The Importance of Colour Harmony

Elegance, style and balance. When looking at a well designed piece, whether it is a logo, a website or a painting, we are absorbed by the colours. In designing, picking colours for a piece is not necessarily just about what the designer thinks looks good. Countless amounts of research have shown that people can be affected with exposure to colours, whether its a behavioural or emotional. It takes around 90 seconds for an individual to make a subconscious judgement on an item or person, and 60-80% of the judgement is made up by the colours the subject is perceiving.

To really understand colour harmony, you need to look at the basics of colour theory. I remember back in High School when I took Art GCSE we looked at certain colour properties especially the colour wheel and saturation. Anyone who has had art classes or studied design already know the principles behind colour properties and in particular, the colour wheel.

Initially formed in the 1660s by Issac Newton, the colour wheel is built of the primary, secondary and tertiary colours, in a pragmatic way.

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This colour wheel shows shades pastels, midtones and brights as well as the pragmatic order of colour. It can easily be split into different colour schematics from simple monotone, warm and cold and complementary.

It’s easier to separate the colours into temperature and saturation to describe their psychological effects so here are some of the emotions portrayed:

Hot – Aggressive and attention grabbing. Normally seen on news based websites, check out BBC, CNN, Reuters etc. They all lean towards warmer colours, whether it is is their logos or web design. 

Warm – Softer reds, oranges and yellows are more welcoming to us. Warmer tones are associated with inviting and welcoming designs, usually accent colours in waiting areas.

Cool– Purples, softer blues and greens give a meditative effect. Usually brings us back to nature with the association of relaxing flowers such as lavender.

Cold – Blues are associated with ice, water and freshness. Think a combination of blue, turquoise and green. Most associated with freshness these colours are often used in packaging for laundry detergent and air fresheners.

Pastels – Used to reflect the white space they are in. Often offices or hospitals will be painted in pastel shades to make the space look larger and more refreshing.

Pale – These colours are tints with a lot of white giving a faded effect. We often associate these colours with youth and innocence. Think to products for young children such as baby clothing and products. These colours are often associated with femininity too, most female products being pastel shades.

Brights – Usually the Primary colours or bold brights of secondary colours, think the use of these combinations by artists such as Mondrian or Andy Warhol. These are attention-grabbers and great for stand out products and websites.

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Now we have the basis of temperatures, it also good to know the break-down of individual colours:

Red relates to energetic, passionate, action, ambition, love, anger, aggressive and determination. In some Asian cultures the colour red is lucky. In India it is seen as the colour of purity.

Orange  relates to adventurous, social, communicative, optimistic, enthusiasm, falsity, superficial and pessimism. It is perceived as a sacred colour in many cultures, as well as eternal happiness.

Yellow relates to cheerfulness, fun, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, challenging, academic , wisdom, judgmental, impatient, impulsive, spiteful, cowardly and deceitful. In the middle east, yellow represents happiness and good fortune.

Green – relates to growth and vitality, renewal and restoration, self-reliance, nature, balance, possessive and materialistic, indifferent, envious, selfish, greedy, inconsiderate and calm. In western cultures it is also perceived as lucky, whereas in Indonesia it is a forbidden colour. In the middle east, green represents youth, fertility and wealth.

Blue – relates to loyalty, trust, reliability, responsibility, conservatism, caring, contemplation, peaceful, depressed, passive, superstitious, predictable, aloof and frigid. It also promotes healing and safeguarding from evil in a lot of cultures.

Purple – relates to individual, creative and inventive, psychic and intuitive, humanitarian, mystery, fantasy, royalty, cynicism, arrogance, fraudulence.  Purple has traditionally been associated with royalty and with that wealth. In Brazil and Thailand, purple is associated with mourning and honouring the dead. 

Pink – relates to romantic love, compassion and understanding, nurturing, romance, warmth, hope, calming, sweetness, naiveté, femininity, physically weak, over-emotional, over-cautious.

Brown – represents the down-to-earth, wholesome, practical, approachable, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, comforting, reliable, protective, dull, boring, frugal, materialistic, lack of humor, lack of sophistication, predictable and cheap.

Black – relates to comfort, strong, contained, formal, sophisticated, seductive, mysterious, pessimistic, secretive and withholding, conservative, serious and powerful. It represents masculinity in some African cultures and represents rebirth and mourning in the middle east.

White – represents innocence, purity, cleanliness, equality, complete, simplicity, immaculate, self-sufficient, pristine, terile, stark, fastidious, empty, isolated, cautious, plain, distant and unimaginative. Western cultures the colour white symbolizes purity,  peace, and cleanliness. But in Asian cultures, such as China and Korea, white represents death, mourning, and bad luck, and is traditionally worn at funerals.

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Let’s move onto the basic colour schematics. These aren’t necessarily all the colour schematics there are, just the most frequently used ones with examples.

Monochromatic

One colour on the wheel with multiple shade gradients from dark to light.

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Primary

The primary colours: yellow, blue and red.

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Secondary

The secondary colours: green, purple and orange.

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Complementary

Directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Red and Green, Blue and Orange, Yellow and Purple.

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Achromatic

No saturation just shades.

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Analogous

Any three hues next to each other on the colour wheel.

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References/further reading:

Research on psychology and colour theory:
https://www.colorcom.com/research/why-color-matters

Useful colour scheme tool:
https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/

7 Easy Rules of Photography Composition

It’s been a while since I’ve written about photography and it is still one of the biggest parts of my life… so here are some of the things I have learnt over the past 8 years.
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Photography composition takes a beautiful photo and makes it great. It also makes you slow down the snapping and get you to think about the subject and also what you are trying to convey. After all, photography is a form of art, and a great work of art does indeed take time. That is part of the beauty of it.

1) Don’t Restrict Yourself to Landscape.

The only things that should ever be kept landscape is phone pictures and video. Then again these are just unspoken rules, but vines would have looked so much better if people just turned their phone 90 degrees to fill the screen.
Using a Vertical format for a landscape image does something magical to a subject.

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Aberystwyth Jetty, Ceredigion, UK – July 2016, Canon 6D 70-200mm f/2.8
In Landscape photography it is expected that you deliver landscape shots. However, to make your photography have an impact, there needs to be an element of the unexpected.
Additionally, a vertical frame gives you a taller area to deal with the foreground and the background. This really got me with seascapes, especially as sunset as it meant that I could pull down the colours of the sky and pull up the colours of the sea to create this balanced equinox of blue sky, blue sea melded with the sun’s evening display.

2) Lines!

 Lines are hands down my favourite thing to photograph. If you look at works by Rodchenko and the way he use lines in his black and white photographs, you may too be converted to the line life.
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Aleksander Rodchenko 1930
Straight lines can be beautiful, but don’t limit yourself there! Try to find a converging point, get lower to the ground and take the risk of getting a bit dusty for a shot. Or just try out several framings for a certain line. Find a line that makes your eyes follow into the depth of your image.
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Adriana, Byward Locks, Ottawa – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8
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HardKnott Fort, Cumbria, August 2017 – Lumix G7 (standard kit lens)
A good way to start with lines is to find a good building and play around with the lines against the sky or finding the lines within the building itself and take many many photos of different compositions to see for yourself what works best for you. Back in 2011 I did this in a Sainsbury’s Carpark in the UK and found some crazy shapes and lines I didn’t think I could find in a carpark!

3) Patterns & Symmetry

We are drawn to balance. This is what makes patterns and symmetry so powerful in any form of art, whether it is written word, traditional art, photography or even music. Patterns can be found in anything from manmade materials such as fences, buildings and pathways or naturally occurring such as plants, landscape and skylines.

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Llandudno

In this example of the pier in Llandudno the use of leading lines only emphasises the symmetry of the pier. What makes me really happy about this photo is the colour palette of muted blue and grey that balances the symmetrical properties. (Of course this is just an individual opinion and some may not like the balance and colours of this image, but of course art is individual and the artist does indeed know best 90% of the time.

4) Negative Space

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Le Mont Saint Micheal, France – Canon 6D, 18-40mm f/4.0

Negative space can be anything from a plain blue sky to a low aperture mush of colour. It is space that is not filled. We want to focus on a single subject the majority of time so use this to your advantage. Arguably you can use patterns as a negative space element, so long as it does not detract from the main visual, you’re good.

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Lake Windemere, UK – Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0
Don’t be afraid to use backgrounds as well like block colours, walls, floor for negative space with a subject. Also filling the frame with the subject/object can also have an effect much the same as negative space.

5) Natural Frames

Let things get in the way once in a while. Sometimes not having a “clear shot” is more interesting. While trawling the internet for examples of frame shots its always pictures of people in doorways and windows and I feel thats not a natural frame. Sure it looks cool and creates a frame in the photo, but it is not the kinda image that challenges the artist to get.

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Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, UK – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8

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Lake Windemere, UK, Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0

6) Focus Focus Focus

Where is the focus at? Are you concentrating on something close up or far away, and if so what levels of depth does your potential subject have? In this instance, take off the auto focus on your lens and really get in tune with what you want to capture.

7) Make Mistakes

This may seem like a stupid point, but I can not implore how important it is to f*ck up once in a while. If you don’t then how do you know you have grown or improved? There needs to be the balance of amazing yourself at what you can do as well as having the ability to review your work and realise what you can do better or what needs to be improved on.

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Back in Black (and White)

One can not begin to explain how excited one is now the hellish cold of winter has thawed and the promise of summer is heating our frozen souls…. So why not celebrate with all the photoshoots around the beautiful city of Ottawa! I am very lucky to have a great model friend to join me on my escapades, so big thanks to Adriana for your stunning face and patience of a saint.

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Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the city now is just behind the Chateau, above the locks due to the big sky, the Gatineau hills in the background and of course the consistency of the lines and style.

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Something I wanted to try out was playing with a figure on stairs. After being constantly inspired by Rodchenko’s work from the age of 15, it is time for me to actually try it out for myself. In this case using the organic lines of my model in contrast to the consistent solid lines that are created with the architecture of the stairs.

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Another thing about spring and summer is the warmth of light and the depth of shadows that are created.

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Safe to say I’ll be using the lines the city has to offer a lot more this season, as there are so many opportunities I can not say no too.

Stay tuned for more!

Toronto in Blue

Over the weekend I went to Toronto for the weekend. Being a short 4ish hour drive form Ottawa, what’s not to lose?

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I’ve been trying to stylise my pictures for a unique look and the G7 lets me play with colour so much more than my Canon 6d. All the edits are made in Lightroom on RAW files and exported as Jpegs.

Basic Lighting Techniques

***This is just a basic introduction to lighting techniques and set up!***

Easily one of the most important elements of art, lighting is integral to any kind of photography.

3 point lighting

The standard lighting for everything photography and film.
lights

Key

The main light. If you are using 1 light then it is always the key light. Usually this is the strongest in the scene, and set at around 45 degrees to the subject.

Fill

The Secondary light. This is usually softer and set opposite the key light.

Hair/Back

The third light, usually placed behind the subject. This highlights the outline and creates the 3d effect.

Split Lighting

This is quite self explanatory, having a split contrast between light and dark. This effect is usually created with a just a key light to highlight half of the subjects face.

Fill Lighting

Used with just two lights, the key and the fill, fill lighting is used to light a face of object fully.

Ottawa Photo Post

I haven’t been driven enough to write loads recently, and being back in an education that seems almost full time (except the strike) means that I haven’t had a spare moment to create a post that gives justice to my absence… So here are some photos instead of Ottawa just before the dark sets in.

 

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All taken on a Lumix G7.
Can not recommend this little camera enough.

Moving to Mirrorless

**Sorry for the no show I’ve had so much happen (all will be revealed) ***

I haven’t really been posting photography related things recently, mainly due to the combination of working very long shifts and being in the awkward waiting transitional period of graduating and continuing my life as an adult…

Camera equipment can be bulky and heavy, and that is not just the price tag. The amount of times I’ve had serious shoulder and neck ache from carrying two Canon DSLRs should have told me by now that I should either go to the gym to work on my weak muscles, or invest in some lighter equipment. As in previous posts my gym ambition and fitness is not exactly consistent and somewhat non-existent, so maybe the way of lighter equipment is the forward.

Canon has been a big part of my life since I was 14, when my parents bought me a 450d. Since then I’ve used a 550D, 6D, 60D, 70D and a 7Dii. (disclaimer: I haven’t owned them all.) However, the more I’ve upgraded and improved, the more I’ve realised that maybe a lighter alternative may be best for me. Especially when I’m just taking pictures (dare I say it) for fun.

Enter the Lumix G7 in my life. 

Compared to my Canon 6D, this is a whole new world of camera. If anything it’s got better shortcuts and buttons so I don’t have to move the camera away from my face when I’m taking pictures. Mainly thanks to the electronic viewfinder, but also to the handy wheels that are just so easy to use. It also is a third of the weight.

Picture quality is obviously not the same as a full frame. My expectations were that the G7 would produce flatter images. This actually to some extent, gives me more artistic scope when it comes to the editing side of the photography process. The images may seem cooler and flatter, but you can do so much with them.

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As shot
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Quick Edit

 

The detail it captures even when the photos aren’t set up properly is great, but also means that I need to work a bit more on the taking bit….

Another pro to this purchase is the G7’s video capabilities. Canon is seeming to be very behind and almost backwards on the video compatibility of their professional series. This added to their want for a better low light performance over dynamic range makes me sceptical of why I bought into the franchise back in 2015…
(However video will be another post)

More to come on video capabilities and 1 to 1 comparison with my 6d so keep posted!

Have a great September!

 

Framing a Day #1

London

How do you frame what is important in a day, a week, a month? I’ve challenged myself with an a5 frame to focus on the things that need to be in focus rather than focusing on the frame.

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Dancing round London in barefeet after acquiring blisters on blisters gave a new sense of freedom to my idea of framing things.

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Background I’m told is just noise to our own melody. We choose our tune, whether it is a solo or a chorus.

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All in all it’s just a thing I’m doing to try and prove artistic license. I am just a random female holding up a frame to take pictures of it to try and find some weird hidden artsy meaning. And it is working…..

Keep posted for more.