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Author Topic: Colour harmonies and upcoming vision...  (Read 1640 times)
dreed
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« on: January 04, 2013, 07:10:15 AM »
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I don't know how others feel, but the colour harmonies series of essays have been almost non-events. Many of the pictures seemed to be various images that I've seen before where it looks like a vague attempt has been made to show how the particular colour theory applies to it without it being a compelling picture. Many of the images have so washed out and pastel like colours that I've struggled to understand why they were chosen. The latest installment has been exemplary in this - the dinosaur and snake pictures had me thinking "WTF is this guy on about? He's a professional photographer and he dishes up this kind of material that is more appropriate for a child playing with his first camera?"

If there is an upcoming series on vision then what I'd be looking for would be examples using images that I haven't yet seen before rather than some attempt to reuse "old work." Whilst this may be an attempt to explain why certain good images work, none that I've seen in the colour series fit into that category (to me.)

Something that seems to have been lost is that a lot of colour harmonies work based on contrast (i.e. colours on opposite sides of the circle.) There was not nearly enough discussion about contrast and similarly there was a complete lack of discussion of the importance of saturation. e.g. the "box harmonies" is really two contrasting pairs and perhaps the perfect "box harmony" is where you have the four dominate colours being at 90 degree points on the colour circle (thus implying two opposiing pairs.) But that's not discussed, just a very general hand waving over the topic and a useless image to demonstrate it.

At least for me, there has been no educational value in either the images or the text and I'm just an amateur. I suppose what upsets me most is that given the nature of this website and the content of many other essays, I was expecting more. Much more. And it could have delivered a whole lot more. Yes, I understand that the essays are provided "for free" and therefore I "get what I pay for" but I doubt that the argument for them being written is that they're worthless.

So here's to hoping the "Vision" series delivers something a whole lot better.
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 11:36:23 AM »
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I tend to agree - I felt the current series has been lacklustre compared to other essays here and elsewhere exploring the theory of photography.
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2013, 01:04:40 PM »
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Colour Theory

Today, and for several winter months now, I have decided that wearing brown shoes (albeit yachtie ones) with black windcheaters does go. Of course, I do have black shoes too, but I am saving them for the event of my funeral, when, I suppose, those entrusted with that faint gala will feel obliged to put me inside my single black suit (only color of suit) that I bought for my mother's funeral and then wore for that of my wife four years later.

I hate suits. I also hate theories. As ever, suck it and see: if it looks good, then it is good. It's only pictures, after all, not an airplane design.

;-)

Rob C
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michael
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 01:28:16 PM »
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What's with everyone today? What a grumpy bunch. Not just in this thread, but others today as well.

Simple opinion is fine, but let's have some civility and also educated and informed reparte.

Michael
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David Sutton
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 01:44:10 PM »
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What's with everyone today? What a grumpy bunch. Not just in this thread, but others today as well.

Simple opinion is fine, but let's have some civility and also educated and informed reparte.

Michael


Oh, I don't know. I've been constipated all week and reading today's comments has provided a great relief.
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michael
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 01:46:43 PM »
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At least it's only been a week for you. Some people here lately sound as if they've been constipated for months.

Michael
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2013, 12:35:33 AM »
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Winter blues up there in the north!

For the record I have really enjoyed Alan's essays. Perhaps it's because it's summer down here in NZ. (Sitting outside with a beer in 34C heat)  Smiley

 
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dreed
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2013, 01:19:52 AM »
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What's with everyone today? What a grumpy bunch. Not just in this thread, but others today as well.

Simple opinion is fine, but let's have some civility and also educated and informed reparte.

Michael

Must be something in the water.

But seriously, looking forward to the upcoming series on "Vision", they need to be far better than what has been presented in "Color Harmonies". You've written some very worthwhile essays over the years on composition (which is what "Vision" is all about), whether it be about lines, patterns or subject placement. I recall reading one of your essays some years ago that discussed "Seeing" when you were in Spain with the F-828(?) and snapped a street picture of women wearing hats as an example of "there are photographs everywhere, you just have to see them." (FWIW, I'd rate that picture above any of those in Alain's series on "Color Harmonies", if only because some years later I still remember it although I may be misremembering the text/essay.) I looked at that photo and thought to myself, "How did he see that?" followed by "How do I develop vision to see like that?" In comparison, none of the photos from the "Color Harmonies" series inspired me in the least.

Hopefully there's more constructive criticism there than grumpiness.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 11:26:57 AM »
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Winter blues up there in the north!

For the record I have really enjoyed Alan's essays. Perhaps it's because it's summer down here in NZ. (Sitting outside with a beer in 34C heat)  Smiley

 


Probably right; however, I think I've observed something else.

Depending on personal values, some say that taking Christ out of Christmas is the problem.

In many ways, I wouldnít be surprised if they are right. From the secular point of view, it depends much on your financial position. When comfortable, it provides an unmatched opportunity for giving a lot of joy to your kids, much more so than birthdays, which have a more low-key impact and are localized. But we have a recession, whether the fiscal/political word-meisters use that word or not.

Looking at figures published on the tv news, it seems that an enormous percentage of the population has gone into debt to service the Christmas seasonís expectations. How the hell can they feel cheerful? Too old for your kids to be hanginí around? Wish them well; hope they are happy and their lives go smoothly. So what do you, the old parent do at Christmas? Stick on a dumb paper hat? Go out and booze yourself semi-conscious? Flirt with the neighbourís wife should you still remember how or even why? Itís not a good time for anyone who is cursed with introspection, and how anyone with a mind avoids that is a mystery to me.

In my life so far, if Iíve learned anything, itís that everything is connected. Not an original revelation by any means, but my own life has confirmed it for me to my personal level of certainty.

So, if Iím right, how on Earth can Christmas blues remain absent from oneís frame of mind, whether posting to websites, going for a walk or just sitting looking at the wall? Okay, some walls are better than others, but the principle remains.

It's the zeitgeist.

Hereís a cute little number to cheer us all up!

http://youtu.be/m3Nix9TEzBA

;-)

Rob C

« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 11:34:37 AM by Rob C » Logged

DougJ
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2013, 01:47:51 PM »
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Well, at the risk of providing TMI, I am not constipated yet guffawed at reading the exchange between David and Michael.  There was a certain harmony in it, though not colour harmony--I suppose.

Ciao,

Doug

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John Camp
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2013, 05:43:07 PM »
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Some comments about the article, and about the other comments.

1. Alain wasn't trying to be inspirational with the photos -- they were examples. Trying to find the best possible examples of a certain effect is different than presenting your best portfolio photos.

2. Alain's biggest error (IMHO, or perhaps just IMO, not being all that humble, when you get right down to it) was in trying to present an exceedingly subtle subject in a couple of hundred words and a few illustrations, and also in presenting too much material. He would have been better off, IMO, in just presenting cool and warm harmonies, with some good examples of good complementary contrasts, and let it go at that. Once you start getting into tetradic and squares it's easy just to say, "Screw it - everything's a harmony."

3. I understand Alain trained as a painter, and this subject, I think, is much more important to painters than to photographers because subject matter is more important to photographers than to painters. Photographers are somewhat forced to work with what they find, and while it's good to understand the concepts of color harmonies, unless you are deep into Photoshop, you are usually forced to go with what might be called "natural harmonies" rather than formal color harmonies. You can shoot almost any landscape in natural color and it will be harmonious to your eye, because that's the way your brain works. If you try to forced a formal color harmony on it by tinting the photo blue, for example, it usually doesn't work: it looks un-landscape-like...tricky in the bad sense. Still, it's not a bad idea to be able to see formal harmonies where they exist (orange cliffs and blue skies, etc.) because sometimes you can take advantage of that. Digging back in my memory, it seems to me that Michael may have taken an excellent example of a complicated color harmony in a shot he did of an Icelandic structure of some kind (A church? I'm not sure.) Painters need to understand this all very clearly, in the most sophisticated ways, because painters are usually selling paint effects, rather than subject matter. If you find somebody who tries as hard as they can to paint realistic paintings, of actual scenes, you'll often find those paintings boring because they minimize the very tools that painters can make the most of: color harmonies, painting effects, abstractions, fictional creation, and so on. Most extremely realistic paintings would be better done as photos; and serious paintings really can't be done as photos. IMO.
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cmi
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2013, 08:07:49 PM »
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I enjoyed the series very much and I want to thank Mr. Briot for them. I think he is one of the best writers here and juding from his writing style also a very good teacher.

These essays (and the others about composition, artistic vision) are the reason why LL is pretty much the only place I visit regarding photography. Exactly essays like from Mr. Briot and many others (I remember the Art Wolfe ones) make LL unique. To me, dismissing that is like dismissing the core of what LuLa is and makes me curious about the photographic accomplishments of the critic.

Best regards


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I don't know how others feel, but the colour harmonies series of essays have been almost non-events.
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2013, 04:31:31 AM »
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I enjoyed the series very much and I want to thank Mr. Briot for them. I think he is one of the best writers here and juding from his writing style also a very good teacher.

These essays (and the others about composition, artistic vision) are the reason why LL is pretty much the only place I visit regarding photography. Exactly essays like from Mr. Briot and many others (I remember the Art Wolfe ones) make LL unique. To me, dismissing that is like dismissing the core of what LuLa is and makes me curious about the photographic accomplishments of the critic. Best regards




What an extraordinary thought!

Rob C
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dreed
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« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2013, 06:59:43 AM »
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These essays (and the others about composition, artistic vision) are the reason why LL is pretty much the only place I visit regarding photography. Exactly essays like from Mr. Briot and many others (I remember the Art Wolfe ones) make LL unique. To me, dismissing that is like dismissing the core of what LuLa is and makes me curious about the photographic accomplishments of the critic.

Different readers (or perhaps "students") will have different needs. Some will be satisfied with what they're given, some won't and will want more (even everything there is to know.)

1. Alain wasn't trying to be inspirational with the photos -- they were examples. Trying to find the best possible examples of a certain effect is different than presenting your best portfolio photos.

Let me put this in another way. If the images that are presented to illustrate a particular topic aren't inspiring then where does the reader's desire come from to create images that fit in with that topic? (This isn't limited to colour harmonies but all topics.)

To put this differently from a personal perspective, when I saw what he'd done with his Zabriskie Point image it made me want to go out there and create something like that or take a photo or two and try it myself in Photoshop. If I find a compelling image with a topic then I'm much more likely to think "now I see what that's all about, now I need to try and do something similar myself." That last bit is where I need to apply what I've learnt or re-read the material to ensure that it gets stuck in my head for when I'm next out and about with a camera.

Quote
2. Alain's biggest error (IMHO, or perhaps just IMO, not being all that humble, when you get right down to it) was in trying to present an exceedingly subtle subject in a couple of hundred words and a few illustrations, and also in presenting too much material. He would have been better off, IMO, in just presenting cool and warm harmonies, with some good examples of good complementary contrasts, and let it go at that. Once you start getting into tetradic and squares it's easy just to say, "Screw it - everything's a harmony."

3. I understand Alain trained as a painter, and this subject, I think, is much more important to painters than to photographers because subject matter is more important to photographers than to painters. Photographers are somewhat forced to work with what they find, and while it's good to understand the concepts of color harmonies, unless you are deep into Photoshop, you are usually forced to go with what might be called "natural harmonies" rather than formal color harmonies. You can shoot almost any landscape in natural color and it will be harmonious to your eye, because that's the way your brain works. If you try to forced a formal color harmony on it by tinting the photo blue, for example, it usually doesn't work: it looks un-landscape-like...tricky in the bad sense. Still, it's not a bad idea to be able to see formal harmonies where they exist (orange cliffs and blue skies, etc.) because sometimes you can take advantage of that. Digging back in my memory, it seems to me that Michael may have taken an excellent example of a complicated color harmony in a shot he did of an Icelandic structure of some kind (A church? I'm not sure.) Painters need to understand this all very clearly, in the most sophisticated ways, because painters are usually selling paint effects, rather than subject matter. If you find somebody who tries as hard as they can to paint realistic paintings, of actual scenes, you'll often find those paintings boring because they minimize the very tools that painters can make the most of: color harmonies, painting effects, abstractions, fictional creation, and so on. Most extremely realistic paintings would be better done as photos; and serious paintings really can't be done as photos. IMO.

+1

... In knowing his background and what he's written here in the past, perhaps it created a certain set of expectations that I didn't feel were met.
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