Simon Lewis

TAoP Assignment Three

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iii. Colour

I have been fascinated by the interpretation of colours ever since my boys were diagnosed colour blind. They have protanopia, meaning they are green-yellow-red deficient. They both have excellent vision - but they see the world with a totally different colour palette. It always amazes me how people with ‘regular’ colour vision take for granted the colours they are surrounded by. That’s no reflection or criticism of this assignment, it just serves to illustrate how colour can be interpreted differently by everyone.
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Despite my interest, I found it difficult to understand the relationship between hue, saturation and brightness until I came across the Munsell colour tree. The tree explains it all in very simple detail. Hues are arranged as radials (looking down from the top) in a way similar to a colour wheel. Saturation (which Munsell called “Chroma”) is the radial distance from the centre. Value is on the vertical scale.
Download a copy of my project mood board by clicking the button opposite.
My Tutor's comments are shown below each image and where relevant I have shown a corrected version of the image. You can download a copy of my tutor report for this exercise by clicking the button opposite.

You can read a summary of my learnings from this assignment and the accompanying exercises at the foot of this page.
Accent 1
Accent: The colour of Lindsay’s nails and nail varnish bottle contrast nicely with the blues and greens of her jeans and top. The neutral colour of the wall and Lindsay’s arm allow the bright reds to stand off the jeans and top, with enough detail in the fabric to add interest. The strong vertical lines in the top, the creases of the jeans and fall of the arm and fingers all lead the eye toward the nails in this composition. 1/8s f3.2 ISO200

Tutor comments: As in all your shots the exposure is very accurate and in this image the skin tones are also very accurate. It is evident that a lot of thought has gone into this image and the red nails and plastic container in the pocket are nicely placed within the frame. It is difficult to improve upon, so well done.
Accent: Red is used again as the accent colour in this image. I like the flowing curves and detail in this chair as it wraps around the cushion. There’s just enough detail in the background to provide contrast yet ‘stand back’ from the chair. The rounded sides of the chair back point down towards the book which, while carefully placed, suggests a casual arrangement. 1/6S f18 ISO100

Tutor comments: The components of this image are nicely positioned in the frame, but there is a bit too much high light on the back of the chair which is a little distracting. It would have been better to have the book a touch lighter and the chair back toned down so that the book is more prominent. (SL: See below)
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Accent 3
Accent 4
Accent: This is one of my favourites in the series and an image that could have worked well in a variety of colour categories. I initially used a chocolate coloured towel for Lindsay, hoping that the tone and hue of her skin would create a good similar harmony image. The results were a little bland and cried out for an accent flower in the vase by the wall. I did not have anything to hand, so we swapped for the green towel. I like the hint of window to the right and the deepening shadow moving left. I also like Lindsay’s ‘triangular’ arm. 1/80s f5.6 ISO800

Tutor comments: Again you have a nice simple but very effective image. The side lighting has lit Lindsay very well and again the skin tones are very good. As you say in your notes the triangle formed by her right arm adds interest to the shot. The only fault with this shot is that Lindsay's head is too close to the top of the frame and could do with a bit more "space" (SL: See below)
Accent: The overall blue/green hue of the background is counterpointed nicely by the red flower. What I like about this image is the way that while the flower dominates the composition, the accent is read in the image as a whole. In other words the background plays just as important a a role in colour terms as the foreground - even though it has been thrown out of focus. 1/3s f4 ISO200

Tutor comments: Another winning image. The use of a wide aperture has rendered the background out of focus (these days the term is known as "bokeh" ) (ii) thus concentrating the viewers eye on the subject. The colours in the image are lovely and the position of the subject within the frame is nicely done. Brilliant.
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Similar harmony 1
Similar harmony 2
Similar harmony: In colour terms there’s quite a lot going on in this image, emphasised because of the semi-abstract nature of the composition. While the strength of blues and greens is apparent - illustrating a clear similar harmony - there are also elements of red and even mauves and purples in the boa and lips. In combination, these colours all fall on the same half of a colour wheel. To me this simply illustrates how colours easily merge into one another. There are no hard and fast boundaries...
1/125s f8 ISO250

Tutor comments: Again you have accurate skin tones on your subject and there is nice texture detail in her lips. Pictorially this one is not as good as some of your other images, but it does conform to the title.
Similar harmony: This image was an opportunity of combining my new still life composition skills with similar colours. Fortunately my daughter's bedroom is a treasure trove of all things pink... Light from the lamp as a single source casts a whole range of pinks and reds across the image.
1/6s f5 ISO200

Tutor comments: The reds and pinks of your daughters bedroom harmonise very well , even more so than the previous shot. The pictorial element is good but could be improved by removing some (not all) of the objects on the shelf as it clutters the image up a bit. The composition would then be a lot tidier. (SL: Understood)
Similar harmony 3
Similar harmony 4
Similar harmony: This image combines the reds of Lindsay’s nails and lips with the orange glow of the candle with her brown hoodie, gold-coloured hair and warm skin tones. The cropping is deliberately tight to provide an intimate feel. 1/20s f4.5 ISO800

Tutor comments: This image is very nicely composed indeed. The tight cropping has worked very well and Lindsay's expression creates the mood or "atmosphere" of the scene. The glow of the candle adds further interest to the scene, but there is a distracting high light in the necklace. I would tone it down or clone it out altogether. (SL: See below)
Similar harmony: A simple image combining purples and blues creates a vibrant image. The shot works to deliver the colours required, but the composition/content is, perhaps, a little too static. 1/200s f8 ISO250

Tutor comments: The colours on this one do harmonise very well, but the composition is not as good as your previous image. As a viewer I would like to see the models face, but then I suppose there is a "mystery" about this shot that makes the viewer wonder what the model looks like.
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Complimentary harmony 1
Complimentary harmony 2
Complimentary harmony: Another simple composition combining the orange of the candle light and skin tones with the blue sweatshirt. Some vignetting was added to accentuate the candlelight. 1/6s f6.3 ISO250

Tutor comments: Another shot that I like very much. As you say in your notes this one is a simple composition but it is also very effective. The colours are lovely and the viewers eye is drawn to the lighted candle which adds the interest. Another brilliant shot.
Complimentary harmony: A camera clamp proved vitally important to capture this image taken just as the streetlights came on in the late afternoon. There’s just enough blue in the sky and instrument panel to balance against the streetlights and orange glow reflected around the interior of the car. The slow shutter speed emphasises the car’s movement - and in fact the passing coach to the right of the image is rendered virtually invisible. 0.6s f5 ISO640

Tutor comments: The slow shutter speed on this image does create movement and speed. However, I would liked to have seen a bit more detail on the cars dashboard and steering wheel for a more effective shot. (SL: See below)
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Complimentary harmony 3
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Complimentary harmony: The green background, created with a flash filter, provided the complimentary background for the lips and juice in this image. I had some difficulty managing the flash reflections on the glass, but the tight cropping masks much of this and also leads the eye.
1/200s f9 ISO250

Tutor comments: Another simple and dynamic shot. Here you have created an image from virtually nothing and yet it is so effective. The lips and the glass are nicely positioned as though the person is about to drink from the glass. The very tight cropping also adds impact to the shot. Nice one.
Complimentary harmony: A recent frost provided the ideal opportunity for me to go foraging with my camera. The ice crystals around this red leaf helped to separate the foreground from background (as did the depth of field). The greens in the background combine with the foreground colour to illustrate complimentary harmony. Interestingly, the composition of this image mirrors that of the glass and lips opposite.
1/80s f6.3 ISO400

Tutor comments: The colours in this one are gorgeous. Again the use of a relatively wide aperture and close focus has rendered the background out of focus so that the viewers eye is forced to concentrate on the subject. To improve the composition slightly I would either clone out or crop off the red leaf at the top right hand corner. (SL: See below)
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Colour contrast 1
Colour contrast 2
Colour contrast: The cold snap prior to Christmas brought plenty of snow. I couldn’t resist the opportunity of using the children’s igloo to demonstrate the contrasting colours created with red and blue gels on my flash units. The firepit and candles enhance the wintry atmosphere. 1/100s f2.8 ISO200

Tutor comments: Again the colours on this one are excellent and it is a very well thought out image. For me, I would be tempted to go in a bit closer to the igloo and fire and cut down on the surrounding space. (SL: See below)
Colour contrast: I like the contrasting reds and yellows in this image, enhanced by the water drops and puddle of water. 1/160s f11 ISO200

Tutor comments: I think that this is the best image in what is an excellent assignment. The apples are nicely placed within the frame and the water droplets create an unusual and interesting image. I would tone down the high light on the apple on the right hand side, but nevertheless this is still a brilliant image.
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Colour contrast 3
Colour contrast 4
Colour contrast: The bold blue contrasts well with the yellow/orange found in Lindsay’s tee shirt. 1/160s f7.1 ISO250

Tutor comments: As you say in your notes the tee shirt contrasts very well with the blue background. Pictorially it is not as good as some of your other shots, but it is a competent image and does what the title suggests. (SL: agreed. And despite having the highest hopes for this image it is the one I am most disappointed with: there's jut no movement. Unable to reshoot I have added some 'fake' motion. See below. Next time though i'd like to try some more dynamic poses or play with the setting a little more: perhaps involving some implied triangles from background to subject)
Colour contrast: A local self-storage warehouse was the subject of this final image. Although abstract, the bold (though somewhat dirty) yellows contrast nicely with the clear blue sky found on a rare sunny day. Strong leading lines help the composition. 1/1250s f8 ISO640

Tutor comments: For me, your last shot is the weakest in the set, although it does conform to its title. There are strong diagonals which help to give interest to the shot, but there is colour nothing of interest for the viewers eye. An aircraft flying by would give that bit extra to the shot, but I know that you would have to be lucky to get that on the day. Maybe you could add an aircraft or bird from another image? (SL: See below. The addition of the plane trails (taken from an earlier exercise) makes all the difference. This simple addition draws the eye in what was a somewhat disappointing image.)
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Here's What I've Learnt:

Colour has never been one of my strong points and I can only assume I was off school with some or other illness when they taught us all about the use of it. I’m being charitable here and maybe they never taught us (it doesn’t help that I still draw like a 3 year old). But at last the secrets of colour have been unlocked and I feel the mystery is starting to disappear. I suppose it helps that I’m particularly sensitive to the use of colour now I know my sons are both colour blind.

In this section I've learnt an enormous amount about how colours together and in combination work to add strength and meaning to images. Again, this is something which previously passed me by. I’ve tried to work really hard in this section (and assignment) to get the colours working to convey messages and emotion.

Other things I’ve learnt:

  • How exposure makes a difference to the strength and saturation of an image (from the perspective of colour)
  • The difference between hue, saturation and brightness
  • The impact of coloured filters on black and white images - and how others see the world
  • How people around us often take colour for granted
  • How to successfully choose clothes that work for me (at last!)

From my tutor comments I have also learnt how even the smallest detail can make the biggest difference. Sometimes it’s a detail that needs to be added but sometimes it’s a detail that ought to be left out. The last image of the coloured building was enhanced significantly by putting some detail into the sky - in this case a plane. In some cases these need to be rectified/attended to during the shoot. But I suppose the plane is the perfect example of how and why Photoshop is so useful: I could wait ages for a plane to pass by...

Building in what I have covered so far I can imagine how powerful the combination of colour, contrast and composition can be. I’m looking forward to experimenting further…