Saturday, 29 January 2011

Reading Prior to Beginning Part 3 Colour

Reading done from Key Resource - Basic Colour Theory

"Colour can evoke particularly strong responses, both physically and emotionally"

The Colour Circle

Notes from Basic Colour Theory

Colour works on three levels
  1. Visual - Objective, immediately obvious
  2. Expressive - The emotional level, evoking sensations that are often subjective and non-visual
  3. Symbolic - The cultural level, where certain colours and combinations are associated with things that we have been brought up with 
Photography can rearrange colour in an image by changing view point, different framing, moving subjects, altering the lighting, careful choice of filters.

The qualities of colour;

Hue - The primary quality of a colour

Brilliance - Lightness or darkness of a colour, the colour remains pure and unadulterated

Saturation - Variation in the purity of colour

Primary Colours

Yellow - Radiate Light.  Vigorous and sharp, the opposite of placid and restful

Blue - Recedes visually, a quiet colour, cool.  Associated with intangibility and passiveness.  Suggests withdrawn reflective mood.

Red - Contrasts to the qualities of blue kit is the most insistent and powerful colours, that demands attention.  When set against cooler colours it is advanced towards the viewer.  It has Kinetic energy.  In contrast to luminosity of yellow, red is dense and solid.

Secondary Colours

Orange - Mix of yellow and red, absorbs qualities of both/  Brilliant and powerful, associate with radiation/  When light tends towards beige.  Dark, towards brown. A neutral warmth.

Violet - Mix of red and blue. Most elusive of colour which people have difficulty in distinguishing pure in pure form.  Pure violet is the darkest colour, lighter is lavender, when dark confused with dark blue and if reddish tends towards purple and magenta.  It has rich and scrumptious associations and creates mystery and immensity

Green - Most visible of colours to the human eye.  Colour of growth associations with youth.

Broken Colours
Most colours are seen as broken: a mixtures of hues that gives a deadened, unsaturated effect.

Subtle Palette
Rewarding to work with as they have a great variety of subtle effects.  Whereas broken colours are much narrower.

Natural Colours
Visual unity to sets of images based around a common theme

Interference Colours
A colour created by the interaction of light rays passing through or reflecting off it.  Oil or fuels slicks that give a rainbow effect or mother of pearl or moons stones that can change colour when the light hits them.  (An interesting concept for the forthcoming assignment as these are a real favorite jewellery of mine)

Black & White
Lack hue, the neutral shades of black, grey and white are essential components of colour photography.  Existing as counterparts and setting for the colours as just discussed, mixed in varying degrees to make adulterated browns, slates and other subdued colours.

Produced as the maximum density on film and paper, DMax as it is known.  Black can never be too dense.  Over exposure, fogging or altered processing will create a weakness in the DMax.

Has the absence of tone whatsoever.  It needs care of exposure in photography. Slight underexposure makes it appear muddy, slight overexposure destroys the hits of detail and produces a washed out effect.  (White has always been the bane of my photography, especially when photographing scooters.  I have not understood why until now)

Blending Colours
Each colour has an intrinsic brightness, so complete balance is required to see the combinations in certain proportions, this is further complicated in photography by the details in texture, shape and so on.  The colour in photographs in enmeshed in the structure of the shape.

Basic Colour Combinations
The complimentary for each primary colour is a secondary.  However we have already seen the differences in brightness amongst all these six colours.  In descending order, the generally accepted light values, determined by Goethe, the German poet, playwright and amateur scientist 
yellow 9, orange 8, red and green 6, blue 4 and violet 3.  The brightness and darkness of the hue affects these values.

Goethe observed that colour arises at the edges, and that spectrum occurs when these colours overlap.  At this point in time I do not totally understand this in respect of photography.

Intuitive use of Colour
To create harmony in a photograph, balance of colours is sufficient.  It is the only method which allows an imaginative approach The principles should not be neglected, but are for preparation only.

Red/Green Harmony
Red and green have the same luminosity, and so combiner harmoniously in equal proportions, but this presupposes that both colours are pure and exact, and this rarely happens.

Red and green produce a special colour effect known as vibration.  The edge between the two colours seems unstable, but if you look at it long enough you can see a dark and light fringe.  This optical vibrancy makes the combination difficult to look at for a long time, and even becomes irritating.

Interesting link to opticians eye examinations.

Nevertheless, the effect is catching and dramatic.  Changing the proportions weakens the harmony.  However, when the balance is extreme, the smaller colour acquires extra energy.

Orange is twice as luminous as blue, so the best balance is twice the area in a picture.  Compared to the above combination, this makes for less optical confusion about which colour is the background.  It also drastically reduces the vibration, so the orange and blue combination is generally more comfortable to look at.

The 3rd complimentary pair combines the brightest and darkest of hues.  As so the contrast is extreme and balanced proportions need to be 1:3, with the yellow occupying only about a quarter of the image.  At these proportions, the yellow is almost the spot of a colour, and the sense of relationship between the two is correspondingly weak.

Multi-colour Combinations
White red/yellow/blue is the most powerful mix of pure hues, other unbalanced colour can have similar effects.  Pure hues fight for attention and the strongest of combination are those of 3 colours.  Excess competition can in the end dissipate contrast in the photograph.  Though pure colours can make attention grabbing shots, they do not mix to grey in the visual cortex as an unbalanced combination can do.

Strong colour combinations are short-term, straight between the eyes images. They fit well into a selection of less intense pictures as strong punctuation, but several together can quickly become a surfeit.  

I like the excess with Lomography and cross processing, so don't feel at this time that the above statement regarding colour combination is correct in what a lot of the younger generation see as appealing in a photograph.

Soft Colours
Dimishes the range of colour intensity, has an interesting effect on the eyes discrimination.  The eye takes more time in assessing the differences and relationships.Precise colours are inherently more interesting because they are less familiar.

Colour Contrast
Colour circle can be divided in half, between warm and cold, centres are blue-green and orange-red respectively. The2 poles have temperature associations, but the colours on either side depend on the context for the strength of their effect.  Green for instance, may appear cooler if contrasted with a distinctly warm colour like orange, but will generate this impressions if combined with yellow orange.

Cooler colours recede, warm advance, blue-green and neighbouring colours are associated with background and distance.  If the colour of a subject is warm, and that of its background is cool, the impressions of depth will be heightened.

Coolness and Warmth
Cool colours suggest transparency and airiness, in part any association with the blue of the sky or of atmospheric haze.  Opposite of warm colours, opacity and earthiness, are not strong associations, but exists by virtue of contrast.  Also, cool colours, blue green in  particular, suggest wetness - a natural association with water-while orange-red suggest dryness from the heat of the sun.


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