Dear readers, I must start with a confession: two weeks ago, I lied. I wrote, quite explicitly, that I would post five, maybe even six colour photos of trees this week. Regrettably, I must inform you that I’m actually posting seven. My humblest apologies for having misled you, and for delivering more than I promised to deliver. I just hope you can forgive me. (I also hope you realise this is strictly a tongue-in-cheek paragraph).
Colour is a peculiar being: bold, forthright and assertive; or nuanced, subtle and gentle. These elements dictate the palette (vibrant or pastel), and may be augmented by controlling the breadth of colours on the palette. I’ve trawled through a smattering of photos from the past 12 months, and selected photos which I feel present most of these elements in their various guises.
Subtlety of colours can provoke pondering in the viewer’s mind. Limiting the range of colours, using silhouetting and muted vibrancy, can lead to a quasi-sepia or quasi-black-and-white effect, without completely removing colour from the photo. There’s a classic example of this in an old Leica magazine from the 1970’s, which depicted a lake at sunset on a heavily overcast day. Overall, the impression was one of black and white, but the sliver of silver dancing across the rippling water forced you to wonder if it was actually a colour photo.
Shaping colour, where different colours are split into simple shapes that meld together into the photo, is especially effective with vibrant tones. This heightens the bold effect of vibrant colours, by packaging them in strong, visually distinctive outlines. Where the colours have reasonably high contrast between one another (such as blue and yellow), shaping can really give a visual boost, and forms the backbone of most patterns. The best example that comes to mind is a checkerboard, where you have the extremely contrasty black and white alternating between adjacent squares.
Silhouettes are very effective in colour, and the backbone of countless sunrise and sunset photos. Silhouetted shapes can be utilised to direct attention to a feature more promptly, reinforce the dominance of a feature, or to ascribe dominance to a feature that would normally fade (through pastel tones or an overall lack of contrasty lighting). These are just a few of the common ways I use them, but there are undoubtedly more. Shaping colour ties in with silhouetting, as the silhouette is a dark tone shape, acting against whatever corresponding shape (or shapes) it has caused in the rest of the colours.
So, that was the six promised photos of trees in colour, interspersed with a few musings (I need to stop putting those in “photo” posts!) on the topic of using colour in photos (which are not necessarily of trees). Now, to leave you with the promise breaking photo…