Assignment three: Colour

‘The Colours of Morocco’

This assignment demonstrates a command of colour in photography, being able to find and use different colours in deliberate relationships.

Four photographs within each category were taken which illustrate the following colour relationships:

  • colour harmony through complementary colours
  • colour harmony through similar colours
  • colour contrast though contrasting colours
  • colour accent using any of the above

I had originally tried to complete this assignment here at home in Scotland. As it was the start of the winter months very few colours seemed to be available to me and I was spending more and more time on the assignment and finding it hard to complete. I had a holiday to Morocco fast approaching and thought I should try to complete the photo assignment during my time there. It was certainly a colourful country and although I didn’t have as much time to spend on each subject I am happy with the selection below.

Colour harmony through complementary colours:


Nikon D90 at 95mm, ISO 200, 1/160 sec at f5.3

Although this image is dominated by the red chillies I thought the colour provided by the green stems provided sufficient contrast to demonstrate the harmony between red and green but on reflection the green could have a higher ratio.


Nikon D90 at 200mm, ISO 200, 1/125 sec at f14.0

This is one of my favourite images of the Sahara desert and demonstrates well the simplicity of two contrasting natural colours of blue and orange working well in harmony.


Nikon D90 at 48mm, ISO 200, 1/160 sec at f4.5

I was visiting a traditional pharmacy and spotted these colourful jars of powders and the yellow and violet were conveniently placed together for this photo.


Nikon D90 at 18mm, ISO 200, 1/2500 sec at f4.0

A prefect colour harmony with the natural colour of the blue sky in contrast to the ancient orange stonework of the Aït Benhaddou Ksar.

Colour harmony through similar colours:


Nikon D90 at 44mm, ISO 200, 1/10 sec at f5.6

I used in-camera filters to create this image of the blue and violets of a Saharan Desert sunset.


Nikon D90 at 105mm, ISO 200, 1/60 sec at f5.3

I spotted this colourful tablecloth in a cafe and liked the vertical harmony created through the red and violets.


Nikon D90 at 22mm, ISO 200, 1/640 sec at f3.8

The Medersa Ben Youssef is a former Koranic School in Marrakech which demonstrated the harmony of the yellows and oranges in this ancient building.


Nikon D90 at 44mm, ISO 200, 1/10 sec at f5.6

The reds and oranges were reflected in the setting sun on the golden sands of the Sahara Desert in this late afternoon scene.

Colour contrast though contrasting colours:


Nikon D90 at 34mm, ISO 200, 1/25 sec at f5.0

Whilst walking through the medina in Fez there were many stalls with colourful fruit and vegetables on display. The greens and violets of the olives were in a huge basket and although very different offered a pleasing colour contrast to the eye.


Nikon D90 at 13mm, ISO 200, 1/25 sec at f11.0

I liked the natural contrast of the orange and green of this image of the Dadès Gorges valley which lies between the High Atlas and Lower Atlas mountains.


Nikon D90 at 60mm, ISO 200, 1/320 sec at f4.8

A simple but effective image of oranges with the green leaves exemplifies the colour harmony of these two contrasting colours.


Nikon D90 at 24mm, ISO 200, 1/60 sec at f3.8

Although very different colours the baskets of violet and orange work well in contrast to each other.

Colour accent using any of the above:


Nikon D90 at 90mm, ISO 200, 1/250 sec at f5.3

I created this ‘still life’ by placing the red flower on the green palm leave to create this colour accent. I also positioned the folds of the palm leaf to create a diagonal across the image.


Nikon D90 at 95mm, ISO 200, 1/125 sec at f5.3

The red flower creates a perfect colour accent against the backdrop of its bright green leaves.


Nikon D90 at 56mm, ISO 200, 1/400 sec at f5.0

The fishing port at Essaouira on the Morocoon Atlantic coast was a hive of activity and I selected this fisherman in his yellow jacket against the backdrop of blue boats as a perfect colour accent.


Nikon D90 at 200mm, ISO 200, 1/80 sec at f5.6

This final image of a colour accent from the Sahara of the camel herder in his blue djellaba pulling an unwilling camel for an early morning ride against the backdrop of the orange desert sand.

This was another interesting project assignment which made me consider and look at colours in a different light. I had never considered the colour circle previously and this has helped consider how colours and matched and work in harmony together. As well as design elements I will now be considering how colours are work together and their ratios and relationships with each other.

Tutor Report on Assignment 3:

Course/Module Art of Photography/1 Assignment number 3: Colour Relationships

Overall Comments:

Well done for completing another assignment for feedback, Graeme. You are working at a steady pace. 

Elements to consider with your assignments:

The colour assignment asks you to take photographs to demonstrate the various relationships between colours and including colour contrast, harmony through similar colours, complementary colours and colour accents.

Your assignment in connection with the above points:

You have used a trip to Morocco as a basis for your colour relationship images. This has given you a nice rich variety of subject matter and some lovely vibrant colours to work with. The market pictures have been particularly useful in this respect and have allowed you frame your images to exclude unhelpful colour elements across the frame. On occasion I would have liked to see stronger awareness of the design elements from assignment two incorporated into this project. Particularly on some of the landscape images there is something of a lack of purpose which could have been addressed.

Complementary Colours:

You have demonstrated a strong awareness of the use of complementary colours within the four compositions chosen for this task. The red and green chillies picture is particularly effective with the subject matter nice and sharp and filling the frame appropriately. The blue sky and ancient orange stonework picture doesn’t work quite as well. The stonework is leaning towards red/ pink which spoils the complementary nature.

Colour Harmony

You have come up with some nice strong examples of colour harmony. Finding examples around you in items such as the tablecloth or the building, show that you are gaining a feel for how colour relationships are used and appear in the world around us. The use of the built-in camera filter was also very effective in producing your harmony picture. Although I appreciate that you were working in the desert here, do watch your design elements with these landscapes to see if there is opportunity to add a point of interest across the frame.

Colour Contrast:

The various market offerings have proved to be strong examples of colour contrast and the images work well.  I particularly like the olive image which has a pattern feel to it, and links back nicely to the previous unit work.

Colour Accent:

You have a really good awareness of how to work effectively with colour accent in your images. The fisherman and camel herder pictures work very well as examples of this with the bright colours of their clothing standing out nicely against the more uniform colours of their surroundings. The palm leaf and red flower image is particularly pleasing, as you have thought about this very carefully, and created your own example, thinking about incorporating design elements into your result.


You have worked on location for this assignment, with your main focus on found subject matter. This can be a more complicated way of achieving your results, as you need to move around more and stay very aware of your surroundings. Designing your own examples is another approach to this task, and it is good to see you also include an image of your own creation, within the set.  This assignment has given you the opportunity to think about the complexities of working with colour and you will now be able to take this information and apply it to previous lessons learned.

Learning logs/critical essays:

You need to build on the research side of your work before submitting for assignment. Include visual examples of practitioners work and talk about how you relate to these images yourself and the impact they will have on your own practice.

My thoughts and reflections:

 I can see that I should have been more aware of the design elements throughout and tried to incorporate these into my assignment. I probably was too restricted and focussed on the colours. On reflection I will start to consider the different aspects of the course as I progress with each assignment. Again I need to expand my research and will continue to work on this. All in all I am happy with the way the course is progressing and feel the feedback I am receiving is good.


Certainly with the desert landscapes I should have tried to introduce a design element to enhance the purpose of the image. In summary I am very happy with the feedback on this colour assignment. It was a gamble to try to complete it whilst on holiday but in the end it was a perfect opportunity to find an abundance of colours not available to me at the time.


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