Tag Archives: colour palettes

Back to the explorations of colour

Now that my assignment has been sent off, I can get back to my explorations into colour and place. The mandalas are fun but don’t have a deeper meaning than what you see, at least not so far as I have divined so far. Today, I cam across a photographer who looks at the same concepts, but from a different angle.

Niall Benvie is a nature photographer with a wide range of interest, and his work caught my attention on http://www.naturephotoblog.com/. Niall has devised a process he calls Colour Transects, where he samples the colours of an image according to a set grid pattern. This produces a palette of colours which represent the image, but which also function as a device to encourage the viewer to move back and forth between the colour swatches and the images to find out where each colour swatch originated. He also titles the images with a latitude marker, as he’s interested in how the natural colour palette changes from south to north away from the Equator. His website is at https://niallbenvie.photoshelter.com/index.

I’ve been trying out his technique and here’s a screenshot of my first effort.

My colour transect 1

I think there is some potential here, not simply as a way of creating colour maps. Benvie’s concept of colours changing as one moves north or south is what has been niggling at the back of my mind. The colour palette of Australia is totally different from that of, for example, England or Iceland. Certain colours are strongly associated with the natural environment in each – ochres and very pale greens in outback Australia, bright greens and browns in England and blacks, whites and red in Iceland. My thinking on this is that it must be possible to capture a colour palette for each place which is definitive.

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What is Place?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, with regard to my own work and the different locations I visit round the world. There’s a section in the Landscape course, which asks “what makes a space a place?” and my very basic understanding is that human intervention and the creation of memories there turns a space into a place. However, that is not what has struck me on my globetrotting adventures. My own experience is that it is the colour palette of the landscapes that clearly identify them. For example, when I think about Icelandic landscapes, the pictures in my mind are black, yellow, red and white, while that of central Australia is ochre, black, soft lime green and yellow.

Taking this a little further, it is interesting to flick through my Lightroom library at high speed, over the course of the year. As the seasons change, so does the colour palette in a very clear but subtle way. Of course, we all know that the seasons are associated with different colours – black and white for winter; greens and yellows for spring; bright yellows, reds and blues for summer; and soft golds, bronzes and browns for autumn.

Alongside this, a couple of pieces of work have caught my attention online, which specifically look at the way that colour grading is used in films and TV programmes. Jason Shulman has condensed entire films into a single image, which condenses the colour grading used and which gives hints about it and also how the director filled the screen in their work.  There has been much speculation on the OCA Facebook sites about how he achieved this, and the consensus was that he merged a series of very long exposures. In a similar vein, Visually Satisfying Project Shares the Color Palettes of Iconic Film Scenes, a Twitter project, picks out the specific colours that exemplify movies and puts them together in the same way that Design Seeds uses. This has the effect of bringing together a range of colours that work together and which are reminiscent of the films concerned.

I am keen to explore the idea of working with different colour palettes as representations of a place and have decided to explore them in a couple of different ways. Firstly, I have taken the scenery out of the images for the most part and making mandalas in Photoshop which merge the colours into complex patterns. Below are my first two trials, and I am quite excited about where this might go. They are both from Australia, the first from Uluru and the second from Darwin. Alongside it is an abstract of water reflections from Katherine Gorge in the style of Peter Kenny, a photographer whose abstract work I greatly admire. This has possibilities too. Do zoom in on the mandalas – there is a lot of detail in them

The potential in Photoshop to take this further are huge, and it merges my interests in patchwork and photography in a mutually effective way. There is much to be learned here about the use of vectors in making template shapes and extending the complexity of the work to incorporate symbols and patterns appropriate to the place about which they were made.