Monthly Archives: July 2011

Exercise: Primary and Secondary Colours

For this exercise find scenes or parts of scenes that are each dominated by a single of the primary and secondary colours.

– Red

– Yellow

– Blue

– Green

– Orange

– Purple


With each colour that you find, vary the exposure slightly, take an image at the ‘correct’ exposure that the meter advises, and then a half stop brighter and darker.

I started this project with some enthusiasm, looking at a mix of colours trying to find the best subjects for this exercise. I was conscious of the requirement to be open about colours and to be aware of the natural colours of material as well as manufactured and painted colours.

My biggest issue was finding the breadth of colour in nature, I found that there seems to be an abundance of greens, but less of the colour palette I was expecting.

Image 1 is of some purple catmint in the garden, correctly exposed.

Purple Correct

Over exposed/brighter

Purple Over

Under exposed/darker

Purple under


Image 2 is of some fresh green pea pods- I found fruit and vegetables to be an excellent source of colour which I’ll take full advantage of during further exercises.

Correct                                 Over/Bright                      Under/Dark

Green correctGreen overGreen under

Image 3 is of a bright yellow St Johns Wort flower

Correct                                                          Over/Bright

Yellow correctYellow over


Yellow under


Image 4 is of a red chilli pepper

Correct                                                    Over/Bright

Red correctRed over


Red under


Image 5 is of some vivid blue nail polish- I struggled to find a natural variant of blue (apart from the sky) and decided that I could make an interesting composition through having the brush loose with a smear of polish.

Correct                                                   Over/Bright

Blue correctBlue Over


Blue Under


Image 6 is of a bat toy- its vivid orange colour was perfect for this assignment

Correct                                                      Over/Bright

Orange correctOrange Over


Orange under

On the whole, my personal preference is for an image to be slightly darker and underexposed. In most cases, I don’t like overly bright images, I feel that for me anyway, the darker tones in the correct or just under exposed add more detail, and also give the image more punch and character. The only image I like here that’s over exposed is the blue nail polish in image 5 as the brighter colour makes it more vivid.