The colours in the colour wheel seen in my previous post balance differently with the complementary colours opposite them on the colour wheel, depending on their perceived brightness. The brighter the colour, the less is required to balance an image, for example, red and green are perceived to be of the same brightness value and therefore balance well at a ratio of 1:1, in equal measures. Orange is perceived to be brighter than its complementary colour of blue and therefore should take up less than the image than blue in order to create the correct balance, and ideally should be at ratio of 1:2, with more blue than orange. Yellow is even brighter than it complementary colour of violet and should be used in a ratio of 1:3. The image below shows the colour balance combinations and ratios.
Colour relationships: Red/Green 1:1 ratio Blue/Orange 2:1 Complementary colours work well when used in a particular ratio, according to their perceived brightness. E.g. Yellow is brighter than violet so it works best when a smaller amount is used in an image. Red and green are equal brightness, so balance well when used in equal amounts.
17th century poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe devised a colour notation system, to give a value to the brightness of the colours – the higher the number, the brighter the hue. E.G Red = 6, Green = 6, Blue = 4, Orange = 8, Violet = 3, Yellow = 9 – and the complementary colour pairs add up to 12, although whether this is actually relevant, I’ve no idea!
For this exercise first I needed to find one image for each of the harmonised complementary colour pairs above, in the ratios required for good balance, which was no easy task. I wanted to try and keep away from staging all of them, but wanted to fully fill the frame as much as possible with the colours, for there to be no doubt about the colours involved, with no others lurking around in the background, getting in the way. One of the images was spotted whilst out and about, and then for the other two I gave in and bought myself some chocolate and some flowers – for educational purposes only, obviously! (click on the images for larger versions and captions)
With a ratio of 1:3 yellow is the brighter of the two colours and therefore needs to take up a smaller proportion of the image to balance off against the less bright violet. I had a flash of inspiration when I was racking my brains to try and find violet and yellow combination. I’m not sure I’ve cropped this quite enough to give it the pure 3:1 ratio though.
With red and green equal in brightness, the ratio of 1:1 gives the best balance between the two colours. This was the kind of image I instantly thought of for the red/green combo.
As orange is twice as bright as blue a ratio of 1:2 (1 orange to 2 blue) works best for the balance of colour between the two. A local seafront playground has painted concrete shallow dip that in the summer is filled with water to make a little paddling pool. Not my best work!
For the second part of this exercise I had a slightly easier task of finding colour combinations that appealed to me, and they didn’t have to fit into the ratios above.
This green pepper had a nice little bloom of red on one corner, which I thought was quite nice!
The grey of the concrete stands out really nice against the blue of the sky – not sure if the wispy white cloud lets it down a little though.
Whilst playing around with the flowers earlier I took plenty of other shots, one of which I shot to maybe use for my colour assignment. I liked this close up of the full bunch, with the different shades of yellow and off-white contrasting with the red flowers.
I liked the way the yellow footpath arrow pops out against the greeny-yellow of the post and the white of the snow.
Light-leak aside (caused by faulty extension tubes which have gone back for replacement!) I ove the colour of this heather, broken up by the dark brown of the tips of the flower.
Overall, once again I found this a really interesting exercise, having never looked at colour relationships in this way before, only going with what I thought worked. It would be interesting to trawl back through my work over the years to see if any of my images have naturally fallen into any of the ratios, without thinking about it.