Friday, 20 February 2009

And now for something completely different

So how do you see colour?

Is it natural, subdued, garish, subtle, vivid, a single hue, complimentary or contrasting? Essential or unnecessary? These are my scans from transparencies and are reasonably faithful to the original image. They are my colours from the shoots (from 1970s to 2000s), where would yours have been?

I learnt about colour (and movement) from looking at images by Ernst Hass in the days when paint was normally magnolia unless you had 60s/70s colours of brown, green and orange. EH seemed to find colour where it did not exist and produce subtle images from scenes that I knew would have been vivid. And for any with intellectual tendancies (why are you reading this blog then?) check out his philosophy as well... And remember the Mateus Rose images... and attempts to replicate them.

The red image was almost certainly Kodachrome 2, the Fuji may have been Velvia or 100, the others I am not sure, probably Ektachrome or Agfa 120 for the ballet dancer and sunset with Agfa 35 mm for the building. The films certainly had different characteristics but colour just does not happen any more than a casserole prepares and cooks itself. I started real photography as colour was developing although black and white remained my favoured mode for most subjects.

It is easy now with colour temperature settings in camera and raw editing or Photoshop, but what I see and my resulting photograph are different from yours: neither is 'right' and neither is 'wrong'. I made myself take the Fuji image ~ a set up picture with the intention of producing this result and deliberately took the building roof because the colours were so vivid / garish, but the others were more in keeping with my way of seeing.


  1. "The films certainly had different characteristics but colour just does not happen any more than a casserole prepares and cooks itself."

    - Well said!

    Great photos. Like the contrasts.

  2. I kind of miss the days when I chose film based on the moods I expected to share through my lens. I've come to enjoy exploring my DSLR's color temperature settings, as well as the tools in my photo editing packages. But they all lack the visceral appeal of standing in front of the film canisters hanging from the store's wall and mulling over the relative differences between them. Along the way, something's been lost.

  3. Thanks Carmi again. I think my hands prefer not having to deal with all the chemicals and there is a package now that replicates film grain for B&W (though not Tri-X at 3600 ISO developed for 2 minutes in paper developer at about 30C)
    I remember a photographer telling me of a shoot in the everglades where he ran out of his 'chilled' prof Ektachrome & Kodachrome 25 and bought a load of rolls of ordinary Kodachrome from a local store, not temperature controlled and no colour shift information and found they were just perfect for him. He later contacted Kodak and was told the ordinary film was designed to be kept in a camera in the car glove compartment for up to a year whatever the weather... without colour changes. Progress?