Exercise: Colour relationships

Take 3 images for the first part and 3-4 images for the second part

Produce one photograph for each combination of primary and secondary colours in line with the harmonic relationships suggested by J.W.Von Goethe with the brightness values of yellow 9, orange 8, red and green 6, blue 4 and violet 3.

Red and green at a 1:1 ratio

Orange and blue at a 1:2 ratio

Yellow and violet at a 1:3 ratio

For the red and green image, I was inspired by some freshly picked broad beans and some raspberries we had in, I arranged them side by side so that they each filled an equal amount of the frame and took a few images from different angles. I chose this one as I felt it was balanced to be 1:1 of each colour as it was taken and didn’t need any further cropping or manipulation

red green


For the orange and blue, I was really struggling with this as its not a combination that I’ve come across a lot. However at a recent air show, some wing walkers were in a different plane to previous years and this bright orange contrasted nicely with the blue sky. I composed the image to ensure that there was more of the blue sky in the frame, and then when I reviewed the images, selected the one that I felt reflected the proportions accurately.

Orange blue

The trickiest combination was the yellow and violet ratio, I found that these were two colour ranges that I didn’t come into contact with a great deal and as opposed to finding a naturally set up scene, I created one. I’d had a yellow pepper in that just looked really photogenic, then I started to wonder if I had anything violet that it could sit on, the answer was a tea towel! I arranged these two items on a table and then took a number of images from different angles and focal lengths in order to try and obtain the 1:3 ratio. I then selected the image I felt met this most appropriately, and while it doesn’t have the punch of the previous two images, it does show the contrast well, however personally I don’t feel that the two colours go together that well, I’ve compared small patches of violet and yellow together since and my interpretation is that violet is quite a dark colour that when put with yellow, seems to dull the vibrancy of it.

yellow violet


For the second part of this exercise I had to produce 3-4 images which feature colour combinations that appeal to me- these can be combinations of two colours or more

The first image I’ve taken is of a climbing clematis plant within a greenhouse; I felt that the combination of the secondary colour violet, against the primary colour green works quite well. I feel that it’s a more acceptable combination than the violet and yellow combination from the first part of the exercise. I also feel that the violet combines well with the paler more pink hue of the petals and that these go well together on their own.

Colour combo1

The second image I’ve taken is a colour combination that I really love and the rich orange tones of the willow sculpture really stand out to my eye. I feel that the orange tones also have a hint of yellow in there making it a warmer colour. This contrast s well with the vibrant bright green of the grass so that both secondary colours complement each other well.

Colour combo2

My final image is one that really stands out, I had a choice of a few for this, as I’d been to an exhibition on customising Harley Davidson motorbikes and there was a lot of interesting colour combinations. I chose this image to submit as It was one of my favourite bikes on the display as its colouring really grabbed the eye and I felt stood out more than the other. It was also the first time a colour combination like this had been used on a bike. I love the vivid brightness of the orange and the primary blue and the secondary orange. As both are strong colours, I felt that they didn’t overbalance each other.

Colour combo3


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