Colour Photography History.

At the start of this assignment I found the notes reinforced my knowledge that photography was only in monochromatic form originally because of the lack of technology available. The history of photography techniques is of interest to me and at some point I will be seeking the opportunity to use a pinhole camera, film and maybe even plates.

Due to the limitation of black and white photography, other graphic elements had to be embraced to compose an interesting image.  Graphic design is what was looked at in the previous module (Elements of Design). Graphic design is very evident in many images of the great photographers who worked before colour was widely available.  Colour did in fact emerge in 1907 with Lumiere devising the Autochrome process (Gernsham,G,H,R:2013) but film was not available widely until the 1960’s.

Within my memory (shockingly), colour didn’t become the norm until the 1980’s.  Ernest Haas really took hold of the opportunities with the advent of colour.

The OCA course notes also brought to my attention the fact that colour used well can provoke responses but few photographers actually consider the power of colour and learning to use it properly is yet another tool to add to the box when controlling our images.  The course notes reminded me that some can get away with working intuitively but most won’t be able to and benefit from considering some of the theories put forward by the likes of Johannes Itten. (Freeman,M:100-101)

 The notes encourage us to look at the principle of colour in two ways. Physiologically and psychologically, the latter taking into account associations of colour to mood.  Also the notes remind us that colour is a wavelength.


Freeman, M. (2010). Colour. In: n/a The Art of Photography. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.. 99 – 120.

Gernsham,H,E,R. (2013). Colour History. Available: Last accessed 06/01/2014.

 Below are the exercises we are taken through during this module to help us make a start in in understanding the power of colour.  

 Further research and corresponding assignment will be found under these links..


Exercise: Colour relationships – Yellow/ Violet 1:3

Exercise: Colour relationships - Yellow/ Violet 1:3

Goethe developed ideal colour relationship combinations by assigning values to colour. The combination can ‘freeze’ an image. This exercise required us to apply the colour ratios to complementary colours. Further research can be found under Johannes Itten notes in my research category. Link:

Exercise: Colours into Black and White – Original and Control images

Exercise:  Colours into Black and White - Original and Control images

This exercise is to demonstrate the effect of filtering out colours from images. We can do this with filters on the camera or in edit. I have used Lightroom. The image had to have the colours red, green, yellow and blue. A control grey card was also to be placed on the still life. As there was grey in the packaging this sufficed for the exercise. The original colour image is above and the neutral Lightroom conversion is next to it.

The images in the post below show the effect of filtering each colour out. Please read the observations under the below post.

This is an important exercise in learning how filtering can emphasise and add depth to a black and white conversion