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A Q A   CSE, As,  and  Advanced  Level  Photography

Home Heritage Site Candidate Introduction Portfolio Project1


Collect other people’s images you like

Show off your knowledge

Show off your use of colour and skills using colour.

Show your knowledge of the history of the development of colour photography or the use of colour in an art movement (eg Fauvism)

Show off your knowledge of colour theory (contrasting colours)

Show you understand that black and white photography involves tones (greys or high contrast)

Look at the use of muted palettes and selective colours

The briefest acquaintance with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Elements makes one aware immediately of the vast complexity of colour photography. Not only do most modern cameras offer the user the ability to play around with colour settings but when the raw photographic files are imported into Photo shop the possibilities of adjusting colour are dauntingly large.

Colour theory was always complex even before the invention of photography and modern neuroscience and the use of live brain scans have made the matter even more complex.

Neuroscience suggests  that our sense of colour and how colour might construct meanings is closely related to our culture.

It makes matters even more difficult when it suggests that sight and the perception of colour is highly individualistic and for all of us, to some extent  subjective. Many more people than we thought  do not perceive colour at all, and the range of so-called colour blindness is far wider than we ever thought.

Generalisations about the “meaning” of colour abound (see left hand side panel) and they often lead to over almost algebraic simplification my preference is to talk about colour in any given photograph within the full context of other signs/signifiers within the photograph.

In order to highlight the complexities of colour one need only look below at the array of colour tools Photoshop offers for colour management and these are only a small selection of “first” options. The hue,saturation and lightness sliders alone offer thousands of inter related possibilities.

For those interested in the full complexity of colour theory this is an interesting photographic site,

http://photoinf.com/Image_Balance/Michael_Reichmann/Col our_Theory_as_Applied_to_Landscape_Photography.htm

“You can establish the entire mood of a shot by emphasizing a particular color scheme: Reds and oranges are hot and exciting, ready to burn at the touch. Blues and greens are cool and refreshing, the deep runnings of a mountain stream or the freshness of new-mown lawn. Yellows warm us, from the buttery glow of morning sunlight to the romantic amber of candlelight.

Vibrant contrasts, particularly among bright primary colors (reds, yellows, and blues), are especially effective in creating dynamic designs. Such contrasts excite the eye, making it jump from one color to the next. Gentler combinations of pastels can create a lighthearted or romantic mood, while earthy tones offer a more natural or organic feel.

You can also use colors to create specific effects. With careful framing and camera angle, you can draw attention to a relatively small but brightly colored subject against a more subdued background”

This,with thanks, from an American”how to” photographic site,


Two photographs of a blackbird,the photograph above is shown “as taken” no colour filters applied, the photograph below has had its colour temperature lowered considerably and the bird’s beak has been given increased saturation. The effect of these changes is perhaps to suggest coldness/frost and the yellow beak is given greater prominence as it stands out from the rest of the subdued palette.

Here one can see the effects of increasing photographic temperature and the application of selective saturation on the photograph of this gothic church on the left. Does that make the photograph on the left any “better”? I think it helps to delineate the soaring lines of the gothic pillars. It also adds “warmth” which many people find pleasing.

A selection of photographs where colour is an essential ingredient, if not the only factor, in the photographs success or otherwise. Colour is never unimportant as it is rather an obvious truth that all colour photography contains colour. Some times it is the most subtle, less glaringly obvious, capturing of colour that makes for the most satisfying photograph. Sometimes,even with modern photography, “you had to be there”