Saturday, 2 March 2013

Exercise: Primary and secondary colours - Part 1

Moving on to the next exercise.  Here, the purpose is to build up a library of colours in order to be able to judge and understand colours, in other words to develop and refine ones colour sense. The starting point is a simple colour wheel as shown below:

The colour wheel used for this exercise is one known as the "painters' colour wheel".  This is where the primary colours, opposite each other, are red, yellow and blue.  They sit opposite their complementary colours, or secondaries, which are green, violet and orange.

The exercise calls for taking 3 photographs for each of the 3 primary and the 3 secondary colours.  The photographs call for bracketed exposures of +/- 1/2 stop and then selecting the one which comes closest to the colour wheel reproduced in the notes.

I found this exercise particularly frustrating as colour very much depend on its environment, hues imparted by the light at the time and the way that my brain translates colour.  What do I mean by that? Well, a bunch of bananas appears the same to me regardless of where it is, and under what light.  The brain, in many circumstances adjusts the "white balance" automatically.  However, when the ambient light generates a strong colour cast, then the compensation does not seem to happen.  So, at night, under a strong sodium light, everything takes on a heavy colour (yellow) cast.

ISO 3200 1/30 f/4
Other sources of coloured light are those used on stage, for example by a band as illustrated in the following images which provide the remaining Primary and secondary colours (excepting Orange):

ISO 3200 1/30 f/4
ISO 3200 1/30 f/4
ISO 3200 1/30 f/4
ISO 3200 1/30 f/4
Sadly, orange was not a colour in the band's pallette, so I had to look elsewhere, and finally, I found a tram which supplied the required orange:
ISO 200 1/60 f/9
This was my first part of the exercise done, though not the required one, I wanted to explore, mostly, colour through light, rather than reflected colour.  I wanted to do it this way as I thought I would arrive at colours which were 'cleaner' as they were not affected by colour influences from the sky and other reflective surfaces.  In the end, this did not quite succeed as the colours and the surfaces they were hitting did not provide the clean colours required.

In part 2 of Primary and Secondary colours, I will be following the exercise more closely in order satisfy the brief.

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