Monday, January 16, 2006

Simply red

click photo to enlarge
Red means different things to different people. To the Chinese it can signify good luck, and is much used in the marriage ceremony. Many European and Asian Socialist parties have used the colour to represent their cause. Today, in Western societies it is often associated with danger (fire engines), debt (in the red), stop (red light), medicine (Red Cross, Red Crescent), anger (red face) and love (heart). No doubt you can think of more associations. Most of us think of it as a strong, definite colour, and we usually have strong definite views about whether we like it or not.

Red flowers are very popular, partly for associational reasons. The most widely bought flowers on Valentine's Day must be red roses. Poinsettias are seen more at Christmas partly because of the association of red with that festival. However, some of the popularity of red flowers must be attributable to the combination of red blooms and green foliage. These two colours are opposites on the colour wheel - "complementary colours" as the scientists say. The effect of pairing such colours is to increase the apparent vibrancy of each - reds look redder and greens look greener. The butcher knows this, often using green trimmings to make his meat look fresher and more succulent!

When I came to photograph these carnations the colour I wanted to get right was the white background. I knew that the colours of the red petals and green stems would speak for themselves if they had a sympathetic setting. The outlines of the stalks and flower heads would also be emphasised and add interest to the image with a white background. A piece of foamboard behind and a piece below did the trick. I chose a diagonal composition to give movement to the photograph, but also because it looks natural. I don't photograph flowers often, and though there is something of the greeting card about the shot, I'm fairly pleased with the outcome.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen