Exercise: Primary and secondary colours (TAoP)

Find scenes or parts of scenes that are dominated by a single one of the primary and secondary colours.  With each colour vary the exposure slightly to produce a set of three images; the first using the average meter reading, the second half a stop brighter and the third half a stop darker.  Select the image which is closest in colour to the relevant colour in the colour wheel.  Try to find natural colours rather than those that are man-made such as painted surfaces.

For this exercise we are required to take 16 photographs – 3 of each of the primary and secondary colours – one with the recommended exposure, one with a lower exposure, and one with a higher exposure. I was lucky enough to be doing this exercise just as spring had arrived and the flowers had started to bloom. There were plenty of examples of the 6 colours in every day life, but the course notes advised trying to find these colours through natural examples rather than man made. Some colours were easier to find than others (daffodils are everywhere at the minute!) but i tried to make a conscious effort to use subjects that i felt represented each colour as closely as possible. (I had intended to photograph an orange flower, but the results were not as obvious as with the satsumas.)

Here is the colour wheel provided by the OCA.


Red at average exposure reading (0)

red 0

Red at + 1 exposure

red + 1

Red at – 1 exposure

red - 1

I think the shot at + 1 matches the colour wheel the best.

Green at average exposure reading:

Green 0

Green at + 1

Green + 1

Green at – 1

Green - 1

Again i feel the green at + 1 exposure matches the colour wheel green the closest.

Yellow at average exposure

yellow 0

Yellow at + 1

yellow + 1

Yellow at – 1

yellow - 1

For the yellow image i think that the recommended exposure setting is the closest match.

Blue at average setting:

Blue 0


Blue + 1

Blue + 1

Blue – 1

blue -1

For blue, the – 1exposure matches the colour wheel best.

Orange at average exposure

orange 0

Orange at + 1

orange + 1

Orange at – 1

orange - 1

The + 1 setting most represents the orange from the colour wheel.

Lastly, violet at average exposure

violet 0

Violet + 1:

violet + 1

Violet – 1

violet - 1

The last photo at – 1 is the closest match to the colour wheel. I struggled a bit with finding a typically violet flower, but will re do these images and try to find a closer match.

I found this exercise very interesting as it taught me how to change the feel of a photograph by using the settings on my camera instead of post processing programs. People often think that exposure relates directly to light, and while this is true, it is a major key factor in changing the hue of colours. For example, the blue sky (at – 1 exposure) looks like it could have been taken late in the evening, or taken somewhere in the Mediterranean as it is a very full, rich blue tone. However, it was actually taken around 9am on a fairly bright London morning.


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