I’ve finished the exercises for the ‘colour’ section of my course and decided to take a look at some other photographers who work in colour – starting with David Alan Harvey – a photographer Nevada Weir talked about in a podcast I listed to recently with reference to his work with colour.

Harvey is a Magnum photographer who has shot more than 40 essays for National Geographic and published two books.  My investigation has been limited to the galleries he’s got on his website and I’ve looked particular at colour images which stood out to me.  In this post I’ll talk about each of them – linking to the original image in his galleries.  Overall they all seem to be shot in natural light.

Cold contrast

The first image is of a pale blue car on sand dunes – a musician carries a double bass (or maybe Cello) over his shoulder – long shadows are cast by a low sun, which also adds an orange hue to the sand.  The pale blue of the car is complimented by a grey-blue sky.

What I like in this image is that the pale blue and great create a cold feel, in the image – despite the typical ‘warm’ associations with sand.  I think the low sun and long shadows help that sensation too – as it invokes the idea this is late evening or early morning – so a colder part of the day.

There’s an additional contrast with the warm colour of the double bass/cellow.

I’m wondering whether I could do something in the opposite direction to this for my assignment – taking a ‘cold’ scene and making it warm using light at sunset or sunrise and warm colours (red-orange) when frost or snow cover a ground, which might include some greenery (so grass).   An alternative is going all-out ‘cold’ – so sticking to more-or-less blue and green, and getting somebody in the frame with ‘blues’ getup and instrument(s).

Just cold!

The second image to me just invokes coldness through and through – both in terms of the colours, composition and the figure in the doorway.  It creates a sense of isolation – which I’d associate emotionally with ‘cold’ too.  That might be something to explore too – using colours to invoke an emotion which is generally associated with the colours.

Sunset wall?

The third image I like because it almost feels like the wall in the background – combined with the silhouettes of the fence – create a sense of sunset.  It’s a pinky red, much like the sky at dusk or dawn, with a pale blue (too pale to be the sea really) beneath.

Around a beach fire

The final image creates a sense of warmth.  I like the warm in this image, and the composition with the instrument dividing the frame and the angle of the sea enhancing the life in the shot.

Looking at Harvey’s pictures has demonstrated a subtle use of colour within images – used to create contrast or to enhance emotions within an image.  It’s given me a few things to think about, and some ideas, for assignment three which hopefully I’ll be able to develop more as I think about them.