Thursday, May 15, 2008

Colour and photography

I've been very intrigued by colour lately.

Considering how visual our language is, I find it incredibly difficult to describe this feeling I have about colour. It is not that I'm interested in the science of how colour goes together (although it is something I suspect I will be researching soon enough), nor am I interested in making new colour combinations. I actually don't want to knit any colour work at the moment (although I am working on a top secret project that involves learning intarsia). Knittingwise, I'm still very much into making things with texture like cables, and G forbid, even lace. But still, I find myself obsessing over colour.

It seems to be about colour that I find around me. I'll call it found-colour. And this feeling seems to be about how do different and unusual colours come together. Why do colours that appear in nature fit better than most manufactured colours? Most importantly, how can I capture this colour with my camera (and perhaps one day, how do I capture it with yarn?)?

For example, hand spun silk and merino yarn sitting on my desk:

This first photo is nice enough, you can see that there is red yarn, a lamp, headphones, &c. But there is nothing really special about it. The image is captured in low light so my camera automatically uses the flash. But, what happens when I turn the flash off?

I love this photo. The shadow and the light, the brass colour of the base of the lamp against the garnet red of the yarn, the black and silver of the headphones, the slight marble texture of the computer desk - all these things come together somehow to make a far better photo. There is even something in how the cord of the headphones sets off and highlights that this is a photograph of yarn. The angle of the light somehow enhances the texture of the yarn and it becomes the focus of this image.

I wish I understood how this all happened.

And then there is this image:

A wheel from Whippletree Junction. The red and the yellow of the building somehow communicate with the old red and faded yellow of the wheel. The almost straight lines of the building, the horizontal edges of the siding and the vertical forcefulness of the window-frame and the veranda supports, seem somehow to make the wheel more round. Somehow the almost straight edges of the building makes the wheel more predominant even though it does not have as strong colouring as the building.

Take this photo of the same wheel. Just by coming a little bit closer, the entire feel of the image changes. The wheel no longer has to fight to be the center of attention, we still have the three primary colours (red, yellow and blue) with the bluebells/hyacinth contributing more blue than in the previous photo. Yet, somehow in this photo, it is the faded colour of the wheel that takes precedence and the strong colours of the building fade into the background.

How is it that two photos of the same thing, taken in the same light at the same time, only at slightly different distances have such strong differences in how the colour is perceived?

I have one more for you taken near Victoria City Hall. I cannot figure out why it is so pretty. Perhaps you can tell me why.

Brick reds and hot pink should not go together. The hard angles of the bricks contrast against the soft lines of the rhododendron. But even with the green in it, that shouldn't be enough to make these colours go together. There is something very hypnotic about the colours in this photo, but I couldn't tell you why.

I think I take fairly good photos. Some of they suck, some of them don't. I wish I could take better ones. Most of the photos I take never make it to my blog, but sometimes, I take a photo that even I find breathtaking. I wonder if I should take a course on digital photography. Or maybe, there is someway I can learn about photography online. I see it's going to be an afternoon with Google (and perhaps CNet) to see what I can learn.


Anonymous said...

Continue to take pictures ;-)

Help us with our online contrast experiment:

Josiane said...

About that last picture, I don't have an answer for you regarding the colours, except maybe that all the different depths of shade in the flowers are really interesting to look at. The first thing that caught my eye when I saw the picture, though, is the fact the the flowers somehow seem to be trying to get out of the frame formed by the darker bricks, and I thought it was lending a great feeling of movement to the picture.

TinkingBell said...

Great photos - one of my art teachers would say the rhodos softness against the hardness of the brick, the diagonal created by the plant and the echooed curves in the brick and plant make it work - I say it just looks great !!
And thanks for!