Simon Lewis

AOP Part Three

Colours Into Tones in Black and white


This was an opportunity to learn how the colour of light can easily be adjusted out of (or into) an image using either coloured filters at the time of capture, or in post production. The key here is to remember that visible white light is made up of all component colours. I remember at school (now several decades ago), making a coloured wheel in Physics. The wheel was comprised of several segments each painted with a different colour. When the wheel was spun very fast, the colours blurred until eventually no single colour could be seen. However, instead of seeing a dark brown mess, the visible colour was actually white.

In this exercise I had the chance to see the opposite effects. So when white light is changed by placing a coloured filter in front of the camera, only that colour passes through. So a green filter used in landscapes would enhance the greens, but block out or reduce other colours. Of course, one must realise that in certain situations, colours, compositions and lighting, many colours are not necessarily ‘pure’. So the red part of yellow might pass through a red filter, for example.

Nevertheless, the images below show the overall effect of how certain colours can be deliberately forced to become more or less dominant in an image by the careful use of filters.

B&W No filter Yellow filter
Left: Desaturated image. No filter used.
Right: Yellow filter. The image is altered to let the yellow light pass into the lens. Yellow here appears ‘brightest’.

Red filter Blue filter
Left: Red filter. Now the red portion of the image appears brightest. One should note that the contrasting colour (green) is now very dark.
Right: Blue filter. Blue is lightest in the image, followed by green. Yellow and red have become much darker.

Green filter
Green filter. The green portion of the image has become brightest.

Primary and Secondary Colours

1/125 f18 ISO800

The object of this exercise was to select and photograph colours that most accurately match those shown in the accompanying colour wheel. Adjusting the exposure up or down from a ‘normal’ exposure by around 2/3s of a stop certainly helped. In each of the series below I have indicated the image I feel most closely resembles the target colour required from the exercise.

DSC_2756 - Down DSC_2756 - Up - Version 2 DSC_2756 - Version 2
1st image most closely resembles the target colour

DSC_2809 DSC_2810 DSC_2808
1st image most closely resembles the target colour

DSC_2797 DSC_2795 DSC_2796
2nd image most closely resembles the target colour

DSC_2769 DSC_2767 DSC_2768
2nd image most closely resembles the target colour

DSC_2789 DSC_2787 DSC_2788
3rd image most closely resembles the target colour

DSC_2708 DSC_2706 DSC_2707
2nd image most closely resembles the target colour

Colour Relationships

1/200s f8 ISO640
In the image above, I love how the yellows and blues in the hut and the sign are both similar and distinct from one another. The hut is paler and the sign more vivid and bold. Yet both are slightly different versions of each other, adjusted by virtue of changes in hue and saturation. An interesting example of colour in action.

The selection below combines primary and secondary colours.

DSC_2880 - Version 2 DSC_2831 DSC_2817
1/126s f5 ISO800, 1/100s f6.3 ISO400, 1/320s f5.6 ISO1000

PART TWO: Appealing Colour Combinations
DSC_2886 - Version 2
1/320s f4.5 ISO640
I like the bold contrast caused by the red post box against the blue shutter. it’s dynamic, vibrant and bold.

1/1600s f5.6 ISO640
In contrast, this image is far calmer. The blue shutter is a deeper hugh than in the image above. Paired with the cream wall, the overall effect is just as bold, but far more relaxed. I think this is important in an abstract image to ensure the overall effect is not ‘too much’.
The juxtaposition of oblong bricks with the long vertical stripes in the blue section of the image is a further contrast which is, again, enhanced by the colour combination.

1/100s f6.3 ISO640
Here I have chosen similar hues which complement one another. All are warm tones and sit happily beside one another.

Control the Strength of a Colour

The purpose of this exercise was to discover the differences in colour as exposures change. What does the intensity of the light reflecting off the image convey as it changes? This series of images demonstrates how...

Colour - at last! I’ve long been dissatisfied with my use of colour and in truth I suppose it’s because I’ve never really known about the relationships between one colour and the next. While I appreciate that a photographer may not always have control over the colours placed in front of his lens (news, reportage etc.), I can certainly see how he can start to make informed choices about how the colour can be conveyed - in the same way he can with composition, framing and so on. For me, it’s just another set of secrets that are starting to be unlocked...

After reading the Colour download on the OCA site, I deliberately chose a collection of colours in this series as I wanted to see how they were all affected. Yellows, reds, white, some green and the dominant blue all played their parts.

DSC_2560 DSC_2561
1/4s ISO200 f5, 1/4s ISO200 f6.3
The first image, slightly over-exposed presents the colours well, but there is a distinct impression of ‘lightness’ that I would almost describe as impermanent. Somehow, as the images darken, they appear ‘heavier’. Not quite sure what that means yet...

The second and third images (f6.3 and f7.1) have the most ‘balance’ in colour. Beyond this the colours darken, become more intense and appear heavier.

DSC_2565 DSC_2562
1/4s ISO200 f7.1, 1/4s ISO200 f8
Even at f10, I would regard the image as well lit and well exposed. In fact, in terms of colour strength and intensity, this is the image I prefer most in the series. (And I realise now that I have been underexposing my images by around 1/3 stop for some time now). This strengthening works across all colours, but in an uneven way. The blue remains strong and vibrant. The reds are becoming dull. The yellow maintains punch and drama (it seems least affected) but the white loses its whiteness. It is also more prone to picking up reflected colour casts as the exposure darkens.

DSC_2563 DSC_2564
1/4s ISO200 f10, 1/4s ISO200 f13
The same applies at f13, but in a more pronounced way.

To see the ‘technical effect’ of this darkening, I measured some of the colour values in Photoshop, using the same places in the first and last images:

Red circle (top left)
1st image: R154 G62 B76
6th image: R53 G16 B21

Top yellow square
1st image: R242 G228 B110
6th image: R130 G117 B31

Blue wall (bottom right)
1st image: R93 G112 B255
6th image: R12 G97 B169