Daily Posts. Colorful Ideas & Inspirations.
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Color in photography has come a long way since the first permanent color photo was taking in 1861. Now nearly 150 years later we thought we would take a look and see where and how color developed in photography. Starting with the black and white beginnings.
Monochrome photography implies the act of recording light in a single color or wavelength and includes such types of photographs as black and white, sepia, infrared photography, and X-ray photography.
Oldest surviving photo created in 1826 by inventor Nicéphore Niépce
Black and White
Black and white photography uses neutral tones of gray ranging from near white to near black, or using a grayscale.
Photo by whappen
Photography began with the discovery that silver is a light sensitive chemical. Silver halides, or silver salt compounds, break down when exposed to light and form black metallic silver2. The darker areas of a negative that received more light during exposure block the light that would reach photographic paper during printing, thus allowing the paper to remain whiter in relation to the local negative density. The lighter areas of the negative that received less light during exposure allow more light to pass during printing, darkening those areas of the print.
I thought it was about time we revisited Mojizu.com and shared some more of their wonderfully creative character designs. So to follow up from Color Inspiration: Monsters and Dubious Characters, here are 20 more characters and some examples of characters used in good graphic and web designs.
Creative Characters in Modern Web Designs
We've been seeing vector characters pop up as mascots for new web sites and they do a great job of adding a little extra personality to the sites. Smashing Magazine, showcases a dozen or so in their Isn’t it sweet? Mascots in Modern Web Design post. Here are just a few from that post:
20 Creative Characters from Mojizu
As the first in an new series, I'd like to introduce you to The Cinematic Palette, a look at the use of color in film and how it acts as a secondary means of communication for the director to tell stories in an organic way. Since I am passionate about beautiful films, I have quite a few in mind for the future, but I'd also love to hear your feedback in the comments about your favorite colorful films and how they affected you.
This week's film of choice is Paprika, an animated film by Satoshi Kon, who is known best for his propensity for stories which stir the emotions while they blur dreams and reality. The effect is mesmerizing and often unforgettable, and while many of his films leave you feeling as if you are awash in a sea of vivid color, Paprika ranks highest when it comes to its carnival of beautiful hues.
Paprika begins in the unspecified future, in which an invention called the DC Mini has revolutionized the psychotherapy industry by allowing the user to view people's dreams. The head of the team, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, is using the device illegally to help patients outside the facility she works in, appearing in their dreams as "Paprika", a young female who embodies her dream alter-ego. At the start of the film, we are shown a reoccuring dream which belongs to Detective Konakawa Toshimi, who figures prominently into the story as the film goes on. One immediately considers the ramifications of such a device when the three prototypes of the DC Mini are stolen, leaving its tremendous power open to manipulation from less than reliable sources.
Most observations of sky color tend to focus on sunsets and sunrises when the most dynamic and vibrant colors can be seen, but what about the soft transitions and subtle changes of color from day to day? Michael Surtees's observational photo series “ New York City Color Study” focuses on just that, and in the process enlightens us to the dramatic in the mundane.
On January 16, 2008 Micheal started capturing pictures of the New York City sky though the window of his Manhattan apartment. What has come from this seemingly mundane observation is an amazing set of inspiring images and a reminder that everyday is a new color.
The series is on-going and he isn't planning on stopping anytime soon. The latest photo was taken April 17, 2008.
About "New York City Color Study"
For thirty six days now I’ve been taking an image of the sky from my apartment in Manhattan. It wasn’t until I started noticing that most mornings have a really unique colour to the sky that I thought there might be something to comparing the colour day to day. There isn’t any specific time for me to point my camera in the same direction though for the most part I’ve been taking the photograph somewhere between 7 and 9 am. As the sun starts rising earlier my time will probably adjust accordingly.
It’s a fairly uncomplicated process with the photos. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy doesn’t really matter because each day is unique. I always make sure that the crop of the sky is in a 4:3 aspect ratio with my Leica D-Lux 3. One of the cool yet unexpected things that happens when I upload the photos to flickr and place them in their set is that they create a square which is what the image above is. I always mark the date and time on the photo as extra information that I might want to use at a latter date.
Light projection installations have been filling dark nights with radiant colors a lot in the past year. With the previously mentioned exhibit Evoke, by Usman Haque, who wrapped the facade of York Minister with projected colors that were sensitive to the sound waves created by people in the immediate area, to the recently ended Adelaide Festival exhibit, Northern Lights.
The Adelaide Festival of Arts is an innovative art festival that takes place every other year in South Australia and includes an array of events, performances, exhibits, and theater, including the incredible projection installation created by The Electric Canvas, a Sydney production team.
Photo by SpacePotato
During the Festival which ran from February 29th through March 16th, an estimated 15,000 people made their way each night to see the multi-building installation light up with 70 different projections that changed every five minutes. The turnout must have been a little unexpected because the installation was extended two weeks beyond the original ending date to March 30th. Even though the installation was such a success the festival honored Earth Hour on March 29th by turning off the lights for one hour.
The 2008 festival as a whole was also a huge success, with the announcement that box office projections were vastly exceeded.
The Electric Canvas
The Electric Canvas team, who provides design, production, technical and creative services for installation, used huge projectors that weighed in around 200k (440lbs) to project a selection of patterns and colors on the State Library of South Australia, the Institute Building, South Australian Museum, as well as the Art Gallery of South Australia, and three landmark university buildings including the Mitchell Building, Bonython Hall and Elder Hall.
Photo by SpacePotato
Established in 1932, the Pure Photography movement boasted a palette with a maximum of two colors. Pure photography was defined as being completely free of any other artistic movement. That meant it had to be free of qualities of technique, composition, and objective. Due to its strict requirements, the possible body of work was severely limited. That's why the visual poet Geof Huth calls Pure Photography "one of the shortest artistic movements of all time." As it is such a narrow school of art, Huth was able to complete all the possible works of the genre in a single day. He explains: "A black & white photograph might look like it is made out of grays, but it is made out of bits of black organized on the surface of a white sheet, so in its purest form it is either all black or all white."
Huth's technique was simple: "The black photograph must be exposed to uncontrolled light, so I turned on the lights in the darkroom, exposed the paper & then developed the photograph. The white photograph must never be exposed to light; it is fixed so that it never changes from its white beginnings. I framed one of these photographs in a bright metal frame, but I don't know where it is anymore."
Here are some colors and palettes from the COLOURlovers library reminiscent of the short-lived Pure Photography movement.
Cover by Breno Peck.
About the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1961, Beatriz Milhazes works in the pure aesthetic style of the Pattern and Decoration movement. Influenced by her native land of Brazil, her vibrant and bold use of color and patterns create work that is as much playful, free and psychedelic, as it is geometric, organized and rhythmic.
The Pattern and Decoration movement was not originally popular in the art world because of the movements lack of political statements and stances, "art for arts sake:" "Though playful and innovative, especially in the use of materials, Pattern and Decoration didn’t make much of an impact in the art world. It was dismissed as frivolous, with the work regarded as purely decorative and thus not warranting serious critical or curatorial attention." (NYT: Fresh Eyes on a Colorful Movement) What was deemed not worth talking about has now gained global visibility since its beginnings in the 70's and 80's.
Photo from tate.org.uk
The Decoration and Pattern movement is not completely detached from society and the world around it. I feel the art, and artists involved, take a very positive stance that speaks not from the created politics and mottos of the mind, but from love and the appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. And this philosophy of focusing more on the pleasures of life, rather than its hardships, is very evident in the shapes, colors and patterns of each of Milhazes' piece.
Photo from James Cohan Gallery
Many of these explosions of colour originate in her small, compact studio, where she has been based since 1987. It is situated right next door to Rio’s luscious botanical gardens, and, inevitably, the forms and patterns of the flowers – delicate swirls and leaf-like shapes – have found their way into her paintings. She has also “taken advantage of the atmosphere of the city”, with its rich urban mix incorporating chitão (the cheap, colourful Brazilian fabric), jewellery, embroidery and folk art. Other influences range from architectural – the work of Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape architect and garden designer who created the five-kilometre Copacabana beach promenade in Rio – to Pop symbols such as Emilio Pucci fabric patterns. Painterly inspiration comes from the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Albert Eckhout, who travelled through colonial Brazil, and the Brazilian Modernist Tarsila do Amaral, as well as Mondrian, Matisse and Bridget Riley.
- In the Studio, tate.org.uk
Taking inspiration from abstract expressionism, surrealism and impressionism, painters from Salvador Dali, Joan Miró, Jackson Pollack to Paul Klee, and using a 19th century window pane as his preferred medium of expression, Greg Considine has created an inspiring series of smoothly graceful, beautifully volatile and emotional reflection photos.
I got in touch with Greg to tell us a little more about his process of taking refection photos and the color inspiration behind his fluid and imaginative photo series 'Reflections of Melbourne'.
COLOURlovers: Tell me about your background.
Greg Considine: I have worked for a long time as a union advocate and recently took a long break to recharge my batteries. Prior to concentrating on reflections I used to shoot color and B&W digital infrared images as well as wildlife. Most of my time off work was spent taking photos, printing and exhibiting.
CL: How did you start taking reflection photos?
GC: As my photographic eye improved I started noticing them and found abstract expressionism, surrealism and impressionism ready made in old plate glass windows.
CL: Can you tell me about your process for taking your reflection photos?
GC: My favored medium for reflection is old 19th century plate glass-the old process produced sheets which were not flat and contain different densities and patterns-these distort the light nicely.
The key to my process is manually focusing telephoto lenses - I find 200mm, 300mm and 400mm all useful and sometimes I use a 600mm. My aim is usually to compose the photo so that the window surrounds are not in frame to reduce or eliminate cropping so that I can preserve large print size options. The right focal length lens enables this.
The roots of color technology trace back to Ancient Egypt, where visionary chemists concocted recipes for synthetic pigments. Color (Ancient Egyptian name 'iwen') was an essential part of life in ancient Egypt, adding deeper meaning to everything the people created. Paintings, clothing, books, jewelry, and architecture were all imbued with colorful symbolism. African historian Alistair Boddy-Evans explains that color "was considered an integral part of an item's or person's nature in Ancient Egypt, and the term could interchangeably mean color, appearance, character, being, or nature. Items with similar color were believed to have similar properties."
Egyptologist Anita Stratos informs us that the Egyptian palette had six colours:
- red (desher)
- green (wadj)
- blue (khesbedj and irtiu)
- yellow (kenit and khenet)
- black (khem or kem)
- white (shesep and hedj)
Boddy-Evans notes that organic sources yielded two basic colors: crushed bones and ivory provided white pigment, and soot provided black. Red dye was produced from the dried bodies of female scale insects (family Coccidae, genus Kermes). Indigo and crimson pigments came from plants. Most other colors were made from mineral compounds, Stratos notes, "which is why they retained their vibrant colors throughout thousands of years."
Ancient Egyptians considered green to be a positive and powerful color, Egyptologist Geraldine Pinch notes (Magic in Ancient Egypt, 1995). It was associated with fertility, growth and regeneration. "A person was said to be doing 'green things' if his behavior was beneficial or life producing," Stratos says. "Wadj, the word for green, which also meant to flourish or be healthy, was used for the papyrus plant as well as for the green stone malachite. Green malachite was a symbol of joy. In a larger reference, the phrase 'field of malachite' was used when speaking of the land of the blessed dead."
Blue and turquoise were considered divine colors and appropriate for sacred places. Stratos explains that "Dark blue, also called 'Egyptian' blue, was the color of the heavens, water, and the primeval flood, and it represented creation or rebirth. The favorite blue stone was lapis lazuli, or khesbed, which also meant joy or delight. . . . There is also a theory that blue may have been symbolic of the Nile and represented fertility, because of the fertile soils along the Nile that produced crops. Because the god Amen (also spelled Amon or Amun) played a part in the creation of the world, he was sometimes depicted with a blue face; therefore, pharaohs associated with Amen were shown with blue faces also. In general, it was said that the gods had hair made of lapis lazuli."
Stratos explains that red was considered a very powerful color, "symbolizing two extremes: Life and victory as well as anger and fire. Red also represented blood. . . . In its negative context of anger and fire, red was the color of the god Set, who was the personification of evil and the powers of darkness, as well as the god who caused storms. Some images of Set are colored with red skin. In addition, red-haired men as well as animals with reddish hair or skins were thought to be under the influence of Set. A person filled with rage was said to have a red heart."
"In the Graeco-Egyptian papyri, a special kind of red ink, which included ochre and the juice of flaming red poppies, was used," Pinch says.
We often find our breaths taken away by the presence of color in our everyday lives, and thankfully there are three times as many opportunities to celebrate it. While the carnivals of Brazil and New Orleans explode with vibrancy, there is something simpler and yet equally joyous about Holi, the festival of color that takes place in early March of each year in India and Nepal. It is also known as Phagwa, or in West Begal, Boshonto Utsav (meaning "Spring Festival.")
India's people believe that bright colors are synonymous with life, joy and positive energy. Holi is a day to celebrate these concepts, but it also holds other symbolism as well (which seem to differ depending on what region the celebration is held in.) For some, Holi means celebrating the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radna (this is most popularly believed in Vrindavan and Mathura, where Krishna grew up.) The festival is celebrated for 16 days in the aforementioned areas (in some areas it is as short as six days.) There is a story that tells of Krishna complaining to his mother about his dark skin in contrast to Radna's fair cheek, which Krishna's mother addressed by applying color to Radna's face, transforming her from starkly contrasting to brilliantly colorful.
A second story about Holi's origins involves Kamadeva, the Hindu God of Love. Kama was destroyed by Shiva, but Shiva recreated his body as a mental image for sake of Kama's wife. The concept behind this story is that Shiva gave Kama's wife back the symbol of her emotional and spiritual devotion, which outweighed the importance of his physicality (the latter signifying physical lust.) The Holi bonfire, which is traditionally held on the first night of Holi, is believed by some to pay homage to this story. Other believe in the bonfires as a recreation of the burning of the demoness Holika, for which the festival was named. This ritual is called "Holika Dahan."