The history and properties of colour in photography

Colour Wheel. Source:

Colour Qualities

Colour is made up of 3 qualities:

1. Hue – what distinguishes red from blue etc

2. Saturation (chroma) – the purity of the hue

3. Brightness

Ang (2010) discusses how the use of colour in photography can influence the viewer’s emotional response to an image.

Vivid colours stimulate sensations that are altogether more aggressive and demanding of attention than pastel or near-neutral colours with their quieter voice.

This would be especially true advertising images and fashion photography where images are often very striking and eye-catching. Whereas other photographs take the viewer on a journey exploring the photograph, often with the use of lines, points and other design elements as taught in section 3 of TAOP.

As I embark on this part of the course I’ve got 18 mega-pixels of colour to play with from my Canon. I wanted to find out what was the very first colour photograph? Who took it? And how did they create it?

Further research on the web led me to finding it at the National Media Museum.

In 1861 James Clerk Maxwell got a photographer, Thomas Sutton, to take 3 photographs of a coloured ribbon, using a different coloured filter each time. The images were used on 3 lantern slides which were then projected together to create the coloured image.

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