CB/29 – Complementary colours.

CB/29 - Complimentary colours.

ISO 800, f/9, 1/200, 70mm.  To view a large image: http://wp.me/p3RVOB-125

I desperately wanted an Ernst Haas pure yellow and lilac sky in the prescribed ratio but this is what I got. Haas managed to get his sunsets in the ideal ratio and they look fantastic. ‘Navada Sky’ for example (www.ernst-haas.com).

Where yellow meets orange and blue meets violet is where the complementary hues sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. The ratio of 3:1 (Birren,1994:59) holds in the sky and sea but reverses in stark contrast on the land.
It’s the sort of sunset that would have inspired W. Turner and, as I found in my research, his image ’The Morning After the Deluge’ was influenced by Goethe’s colour wheel and he uses a similar colour combination. There is also great contrast in the dynamic range that also demonstrates Itten’s ‘law of colour contrast’. Yellow/orange in this saturation are sometimes thought to be psychologically stimulating colours. Violet /blue, although complements visually, might actually contrast psychologically. Itten teaches that cold gives a sense of distance and warm colours bring the ‘distance’ forward (Birren,1994:46).

Tutor comment:
Turner would certainly have been impressed with this sunset – and it’s good that you are making reference to work outside of photography – painting is always a good source of inspiration for colour and composition. The image I’m looking at tends towards the ‘similar’ colours, with powerful and saturated yellows and oranges, and I can’t readily identify the complementary element of violet/blue.

My response:
This image nearly did end up in with ‘similar’ warm colours but then I realised that yellow, blue and violet actually sit on the cold side of the colour wheel. (violet/blue in the clods and sea as I see it). Johannes Itten comment about warm and cold colours being misleading is sometimes worth mentioning in cases like this. He states that cold colours can still have an element of warmth to them, and conversely with warm colours.

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