Thursday, 2 July 2015

Thinking about colours

I am taking a digital photography training course run by the Open University in collaboration with the Royal Photographic Society. The course is a mixture of practical photography assignments, learning through online course work, plus opportunity for sharing and reflection. I'm getting a lot out of the course through the course material and reading around the fringes.

As an example, a recent assignments has encouraged deeper thinking about the use of colour in images and how it affects balance, unity, dynamism and focus of attention.  My first image for this assignment was of a bunch of Tesco's finest flowers, Alstroemeria.


The subject flowers are naturally vibrant with hues that are close to each other on the colour wheel. The green leaves provide a strong colour contrast to the flowers and boost the perceived vibrancy of the flowers. The subject was backlit with daylight to give a natural glow to the flowers and the leaves.

I wanted to ensure that the nearest flowers were in very sharp focus with the further flowers being in softer focus. In order to get the necessary depth of field I used focus stacking. Focus stacking involves taking a series of images at different focal distances. For this image, I took three shots - the first with the nearest flower in sharp focus. The second shot was focused about 5cm behind the first, with the third focused about 5cm further back again. Successful focus stacking requires a solid stable tripod and software that can merge the various images. I used Zerene Stacker to merge the images.

The second image for the assignment shows an old cracked bowl that contains shells that have been collected over a period of many years.


The colours in this image are intentionally very subdued. The background colour is similar to the hues found in the bowl and shells. The natural lighting gave a rather flat image so post-processing has included some dodge and burn to bring out the contours of the shells. The orange shell was originally a much more intense orange colour. It has been desaturated in post-processing so that it did not overwhelm the image.

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