Colour is something that is all around us and always will be. As an artist it’s important to know the powers and effects that colour can bring to an image though with photography this is completely different. It’s important to understand the colour balance and create harmony or intrigue in your photography.
Colour can be defined by three important elements.
Hue, saturation and brightness.
Hue is the pure form of all the colours that make up light, the rainbow and the colour spectrum. They are the wave length.
Saturation is basically the intensity of colour in photography. Oversaturating images causes detail to be lost and also skin tones take on an orange hue. It can be used to make greenery appear more lush or for your subject to stand out.
The difference between saturation and vibrancy is that vibrancy only affects muted colours, not colours that are already saturated enough.
Brightness: This is basically the light and dark points of an image are changed by adjusting exposure or aperture/shutter speed and ISO.
The light and dark points of the image are shown on a histogram. When you adjust the histogram you are actually increasing the gamma which is different to the brightness as it is only affecting the shadows.
Another thing that can define colour is contrast but as this isn’t part of this section I’ll review that later
In preparation for this exercise I studied a number of books on colour in photography learning great deal, it also increased my enthusiasm.
The exercise instructed us to choose a subject and capture a photo of a pure colour alternating the aperture and exposure by one stop every time. The result would be five photos with varying degrees of colour brightness. I used my Canon E0S 60D camera with a 18-135mm lens. I set the setting on aperture as I prefer creating a photo by controlling that aspect.
Firstly I photographed the glockenspiel, the bright intense red would be perfect. But I reckoned without the reflections which soon proved a distraction. I moved onto the flower pot, a deep pink. Setting it up on the conservatory windowsill so the light came from several natural sources I positioned the camera on the chair.
As the exposure and aperture changed the actual colour of the photo changed from a pure state to a weaker form of the initial colour. Now I could see the meaning and purpose of saturation, brightness and hue. Though another element took place in this changing process, contrast. The higher the exposure the more contrast was lost in the overall image.
This was a fascinating project, a simple purpose but the knowledge from the obtained results are invaluable.