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’.

Antwerp November 2013 224

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.





Antwerp November 2013 029

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.






Antwerp November 2013 216

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.

Exercise 3.1: Control the strength of colour

For this exercise I needed to find a strong definite colour and then take a series of photos of the same composition but with different exposures. Start by taking a photo one stop brighter than the original metered setting then stop down the aperture by half a stop each time:

f4. 0.8sec, ISO100, 18mm

Fig: 3.1i   f4. 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm









f4.5, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm

Fig 3.1ii   f4.5, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm









f5.6, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm

Fig 3.1iii   f5.6, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm









f6.3, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm

Fig 3.1iv   f6.3, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm









f8, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm

Fig 3.1v   f8, 0.8sec, ISO-100, 18mm









The most under exposed is the final image Fig 3.1v which is the darkest of the images creating the strongest colours. The most over exposed is the first image Fig 3.1i with the lightest colours. There is a progressive darkening of the image from the first to last. Looking at my chosen subject I can see why the exercise asks for a single definite colour, the subject I have chosen, while showing the deference which each stop, a single colour was used would be much clearer. Although the colours are identifiably similar the first and last images can appropriately be called light red/yellow and dark red/yellow, i.e. differing brightness.

Assignment Two TAOP – Elements of Design: Tutor Feedback

Having comeback from a break on the course it is refreshing to receive positive response from my tutor on my second assignment. My tutor has raised items providing ‘food for thought’ for me to consider during the following exercises and assignment for Part 3 – Colour.

Overall Comments

This was a very good submission Colin, including some very interesting imagery, supported by some strong written work.

The issues raised in the previous report are as follows:

  • Keep up the methodical submission standard.
  • Use Harvard referencing within your written work with a Bibliography.
  • Look at the works / writings of Henri Cartier-Bresson.
  • Try to start developing a ‘Critical Position’.
  • Always shoot specifically for the assignment.

I can now see through this submission you have certainly taken on board these suggestions, which again is excellent progress.  The submitted work was both thorough and comprehensive, with the written commentary really providing a sound academic framework to the imagery.  It was also good to see that you have included a bibliography at the end of the submission.

Feedback on assignment

I liked this submission and thought it demonstrated some firm commitment to the subject, being both thorough in contents and professional in presentation.  You are addressing the written component of the programme from the outset, which is always very promising to see and this element of the submission was well considered and executed.  You are including the relevant theory (Gestalt) in relation to this specific assignment and incorporating aspects of feedback suggestions (HCB) which is also good to see.  With reference to photographic composition, I would recommend a powerful little publication by Andreas Feininger called ‘Principles of Composition in Photography’.(See Below)

Your reference in the text about the work of HCB was a good use of literature to support your own imagery … and I can indeed see his influence coming through the work with the use of keylines around the imagery etc. Your shot entitled ‘Diagonals’ disobeys all of his principles though…. Having not frozen a single moment in time or managed to leave the image uncropped !  I do however think the shot works well in terms of exploring the use of the diagonal handrail, glass and ramp of the bridge.  I like the fact that you are considering the whole composition of an image through the viewfinder at this stage of the degree though, which is good practice in terms of constructing an image from the various picture elements.

I wasn’t too sure about combining both monochrome and colour imagery within one series and actually liked the monochrome images better to be honest.  I think you need to think carefully about this decision and be able to justify it to more of an extent than just simply liking it better.  It is a big decision to remove all colour from a picture and you need to be very clear about ‘why’ you would choose to take such an action.  The three images that run in sequence from ‘Two Points’ to ‘A combination of Vertical & Horizontal’ work really well together as a set I thought.  I also agreed with your point about the last shot there requiring ‘something’ of ‘someone’ on the steps to the left of the image.  It lacks ‘Punctum’ as referred to by Roland Barthes in his publication ‘Camera Lucida’.

The strongest shot in the series for me was the ‘curves’ shot which was compositionally well considered.  It reminded me in a very basic way of Emil Otto Hoppe for some reason …. Well worthy of your attention if you haven’t already come across him. (see below)

There is a refreshing simplicity about your work Colin which I like …. Both ‘First Implied Triangle’ and ‘Rhythm’ confirms this.  Keep up this level of engagement and try not to worry too much about the feeling of self-consciousness when out shooting …. This will disappear over time.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

The blog is working very well for you and appears to be updated regularly (with the exception of the break in studies) with a selection of posts, dealing with theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline.  I am very impressed to see you are drawing influence from a broad and diverse range of sources, which will certainly benefit learning at this level of study.

The blog is actually very easy to navigate and contains some appropriate links to reading / practitioners / exhibitions etc.

Suggested reading/viewing

Parr, M.2004:Think of England. London. Phaidon Press Ltd. ISBN-13: 978 – 0714844541

Eggleston, W.2002: William Eggleston’s Guide. New York. MOMA Press ISBN-13: 978-0870703782

Shore, S.2004: Uncommon Places. London. Thames & Hudson ISBN-13: 978-0500542873

Wood, T.1998.All Zones Off Peak.1st Ed.Dewi Lewis Publishing ISBN-13: 978-1899235865

Feininger, A.1973.Principles of Composition in Photography.Thames & Hudson. London  ISBN-13: 978-0500540114

Pointers for the next assignment

As well as further considering ‘composition’ I would like you to take a look at the work of the three practitioners listed above called: Martin Parr, William Eggleston and Stephen Shore.  Parr is a well known Magnum Photographer, so it may also serve you well to try and become acquainted with what the Magnum Photo Agency [http://www.magnumphotos.com] is all about.  The other two [Eggleston & Shore] are very important American photographers especially in relation to the use of ‘Colour Photography’ which I think may help you with your forthcoming 3rd Assignment.

Eggleston in particular is cited as being the photographer who introduced the art world to Colour Photography, with his ground breaking exhibition at MOMA in New York in 1976.  Prior to this, most serious photography had been monochrome.

I hope this is of help to you Colin and I look forward to your next assignment.

Colour Theory – a general introduction

Colour is the part of light that is reflected by the object we see.

Colour is an important element in any kind of artwork. Originally photography was thought of in monochrome, due to colour technology not being readily accessible in a relative inexpensive format until the 1960s. Now photographers have the luxury of choosing monochrome or colour with a variety of media available to exhibit the finished image.

Colour is the next section of the course so first of all I need to research the relation and theory of colour.

Colours can be divided into three main classifications:

Primary – red, blue and yellow

Secondary – a mix of two primary colours:

Blue/yellow mixed = green

Red/yellow mixed = orange

Blue/red mixed = purple (or known as violet)

Tertiary – colours are combinations of primary and secondary colours, the name of the tertiary colour is the combination of the primary and secondary colour with the primary colour coming first:

Mix blue with purple = blue purple this is a tertiary colour.

The common way of show the above relations is on an artist’s colour wheel, which I have drawn up in AutoCAD and pasted a jpg here:


Viewing the colour wheel: colours opposite each are complementary colours providing maximum contrast but maximum stability, for example: red-green, yellow-purple & orange-blue:

Eample Complementary colours











These are the basic combinations of primary and secondary colours.

There are also contrasting colours, this relationship is created by two primary or two secondary colours that are separated by at least one-third of the colour wheel e.g.

As shown above the colour wheel can also be divided into warm and cool halves as shown on the colour wheel above. The warm colours: reds, oranges and yellows, are associated with warmth, fire, sun, etc. where cool colours: greens, blues and violets are associated with sky, sea and leaves.

Further to the relationship between colours there are the qualities of colour, which can be described in terms of: Hue; Brilliance; Saturation.

Hue refers to the pure colour. The colours shown on the colour wheel are all hues.

Brilliance refers to the lightness or darkness of a colour. This is the intensity of a colour determined by how much or how little grey a colour contains

Saturation defines the intensity of the colour (hue). This is the intensity of a colour determined by how much or how little grey a colour contains. Vivid primary colours are saturated and pastel colours are unsaturated.

Black, white & grey are referred to as neutral colours.

There is a general descending order of light values for colours as defined by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1810., which are:

Yellow-9, orange-8, red-6, green-6, blue-4 and violet-3.

These numbers can be used to read the comparison of colours to describe them Red and green have the same number (6) as they are judged to have the same luminosity. This means they also combine harmoniously when in equal portions.

Orange has twice the luminosity as blue. So to create balance blue has to be twice the area of orange, as shown here:

blue twice size of orange





The brightest and darkest of the pure hues, respectively, are yellow (9) and violet (3) as shown below to create balance yellow is only a quarter of the image thus creating a weak:

violet three x size of yellow




Obviously colours come in multiple combinations with red/yellow/blue being the strongest mix of pure hues. These hues will work together in an image punctuating a photograph but if too many are collected together becomes excessive and confusing .

Above are some of the basics of colour theory I have looked into before undertaking the first exercises in Part 3 of TAOP – Colour.