colorgraphed

Graphing color can help you identify colors more specifically and understand relationships between color better. One way to graph color is to use the Color Sampler Tool in Photoshop in combination with the Apple color picker.

Using The Apple Color Picker

To access the Apple color picker choose Photoshop: General Preferences and change Color Picker from Adobe to Apple and click OK. To see the new the color picker click on Set Foreground Color or Set Background  Color icon in the Tool bar.

Unlike the Adobe color picker, the Apple color picker is a color wheel. Creating and using color wheels to describe color and plot color relationships is a time honored tradition dating back to Leonardo DaVinci. Some of the most famous color wheels were created by Newton, Goethe, and Munsell. The Apple color picker is an additive color wheel where complements are defined as red and cyan, green and magenta, and blue and yellow.

You can sample any color in an image and find its position on the Apple color wheel.  Using the Eyedropper Tool, sample a color in a composition. Then click on the Set Foreground Color icon. The Apple color wheel will appear and a small circle will plot the sampled color. You can make a record of this chart by taking a screenshot of the color wheel (caps lock, Shift, Command, 4). This will create a document on your desktop, which can be opened in Photoshop.

Combining Multiple Samples

You can combine multiple sample points into a single chart by taking multiple screenshots, opening them in Photoshop, and combining them. Drag the Background layer from one document into another and give it a meaningful title.  Make sure the two layers are registered with one another. Then, mask off everything on the top layer except the circle identifying the color on the color wheel, the triangle identifying its luminosity on the slider to the right of the color wheel, and a portion of the color bar above the color wheel. You’ve just graphed the two colors on the Apple color wheel. You can do this with as many colors as you desire.

Once colors have been graphed you will be able to identify a variety of relationships between colors, both colors that exist in a composition and colors that do not.

luminosityanalysis

Sidebar For Luminosity

You can identify luminosity values with the slider to the right of the wheel. By sampling colors from an image and noting their position on the slider you can determine whether an image is light (high key), medium, or dark (low key) and whether it contains low, medium, or high contrast, by  comparing the  distance between sampled points (the greater the distance the greater the contrast).

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Lines For Differences In Hue

You can draw a straight and/or a curved line between two hues. This will help identify all the other hues between the two, useful in creating gradations or smoother transitions between two colors.

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Concentric Circles For Saturation

You can draw concentric circles with varying radii on the wheel. This will help define the saturation level of an image – neutral, semi-neutral, saturated, or supersaturated.

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Triangles For Color Families

You can divide the color wheel into triangular slices of varying widths. This will help define hue relationships within an image – monochromatic (single family hues)(within 30 degrees), analogous (closely related hues)(within 60 degrees), complementary (opposite hues)(separated by 180 degrees), or split complementary colors (three colors where two are found between 150 – 210 degrees from the third).

shapeanalysis

Shapes Show Relationships

You can draw geometric shapes inside the color wheel – triangles, squares, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, octagons. This will help identify hues that may be used to create a logical color structure – diads, triads, quadrads, etc.

A little exploration and mapping of color will help you make many new discoveries about the color dynamics in any image, both of how they work and how they can be improved.

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Revealing Relationships

Here are a few observations about the color dynamic revealed by graphing it.

1 The composition has four significant colors.

2 The luminosity has only moderate contrast, constrained to the mid-tones, weighted low.

3 The palette is reasonably saturated, but not supersaturated. The most saturated hue is dark purple, the second most saturated color is pink.

4 A 60 degree slice reveals that there are two reds and two purples – analogous (closely related) hues. The brown is actually a dark red with relatively low saturation. The reds are closely related in hue; so are the purples. There is a light set and a dark set of reds and purples. The hues are at the boundaries of analogous relationships, providing maximum variety within that color dynamic. Contrast is derived based on luminosity first, hue second, and saturation third.

5 While one hue, red, is the warmest color, the other hue, purple, lies close to the boundary between warm and cool colors. There isn’t a strong contrast between warm and cool, but there is a great deal of variety within a predominantly warm composition.

6 Gradation (smooth transitions) can be accentuated by including hues in between the sampled points either along a straight or curved line. The background color for the sky seems continuous and smooth because it contains many small steps between the lighter hue at the top and the darker hue at the bottom; this has a calm effect. The pink accents in the highlights appear warmer and lighter because they are surrounded by cool dark colors, without substantial gradation between them; this has an energetic effect.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

Learn more with my DVDs on Color here.

Learn more with my free color resources here.

05.highsaturation

One of the most distinctive features of a visual artist’s use of color is their use of saturation.

Many photographers are often asked, “Are you a black and white or color photographer?” (Curiously other visual artist’s are rarely asked this question.) While many people who ask it don’t mean it to be, it’s a loaded question. There’s often a latent assumption that you can’t do both well. In fact, work with one can strengthen work with another. Moreover, the question suggests that black and white (and shades of gray) are not colors, when in fact they are very specific colors – neutral colors. And, the question does not address with any specificity how a photographer uses more saturated color. Curiously, this question is rarely asked of painters and filmmakers. A more useful question might be, “How saturated is your palette?”

There are essentially six distinct levels of saturation – neutral, semi-neutral, reduced saturation, fully saturated, highly saturated, and super-saturated.

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Neutral colors are characterized by a lack of saturation. Neutral lie along the luminosity spine that unites all hues. (Equal parts of complementary colors mix to create neutral colors.) At any one luminosity value there is only one truly neutral color. Using neutrals is comparatively simple, as two other variables (hue and saturation) in color are reduced to the same values (zero); it’s an economy of means. To appear luminous neutral images typically employ significant contrast in luminosity to compensate for it’s lack of hue and saturation. With a few exceptions, neutral images generally present a radical transformation of the way we see. Many people associate it with dream states, whether they dream in black and white or not. It is often thought of as elegant, if not conservative and restrained. The luminosity component of color aids in judging levels of illumination, spatial relationships, and volume. Formal qualities and qualities of illumination become a particularly significant concern in neutral images. Neutral images are often associated with antiquity or of timelessness.

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A semi-neutral colors contain trace amounts of saturation. Values cluster around the luminosity spine within a small radius. Semi-neutrals do not include truly neutral colors. Semi-neutrals function very similarly to neutrals with additional complexity. Spatial relationships may be subtly accentuated by the slight addition of hue. Iridescent and lustrous color effects can also be achieved.

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Images with reduced saturation use low levels of saturation. Values cluster around the luminosity spine within a larger radius but do not achieve full naturalistic saturation. Though not fully presented, the hue of elements within a composition becomes apparent. Similarly the ambient color temperature can be suggested. Spatial relationships can be more clearly delineated through hue. Hue becomes a significant concern in compositions, though it may or may not be a primary concern, depending on how it’s deliberate reduction is handled. Images with reduced saturation often do not appear realistic. They appear somewhat restrained, limnal, neither here nor there, but somewhere in between. Many people associate reduced saturation with the past, particularly the recent past.

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Fully saturated images are the most representational images. Color can be used to make elements in a composition seem similar or different depending on the degree of contrast of one or more of its elements – hue, saturation, or brightness. All three elements of color can be used to describe qualities of form, space, and light. Often, to preserve a realistic appearance, luminosity contrast is lower than in neutral and semi-neutral palettes. Fully saturated palettes are relatively energetic. They have decidedly contemporary connotations.

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Highly saturated images use a generous amount of saturation, without becoming unrealistically saturated. Hue becomes a dominant preoccupation. It may vie for becoming the primary focus of attention with subject, spatial relationships, or qualities of light. Highly saturated images are energetic. They have contemporary, generally expressive, and sometimes youthful connotations.

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Super-saturated images use extreme levels of saturation. Realistic representation is generally not a concern. Colors often appear unrealistic. Additionally there is a tendency for colors to posterize, with abrupt transitions between different hues. Hue becomes the dominant concern, over subject or spatial relationships. Super-saturated images tend towards flatness. They are highly energetic, expressive, and sometimes associated with altered states of consciousness.

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You can use the Color Sampler Tool in Photoshop in combination with the Apple color picker to graph color and identify the level of saturation of one or more images, either yours or someone else’s. See (list url for graphing color article) to find out how.

To lend unity to images within a single body of work it can be helpful, and in some cases necessary, to limit your use of saturation. Many artists will use just one level of saturation. While it is extremely difficult to present a wide array of saturation levels within a single body of work (though not a single image), for instance both neutral and saturated images, it is possible to present images that employ more than one level of saturation if they are closely related, such as reduced saturation and fully saturated or fully saturated and highly saturated palettes. As variety in saturation level rises it becomes more difficult to have separate images be seen as related.

When you think of Ansel Adams’ photographs you think of neutral images rather than highly saturated ones. When you think of Matisse’s paintings you think of supersaturated images rather than neutral ones. Think of your use of saturation as an essential component to defining your own signature style.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

Learn more with my DVDs on Color here.

Learn more with my free color resources here.

“In this episode, Marc Silber takes us inside the home of famous photographer, Edward Weston. Weston’s grandson, Kim is our tour guide. Watch and you’ll hear the secrets and unbelievable stories behind Weston’s iconic photographs. How long were his exposures and did he use an f/stop higher than 64? You’ll find out about his approach to photography and composition that you can use to develop your own voice as a photographer.”

Explore more in Marc Silber’s series Advancing Your Photography.

Explore 12 Great Photographs By Great Photographers

Explore The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.

Explore The Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.

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Huntington Witherill’s Orchestrating Icons

Huntington Witherill celebrates twelve photographs by other photographers.

Road to Badwater, 1971

Al Weber, Road to Badwater, 1971

Al Weber’s “Road to Badwater, 1971” demonstrates the effectiveness and power of design simplicity in depicting the immense spaces that characterize Death Valley. The overall sense of atmosphere and distance are communicated through but a few bold blocks of uniform tonal value, each of which help to define the photograph’s unique character.

Pelargonium Blossums, Mill Valley, CA 1985

Don Worth, Pelargonium Blossoms, 1985

The visual strength of Don Worth’s “Pelargonium Blossoms, 1985” lies within the tension that exists between the intricate textures and patterns, together with a juxtaposition of accent color placed against a largely monochromatic field. Each time I look at this photograph I am drawn into its hypnotic spell.

Drainage Ditches in a Low Agricultural Field, Savannah River Nuc

Emmett Gowin

Emmett Gowin’s photographs from his series: “Changing the Earth” exhibit a remarkable juxtaposition of visual beauty in the midst of perceived destruction. It’s not that the subject matter he has chosen to photograph is so often thought of as being of a more or less unseemly nature. It is that he has presented this particular subject – in its perceived negativity – with such an abundance of visual beauty and grace that he seduces the viewer into an irreconcilable dichotomy.

US Highway Route 1, 1965

Henry Gilpin’s, US Highway Route 1, 1965

Clearly one of the most iconic images of the Big Sur Coastline, Henry Gilpin’s “US Highway Route 1, 1965” celebrates the wild and austere essence of the Big Sur Coast. The serpentine highway glowing white hot against the dark and foreboding shoreline cliffs projects a scene of exceptional strength and amplitude.

Untitled, No Date

Kim Weston

Kim Weston’s hand-painted photograph of ballerinas features a marvelous sense of movement and grace that is punctuated by the introduction of sparse color. The color, itself, seems to further abstract the image, thereby helping to focus the viewer’s attention on the dynamic and symbiotic relationship between the figures, themselves.

Center of Town After Blizzard, Woodstock, VT- 1940

Marion Post Wolcott, Blizzard, Woodstock, VT, 1940

Marion Post Wolcott’s “Blizzard, Woodstock, VT, 1940” portrays a quiet yet bitter cold winter evening. The glimmering street lights serve as an effective and warm counterpoint to what, otherwise, seems a penetratingly cold environment. This photograph makes me want to put on another coat!

Stairway #60, Los Angeles

Mark Wainer, Stairway #60, Los Angeles

Suggestive of an M.C. Escher drawing, Mark Wainer’s “Stairway #60, Los Angeles” evokes a whimsical maze of mystery and apprehension. Is the figure hoplessly trapped? Or, has he managed to find the hidden escape?

Windowsill Daydreaming, Rochester, New York, 1958

Minor White, Windowsill Daydreaming

Windowsill Daydreaming, by Minor White, is one of those quintessential photographs in which the light, itself, is the predominate subject. The seductive nature of the subject, in this case, is both highly mysterious, and positively alluring.

Kiva Ladder, San Ildefonse Pueblo, 1973

Morley Baer, Kiva Ladder, 1973

Morley Baer’s “Kiva Ladder, 1973” appears as a graphically rich visual Icon symbolizing the American Southwest and its native cultures. The immense power of graphic simplicity, achieved through the exquisite and economical use of simple line and texture, help to contribute to the photograph’s near universal appeal.

Nascent Flight

Paul Caponigro, Nascent Flight

The temptation to reach out and touch the surface of Paul Caponigro’s “Nascent Flight” is quite strong. The overall combination of line, texture, and impeccable detail that comprise this complex yet visually concise still life projects a near miraculous display of inherent strength in the presence of underlying fragility.

Iceberg Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, 1978

Philip Hyde, Iceberg Lake

Philip Hyde’s “Iceberg Lake” demonstrates a marvelous sense of asymmetrical balance. While the ice forms seem randomly placed within the composition, the organization of forms within the overall frame are not only solidly connected, but also perfectly well balanced.

La Mesita, New Mexico, 1978

William Clift, La Mesita, New Mexico, 1978

William Clift’s “La Mesita, New Mexico, 1978” portrays the open desert with uncommon elegance and aplomb. There is undeniable magic in the light that Clift has captured, here. And taken together with an exquisite sense of detail and overall delicacy, I am compelled to step into the frame and go exploring!

Learn more about Huntington Witherill here.

View 12 Great Photographs By Huntington Witherill here.

Read our Quick Q&A here.

View video with Huntington Witherill here.

Read our conversation with Huntington Witherill.

View more Photographers Celebrate Photography here.

John Paul Caponigro
Open Studio | New Work

August 5 & 6, 2017 / 10 AM – 5 PM

Artist’s Talks 2 PM
Watch them live on Facebook.

73 Cross Road, Cushing, ME  04563

Find directions here.

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Save 25% On Prints For A Limited Time Only!

Enter the code 25OFF during checkout.

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Come have an adventure in art! Be among the first to see new works by artist John Paul Caponigro’s series Alignment, featuring petroglyphs and stone alignments. Inspired by early childhood and continuing encounters with the sacred arts of “primitive” or “primal” cultures these images make visible the inner spirit of extraordinary places around the world as diverse as Antarctica, Iceland, and Japan. Environmental art in virtual space, these altered images are land art produced without altering the land. The artist’s visionary landscapes drawn from and for the mind’s eye heighten our physical, emotional and spiritual connections to nature. He has said, “The process of creating these images is like dreaming while I’m awake.” Now you’re invited to come dream together with the artist in this unique exhibit.

This is a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of an artist at work in his private studio. Many of the items on display have never been seen before; some are not made public, except during this event.

In addition to the state-of-the art digital photographs, also on display are a wide variety of related studies some drawn, some painted, and some computer rendered.

A second exhibit is also on display featuring the artist’s works made in Maine, his home for over 28 years.

Find out more here.

Quotes_Determination

Enjoy this collection of quotes on Determination.

“A great book begins with an idea; a great life, with a determination.” – Louis L’Amour

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” – Calvin Coolidge

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

“If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.” – Victor Hugo

Read more


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