Primary and secondary colours


To produce images that closely match the six primary and secondary colours by finding scenes, or parts of scenes, that are dominated by the colours.  For each scene the exposure should be bracketed by half a stop which will change the appearance of the colours; select the image that provides the closest match to the colour wheel provided in the manual.  Man made decorative surfaces should be avoided if possible in favour of naturally occurring colours.


The first thing that struck me as I began my research for this project was the wide variation in colours in the selection of colour wheels I found on-line.  Also viewing the same image on different monitors/screens produces quite a variation.  Given that we all have slightly different colour perception also adds yet another variable in this exercise.  Considering the research I carried out for the previous exercise and the requirements of this one I decided to try to find scenes in the landscape for as many of the images as possible and to venture into some macro photography which I have previously dabbled in but have been fascinated by what can be achieved.  This meant some delving into the camera manual to beef up on some of the functionality as well as looking for examples and tips on the techniques.  I found a plethora of information on-line and was particularly taken by the work of Ross Hoddinott which I had seen in many magazines and found his images were an inspiration.  Also I found the work of Ernst Hass to be very inspirational in the use of colour.  However the first thing I did was to calibrate my monitor and then dig out my ColorChecker Passport. It was then a case of some extensive footwork looking for the colours in keeping with my preference for the landscape scenes, noting the wide definition of landscape.


As suggested in the course notes, it was not easy to match the colours I found in the landscape environment with the given colour wheel and a good deal of frustration was encountered on this task.  In the main I was able to find scenes which delivered acceptable results and only in 2 cases did I have to resort to a trip to the local florist.  When I started taking the shots and trying to get a decent comparison with the supplied colour wheel I became very frustrated as the colours in the course notes did not seem to match at all well with my images or other colour wheels I viewed; I concluded this was a result of the printing of the course notes and decided to use the patches in my ColorChecker Passport as they are claimed to match industry standards.

Primary Colours


I took this shot because, to me, it represents the winter hedgerow.  Two seed pods hanging on amongst a tangle of bare branches and vines.  The composition makes the seed pods the focus of attention but behind is the confusion of the branches.

The left hand image (DC6_3695) provides the closest match with the colour patch.


This is a fantastic splash of colour in the otherwise fairly drab colours.

Again the left hand image (DC6_3710) provides the closest match to the colour patch.


Have to admit this one was not lurking in the hedgerow.

It was difficult to select the most closely matched image here due to the varying hues but, on balance, I think that once again the left hand image (DC6_3789) is the closest match.



There was plenty of choice for this colour with a huge range of greens in the natural environment.  I chose this example as it provided interest with the pattern and taken shortly after a rain shower still had the water droplets on it.

Whilst I was expecting the underexposed image to be my selection, probably due to the fact that I tend towards British Racing Green, but in this instance I believe the overexposed image (DC6_3722) to be closest to the colour patch.


Although I did find some flowers growing naturally the colour was very pale and I had to revert to the florist for these shots.

The richness of the colour is best matched by the underexposed image (DC6_3774).


I felt lucky to find these berries in a hedge lit by the afternoon sun, a rare commodity at this time.

Something of a subjective assessment of the colour match here due to the lighting but overall I think the underexposed image (DC6_3762) provides the best match.


This exercise was a challenge on a number of fronts; finding the scenes with the colours required without reverting to the paint manufacturer’s colour charts; nature’s decision to inflict persistent precipitation on the locality; venturing into the macro photography arena, an aspect of photography only previously touched on out of curiosity.  Nevertheless, I found the exercise to be an enjoyable experience, particularly the technicalities of going macro and discovering new ways of employing the functionality of my camera eg using live view to aid focussing.  I was also pleased to be able to find so much in the countryside to photograph and there were challenges in capturing the scenes I wanted “as found” – I now understand why right angle viewfinders are recommended.   Once you get down to this level of detail you really appreciate the range of colours that occur naturally, however, I still find some difficulty in deciding precisely where some of the pastel colours fit in.  As the course notes suggest, this will come with experience along with instant discrimination between saturation and brightness.  Looking at my images and my choice, in the majority of cases, for the underexposed image I wonder just how much we become indoctrinated by the preponderance of “supersaturated” images in the media – should it be pleasing to the eye/brain or “as found”?  A bit like having a sweet tooth?  I guess there is also the question of how the camera electronics process the image as I understand cameras do have a tendency to either under or overexpose and it is a matter of experimentation to deduce a particular camera performance.


Google. (2013) Images for famous macro photographers.  Available from: [Accessed 1 January 2014]

Google. (2013) Images for Ernst Haas.  Available from: [Accessed 3 January 2014]

Haas, E. (2013) Color.  Available from: [Accessed 3 January 2014]

Hoddinott, R. (2014) Ross Hoddinott photography.  Available from: [Accessed 1 January 2014]

Nikon USA. (2014) Macro photography tips: photographing insects and other small creatures.  Available from: [Accessed 1 January 2014]


Control the strength of colour


This task is aimed at illustrating a technique to control the colour in a photograph at the time of shooting; it utilises one of the most basic, over saturation.  The exercise requires a subject of strong, definite colour shot from a viewpoint such that the colour fills the viewfinder frame.  Five photographs are required, all composed exactly the same, but differently exposed from bright to dark.  Having found the average exposure setting take the sequence of photographs starting at one stop brighter than the average recorded and subsequently stop down by half a stop each time. On completion note the difference, apart from over-exposure to under-exposure, in terms of colour.


My research for this project began by building on what was given in the course text ( I lost the will to live in trying to find the basic text for the theory of colour on the OCA website).  My main sources were Freeman (2007: 109-127), Freeman (2013: 139-153) and Prakel (2012: 74-85).  Whilst these readings went way beyond the requirement for the first exercise I considered it best to get a fulsome understanding of the subject matter at the outset.  The main learning was to keep at the forefront of the mind Hue, Saturation and Brightness and to view all images, and potential images, in consideration of those parameters. Having considered the requirements for the exercise I selected a piece of green card for the subject.


I mounted the green card on the wall and set up the camera with cable release, tripod mounted, such that the card filled the viewfinder.  The average exposure setting was determined with a hand-held light meter and a custom white balance set using a grey card. All the shots were carried out in manual mode.  There was an unexpected challenge during the shoot which was carried out in a conservatory in the middle of the afternoon, in that the weather changed rapidly and the light kept changing.  This was overcome by resetting everything and completing the shoot in quick time.

The exercise called for the shots to be reviewed for difference in colour apart from the over/under-exposure.  I approached this question with the HSB mantra in mind.  In deliberating this I found the explanation of HSB given in Freeman(2013:141) of the colour cylinder to be the most useful.  Clearly the Hue/colour is constant but as the exposure changes the saturation and brightness are affected.  Looking at the shots from left to right, the constants are ISO and shutter speed and the variable is aperture with decreasing light falling on the sensor giving an increase in saturation or richness of the colour with the final two frames being so dark as to make the colour almost unidentifiable; in other words the saturation increases to a point where brightness becomes the dominating factor.


The exercise has demonstrated the ability to control the saturation of a colour when taking a photograph.  However, It has raised questions in my mind as to the relationship between saturation and brightness where brightness produces the pastel colours; can you have a saturated pastel colour?  There does seem to be quite a lot to get your head round with saturation, brightness, pastel colours, muted colours et al.  But is there a right and wrong treatment?  Again we come back to the eye of the beholder.  Whilst the basic theory of the colour wheel, harmony and discord provide the basic structure the latitude for personal preference appears to be in the saturation and brightness, notwithstanding some will elect to go totally off-piste.

Reference List:

Dorling Kindersley. (2008) art the definitive guide. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited

Freeman, M. (2007) The photographer’s eye: composition and design for better digital photos. Lewes: The Ilex Press Limited

Freeman, M. (2013) The photographer’s eye: a graphic guide. Lewes: The Ilex Press Limited

Prakel, D. (2012) Basics photography 01: composition. Second edition. Lausanne. AVA Publishing SA