Assignment Three – Colour

This assignment is about showing command of colours and being able to show different colours in deliberate relationships. The brief is to take up to sixteen images spread across four categories; Complementary, Similar, Contrasting and Accent.

The images below where taken on two separate trips for this assignment in Melbourne CBD and the surrounding area. One was to the CBD and docklands, the other the CBD and the bay leading from Port Melbourne. Though I know we were able to setup still life images to show our understanding of colour relationships, I have chosen not to do so. Not that I feel is is cheating in anyway, but wanted to set myself the challenge of finding situations in the real world to answer the assignment. This has obviously taken a little longer, and I have had to shoot what I can find to answer each of the four parts of the brief.

At the start I struggled to find subjects to shoot and found the process more difficult than I had for the exercises. But after a few hours, I ‘tuned-in’ to looking for colour and colour relationships as I looked around. On the second trip I had the same issue but it did not last long and soon found myself in the swing of it.

Equipment used Fuji XE-1, 18-55mm & 55-200mm lenses, Nikon NX2 and DXO for image processing and just before we get into the photographs, here is the colour circle/wheel again as a point of reference for this assignment:


To be honest  I still found thinking in the terms of this colour wheel a little difficult at times, as I am so used to thinking in terms of lights primary (Red,Green Blue) and secondary (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) colours. And of course this creates a different colour wheel, at times I found myself making the wrong associations i.e. Red and Yellow next to each other, which of course on the wheel above they are not. Anyway onto the images:

Colour Harmony – complementary colours i.e. colours which face each other across the colour circle


This appartment blocked spied across the Yarra river, some distance from where I could stand is a great first example for orange and blue complementary colour, even the workers in the adjacent car park have kindly used blue and orange safety netting and orange cones.


Another image seen from over the river was this green petrol tank parked in front of the red door of an old harbour building. With a larger red door to the right and red garfitti under the jetty. Try as I might I was unable to find an angle which let me exclude the metal fence from the shot, but I like the image none the less.


Up much closer this time, an abstract close-up of an tiled statue, blue tiles with a yellowish mortar and orange line painted on a raised section slashing diagonally across the image. Remembering the ratios from the previous exercises.


The bright red frame and green/blue glass reflecting the surroundings in an alleyway,  makes for my last image for complementary colours. This time being very careful to ensure the verticals exactly align to the frame of the image, the structure and the colours making a very strong image.

Colour Harmony – similar colours i.e. those that are near each other on the wheel or in the cool (Violet,Blue,Green) or warm (Red, Orange, Yellow) range of colours.

DSCF7279_DxO DSCF7283_DxO

Outside one of the cafe’s I came across a bicycle standing against the metal railing, it’s mudguard was orange and the railing yellow, putting the image squarely in the ‘similar colours’ section. Being strong versions of these colours and the black tyre and dark gap also makes for a high contrast image.


More muted, natural colours now that I have walked south to the beach. With a balance of green and yellow verging on orange in some places. These colours are adjacent to each other on the wheel and seen often in nature, as we do here, making them ‘comfortable’ for us to see together. 


This image hit the warm colours square on with yellow through to red represented here and the blue tone to the rocky outcrop adding a little contrast as well. There is a rough diagonal split in the image, primarily between the red and the yellow, with a few red accent outcrops of seaweed in the sand to the right.


Colour Contrast – one third away from each other on the colour circle i.e red and blue.


Be prepared! I saw this lady in the red coat walking along the path on the other side of the street, I hoped she would walk in front of this blue window. I did not have time to move so I quickly changed lenses and tracked her walking along, she walked right in front of the window, I pressed the shutter and …. Nothing. In my haste I had not switched the camera back on from changing lenses. About to walk off in shame, I noticed she had gone to the bank till, once finished she headed back in the direction she had come from. With the camera turned on this time I once again waited for the right moment and this was the result (having to side step a truck that had since parked between us).

I could have shot just the window as it was but that would have been like photographing colour swatches. The woman in the red coat in front of the blue window makes the image so much more meaningful for the assignment. Though I was fortunate to get a second chance, I had surprised myself that I was able to see the image I wanted and wait for it to unfold in front of me.


The ‘shocking red’ of this car park walkway, in bright sun light with a blue sky in the background was to good to pass up. Hidden away in a side street, I first saw a glimpse of the red then as I walked down the alleyway this was there to greet me. The white of the buildings either side also help to make the red look even more bold.


I knew this shot was waiting for me on the other side of the Yarra having walked past these bikes many times in recent months whilst photographing for this course. The contrast of the blue bicycles and yellow bridge just waiting to be taken. As I approached the sun went behind a large cloud, I still took a couple of shots but the colours and contrast where not quite what I wanted, so I waited until the sun was back in full force to take this final image.


Whilst waiting for the sun to re-appear for the bycicles above, I went exploring and came across a beaten up yellow forklift in one of the hotel loading bays. The colour attracted me, like a moth to a flame, and as I approached I noticed the red writing on the side which also said red!


For this shot I’ve walked all the way back into the docklands and looking again in one of the areas which has a lot of cafe’s, this sign printed on the glass and the blue chairs behind jumped out at me as a great colour contrast. Making my final shot for this section.

Colour Accent – small area of colour against a larger area


Looking up onto the sky scrapers of the CBD I noticed yet another tower going up, this red worker lift making a great contrasting colour accent in the blue sky. Placing the red lift bottom right giving a large expanse of blue to the rest of the image.



There’s a good reason why they use yellow buoys in blue water, you can see them for miles due to the contrast. Plus of course it makes for a good contrasting accent in this image with the blue water and sky and the small lone yellow accent from the buoy.


A discarded red plastic bottle top pressed into the yellow sand, though these colours are considered contrasting, because they both live on the ‘warm’ side of the wheel they are more harmonious than the first blue / red accent image at the start of this section. 


On the waters edge where the sand is wet, it takes on a stronger yellow hue, verging on orange in the darker grains of sand. There are a number of colours going on here with the predominate being yellow and small blue accents from the shells.


Looking back at the assignment and images I have taken, this was not an easy assignment to fulfil. Trying to find strong images with the right colour combinations without a single ‘staged’ image was not easy and of course some work better than others. However overall I am pleased with the outcome and that I succeeded in my own challenge of no still life shots or filters. As with the previous two assignments I find myself thinking differently again about what I am looking for in an image. My approach becomes ever more planned and focused and I am now very critical of what I see in the viewfinder, slowing myself down when events permit, before I press the shutter release. Previously I had relied on my natural ability to recognise a good photo opportunity, now I am able to see more of those opportunities but also have a structure to the approach and more control.

Doing this course remotely without the ability to meet fellow students periodically can make for a rather lonely experience. But I find the blogging quite cathartic (in the hope that someone reads it!) and the tutor feedback ever more important to spur me on..


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