View Full Version : "color isnít lying to us, weíre lying to us

09-24-2013, 02:30 AM
What does le Ducís tortoise teach us about color perception? Lots of things. Sapphires lose their flash under artificial light. Opals and hydrophanes only sparkle when wet. Royal in-breeding can make aesthetes downright squirrelly. But most critically: color isnít lying to us, weíre lying to us. You can change any objectís color by playing around with the light, putting other colors next to it, or adding movement. But color perception is transformed most profoundly, at times, inside our skulls.


Fun little article about color perception.

It was a few years back that I realized that there was no such thing as "perfect real color" in a photo. IMO as close as we can ever get is "its the way I like it".

Sometimes our audience gets to define it, sometimes we do.

So, how do you use colors?
Do you use it to set mood or...?

09-24-2013, 03:08 AM
I take a lot of pinhole images with old & expired Fuji film, like NPH400, NPS160 and NPC160. Sometimes it gives me a beautiful color shift. Not way off like cross processing but more like a little shift. Like a blue sky but then in some kind of pastel blue.
74684 74685 74686 74687 74688

It may not be suitable visible on screen due to scanner & screen calibration, but when looking at the prints it's much nicer and visible.
I tried expired Kodak Gold also, but these films mostly turn into a muddy brown.

See also some examples I made for Worldwide Pinhole Day 2013 (http://www.apug.org/gallery1/browseimages.php?do=member&imageuser=60001).

09-24-2013, 04:51 AM
Of course "color isnít lying to us".

Did not the film manufacturers always spoke about "true colors"...?

About that author:
unless youíre in Germany, where yellow means envy, and you can be ďbeat up green and yellow.Ē

I don't know about that envy thing. And it is green and blue beaten...

09-24-2013, 05:41 AM
I don't know Mustafa. I don't think that "street" can be any better than "studio" or any other genre of photography. Each genre tells part of the story.

The idea you attribute to Eisenstein is part of what I'm getting at, using color to tell a story, create a mood.

IMO though, its not about luck, the tools to control color are available. We can use flash guns, reflectors (natural or not, colored or not), and timing the placement of our subjects in the scene to control our lighting and composition. We pick the time of day (where the light comes from and what color it brings), we pick our films (which each have a different response), we can filter, cross process... and that's just at the camera, when we get to the darkroom we can skew or "correct" color over a wide range.

Part of what I got out of the article and what I've been trying to learn for years is to use color as part of the composition. A simple example of this is the classic "golden hour", at sunset or sunrise, that so many people enjoy shooting color in. The nice warm color and contrasts it brings are very satisfying to many.

So on the street for example do you prefer your subject to get into the warm glow of the sun, or under the skewed color of a street light, or into the blues of the shade? Which tells the story you want to tell?

09-24-2013, 05:45 AM
Of course "color isnít lying to us".

Did not the film manufacturers always spoke about "true colors"...?

They did but does that mean "as lit by the sun" or "as lit by tungsten lights"?

09-24-2013, 07:34 AM
Right, color is for mood. It's emotional, and of course it can be used for other reasons. Place some blue in the back of a landscape and it leads the eye into the horizon. Color is also used for composition. A highly charged color like a bright red (more emotion....blood) can grab the eye's attention, so even though you always have to observe formal rules of composition, you also have to be aware of how color can change/modify them. A little can go a long way. The colors of the American Southwest are memorable for their beautiful soft palettes, not found in other areas of the country. A little study on color and how it affects humans can be very rewarding if you shoot or otherwise work w/ color. It's actually one of the reasons I shoot B&W. You're forced to use basic good composition and have a great subject w/o the help of color. For painting, I would never dream of working w/o color, for etching, B&W is the ticket.

One thing to keep in mind: there is no such thing as natural color. As clouds go over a vista, shadows fall on objects, the sun goes to a different angle, etc, colors will go all over the place. Color is only relative, not absolute.