Project 2 – Colour relationships

Before this exercise I didn’t know much about black-and-white photography, I didn’t understand why some images stand out over others, I assumed the secret was contrasting colours but didn’t think about tones, how colours turn into different shades of grey. I guess I never really experimented with this.

I chose to shoot a still life photo as advised in the course notes, I used the grey card to determine the white balance, made sure it stays the same shade during the filtering process than cropped it out as it was disturbing the composition.

Original filter

No filter filter

Green filter filter

Blue filter filter

Red filter filter

Yellow filter



It’s interesting to see that the normal black and white conversion lightened the dark colour (blue) and darkened all lighter colours (red, green, yellow). Reviewing these images I learned that each filter makes its tone very light and makes other colours darker and it appears to me that the effect depends on each colour’s brightness, for example there isn’t much difference between red filter changing red and green, and yellow changing red and green, there is only slight difference, probably the same as between red and yellow colours. However on this chart the differences are more significant, but they aren’t the exact shade though. I hope I got this right, I feel I’m on the right way to understand how this works.

Since I’m shooting with my DSLR, I always take images in colour, I tried to convert some of my photos to black and white but I didn’t get pleasing results most of the time, but when I did, the message of the image was something emotional. I was thinking, how can I decide when to convert (or shoot) in black and white, Freeman [1] validates my opinion when I see the picture of the lioness, there are no distracting colours, the attention is on the animal rather than the surroundings. He also mentions texture and form, how this format enhances lines and shapes giving a different overall feel to the image, absolutely amazed by Ansel Adams’ work [2], incredible amount detail and contrast.

Looking for more practical advice, I came across an article [3] on this subject showing what filters do to different images and also found this brilliant chart which really helped me understand how this work.




I really like how the red filter enhanced the sky on a beautiful landscape, how orange filter gives smooth skin tone, how green filter separates objects from nature’s green, the way blue filter gives smooth, calming feeling by reducing contrast as it darkens most colours. On that account I will definitely experiment more with black and white photography.



[1] Michael Freeman – The photographer’s eye, Page 126.





Colour has such a huge impact on everything. Some colours are unpleasant to look at, some we just love, they just work together. Thinking about fashion, when a garment piece is designed or an entire outfit is planned; interior design, how the furniture, the accessories are in harmony with the wall colour and of course in photography the same applies, our eye is seeking for pleasant colour combinations but what’s the science behind all?

For this exercise I needed to study complementary colours, the colour harmony between two colours that found directly across from each other on the colour wheel. Colours are in harmony when they are in inverse proportion to their relative brightness, for example red and green are equally bright therefore the ideal combination is 1:1, orange is twice as bright as blue so two times more blue needed compare to the amount of orange to create a balanced combination (1:2), yellow is even brighter so the ideal proportion is 1:3 as opposed to violet.

Part 1

The right proportions

Red: Green 1:1

Orange: Blue 1:2


Yellow: Violet 1:3























Part 2

No strict rules

Red: Green Less red compare to previous part

Orange: Blue Overpowering green, orange and blue as colour accent.


Yellow: Violet Slightly less violet, same amount of yellow





























I found it really difficult to find exact colour combinations in the right proportions in nature, so I asked my friend to be my subject with some colourful clothes. Although there aren’t just pure colour pairs, I tried to keep the brightness on the same level to illustrate their harmonious relationship. I recently came across a retoucher’s article about this subject, as I’m really into portrait photography it was fascinating to see using this technique to create beautiful images. Now I understand how it works and looking forward to practice with it in the future.
Article :


Michael Freeman – The photographer’s eye