TAOP Assignment 3 : Colour

Assignment 3



When I began this part  of Art of Photography I spent quite a while trying to understand  and explore all the different aspectsof colour and have documented this in my write-ups on the exercises. I became interested in the way that colour-blind photographers approach their work; started to appreciate the impact of de-saturated colours and also discovered that I enjoyed converting to black and white.  I visited “Figures and Fictions’, an Exhibition of Contemporary South Arican Photography on a recent OCA Study Day and also took the opportunity for a solo visit to ‘The Cult’ of Beauty’ Exhibition and the work of the Aesthetic Movement.  There were wonderful colours there in the paintings.

It’s summertime now and I love the colours of all the flowers but have tried to resist just concentrating on these and produce some variety.

Colour harmony through complementary colours

1. Red and Green

The ratios is meant to be 1:1.  There are more green hues in fact, but the red of the jackets is a strong red, particularly the expanse of the jacket on the young man in the forground. To me this does give a balance.

2.  Violet and Yellow

Ratio 1:3. A still-life flower arrangement where I carefully counted out the number of flowers in each colour, allowing for the fact that the yellow flowers are larger.

3. Blue and Orange

Ratio 1:2.

4. Red and Green

This is against the backdrop of the pale blue sea, shrouded mountains and sky. The green tower of the buoy is taller than the red base is wide but it has less density so I think the 1:1 ratio is just about maintained.

Colour harmony through similar colours

5.  In the warm range of the colour circle

I saw these sheds on a recent walk around a local Garden Safari and was immediately drawn to both their lines and also the faded colours.

6.  In the warm range of the  colour circle

There is quite a lot of orange here but there is also the pink of the banner and the bouncy castle in the far background, (white added to red).

7.  In the warm range of the colour circle

This was a chance shot whilst I was at Canterbury Cathedral.  It was fairly gloomy in the cloister with the bright sun outside and the red gowns caught my eye.  This young couple were so obviously enjoying themselves as they looked around.  At first I was undecided as to whether the red of their gowns constituted an accent colour but the red takes up almost a quarter of the composition and harmonises with the warm, yellowy tone of the old stone walls.

8. In the warm range of the colour circle

A pub by the Monument in the City of London.  Bright light outside and cool and dim inside.  The young man was wearing a yellow jacket which haronises with the yellow menus. His pale red drink looked so refreshing (if you zoom in you can see that it’s strawberry cider).  After a while he put on his yellow headphones and switched on his laptop – lost in his own world whilst busy London passed by.

Colour contrast through contrasting colours

9.  Orange, bright blue and pink

In one of our local Charity shops.  I first saw the amazing boots with the bright blue laces.  I commented what a wonderful colour they were and the helper agreed, saying that she thought they went really well with her rights.  What an exuberant mix of colours!   I had to get a photograph of them and, thankfully, she agreed to pose.  The blue of the carpet sets it all off very nicely.  I wish I had the courage to mix and colours in that way.

10. Red, green and blue

Psychedelic lighting in an underpass near to Waterloo Station.

11.  Many colours, with orange as a contrast

The window display in this shop shouted out at me as I walked past.  I think it’s the large amount of orange, which contrasts with the other colours and provides an opposing ratio with the blue.

12.  Peppers in a blue box


Colour accent

A small area of colour against a much larger background of another colour.

13. Sky mirror

Now installed in the heart of the City of London (across the road from the Gherkin).  As we crossed the road it was the yellow on the hoardings that caught my eye first. The yellow is an accent within the frame of the mirror.  It could be said that the yellow on the hoardings is too much to constitute an accent with the whole image though.  If the young man’s tee shirt had been a brighter blue that could also have constituted an accent.

14. Lady in blue

A startling blue (and outfit) especially on a Sunday amongst the old, yellow-beige walls of Split.

15. Blue balloon in the rain

It began to pour with rain during the garden safari and I had to retreat to my car.  The blue balloon (announcing a garden) looked bright, albeit somewhat forlorn.

16. Poppies

One blooming on its own.


I’ve enjoyed this Assignment the most up to now and the time of year has helped considerably with such a richness of choice.  I feel much more comfortable with colours in photography.  I’ve also decided that it’s time I had another attempt at learning to draw so that I can use pastels and watercolours as well and so I’ve enrolled on a Course to start at the end of September.

4th August 2011

8 Comments on “TAOP Assignment 3 : Colour”

  1. John Umney says:

    Hello Catherine, I’ve been reading your blog again and I have a question. You mentioned in your black and white piece about a “bleach bypass filter”. I understand about ferri-cyanide bleaching in the darkroom (thankfully I’ve left that behind – not pleasant) but I’ve never heard of that filter (or technique). As you may know I’ve been mainly a monchrome photographer since forever, but I’m interested to know more. Can you enlighten me? John p.s. good to see another potential convert to the dark (black & white) side 🙂

    • Hi John,
      My (pretty basic) knowledge is that, with film, this is an optical effect achieved through partial or complete skipping of the bleaching process during processing. You end up with reduced saturation and exposure and increased contrast and graininess. So far as digital software is concerned, I used the bleach bypass filter which is in Color Efex Pro 3 (one of the Nik Software filters which plug-in to Photoshop) I then played around with it to get the type of colour I wanted. I want to experiment more with this because I like the effect. I did get interested more interested in mono as a result of this part of the Course as well but have realised it’s not as simple as it seems because you really have to have an eye for the right lines/curves and mix of tones – something that you are already expert at.

      • John Umney says:

        hello Catherine, thanks for this. I’ve had a look around for this and now realise it is a technique orginally developed for colour film (which is probably why I hadn’t come across it before). There are a number pf CS plug-ins that replicate the effect, though they do seem to suggest a compressing of the mid-tones – which is probably where the increased contrast comes in. I’ll look into it some more – thanks for the info’. John

  2. Janice says:

    Wow, what a wonderful piece of work. I love the vivid colours and your choice of subjects. I’m sure I saw the shop window on a recent visit to London!
    I’m very impressed – have learned from your work and hope I can achieve the same standard when I start that project.

  3. Amano says:

    Good stuff …. am struck by the clever way you have done the diagrams!

    Was this in Photoshop or did you use another programme?

    My diagrams were a bit more basic …. done in Photoshop and without detail other than the blocks of colour!

    • Thanks Amano. I had intended to do actual sketches but decided this would take me quite a while so I did some manipulation using the sketch filter in Photoshop, printed them off on ordinary paper and then did some colouring with pastel pencils and felt-tip. It was actually quite relaxing. I’m looking forward as well to starting the drawing lessons in September.

      • Amano says:

        Thanks for the response … interesting. The Sketch filter is not one I am familiar with – need to check it out!

        Just a suggestion … you might have added a layer the the “sketch” file and then painted with a brush above the area you wanted to fill. Greater flexibility and also saves scanning the image to digitise again! However, I can understand the preference to use a more hands on approach.

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