A Discussion on Color and Structure

By Dolf DeRovira

North Lights Studio

Lines are crucial to a good photograph.  Leading horizontal lines bring focus and excitement to the picture.  Curved lines are peaceful and bring calm.  Straight vertical lines can be distracting or powerful depending on the image.  Horizontal lines can be boring or can bring structure to a photo.  Jagged lines heighten emotion, but all of this can be tempered by color.  Atmospheric effects usually lighten or grey up colors desaturating them in the distance.  Lines here can be subtle.  Closed shape lines like circles boxes, rectangles and triangles can have many different effects depending on the subject matter.

Sometimes the lines are off and cannot be helped.  Parallax, or the effect of tall buildings whose lines merge is one example.  When used to accentuate the height of a building parallax can be useful.  Sometimes in close building parallax can be annoying.

The next picture we will discuss in detail because it is another example of lines that are off and cannot be helped.

Here is a great example of a colorful door found in the Old San Juan area of San Juan Puerto Rico.  However, the door is on a hill, so the lines are all wrong.

I have put a red box around all of the shapes that are off due to this gradient.

Although Photoshop and Lightroom have preset lens corrections the picture above is not due to lens error but the physical structure of the scene.

Using Photoshop, we can easily fix this.

First it is always good to copy the photo by simply hitting Ctrl J on the PC Command J on the MAC.  This way if you make a mistake you can always go back.

By using the rectangular selection tool, highlight each area.  Then when each area is selected hit Ctrl or CMD A for selecting all, then Ctrl or CMD T for transform.  Right clicking the mouse will give you different selections.  I either use the selections; skew, distort, perspective, or warp.  Each does a bit different effect, so you need to play around with the photo you are editing to find out which one is best for the task.  Remember, Ctr Z or CMD Z undoes the last stroke and Ctrl alt Z or CMD alt z backs it off one step at a time.

Once the layer is appropriately resized, you can add a mask and mask out unwanted areas.  Remember the easiest way to draw a line is to place a dot where you want it started then while hitting the shift key another dot will draw a straight line.  This is very helpful with this kind of editing.  See our other discussions for other tricks.

You might have some stubborn areas where you might have to use the clone tool, the content aware fill tool or the spot healing / healing brush tools.

Once that is accomplished the next step might be to use the above tools to fix blemishes or in this case where the pain it dirty, inconsistent or stained as in the next photo:

You can adjust these as much as needed and with whatever tool is most comfortable for you.  The one thing about Photoshop is that it enables the same thing to be done in so many different ways depending on the style of the user.

The final picture looks like this:

Let’s now talk about color.

Why is this such a dramatic picture?  There are two ways our eyes see color.  By transmitted light and by reflected light.

The three colors of reflected light we learn early on in kindergarten.  The primary colors are Red, Blue and Yellow.  Mixed colors of these colors are the secondary colors, Purple, Green and Orange.  Colors that are opposite on this color wheel are called complimentary colors and when mixed together for a dull brownish grey, but when placed side by side are brightened.  So these are Red – Green,  Yellow – Purple and Blue – Orange.

But photography captures transmitted colors so we need to discuss them.  The primary colors for transmitted light are Cyan, Yellow and Magenta.  When each of these colors are transmitted together we get white light.

By the way the lights we know have hues that will effect the image, so it is important to keep this in mind.  Fluorescent lighting can give a greenish cast, incandescent light bulbs can give an orange cast and sunlight is a blue light.  This is very important especially when ding portrait work.

The transmitted colors are;

The colors of the door are Cyan and Yellow so although not complimentary are tangential colors showing good contrast.

I would also like to take this time to mention number of items.

We like odd numbers, simple odd numbers that is, one, three, and five,  Beyond that the eye likes to just see many.

The door is an example of a solitary item.

This next two images show a group of three:


And many:

I hope you enjoyed the blog.  See our other blogs for more information.

at                 www,northlightsstudio.com

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