The Magic of Colour

Just as important as the composition of an image, the choice of aperture and shutter speed, is the choice of colour, that it works exactly the way you want it to. Colours are fundamental to an image, and what’s more, photography is light art, so colours are fundamental to it. Fortunately, with programmes such as LR, Photoshop, Affinity and many more you can play around with colouring in a way that painters cannot. Given the possibilities of colouring through modern programs, even P.O. Runge and E. Delacroix would have turned green with envy. “May it be,” ask our clever fairies, “that one can create more subtle nuances of colours with light colours than with surface colours?”

Dina-Hanne: desaturated colour-pop version with contrast.

Genauso wichtig wie Komposition eines Bildes, die Wahl der Blende und Verschlusszeit, ist die Wahl der Farbe, dass sie genau dearart wirkt, wie man es sich wünscht. Farben sind fundamental für ein Bild, und dazu kommt, dass Fotografie Lichtkunst ist und damit Farben grundlegend für sie sind. Zum Glück kann man mit Programmen wie z.B. Photoshop mit der Farbgebung in einer Weise herumspielen, wie es den Malern nicht gegeben ist. Angesichts der Möglichkeiten der Farbgebungen durch moderne Programme wären selbst P.O. Runge und E. Delacroix vor Neid erblasst. “Mag es sein“, fragen unsere Klugfeen, “dass man mit Lichtfarben subtilere Farbnuancen als mit Flächenfarben schaffen kann?”

Colour version as taken with Fuji X-T4, provia film simulation, natural light.

The first thing Dina taught Siri 🙂 and 🙂 Selma that they should completely free themselves from their subject, from seeing it as it is, i.e. in our case what colour it has. The photographed original is nothing more than a means of production with which you do something, she explained. It depends on what you want to express and how this can best be done with the colouring. Among other things, the geometric view of the camera is thus transferred into a psychological way of seeing as a human being does.

Colourpop with soft light and cold colour tones. Imagined you hadn’t seen the previous version?

Als erstes brachte Dina Siri 🙂 und 🙂 Selma bei, dass sie sich völlig von ihrem Motiv frei machen sollen, eben davon, es so zu sehen, wie es ist, d.h. in unserem Fall welche Farbe es hat. Das fotografierte Original ist nichts anderes als ein Produktionsmittel, mit dem man etwas macht, erklärte sie. Es kommt darauf an, was man ausdrücken will und wie dies am besten mit der Farbgebung zu bewerkstelligen ist. Die geometrisch Sicht der Kamera wird u.a. so in eine psychologische Sehweise des Menschen übertragen.

Reality and truth are always dubious concepts
David Hockney, Martin Gayford “A History of pictures”

Klausbernd taken with Fuji X-T4, provia film simulation in camera and natural light

With every object that you photograph, you should think about what effect you want to create and how. ‘What potential does this picture have?’ is the productive question. The impact or the mood of the image is what matters. Siri 🙂 and 🙂 For example, Siri 🙂 loves to play around with how a picture looks with a cold or warm background. Dina also showed them how you can not only make the colours of a single object lighter or darker but also change them to warm or cold colours or colours with different degrees of saturation. Especially Selma 🙂 loves the colour enhancement. You see, each picture not only gives a personal view of the world but also creates a certain reality. Colour processing gives the world a richer, more emotional feel than an unprocessed photo.

Man sollte bei jedem Objekt, das man fotografiert, sich bei der Bearbeitung überlegen, welche Wirkung möchte ich wie erzeugen. Welches Potential hat dieses Bild? lautet die produktive Frage. Die Wirkung bzw. die Stimmung des Bildes ist es, worauf es ankommt. Siri 🙂 und 🙂 Selma lieben es, damit herumzuspielen, wie ein Bild z.B. mit kaltem oder warmen Hintergrund wirkt. Dina zeigte ihnen auch, wie man die Farben eines einzelnen Objektes nicht nur heller oder dunkler machen kann, sondern sie auch zu warmen oder kalten Farben oder Farben mit verschiedenen Sättigungsgraden verändern kann. Besonders Selma 🙂 liebt die Farbverstärkung. Ihr seht, jedes Bild gibt nicht nur eine persönliche Sichtweise der Welt wieder, sondern schafft auch eine bestimmte Realität. Farbbearbeitung gibt die Welt reicher da emotionaler wieder als ein unbearbeitetes Foto.

After: Warm colourpop treatment in PS.

Operating the programmes in such a way that they produce exactly the desired effect of an image is what modern photography is all about. Image editing counts. Of course, it helps to have a ‘good’ image as a basis. If you have certain aesthetic demands on your picture, you can’t avoid editing it, because a picture has long since ceased to be mainly a reproduction of reality that is as accurate as possible, as it was with Constable, but something that is supposed to evoke a certain reaction in the recipient, which is shaped by the tradition of imagery, among other things.

Die Programme derart zu bedienen, dass man mit ihnen exakt die gewünschte Wirkung eines Bildes erzeugt, ist es, was moderne Fotografie ausmacht. Die Bildbearbeitung zählt, wobei es hilft, ein ‘gutes’ Bild als Grundlage zu haben. Wer gewisse ästhetische Ansprüche an sein Bild hat, der kommt nicht um dessen Bearbeitung herum, denn ein Bild ist schon lange nicht mehr wie bei Constable hauptsächlich eine möglichst genaue Wiedergabe der Realität, sondern etwas, das im Rezipienten eine bestimmte Reaktion hervorrufen soll, was u.a. von der Tradition der Bilderwelten geprägt ist.

It is not usually known that digital cameras can only see shades of grey, not colour. Each camera manufacturer has written its own programme to convert the different shades of grey into that shade’s respectful colour. This is where the differences come from when you photograph the same colour with different cameras. The colour conversion programme is added as a standard feature into the camera’s software to enable users to automatically instantly see their images in colour. Dina noted the different colour conversion programmes under the pictures.

Es ist wohl wenig bekannt, dass Digitalkameras nur Grautöne sehen, keine Farben. Die Kamerahersteller haben ihre eigenen Programme, wie die Kamera die Grautöne in Farben umsetzt. Daher kommen die Unterschiede, wenn man die gleiche Farbe mit unterschiedlichen Kameras fotografiert. Das Farbübertragungsprogramm ist in die Software der Kamera integriert, so dass der Nutzer sofort die entsprechende Farbe sieht. Dina hat die unterschiedlichen Farbübertragungsprogramme unter den ensprechenen Bildern angeführt.

By the way, even when we look at the world in everyday life, we edit the images we see, because we see far too much.

Übrigens, auch wenn wir im Alltagsleben die Welt betrachten, bearbeiten wir die Bilderwelten, die wir sehen, denn wir sehen viel zu viel.

Warm greetings from the sunny sea

Mit herzlichen Grüßen vom sonnigen Meer

The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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© Text and illustrations, Hanne Siebers and Klausbernd Vollmar, Cley next the Sea, 2022

95 thoughts

    • Dear Jo
      We are less concerned with documentation and what we actually saw than with the image. The image is what matters to us and we see an image as part of the reality of the images rather than of any other realities.
      Thank you very much for commenting
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I tend to disagree with your concept of colour in photography: it is a good photograph when stripped of colour. The latter is an addendum. Adding to that is the matter of composition, be it dynamic or static…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Javier,
      colour is an integral part of a picture. We wanted to show how to play around with colour to achieve exactly this effect you like.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
      May we ask you a question, please? How do you define a ‘good photograph’?

      Liked by 2 people

    • What is a good photograph? Your option is as good as mine. The snapshots in your example are just that: snapshots. If you consider the examples of good photographs, we’ll, what can I say… your choice

      Like

    • Hi Javier
      When Hanne’s pictures were published by national newspapers like the Guadian, Independent and others there was a discussion about what is a good photograph. We suppose it depends on the media for which you produce a picture. It’s always interesting to hear the judge’s idea of a photograph when Hanne-Dina takes part in a competition.
      The story seems to me not the non-plus-ultra of a picture. Think of all the abstract pictures. The drama and the story a picture should tell sound to me like a neo-romantic cliche.
      Thanks a lot for answering.
      All the best
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • I thought further on your question and came to the conclusion that it not a fair question at all. From Barthes’ ‘camera lucida’ to Sontag extensive writing on photography, it is impossible to define what is a good photograph, including your irrelevant comment about neo-romanticism.
      Equally one could ask what is a good poem, a good novel, a good painting etc. etc.
      There are so many types of photography that it is meaningless to ask what or which is a good one.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Javier
      Funny, you used the expression ‘good photograph’, we didn’t!
      What’s ‘good art’ depends on the zeitgeist. For a long time in history, normative aesthetics answered this question, in modern and post-modern times we tend to say everything goes. Anyway, I suppose a ‘good’ question makes you think, doesn’t it?
      Thanks & cheers
      Klausbernd 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, because your examples WERE photographs I assumed that it was the subject under consideration. If you had shown paintings, it would have been silly of me to bring the subject of photography to the fore, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My dear friends,
    first of all, we have to see that you speak here about colours of light and about the differences between the geometrical seeing of the camera and the psychological seeing of humans.
    Painters tried to produce the illusion of three dimensions in a two dimensional picture by colour before Leonardo used the line perspective. Shades of blue made the background and shades of yellow the foreground. If we work with colour we work with space as well.
    With lots of love to you all. I hope you are healthy and happy. We have to phone soon when I am back home
    ❤ ❤ xx
    Annalena

    Liked by 4 people

    • Good morning, dear Annalena,
      you make an interesting point: colour produces space. Especially Kandinsky and his Bauhaus colleges were interested in this property of colour. Therefore Kandinsky called blue ‘zentripetal’ and yellow ‘zentrifugal’. The photographer, as well as the painter, can do quite some magic tricks with colour. Colour invites us to be creative.
      Sending you big hugs 🤗 🤗 from all of us
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Danke, liebe Uschi. Uns geht es gut und wir sind froh so viel Zeit zu haben, um mit Farben spielen zu können.
      Herzliche Grüße nach Frankfurt
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  3. Dear Klausbernd,
    as to “Fortunately, with programmes such as LR, Photoshop, Affinity and many more you can play around with colouring in a way that painters cannot” I beg to disagree. To my mind no camera nor any photoshopping software can beat “real” painting.
    Btw, Dina and you look good!
    Have a wonderful day,
    Pit

    Liked by 5 people

    • Das ist ja eine kühne Behauptung, lieber Pit.
      Die gegenteilige Meinung vertrat schon Goethe in seiner Farbenlehre, dass nämlich Flächenfarben mit jedem Mischvorgang mehr ergrauen. Man kommt beim Mischen von Flächenfarben schnell zu ‘Missfarben’ wie Goethe sie nannte. Das ist bei Lichtfarben und deren additiven Mischung völlig anders. M.E. liegt ein Unterschied zwischen subtraktiver Mischung der Flächenfarben und additiver Mischung der Lichtfarben, dass Lichtfarben sich häufiger mischen lassen bis sie im Weiß verschwinden.
      Herzlichen Dank für dein Kompliment
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Klausbernd,
      “Das ist ja eine kühne Behauptung” – genau das habe ich mir auch gedacht, nachdem ich auf “post comment” geklickt hatte. 😉 Vor allem, weil es eben einfach eine Behauptung ohne Beleg ist – etwas, was ich von meinen Schuelern immer anders verlangt habe. Oh je, jetzt bin ich meinen eigenen Grundsaetzen untreu geworden. 😉
      Ich denke aber wirklich, dass die Malerei kreativer sein kann als die Fotografie. Vielleicht muss ich aber Deinen Beitrag hier auch erst einmal genauer lesen. Ich war je etwas schnell bei der Hand mit meiner Meinung.
      Liebe Gruesse, und macht’s gut im kleinen Dorf am grossen Meer,
      Pit

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Pit,
      naja, das ist doch normal im Alltag, dass man kühne Behauptungen von sich gibt. Ja, ja, so wird der Lehrer wie seine Schüler, das nenne ich Flexibilität 😉
      Ich sehe die Malerei nicht kreativer als die Fotografie an. Die unterschiedlichen Progamme so zu bedienen, dass man mit ihnen genau das ausdrückt, was man sich vorstellt, halte ich für genauso kreativ wie das Schwingen des Pinsels. Es dauert auch genauso lang, das zu lernen. Well, was ist kreativer? Ich denke mir, Kreativität kann man nur mit der Anzahl Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten messen. Aber wie gesagt, es ist schwierig Lichtfarben mit Flächenarben zu vergleichen. Im Grunde sind das ja ‘two cups of tea’. Jedes Medium begenzt und legt uns fest, die Pigmentfarben und der Pinsel oder die Spraygun genauso wie die Software beim Computer und die Gesetze der Lichtfarben.
      Mit lieben Grüßen in den wilden Westen, halte dich froh und munter
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lieber Klausbernd,
      “Ich sehe die Malerei nicht kreativer als die Fotografie an. Die unterschiedlichen Progamme so zu bedienen, dass man mit ihnen genau das ausdrückt, was man sich vorstellt, halte ich für genauso kreativ wie das Schwingen des Pinsels. Es dauert auch genauso lang, das zu lernen. Well, was ist kreativer?”
      Danke fuer Deinen weiteren Kommentar. Dem stimme ich zu, und revidiere also – etwas – meine apodiktische Behauptung. 😉 Und on man entscheiden kann, was kreativer ist? Wohl schwerlich.
      Liebe Gruesse von einem absolut unkreativen [und das meinen ich in vollem Ernst] Menschen,
      Pit

      Liked by 1 person

    • It really isn’t a competition. Each medium has it’s merits and demerits. A cow is definitely not as good as a horse on the race course but a cow is better than a horse in milk production

      Liked by 2 people

  4. schönes Paar, da gibt es doch gar nicht so viel darüber nachzudenken😀 Macht Euch die Welt. wie sie Euch gefällt. Egal was man tut, es wird immer unterschiedliche Meinungen geben. Wichtig ist nur, das man sich treu bleibt…

    Liked by 2 people

    • … und dass man mit seinen Möglichkeiten spielt, dieses und jenes ausprobiert.
      Habe ganz, ganz herzlichen Dank für deinen Kommentar, der uns gut tut
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A great post, inviting differences of opinion! For my part, I will use aperture, shutter speed etc in camera, and then make further adjustments in post processing and decisions around colour or B/W…..all to produce an image that reflects the scene in my mind

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Sue,
      exactly, that’s how Dina is working as well.
      Important is that one has an idea of what the picture should look like, which means what you want to express.
      Thank you very much
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely Sue, I agree. First, get the image right in camera and then the fun can begin.
      A regular critique from judges in the camera club; “so what … it lacks punch, it’s flat (boring) …” Clarity, sharpening, vibrance and punch can transform a scene.
      Unless it’s natural history, I normally don’t care about what a scene looked like. I see a scene and I see possibilities to enhance and maybe create something beyond the scene in post-processing. I must admit, that’s for me the greatest fun and pleasure.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting
      Dina-Hanne 📷🌿💐

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Danke für die Info mit den Grautönen.

    Farbe ist kritisch:
    Ich hatte schon mal die Idee, ein bestimmtes Insekt zig mal zu zeigen, in all den unterschiedlichen Farbnuancen, auf die man beim Fotografieren bei diesem Insekt trifft.
    Strukturfarben, strahlquellen vieler art, wie indirektes licht machen es schwer bis unmöglich, Farben zuzuschreiben.

    Ich hatte mal hier auch erwähnt, dass ein Bild von Edward hopper (opernloge) in unterschiedlichen Katalogen recht unterschiedlich gedruckt wurde.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Interesting! Idid not know that the camera only sees grey and the camera’s programs “colorize” it. I remember back in the days of film I used to set the ASA to a different number (higher I think)than what was recommended and then the color was more saturated.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Anne,
      yes, I vaguely remember this alternative. The increased saturation used in this colour pop is due to soft light blending modes, vibrance and vivid light without pushing the saturation slider.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting
      Dina-Hanne 📷🌿💐

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Anne,
      yes, I remember that you change the saturation with the ASA in former times. With digital photography, we are able to change so much more.
      Thanks for commenting
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jacqui,
      you’re right – PS is very powerful and packed with possibilities beyond the basics to create something unique with blending modes, temperature and vivid-vibrant colours.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting
      Dina-Hanne 📷🌿💐

      Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning, dear Jacqui,
      we remember a friend of ours who worked in advertising, she had a whole shelf full of Photoshop manuals and one employee just for operating more complicated Photoshop tasks.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Wishing you a happy day
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Steve,
      yes, one can choose depending on what one wants to express or what you want to make the onlookers feel.
      Thanks and cheers
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

    • Liebe Sabine,
      es ist erstaunlich, welche großen Einfluss die Farbe auf unsere Stimmung hat, selbst kleine Änderungen der Nuancen. Damit zu spielen, gibt einem eine Idee, wie man seine Bilder verbessern kann. Man sollte sich bei jeden Ursprungsbild überlegen, welches Potential es in sich trägt. Um das auszuschöpfen, hilft es über die Farbgestaltung nachzudenken.
      Vielen Dank.
      Mit lieben Grüßen vom heute grauen Meer
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Like

  8. Dina – you bring magic into your photos whether they are colour or shades of grey. I have come back a couple of times to read your insights on the use of colour in photography. I especially appreciated these words:

    “By the way, even when we look at the world in everyday life, we edit the images we see, because we see far too much.”

    You have given me much to think about in the coming week. Sending much love and many hugs to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good morning, our dear friend Rebecca,
      thank you so much for your kind words.
      We edit all the time what we see. What we see is depending on our motivation and what we know. Therefore different people see a different reality.
      We send you and your family big hugs 🤗 🤗 across the big waters, keep well and happy
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Budd family thanks you for your warm greetings. We are having coffee with Frances, my mother and Sarah, my sister. They send their greetings as well. I just want to add that Dina’s photography awakens us to the present. It is truly a gift and I am glad that she shares it with us. A generous spirit indeed!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Your warm greetings are 💞 returned, Rebecca. You have the most radiant personality, great ideas to reach out and connect with a standing invitation to explore the unknown and rediscover the familiar.
      I can vividly imagine what a memorable time you have with Frances, Sarah. 🥰☕️📖
      We are getting ready for the Jubilee marathon. I’m photographing on behalf of the village, a new adventure requiring a new approach and we are ready to dive right in. 🫅💂‍♀️🇬🇧🎊
      Hugs to all the Budds!🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    • Although we are not royalists we are taken by all the preparations for today. I suppose we will blog about next everything that’s going on in our village.
      With lots of love
      Klausbernd 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Roberta,
      thank you.
      It’s great that we gave you an idea of what to do with colour. Actually, that’s what we want with our blogposts: giving ideas.
      Wishing you a wonderful week
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Indeed, colour is important if you go for a colour photo. But you can also process images in monochrome. I think it depends on which effect you would like to archive.
    When I process pictures I’m mostly busy with processing light and darkness. Certainly I also pay close attention to the colours and tones. But for me they are more like the icing on a cake.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Rabirius
      Interesting that you see the colours like icing on a cake. We love that expression.
      With colour and colour combination, we can determine how the onlookers react to a picture which is mostly unconscious. We produce a mood.
      Thank you 🙏🙏
      Have a happy week
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jetzt habe ich so ganz nebenbei viel gelernt und ein paar Denkanstöße mitgenommen. Ich denke ja nicht so viel nach bei der Bildbearbeitung, sondern folge meinen Intuitionen. Danke und liebe Grüße an alle Vier! Regine

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What a beautiful post! The best part is definitely the models ~ wow 🙂 Quite attractive and they also serve to make the important point of your post, the importance of color. I’ve never thought about color much when I go out on a shoot, it is always the more technical aspects (aperture, lighting, and then the perspective (POV, motion, etc…)… but then I realize that I also think about color in an almost unconscious way. The lighting is always perhaps at the top of my mind, such as how the golden hour move me and most all photographers… and from that I link with color as well, as it creates the awe of photos. You demonstrate the awe of color and importance of post-processing with this post. I love the comment “Dina taught Siri 🙂 and 🙂 Selma that they should completely free themselves from their subject…” because it explains well what I wrote above, and then you add how in processing it is important to get across to the audience the feel you had when you were photographing. Beautiful post, beautiful photos, and beautiful writing… seriously what more could you ask 🙂 Wishing you a brilliantly colorful summer ~

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot, dear Randall for your lovely comment that made us smile 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
      We love to think about colour, well, our dear master wrote several books about the impact and symbolism of colour. The German writer J.W. von Goethe said a couple of days before his death that history could forget about all his writings except his Theory of Colour. Turner was quite influenced by his Theory of Colour – and our dear master 😉
      Keep well and have a happy summer
      The Fab Four of Cley
      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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