ratio by moving in closer or changing focal length etc but was unable to produce an image that met the brief. I then resorted to post processing in Photoshop to crop the image to the suggested proportions.

 This has resulted in quite a severe crop and a more abstract image which, although it applies the "rules" of colour relationships, is not very interesting. My feeling is that if you hadn't seen the original image before it was cropped you might struggle to recognise the subject. 

Whilst I've been working on this exercise I have realised that some colour combinations are much easier to find than others and that I tend to work instinctively when combining colours. The resulting images don't always conform to the rules here. Sometimes they work and make a great picture and sometimes they don't.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Assignment 3 - in the bin!

I have decided that my work on Assignment 3 is a disaster and have just deleted the folder from the OCA website. Has anyone else ever done that?

As I've said before I'm really not enjoying  this part of the course. Can't quite decide why. It's not that I don't like taking colourful images. 90% of my photographs must be in colour.

Planning for this Assignment earlier this month I made a decision to use images that were authentic situations. By that I mean not constructing situations to fit the brief. e.g. no red shoes on green grass but perhaps red poppies in a field of green. However having done just that I find the images are really dull and just as contrived. The blast of colour I was hoping to achieve is just not there and so the images have been consigned to the dustbin.

I hope that was a brave move rather than a stupid one. I am a bit of a perfectionist at the best of times but I think I would have been selling myself short if I had sent in the Assignment as it was. I may be making a terrible mistake but my gut instinct is that the images were boring and predictable. Of the 16 images I think there is only 1 that I will retain and that is this one - of a blue /violet colour combination.

Of the images produced this was always my favourite. It is an image that shows the colour as the subject. Now I have to produce another 15 from scratch and worse still tell my tutor that Assignment 3 is still a few weeks off completion.

Where have I been?

It's been a good three weeks or more since my last post and I'm finding it a bit challenging to pick up the thread of the course again. I consciously took a few weeks off for a family holiday in Rhodes but had intended to get straight back into completing Assignment 3 as soon as I got back.

Oh how my tutor, Geoff, must be sick of my missed deadlines.

In my defence, or by way of an explanation, I have been heavily involved in exhibiting as part of The St Andrews Photographers at the Pittenweem Arts Festival held in Fife.
130 artists ranging from crafters to invited international guest exhibitors take part to display and sell their work.

Photographic prints of the East Neuk of Fife sell particularly well to the overseas visitors and having sold a few myself this week I can now subsidise the cost of my next course with the OCA - providing I ever finish this one.

At Pittenweem this year the pier was decorated with amazing scrap metal sculptures created by Helen Denerley from Aberdeenshire. The Amur leopard was a favourite along with a huge reptile sculpture about 6 feet long.



In contrast this sculpture of a baby bird was only 2" tall.

Baby bird

Also this month is very busy with trips to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where I love taking photographs of the performing artists. It's a great venue to practice street photography and portraits as the performers are more than happy to have their photograph taken. With so many other photographers jostling for the same picture you have to be ready for anything and its a great place for me to perfect my camera skills.

But much gear do you need?

Last year I was disappointed with the images I took at the Fringe. Portraits were underexposed and the compositions were messy. This year I attended the Fringe with a friend who is a professional wedding photographer. I used fill in flash for all my portraits and paid more attention to what was going on at the edges of the frame. Anyone doing the OCA People & Places course would find the festival a wealth of material.

This is Elaine - the worlds most pierced lady who "performs" at the Fringe -

and a few other performers.

Korean Girl
Love your Legs

Diamond Dick
I particularly like this image of "Diamond Dick". The main character is well framed and in sharp focus with enough visual clues in the image to suggest who he is or what he's promoting. The second character is also well framed but the shallow depth indicates this character is a less important part of the image. The image is straight from the camera with no cropping etc. This time last year I wouldn't have been able capture this image in camera or frame and compose it so quickly. 

I'm making another trip to Edinburgh tomorrow and although I may not be doing any of the colour exercises required as part of my course there I am at least practising and hopefully improving my photography. I might even see some of you there....

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Show RCA 2011

SHOW RCA 2011 - Battersea
I was lucky enough this week to be invited to both preview shows of the Royal College of Art graduate students exhibition in London which presents the work of 431 post graduate art and design students.

The first show was Show Battersea and included work by students of Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture. The RCA alumni reads lie a who's who of the most famous and recognisable names in art, fashion and design. E.g. Henry Moore, David, Hockney, Tracey Emin, James Dyson and Ossie Clark to name just a few.

It was a real privilege to be viewing the students work prior to the official opening to the public and as the students themselves were present, a great opportunity to gain some insight into their work. With the Show Battersea including the degree show for students of photography this was also a great chance for me to see degree level work first hand. With so much new and exciting work on display I have selected just a few artists work which I found particularly interesting to discuss here.

Annett Reimer is a photographer who attained an MA at the RCA this year and had on display a series of images which showed herself as a self portrait in various landscapes. Described on her website:

 "Reimer’s main practice explores the relationship between body, femininity and domesticity. Throughout her work she is making use of her own female body as both the subject and the object of her imagery. In a performative way she is using personal locations where the normality is constantly challenged through playful interactions with the space"

In the series of images "Self-portrait in Landscape :1" I particularly like "Magnarps Strand, Sweden" which  is a great study of shape and form. Looking at her website I also particularly enjoyed her more surreal images eg. "THE UNHOMELY STAGE 1-5" which have great precision in their execution.

Another photographers work I particularly enjoyed was that of Nadege Meriau who was showing work which appeared to be some sort of landscape but on closer inspection turned out to be close up images of the inside of fruit and bread. Her images in the series "Intimate Architecture" called "Grotto" and "Post Ocular" are two fabulous examples. Close up images of a pumpkin and watermelon photographed in such a way that they appear to be cavernous structures. She states her practice

"investigates whether it is possible to create images that are immediate and immersive at the same time; close-ups that are also landscapes, sculptural forms that are also spaces that the viewer can dwell in."

You can see more of her work at

 David Pringle who is a sculpture student used a series of 24 rotating Kodak slide projectors in his installation. The projectors were running simultaneously with random photographic images overlaid on a blank wall. Each image was displayed for only a few seconds and the random rotation of the projectors meant that each image was unique. This piece of work really inspired. Occasionally in the sequence you wanted to say "stop" let me look at that again. The mechanics of the process also meant that there was a rhythmic click - clack noise as 24 slides were moved on in each of the 24 projectors. My husband thought it was a bit of a racket but I thought it was quite rhythmic almost musical. Unfortunately David didn't have a website address in any of the literature that I can refer you to so that you can view his work for yourself.

All in all a very enjoyable day. Not all the exhibits were to my taste. Some of the work I just didn't understand but could still appreciate for it's inventiveness or the painstaking work involved in creating it. There was no great chasm of difference in technical ability between these photographers and myself which was reassuring but where the difference lay was in their creative thinking and inventiveness.  

Anyone interested can view a selection of the work on the RCA website at

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Primary and Secondary Colours

Exercise - 18 photographs

The purpose of this exercise is to build a colour library of images that reflects the 3 primary and 3 secondary colours of the colour wheel that is provided by the course. To do this, images are taken of objects/scenes that are predominately one colour and are adjusted by changing the camera exposure which changes the appearance of the colour.

Setting my camera on a tripod I took these images in either Manual or Aperture Priority mode adjusting the exposure by dialling in exposure compensation or changing the camera shutter speed. Each item was photographed so that the colour filled the frame. The provided copy of the colour wheel below was used to find the closest colour match in each case. I say the "provided copy" of the colour wheel as the colours shown here are not an exact match and this opens up a whole can of worms about colour calibration of monitors, camera colour space etc which I am going to ignore meantime but will return to later.

In preparation for this exercise I made a list of items that could possibly be photographed for each colour. Subjects for the colours red, green, yellow and orange were numerous. Blue and violet were more difficult and I was expecting violet to be the most difficult colour to reproduce. I'm sure that an important part of this exercise is realising that there is a huge variety of each colour available. Bearing this in mind matching hues is subjective but learning how to manipulate colours in an image is a skill that can be learnt.

Primary Colours

Is an energetic colour conveying heat, passion and danger on an emotional level. When you first look at the red in the colour wheel it appears to have a slight orange cast. However this disappears when you view the red in isolation.
The closest match is the middle image and you can clearly see how the colour saturation changes as the exposure is adjusted - from light- appearing less saturated to darker- appearing more saturated.


Again the middle image is the closest match. However the yellow in this case has been affected by the green stems within the frame which has resulted in a colour cast on the yellow. This becomes more noticeable as the image becomes less well exposed.

Is a cool, passive colour and according to Michael Freeman in "The Photographer's Eye" the easiest colour to find due to the sky's reflections. This is surprising because for me it was the hardest colour to find and in order to get the correct shade of blue the image has been quite markedly underexposed. This is the only colour that I had to buy i.e use a man-made object. For all the other colours I used natural objects e.g. fruit, flowers etc.

Secondary Colours

A warm vibrant colour. Like red an energetic, active colour.
The middle image is the closest colour match in this set of three.

Is regarded as the colour of nature and there are so many variations of green in nature that it is unsurprisingly relatively easy to find green objects to photograph. After a few attempts I am happy that the middle green pepper is the closest match to the colour wheel.

Like blue, violet is a cool, passive colour.

In this instance the closest colour match is the underexposed violet in the third image.

Adjusting exposure to alter the colours in an image is not something I had previously considered. Not intentionally anyway. I think it's one of those things, like a few others on this course, that I find I have been doing automatically without realising or giving much thought to. With digital cameras its easy to review and retake an image if you find it's not quite right. What's right or wrong is a matter of opinion and all part of developing a personal style but at least now I understand the rules.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Steep Learning Curve

Last week I got a fab new camera. Not that there was anything wrong with my existing Canon 400d but, you know how it is, it's your birthday and you agree to go halves with hubby if he'll buy you it etc. etc.

So I now have a shiny new Nikon D7000. It's great. Only downside is in changing brands from Canon to Nikon I need to learn how to use it all over again and the manual is 3 inches thick. I should have probably decided to get a new camera before I started this course not half way through but anyway I have and today I went out with some friends from the St Andrews Photographic Society to shoot portraits....something else I don't know much about.

What a day. A local model came along for the shoot and was very patient with the beginners like myself in the group. My new camera is now set up exactly as I want it and I never once had to look at the manual. I learnt a fair bit about portrait taking too which seems to have grabbed my interest at the moment.
Nicola Boyter
None of this has helped me complete the exercises for part 3 of TAOP but the upshot is I'm still very enthusiastic about the course and my minds buzzing with things I want to try and ideas for little projects. There's still so much to learn. I don't want to rush through this course and not give it my best effort but I can't wait to get it finished so I can get onto the next one. Oh dear...I think I've been bitten by the bug.........

Monday, 16 May 2011

Control The Strength of a Colour

Exercise - 5 photographs

How colour affects a photographs composition is complex. Our perception of colour is not only visual but stimulates an emotion depending on our experiences associated with that colour. Some are obvious and familiar to everyone e.g. red represents danger or heat, others may be more personal e.g. the colour of a loved grandmothers favourite flower.

Colours are also perceived differently depending on which other colours are within the same image.

The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate how the strength of a colour is affected by exposure in a photograph. Each image is taken from exactly the same position and with the same lighting. The only difference between the images is that the camera settings have been adjusted to change the exposure. In this instance the increments are from 1 stop over exposed to 1 stop under exposed. The middle image has the average metered reading.

1 stop over exposed
0.3 stop over exposed
Average exposure setting
0.3 stop under exposed
1 stop under exposed
Even with the exposure settings changed in each image the hue remains the same. The colour is still green.

What has changed is how bright or light the colour appears. The more over exposed the image the lighter the colour and the more under exposed the darker the colour. The brightness also affects how saturated the colour appears. Underexposure gives a deeper saturation to the colour and vise versa.

The teaching manual goes on to ask which of the three colour qualities of hue, saturation and brilliance you can change at the time of shooting without moving the object or changing the light falling on it?
Well, if I understand the colour theory correctly, all three can be adjusted. Brilliance and how saturated a colour appears can be changed by altering the exposure of an image, whilst a colours hue can be altered by changing  the white balance in camera on a digital camera or by using coloured filters on a film camera.