Part three Colour – Initial thoughts.

Like a lot of the contents of this course, colour is not something I have consciously thought about in my photographic journey.  Until this course I was only vaguely aware of primary and secondary colours (my art O level was a long time ago) and their relationships.  Having said that I wonder whether, on some subconscious level I am more aware of colour than I believe myself to be?

Take this recent shot at a funfair for example.  Although, as it turned out I was not happy with it because focus is slightly out, I thought it worth considering what attracted me to the shot in the first place.  Consciously I think it was the fish but I am wondering whether, on an unconscious level it was the mix of green yellow and orange?


Goldfish at the fair F6.3 @ 1/800 ISO800

On reading “Basic colour theory”  I  thought it would be useful to summarise, for future reference (and to remind me) the attributes of the colours on the wheel.

Yellow – vigorous and sharp, the opposite of placid and restful.

Blue – cool, and has associations of intangibility and passivity. It suggests a withdrawn,reflective mood.

Red – has considerable kinetic energy, is relatively dense and solid.

Orange – a colour very much associated with radiation

Violet – has rich and sumptuous associations but can also create an impression of mystery and immensity.

Green – the colour of growth, yellow-green has spring-like associations with youth.


Again I have not consciously thought about these attributes, probably as most of my photography has been record photography i.e. not saying anything beyond “look at this”.  On consideration I think that the use of colour, as a reinforcement (and where practical to do so) could be a powerful tool but, and to me this is big but, there is a danger of being too subtle about it, in which case the intention may be lost on the viewer or being too obvious where the colour overrides the subject/message.

I recall from my film days having an idea of which film types were better for which colours (Fujifilm good for greens – Agfa for reds I think?) but did not necessarily use those films with their colour properties/strengths/weaknesses in mind.

With digital I am aware of the different colour spaces and also the importance of colour calibration to get accurate results.  I am not fanatical about altering white balance but have become more aware of this aspect and its ramifications to the image.

If I am honest I am probably more of a fan of black and white photography than colour so it will be interesting to see whether after doing this section my bias changes on this.


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