Exercise 3.4: Colours into tones in black-and-white

The object of this exercise is to take a shot of four objects contrasting in colour as a still life. Then, to convert the colour image into black and white in a photography processing software, I’ve used Photoshop Elements 4. Now to look at the effect of colour filters on a black and white image. In Elements the effect of different colour filters can be achieved in the software rather than having to use physical filters on the camera lens.

For this exercise four colour filters are to be used: red; yellow; green; blue. the first images below are the original colour photograph and the processed black and white image.



This is the first image as taken in colour.








This is the same image processed in Photoshop Elements: 






3  RED


The red filter allows red light through so will appear much lighter, also has affected yellow and green making them much lighter but prevents blue light getting through making blue darker.





The yellow areas become much lighter as yellow light being allowed through. The blue again becomes much darker. the red is much lighter also so this filter must allow red light through as well.







The tone of the blue is lighter as the blue filter allows blue light through. The red is affect so it is almost black and yellow also darker as yellow light is blocked.







Again as the filter allows its own colour through, in the case green, the green is much lighter. The yellow is very light and the red is a mid grey.





An interesting exercise that has help my understand of colour light, filters and the effect it can have on an image.

Exercise 3.3: Colour relationships – Part Two

The second part of this exercise is to produce three or four images which feature colour combinations that appeal to me, consisting of two or more colours. This is to demonstrate that ‘there is no single correctness to complimentary colours’.

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Fig: 3.3.a Four very vivid colours on this city-scape art on a neutral background in Antwerp the hue is very intense with deep saturation. 






Antwerp November 2013 080

Fig: 3.3.b I like the combination of earthy colours of brown and orange with the vibrant yellow bicycle dark saturation of green leafs on a muted beige background that all come together on a balanced composition.





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Fig: 3.3.c As in Fig: 3.3b here there are more earth colours with a green background contrasting with the unlit scene seen in the mirror.






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Fig: 3.3.d This 1960’s (assumed) structure in Antwerp is nothing particularly special about it or different more many others built of that era. But late afternoon the sun beginning to go down just caught the shades of colour emanating from the surfaces of the glass, concrete and curtains/blinds. There are strong muted shades with the occasional brightness of the some panes of glass. Colour does not have to be deep in saturation or hue to provide an effect or reaction.

Exercise 3.3: Colour relationships

This exercise is in two parts, the first being to produce one photograph for each combination of primary colour with the opposing secondary colour on the colour circle. The idea is to adjust the distance, focal length or framing to produce the following combinations and ratios:

– red: green            1:1

– orange:blue         1:2

– yellow:violet         1:3

The value for the brightness of each colour stems from Goethe, who assigned the following numbers to each of the colors.

9-yellow; 9-orange; 6-red; 6-green; 4-blue; 3-violet.

So using the above Goethe colour scale with orange being twice as bright as blue, the blue area within the composition should be twice as large as the orange area. Using these ratios I have produced the following images:
Fig: 3.3.i – red:green at a ration of 1:1
Red-green 1-4
Fig: 3.3.ii – orange:blue at a ration of 1:2
Orange-blue 1-1
Fig: 3.3.iii – yellow:violet at a ration of 1:3
Yellow-violet 1-1
Of all the above the most difficult to find was the yellow:violet, so difficult that I had to resort to using an image I took during early summer when I originally was thinking forward, sadly isn’t as sharp as I would like it to be.
Although on a recent trip to Antwerp I was trying to capture a couple together one wearing violet jacket and the other a yellow rucksack. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great shot. Below is the nearest I came. Again showing how difficult it is to get these colours together.
Fig: 3.3.iv – yellow:violet at a ration of 1:3 (not achieved) focus and depth of field all astray in this image
Yellow-violet 1-2
Part two of this exercise is to produce three or four images with two or more colour combinations that appeal to me. This part of the exercise will follow on my next blog entry.

Exercise 3.2: Primary and secondary colours

In this exercise the object is take photographs of 6 scenes or parts of scenes each to demonstrate a single primary or secondary colour. Then to adjust the exposure by half stop either side of the meter reading.

Once I started this exercise I found it incredible that each of the six colours weren’t immediately available outdoors, other than painted surfaces, which, as the exercise description suggests are not ideal as you are not creating anything more than a colour swatch.

The colours I am looking for are:

Primary: Red/Yellow/Blue

Secondary: Green/Purple (violet)/Orange

But I could have chosen the technical primary and secondary colours used in digital photography, computing and printing:

Primary (RGB): Red/Green/Blue

Secondary (CMY): Cyan (green & blue mix)/Magenta (red & blue mix)/Yellow (red & green mix)

For this exercise I have kept to the traditional artist colours in the first sets above: red, yellow, blue, green, purple and blue, as shown on the colour wheel below:












The following images are taken with my Canon 7D. which allow the f-number to be altered by one-third-stop scale i.e. extract of the scale: 4.5/5.0/5.6/6.3/7.1/8/9/10/11/13/14/16.


Yellow posted


Green posted


Blue posted


Violet posted


Red posted


Orange posted


I haven’t found this exercise that easy and have procrastinated over it for sometime. Finding subject matter wasn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be when initially reading through the exercise. Reflecting on the colours I realise that I have previously (subconsciously) altered the exposure of photographs by adjusting it by f-stops rather than length of exposure. But this exercise brought it to mind and especially in strengthening the intensity of the colour. 


London Photo Festival.org Oct.2013

This morning (5th Oct 2013) I dropped in to the The London Festival (LPF), this is the second time I have been to this festival, the first being May 2012.


The first impression of the festival is the depth of quality and quantity of submissions. It is hard to believe that the photographers are amateur and semi professional. The other thing that struck me was the diversity of subject matter ranging from submissions taken both locally and around the worlds from Mexico to the Far East. There were 55 participating photographers exhibiting in excess of 100 photographs.

The theme for this show was ‘Black n White’ and ‘Night Photography’; the winner of the best in show was Leanne Bouvet’s untitled monochrome image of an audience with stage lighting. The second winner was for the ‘f/factor’ prize voted by the visitors to the festival and was won by Robin Baumgarten for his ‘Shard Reflection from Tower Bridge’. Both of which are great shots.

Other images that particularly appealed included Eun Kim’s ‘Window’ (on page 22 of the catalogue, link above), divided in two large prints, is a somewhat voyeuristic night-time image taken from a window looking upon adjacent residential flats which each in various state of illumination, some with curtains/blinds drawn and others not and people going about their business at home.  There was also a shot by Rory Liam Hassett titled ‘Cooling Down’  (on page 9 of the catalogue) which captures the feel of a summer downpour as some revel in it and others cower to take shelter. There were many shot that I thought were compositionally very well-developed. The final one that particularly caught my eye was ‘Spotlight’ by Linda Wisdom  (on page 9 of the catalogue), which has a simplicity about it of a lone person being caught under a street lamp with a brick wall as the backdrop.

I’m looking forward to the next festival booked for May 2014 and the theme is ‘Street Photography’.

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

Born: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA 1923

It is interesting that my tutor, Keith Roberts, commented on my last TAOP assignment, Elements of Design, about the combination of monochrome and colour images within the series of photographs I used for that assignment. I have been considering whether my preference is towards colour or monochrome or whether it should be either, after all why restrict myself.

I have found myself gradually being drawn towards monochrome but fighting against it. After all I don’t want to go with monochrome because others are doing it or it makes photos look ‘arty’.  I feel I need to be creating my own images in colour or monochrome to suit the scene as seen through the viewfinder.

In my previous posting on Henri Cartier-Bresson I spoke about his early monochrome imagery as being second to none, but of course he didn’t have the benefits of colour until much later in his career.  Would he have taken photos such as the blurred cyclist taken in Hyeres, France 1932 or children playing in Madrid, Spain 1933 in monochrome if affordable colour was available? Although, he did go on to create many great colour images such as those in his Red China (1958) series as documented in January 5 1959 edition of Life magazine.

Reading through the February 2013 edition of British Journal of Photography (BJP) I came across an article on Saul Leiter by Steve Pill. Leiter live in New York and was immediately drawn to his colour images shown in the article which have an astounding use of colour like painters of the early and mid-twentieth Century such as American painter Edward Hopper.

Leiter’s use of colour in images Walk with Harlem (1960) and Taxi, New York (1957) have great use of colour and contrasts between the main focus of the composition and the surroundings. I particularly like the balance of the red and yellow in the second image. See this link to see the image and others by Saul Leiter:


Not only the use of colour draws me to Leiter’s images his mastery of street photography, his work has a painter’s quality about it in the way he sees the composition and the effects he creates through the viewfinder. Leiter’s work also reminds me of Ernst Haas street photography work as well, where both use colour, reflection and the weather to create some great imagery. Each these effects to form balanced compositions.

Filmmaker Thomas Leach has produce a film on Leiter called ‘In No Great Hurry – 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter’ which has been shown on TV but I am yet to see it. But, I am looking for a copy.

Assignment Two TAOP – Elements of Design: Monochrome

After my tutor suggested that my series of images for this assignment may look better all as monochrome rather than a mix of colour and monochrome. I have converted the colour ones via Photoshop Lightroom to monochrome. the complete series are here below:

single Point

single Point

Two Points

Two Points

Several Points in a Deliberate Shape

Several Points in a Deliberate Shape

Horizontal & Vertical Lines

Horizontal & Vertical Lines





Distinct, Even if Irregular Shapes

Distinct, Even if Irregular Shapes

Implied Triangle 1

Implied Triangle 1

Implied Triangle 2

Implied Triangle 2





I must admit before I converted the images I wasn’t sure. But now it is done I can’t help but agree that the images, all as monochrome, now look like a collection of photographs rather than individual ones. Also it is important not to forget that it isn’t good enough just to say that an image ‘looks better’ in monochrome or colour and a reasoned thought process should go into the choice. In the case, as my tutor suggested, having a series of monochrome images works as a collection of compositions rather than individual images. I have only converted to monochrome without any other adjustments just to assess the overall effect, there may be further tweaking needed to individual photos, which I haven’t addressed for this exercise. This does lead to a greater discussion whether to favour monochrome, colour or a mix. I will address this in forth coming exercises and learning.