Monday, December 13, 2010

Colour Study: Red vs Green

This image is taken by Pentax Fa 77mm f1.8 limited

Some friends of mine have asked me about the applications of colours. Use of colours in photography is very important. Usuaully the colour profile of an image series creates a signature style of a photographer.

Sometimes the colour choice helps to protrays a desirable context to influence a viewer's mental state.
The most interesting and utilised choice of colour combination is Red vs Green, These two colours are equally weighted towards each other in terms of impact. A visual balance of these two colours is in 1 : 1 ratio. Therefore, a variation of proportion from these two colours will help a photographer to determine where the intended focus of any image shall be. Increasing the proportion of the red colour in an image will diminish the importance of the red itself, helping the viewer to look for the colour green subconsciously. Vice versa. This is a crucial knowledge to bear in mind during composition of any image.

The colour "Red" is the most ancient colour ever used in human history. In fact, the intensity of the red resets the brightness of a photograph to a medium dark overall. Most of the time, Red is avoided simply because the colour can be too dark, brooding and distracting if the subject of interest is not in red...
Very often, Red can only be a "host" colour in the image rather than a "guest" colour. Colour red has several effects on people. For example, normal red neck ties signifies ambience while burgundy red signifies classical or tradition. Intense Ferrari Red often denotes a flamboyant, progressive kind of message. Whenever an attention is needed, red colour helps to direct a confused and tired viewer to the desirable area of an image in order to perceive a certain message by the photographer.

No matter how bright red the colour is, colour red is considered to posess "darkening" effect. To compliment red, green is a must. However, green is considered even darker than red in general unless a choice of light olive green is considered. In general, light green is "no match" for any kind of red. Under such circumstances, the light green will be ignored by our higher centre of colour differentiation since light green is too "weak".
When Red is used, it shortens the viewer to the image distance in perception. Therefore, Colour red is not helpful in grandeous type of landscape images. Usually a dot or two of red is more than enough in most landscape if the scene is supposed to be vast and of huge scale. For moody, sentimental, sad, melanholy type of images, red or orange hue will be an ideal choice.
The choice of Green will hit hard in the visual cone cells of the human retina against the colour Red. Hence the impact is usually great enough to "elicit" certain type of emotion depending on one's upbringing experiences. This colour arrangment lasts visually even when the eyes are turned away from this particular colour combo.

Red and Green does cast great impact on viewing experience of many. But a port folio of images using only red vs green is not wise. This type of colour choice usually fatiques human vision. Hence tiring and exhausting for viewers. Therefore, this colour combination needs to be carefully planned out in a photography exhibition.
Lastly, the image I posted here obviously has the red leaf in the centre surrounded by the background bokeh, mixing red and green with variation of colour intensity. The colour choice is really these two colour where the intensity helps to create the sentiment. The rest is up to the viewer to interpret the red leaf...

Hope this article of colour red versus green will help many of my friends :)