Category Archives: colours

Green is the Colour that Should Always be Seen

conifer forest

Who doesn’t love the colour green? It’s a bringer of hope when the first shoots pop up from germinating seeds. It’s diverse in the seemingly endless variety of shade and tone in the tree canopies, the garden borders, the verges and the hedgerows. It’s fruitful and fertile – even if it’s the lawn needing mowing yet again. Green appetises on the plate in summer salads and winter leaves. A green light sets you free, a green wall calms your soul. It’s beloved of the eco-warrior, it’s my favourite, and it’s the colour that every other hue wants to be. Yes, they are green with envy.

I wondered who decided red in the colour of danger?

I do like colour in photographs

Jennifer Bourn reflects on the meaning of ‘green’

Who Decided Red Means Danger? Reflections on the Colour Red

If red colour was a dog, it would be a barking Alsatian. Red is the colour that people go both when they’re angry and when they’re in the throes of passion. It’s the colour of the boy racer’s throaty sports-car and the warning colour of the poisonous berry. ‘Roses are red’, so are shiny apples and plump tomatoes. But if noses are red, then the photographer needs Adobe Photoshop and the subject needs AA. Unless it’s Rudolf the Reindeer. Red is the colour of the sky at night that gives shepherds delight, but it spells danger if put in a light.

Red is a shouty colour, it makes its presence felt, you know it’s there. Eyes will snap to the red thing in a photograph like a compass needle finds north. Which is great if the red thing is also the subject of the picture, but a hopeless distraction if it’s not.

“Red protects itself. No colour is as territorial. It stakes a claim, is on the alert against the spectrum.” (Derek Jarman)

“A thimbleful of red is redder than a bucketful.” (Henri Matisse)

“Nothing attracts attention like a red dress.” (Laura Bush)

photographs containing the colour red

“Put on your red shoes, and dance the blues.” (David Bowie)




Colours can make a photograph

Photographer and writer Tony Northrup explains colour science. (Really well) (I understood it)

Jacob Oleson writes on the meaning of red.


Colours Can Make a Photograph

Colours – bright, vibrant, striking, resonating or complimentary, blending, gentle and pastel. Colours often provide the urge to pick up the camera and take a picture. Something in the photographer’s brain is forever on the lookout for that chance arrangement colour, texture and form that strikes a chord and tells us there’s a picture to be taken.

Sometimes I envy the painter because they can choose where to put colours, and what they’ll do in the picture. The way colour is rendered on the painter’s canvas can affect how the composition is perceived, bluer tones can help depict depth or distance, warmer colours might help objects to stand out. Colour helps the artist set a mood or atmosphere and manipulate emotion. The artist might choose to use colour naturalistically; grass is green, sky is blue. Or they may not, Henri Matisse said: “When I put down green it doesn’t mean grass, and when I put down blue it doesn’t mean sky.” The photographer looks at a scene, and at the moment they press the button, the colour they see is the colour they get in the photograph. (Ok, cameras differ and there’s a whole bunch of settings that can change the colours)

It is perfectly possible to train the eye, or rather the eye and the brain to look for elements in a scene that will make a photograph better. Here are a few…..

 

Photograph of an office block and orange lampposts. photography photographer

Rhythmic, or repeated colours
the repeating orange of the receding lampposts stand out, but the blue/grey in the building has rhythm

 

Photograph of waving child in daffodils. photography photographer

Dominant Colour
yellow is dominant to my eye, others might say that red will always dominate
 

abstract photograph orange tree against a painted wall. photography photographer

Economy of Colour
fewer colours can add strength to an image
 

T

The Campo Sienna photograph photographer photography

Complimentary Colours
The dark red and the yellow somehow enhance each other
 

Photograph showing clashing colours

Clashing Colours
A collection of colours that give the picture life and vigour

 

Photograph of a painting on the Berlin Wall. photography photographer

Colour is the picture.
Is the subject of the picture the cyclist or the painting?
(Eastside Gallery, Berlin. One of 105 paintings by artists from around the world on the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall)

Digital manipulation makes it very easy to change the colours in a photograph, and very tempting. (Save us from any more purple skies) There are many reasons why a photographer might want to alter colours, but the reason should come before the ‘doing’. Adjusting tone and hue, brightness and contrast can enhance a picture, but it can’t turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. It really is possible to post a picture on Instagram without using filters. However, the colour can be distracting. In this picture, I felt the red barrel and the yellow signs were too dominant….

 

Don’t make all your pictures black and white for the sake of it – colour is good! But there are occasions when the colour is so insipid it contributes nothing, even weakens the picture, like here…

photograph of swans. photography photographer

A winter scene, in winter light. The weak colour adds nothing to the picture

photograph of swans. photographer photography

Taking out the colour has made the swan’s posture stronger, and the image has a rhythm; black-white-black