In this exercise we are seeking to create images containing complimentary colours. These are colours that are opposite each other on the colour circle which balance each other in an image but because their brightness varies their relationship needs to be proportional.
The idea rations are:
Red : Green 1:1 (they are of equal brightness)
Orange : Blue 1:2 (orange is twice as bright as blue we need twice as much blue)
Yellow : Violet 1:3 (yellow is three times as bright as violet)
To complete this exercise, and given that spring colours are currently limited to white and yellow in the countryside, I visited Winchester thinking that I might find these colours in shop windows and on signs.
Red : Green
Three quite different images with a variety of hues. Green is known to have a very large number of different hues so it was good to find this variation. As an image my favourite is the deep red church sign against the green lawn (fig. 3), I like the orange wall which adds a third balancing colour.
I am questioning whether the ratios defined really hold true. To my eye red is such a powerful and dominant colour that it is not at equilibrium with green on a 1:1 ratio. I think balance is probably nearer to 1 red: 2 green.
Orange : Blue
Brick work and the sky were obvious orange / blue combinations and I restricted myself to one example, I have used a mask to manage the curves separately in fig. 5 as the sky was a little too pale to achieve a strong contrast. My favourite is the bus door with the orange trim on the glass backed by the blue of the ticket machine inside the bus, I especially like the dust and other marks on the glass.
Yellow : Violet
Yellow and violet was far harder to come by and more difficult to crop into the right ratios but a flower stall and an advert on the side of a bus came to the rescue. Of the two I prefer the advert which I think is a nicely balanced image and the sort of intimate landscape photo I like.
Appealing Colour Combinations
The second part of the exercise is to select colour combinations that appeal to me.
My first choice is red and two different hues of blue. I would say that it is about 2:1 red to blue but the red is broken up by the white spots and this reduces it dominance. There were a lot of red / blue combinations in the high street but I liked the overall balance of this shot and think there is a little bit of mystery about it which is why I wanted to include a small piece of the mannequin’s hand.
Wandering around Winchester on a bright spring day I became more and more interested in the reflections in the shop windows and how colours became muted when I looked at them from an angle. Fig. 10 is a mix of green, brown and blue. I like the chaos of the scene and how it is given structure by the triangle of the “A” and the three smaller triangles of the arches on the building on the other side of the street.
Continuing with the theme of reflections I like the “open” sign in orange and green which hangs over the reflection of the couple and their pushchair and the mirror image of the poster. I think it is interesting to ask the viewer to decide what is reflection and what is on the “mirror”. the colours do not dominate the scene but because they are a bright neon sign they still play an important role in the composition.
Fig. 12 is my favourite of the three reflection images. It has the same element of chaos as fig. 10 and has a subtle colour combination of two different hues of orange and a pale ethereal green-blue which comes from the angle of the shot and how the lights inside the shop and the daylight are playing on the glass. There is a balance of space and structure and of the two colours with the orange line creating an interesting tension. In all three reflection images the viewer is brought into the image to decide whether each element is inside the shop or on the other side of the street.
I have included fig.13 because it shows how we select red and yellow as a combination when we want to catch people’s eye. Yellow is the brightest primary colour and red the most powerful so there is no doubt that this sign shouts “look at me”.
It also shows how red appears to be nearer to the viewer than any other colour so, in this image there are three distinct planes, red nearest to us, yellow in the middle distance because it is so bright and the dark green behind, even though they are all on the same plane both in the street scene and on the computer screen displaying the image.
My final choice is another chaos image with six colours fighting for our attention. I liked the composition because everything is so chaotic, the broken sign, the lines going in all directions and the different colours that have all been chosen to catch our attention.
It is interesting to see which colours draw our attention and which fade into the background. For me it is the pink theatre sign that leaps out and demands that I look at it first. From there I move to the yellows, then the blue, red and finally brown. It shows that different hues, different sizes and the other structures in the image will all effect us and can reduce the impact of dominant colours.