The Color Wheel

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by acparsons, May 26, 2020.

  1. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    True there is considerable confusion and disagreement out there. Something to remember though is that the eye doesn't see color, the brain does. To say that RGB displays color consistent to how our "brain" perceives the world would be incorrect. In the world we have reflected light which includes the full spectrum of all wavelengths (minus any absorbed by the color). The brain uses all of that signal to realize a specific color. When you look at a monitor you are seeing only three specific projected wavelengths of varying intensity. While the ability to fool the brain with limited sensory stimulation is pretty good, differences exist both in the eye's sensitivity in one or more of the cones between people, and in the ability of the monitor to display consistently from one to another. In particular displaying consistent true yellow in RGB has always been a problem as has the conversion to CMYK.

    I think it's important to not get hung up on what the primary colors are, but understand the difference between how they're displayed in the physical and digital world. RGB does a great job with presenting more variations, then the human eye can understand, but RBY lends itself better to color theory and the design of harmonious color schemes. As JC mentioned above he keeps it simple with opposites (complimentary) using the RBY color wheel, the opposite of red is pure green (halfway between blue and yellow). Using the RGB modified wheel the opposite of red is more of a sickly turquoise. In the real world I've never seen many red flowers with turquoise leaves.


     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  2. RVT1K

    RVT1K No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You have described a CRT which I doubt anyone has seen in a while. LCD screens work a little differently. They are backlit by white light and the colors are produced by the LCD screen in front of it.
     
  3. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    :aiwebs_016::aiwebs_016::aiwebs_016: You mean my old Compaq flat screen is outdated? :biggrin-93:

    Yup, you're correct on the technology. Interesting side note on the CRTs, I learned recently that I messed up when I junked the old monitors stored in the warehouse a few years ago. Apparently the gamers are snapping them up because of less lag time and faster motion response.
     
  4. Soocom1

    Soocom1 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Going back to something Smokes pointed out.
    RGB was taken a LONG time ago in the world of color photography because of the wavelength. Green is dead in the middle of the color spectrum, whilst red and blue on the opposite sides.
    Color film is based on Blue Green and Red with the silver sandwiched between.

    Primary colors for art was based on the concept as pointed out for MIXING colors or more accurately, BREAKING THEM DOWN.
    Ergo, if you could subtract colors from, what would you be left with.

    Now without rehashing that, the other aspect as pointed out is the hues, chromas, etc.
    Depth is also another aspect not typically covered in the basics of color education these days. That involves aspects of how the color actually is rendered by electronic format, but has its origins in older forms of art. (DIff. terminology, but similar concept).

    Currently color depth is more based on the ability to reproduce the spectrum (to whit is infinite) using a system that can only reproduce a fraction. But that fraction is so large that the human brain literally cannot distinguish the diff.

    But more to the point of the original question. how is the color wheel used, well take the above, and then USE IT!

    I made mistakes for years of simply having it and not employing it. The real crux is actually following the process.
     
  5. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg hear me roar Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I had not seen this thread as I had a busy week at work, but coincidentally I set the weekly challenge around using color theory. Maybe I subconsciously saw the thread title? Now you can all put your knowledge to use and show us how it’s done. Hope to see your posts in the challenge thread.
     
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  6. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    The RYB model dating back to the mid 1600's was based more on Newton's use of a prism, and the limited ability of the human eye to only see the spectral colors (rainbow colors) falling in the range of roughly 400nm to 700nm in the electromagnetic spectrum. Pure white light contains the full range most of which is outside the ability of the eye to see.
    RBG dates back to early 1800's and is actually based on on the Young–Helmholtz theory of trichromatic color vision (organisms having red, green, and blue cones in the eye). James Maxwell took it further in the mid to late 1800's by using three color filtered positives sandwiched together to produce a color image projected in a darken room. Reproduction followed with the CMY model using separate plates to add pigmented color or dye. A natural progression as the "negative" of RGB filtered positives is CMY where Red reversed is Cyan, Green reversed is Magenta, and Blue reversed is yellow. In my last couple years in college and later as the owner of a commercial shop I did a lot of 4-color process printing where separation film was used to produce 4 separate plates. Each pass through the press adds a color, resulting in a finished color piece.
    Color Separation Image.jpg

    Finally, the Color Wheel is more then just a guide to mixing pigment. Color associations and the connotative meanings to specific colors, dates back to the Greeks. There is feeling or mood a color will bring when you view it, as is the ability of certain colors to be in harmony with each other. I have a history of art dating back to childhood, painting, drawing, etc., so I tend to follow the RYB model because it fits better with color harmony of colors and IMO more closely conforms to that which is found in nature. For example in RYB the compliment of Red is Green not Cyan. The Triadic scheme isn't quite as bad, in the RYB model you have Red, Blue and Yellow, but in the RGB it's Red, Blue and Green, but the Split Complimentary in the RGB is just enough deviation that it doesn't quite look right, as do the slight differences in the Tetradic and Square.

    color.jpg
    For my part I'd rather design in the RYB model and let the camera/software/monitor convert my creation to RGB.
     
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  7. PixFixer

    PixFixer TPF Noob!

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    You got it! I'll add one more thing, the 'feel' for color has to be part of you much like a sense of design. That happens [if at all] only after screwing up thousands of shots and learning from that. Doing what you say is the first step. Time is the second. There are no short-cuts.
     
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  8. johngpt

    johngpt Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The technical posts here have been fascinating to read.
    AC, regarding your question in the original post, I try to look for color contrasts as I'm out and about, along with looking for contrast of luminosity. In 2017 I was lucky to stumble across Dan Margulis' Photoshop LAB Color 2nd ed which goes into color theory in depth. Unfortunately since then copies are hard to find. While the book's emphasis is on post processing, understanding the concepts can contribute greatly toward for what one looks when stalking photographs.
     
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  9. acparsons

    acparsons Photo Hunter Supporting Member

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    Hello All,

    Thank you for your guidance. I spent a lot of time practicing the color wheel and think I have the hang of it. One thing that I came across that was interesting was images that were analyzed by amount of color used, like 75% reds and 25 % greens or 35%blue, 25%green, 40%, yellow. If I were to set up shots in a studio, it would be much easier to work with the color wheel than just going on photo walks.
     
  10. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    It would depend on the students, their age/level, etc. since I don't know what this class is (I was a teacher). I took art all thru school but for some of it I'd be going back a ways! and can't say I remember it all offhand. I don't know how in-depth it needs to be.

    I think I used a lot of what I learned in art in my photography, but I don't carry around a color wheel. I suppose I know enough to know which colors are opposites on the wheel (either complementary and directly across, or tertiary and not direct opposites but indirect opposites).

    The colors in real life, in nature, etc. may not be exactly as shown on the wheel(s). I tend to look at something like tall grasses that are straw color with a yellowish tint, against a blue sky, and see/know that there's some nice contrast there. Or orange daylilies against green grass.
     
  11. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I noticed that there's some variance in the three color wheels, but they all use the same spectrum and are in the same order. There's a difference in brightness or tone or tint of some of the colors, but the yellows and oranges are opposite the blues and greens and provide more contrast, and the similar colors are adjacent to each other for less contrast.

    Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for students to carry a small color wheel out and about when they're taking pictures and learning, so they can refer to it when noticing what colors do they see and will those colors provide more or less contrast.
     

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