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  1. #1
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Currently living @ the Top of the World in Barrow Alaska

    -=[Color Theory]=-


    Understanding color theory will make your photographic jounrney much easier if you understand some simple basic principles.

    Even though you have a high tech camera that has white balance built in and photoshop's power of a "click" or two to fix "color (s)" is not enough.

    You must understand HOW COLORS WORK. with each other. This is essential to learn if your ever going to understand the "Art" of photography.

    Red Green Blue are primary colors you see the "sliders" in photoshop RGB -
    each of these three colors has a "compliment" or secondary color.
    the opposite of red is cyan
    -- - green is magenta
    - - blue is yellow

    This is COLOR "theory" but it is easily proven in a variety of ways.
    This is photo color theory, not watercolor or oil color theory those have "different primaries"

    If I take a round piece of blank cardboard flat, circular and divide it into thirds, and paint each third one of the Primary photo colors.. R, G, B.
    those three colors,, when I spin that circle what "color" will you see??

    Black is not.. .. a "color". it is the ABSENCE OF ALL COLOR(S)

    WHITE is the presence of ALL color(s) PRIMARIES / OR secondaries.

    This can be simply illustrated by using Lights.. in any 3D program.

    Using a program called 3D studio max a red light and green and blue lights were created and aimed or pointed toward the center of any surface. The unedited results of what happens when you mix light is obvious

    Spin that cardoard.. and your gonna see..WHITE
    WHERE the primary lights overlap, the secondary colors are present and visible.
    Learing HOW to use COLOR(s) and their compliments or secondaries in Juxtaposition with each other will produce the most pleasing eye popping results using COLOR.

    Photoshop is the norm.. ha! I am different, I use Painter because I like the color wheel.. and many other features that adobe doesn't have. don't be fooled; there are a GREAT many other image editing programs that can do just as good of a job. far cheaper.!

    In the darkroom, the six different colors are controled by using just two filters - Yellow & Magenta !! Any of the six colors are corrected just by using these two !!

    If a print is too blue you subtract yellow filters !!
    If a print is too yellow you ADD yellow to get rid of the yellow !! ( Have I got you confused yet ??)

    So to sum it all up if your print is too yellow / move the blue slider

    if your print is too magenta (pink) move the green slider

    if your print is too Cyan (turquoise) move the Red slider.

    UNDERSTANDING these six colors and how they function with each other is simple to learn .. the only problem you might find. is that when you MISTAKE blue for cyan or cyan for blue...

    I have had two people a year apart on two different forums state with incredible authority.. " Your photograph has the wrong color - I have fixed it using white balance."

    What they did - was throw all the color out of the image and produce a FALSE rendition of the actual true colors !!

    There are (basically) three different types of filters made

    Filters for your camera lens

    Filters for darkroom use (cp filters = color printing)

    Filters for color correction (cc filters ) these are mounted in cardboard with three filter densities for each of the six different cards.

    These are held in front of your printed image and flipped quickly in and out of the image view.

    MOST PEOPLE cannot see excess color shifts of +10 or less
    it requires + 20 or higher for the average person to see and discern which color is in excess.

    I posted an image and two professional photographers jumped on me - claimng they had the proper white balance. THEY WERE WRONG !! ONE person admitted he was wrong. The other person put up such a stink - and complained to the moderator of the forum and I was banned !! ROFLMAO !!!

    the problem is when they corrected for white balance - The scene did not represent the TRUE COLORS that were in the original scene !!

    YOU BE THE JUDGE !! ( My eyes can correct for excess color) as low as +2 !!


    LEARN - how to correct for excess color/ DO NOT JUST RELY ON THE click in adobe or in lightroom !!

  2. #2
    GB1 is offline
    Moderator GB1's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    San Diego CA

    Re: -=[Color Theory]=-

    Hmm. Good info here, Arctic Man, though I am somewhat confused as to whether this is a continuation of another thread or just something you feel we all should know?

    Anyway, yes, the more we know about art and light, the better we can be. Complementary colors are different for reflected vs transmitted light ("transmitted" may not be the correct word I don't believe, I just can't think of the right one at the moment ..). That is, RGB are the primary colors for transmitted light on a television set, whereas magenta, yellow and blue are for paint (which reflect light).

    A lot to comment on here .. I think I will see if others chime in first.

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  3. #3
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Currently living @ the Top of the World in Barrow Alaska

    Re: -=[Color Theory]=-

    In Photography in the old darkroon !!

    You could make a color print using RGB filters this is called Additive color printing

    You could also make a color print using CYM filters - this is called Subtractive color printing

    SUBTRACTIVE color printing is / was by far the most popular method employed !!

    subtractive color printing required one exposure to the paper.

    additive color printing required three different exposures to the paper !!

    The same is true in lithographs or color press priinting cym is still in use today !!

    There is much you do not know about COLOR(s) !!

    a strong foundation in the basics is essential to understand how color(s) work together with predictable results !!
    Last edited by Majik_Imaje; 11-03-2009 at 08:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jetrim's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Ft. Lauderdale

    Re: -=[Color Theory]=-

    This is pretty interesting stuff, and backs up what my instructor is starting to address in the light study course I'm currently taking. Before you can wrap your mind around color, you have to understand the physics of light It's also the reason I now carry a color wheel in my studio bag.

  5. #5
    Arctic Man Majik_Imaje's Avatar
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    Feb 2008
    Currently living @ the Top of the World in Barrow Alaska

    Re: -=[Color Theory]=-

    I would highly recommened to visit a library or old book store(s) and try and find a copy of TIME / LIFE series on photography ESPECIALLY the volume about COLOR

    simple observations that will strengthen your skills to create photographs !!

    Unless you have a very strong foundation - rooted in the basics - you will never advance and learn how to create consistently stunning photographic images !!

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