Colour Relationships – Part 2

In the second part of this exercise I needed to find several photographs with colour combinations that appealed to me. I wanted to show that although the harmonious combinations in part 1 of the exercise are a good guide to go by that actually colour combinations can be numerous and are subjective. Although I could use any colour combination here I needed to be aware of what (if any) the imbalances were and where colour tension (if any) was being created. By colour tension I mean colours that aren’t traditionally seen as complimenting each other yet are still either pleasing to the eye or draw the eye in because of the tension they create by not complimenting each other in a traditional way. In the following photographs I have tried not to be too safe with the selection of colours but find myself being drawn to combinations that I think really are quite safe. It’s something I need to consider, or maybe the combinations aren’t safe and I’m not seeing that either!

I tried to choose colours combinations which appealed to me without thinking too hard why. Then I decided to post them and then explain them, which turned out to be quite an interesting approach as there is some coherence in my choices which I might not have expected.


Lime green against a darker backdrop is always a favourite target for me. In this case the brown skin makes a perfect foil for the green limes. The limes are on the cold side of the colour wheel while the brown is warm and gives great contrast and compliment. The added interest here is the towel over the shoulder and the yellow rope around the neck. The towel has the mixture of red and green (complimenting each other) with yellow behind. Notice how the yellow stands out much more against the green than the red. The yellow rope is offset by the brown neck and again is quite complimentary even though they are from the same side of the colour wheel.

SONY DSCThe yellow/blue combination is heading in the same direction (on a colour wheel) as yellow/violet from part 1. I like this combination although the colder, lighter blue doesn’t enable the yellow to have the same punch as with violet. That said, it means I can have more yellow in the frame to balance this out. The tension it produces isn’t pleasing, adds nothing to the composition and does, in fact, detract from it.


I was immediately attracted to this scene with its vibrant colour scheme. The red is slightly overawing and pushes its way out of the image before all the other colours. The blue bike helps to balance this out somewhat as well as the grey of the sidewalk. If you look carefully there are all the colours of the wheel in this image barring a deep violet. Yellow is also quite prominent, surrounded as it is by dark brown on one side and a slim black border on the other. The blues and greens take something of a back seat. Also noticeable in the window panels is that the blue is complimented by orange and red by green (although the green is a little too light and weak to compliment it properly and gives an unbalanced, awkward feel). I feel that the lavender and green panel compliment each other quite nicely (they are opposite sides of the colour wheel of course).

An interesting exercise, which made me think harder about the relationships than I thought it might when I first started choosing images for it.


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