Thursday, November 10, 2011

Composition- Seeing in Color

Hello, Volks, welcome to Hohenfels Volks. Another week is almost over here in Hohenfels, and we’re onto another post!

Following up on yesterday’s post about color, today we’re going to talk about how color theory can work for you. Using complimentary and adjacent, or analogous, colors can really improve your compositions. The masters, including the painters and old time photographers knew how to get the most from the colors available to them.

Color theory is an extensive subject, and involves a lot more than we’re going to discuss. If you remember back in grade school, you learned there are 3 primary colors, red, yellow, and blue. They are primary because they cannot be made from combinations of other colors. Here’s a basic primary color wheel.

The 3 primary colors

The secondary colors, made from equal parts of 2 primary colors are orange, green, and purple. Here’s another chart showing the relationship between primaries.

The 3 primaries with the secondary colors

Colors opposite each other on the wheel are called complimentary colors. If you stare at one of the colors for some time, and then shift your view to solid white, the compliment, or opposite, of the stared at color will appear.

Beyond that, you have tertiary colors and other more complex blends and hues. Here is a 12-color wheel showing some of the basic ones.

12 colors, including primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Just as colors opposite each other are complimentary, colors next to each other are analogous, which means they are analogs of or for each other.

In normal human color vision, red focus beyond the focal plane, green directly on it, and blue focuses short of it. This is why red appears to advance and blue seems to recede. Another effect of normal human color vision is that the same color appears brighter and larger against a dark background than against a lighter one. Another interesting fact along that same line is that Da Vinci observed, "Colors appear what they are not, according to the ground that surrounds them." Handy stuff for the photographer!

With all that information, feeling overwhelmed can be a problem. So, to make this subject easier, we’re going to show a couple example of how to combine colors into a harmonious composition, and have them add to your image rather than distract from it.

Analogous color scheme. Using this scheme can create calm scenes and photos. Make sure you have enough color contrast, though, to keep your image interesting.

Complementary. Very vibrant and exciting images. Don't overdo it and you can get something really appealing.

This is called a split complementary scheme. This has a strong visual appeal like complementary colors, but with less risk of overdoing it.

Remember, there are other schemes as well. You could do a three color scheme using colors equally spaced through the wheel, which can create a dynamic image, especially when one is given a greater weight in the composition. A great way to get more information is to use Google "color theory." Another great source is Tiger Color. They also have some nifty software and such that will help you understand color.

Look for an assignment related to this post on Facebook in the next couple days. Hopefully we can get everyone posting a couple photos, and get more assignments going. Drop us a comment and let us know what you think of the idea.

Remember to share your pics and post your questions at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page, and or by commenting here!

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