Assignment 3 – Colours

In this assignment the focus is on colours and different relationships they form. How can we use our knowledge of different colours to accentuate contrast in photographs or a harmonious relationships? I will explore four different relationships between various colour combinations .

As with the other assignments, I read the tasks and requirements several months ago and whenever I did a photographic assignment for my clients or a project for myself, I simultaneously took images  for this assignment whenever I had a chance.

I find this way much easier, better for my learning and more natural rather than taking set of photographs on one day for a particular assignment. I like thinking about the colours and how they work together and need time to experiment and try different things…None of the images that I took for this assignment were set up.

 1.    Colour harmony through complementary colours

Colours that face each other across the colour circle are complementary. They balance each other and have a natural harmonious relationship, so if both colours are in an image, the image seems to be balanced and eye pleasing.

The complementary pairs are: red/green, orange/blue and yellow/violet.

Oranges against green leaves and blue sky


The orange colour, very bright, sits quite comfortably against the also bright blue and green. Blue and green are next to each other on the colour wheel, whilst orange is directly opposite to blue and about a third way away from green. The three colours together make a well-balanced image in my view.

Red tulips with green leaves


Equal ratio of green and red make an eye pleasing image, red and green seem to be equally bright and therefore the 1:1 ratio works well with these two colours.

Green Heineken sign with a red star


Unlike the previous image, much smaller red star against the green colour on this image makes the photo feeling less balanced, however, since red and green are complimentary colours, it is still a harmoniously looking image.

Red strawberry with a green stem


More red in this image than green, with the red colour reflecting in the mirror, as above, complementary colours red and green work well together.

Looking at my images, I obviously tend to prefer certain colour combinations, and this assignment helped me to notice this and realise my natural preference of a green/red combination….i guess these are also more common around us, unlike the orange /blue for example.

2.   Colour harmony through similar colours

Colours that are harmonious are near each other – they form either warm (orange, red ) or cold ( green, blue ) tones.

As in the previous colour combinations, I realised again that I tend to look for certain combinations whilst probably ignoring ( and neglecting ) others. I wonder why this is a natural preference for myself…

Green metal part of a bridge against the blue water


I took this image on a bridge in Prague and really liked how the green colour of the part of the bridge brings out the blue of the water beneath.

Green Christmas wreath with blue flowers


I am not too keen on the traditional red and green combo for Christmas decorations so when i had a chance to create my own Christmas wreath, after the initial panic that I will not be able to do it ( this was in a group of very capable looking ladies in a fancy flower shop, during a workshop ) I decided to go for green and blue combination and found it a really winning choice. It just seems that both colours work so well together and bring the best out of the other colour – true partners!

Green tiles on a roof against blue sky


Blue and green again ! Blue sky and deep green tiles on one of the Gaudi’s houses in Barcelona. The yellow /brown tiles on the left hand side of the image should be theoretically giving the image a contrasting feeling, but it does not feel like it to me. The darker tones of the tiles on each side of the roof ground the two brighter colours and result in a well balanced photograph.

Girls dressed in lilac and red jumpers


Finally an image without a blue sky or water ! I took this image while taking photographs for a nursery school in Prague and these two gorgeous girls were my models – how clever they were getting dressed in these colours that lie next to each other on the colour wheel and therefore look so good together ?

3. Colour contrast through contrasting colours

Combination of colours like blue and red, green and orange are not harmonious, because they don’t lie against each other on the colour wheel and therefore are not complementary. They create a strong contrast in an image and depending on how they are used, they can be clashing. However, when an accent is needed in an image, setting these colours next to each other can be very effective and eye catching.

A boy with red cheek and a blue wig

The blue wig is in a good contrast with the painted red cheek, this consume and make up was designed for a drama show and the contrasting colours were deliberately chosen to create an eye catching costume.

A detail of red boat and blue sky

( a formatting note – the colour option for typing suddenly stopped working..sorry but must stick to black from now on… )

I took this image on a boat trip, and really liked the bright red colour against the blue sky. Although contrasting, I think both of the colours work well in this image and the overall result is a strong, poster like photograph.


Yellow leaves and blue sky

Yellow and blue are spaced about a third the way around the colour circle and their combination should theoretically create a contrasting image – however, this image of yellow leaves, illuminated by late afternoon sun and a pale blue sky does not feel contrasty at all. It is perhaps the golden colour of the leaves that is not too bright, and the shadow across part of the tree, in combination with the very pale blue, that creates this rather gentle image.

ballet, rehearsals

Yellow and blue sign

As above,  yellow and blue colours, this time on a sign that I spotted in Prague. Strong colours set against each other, a good contrast.

ballet, rehearsals

4. Colour accent through contrasting colours

If one small area of colour sits against a much larger one in an image, this smaller area of a colour works as an accent. Using this kind of relationship between different colours can be hugely effective and can transform a boring image into an eye catching one – the spot of colour set against a larger area creates a point of interest which in turns creates a different dynamic to the whole image.

A red cable car against a blue sky

This is a photo of a red cable car that I took in Barcelona, I like the simplicity of the image and the strong impact that the red colour creates against the blue sky. Graphic feeling to the image with two strong colours.


A blue lock on a red door

Similar as the image above, vast area of the red door is broken by a small blue lock – simple but effective image, only because of the two colours.

ballet, rehearsals

A girl in pink jumper 

I took this image as the last shot of a photo shoot for mother and daughter, we were leaving the sand dunes and I really liked the contrast of the girl’s jumper against the yellowish tones of the grass…

DU1E7325 (1)

Bride and groom near a red door

Ok, so this is not a small area of colour but the red colour of the door works here as an accent, in an image that otherwise does not have much colour at all. The red colour gives the image another dimension and another charge, makes the faces of the bride and groom stand out more .



I enjoyed this assignment and learned a lot from it – looking at photographs that I took and analysing the colour combinations that I used, I realised that there are some colours that I obviously prefer and feel attracted to.

A challenging assignment in the sense that I prefer black and white media and would probably never went on my own and do exercises like this – feels good to experiment and do something that one would not normally photograph.

One thing that I was acutely aware during the whole time I was collecting images for this assignment was the role of light and brightness of the colours in an image – very bright colours, that lie next to each other in the colour wheel, can create a very contrasting image and contrasting colours, that are subdued and less bright can feel quite harmonious next to each other.

This entry was published on March 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm. It’s filed under assignments, OCA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Assignment 3 – Colours

  1. some of my favourite images here – you are brilliant!

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