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.

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