Monday, July 20, 2009


click photo to enlarge
A while ago, through a blog post and its title, I asked the question, "Why RGBY?" In other words, why is the quartet of colours, red, blue green and yellow, so widely used? I could easily have knocked the "Y" off the question, because the trio of colours, red, blue and green are also often used together.

The advent of television and computer displays put RGB firmly into our consciousness. The RGB colour model that they employ mixes light beams of these three "additive" primary colours. The theory underpinning RGB came about in the nineteenth century through the work of Thomas Young and Hermann Helmoltz, with additional ideas from James Clerk Maxwell. The latter's early colour photographs made in 1861 combined three images each of which had been subjected to a different colour filter. Today CMOS and CCD sensors in cameras still make use of the mixing of these three important colours to produce millions of other colours.

When I was photographing these low energy houses on the edge of the village of Bicker, Lincolnshire, it occurred to me that the designer had chosen RGB to differentiate the dwellings. However, here the colours are muted, with the red leaning towards burgundy with something of the hue of dried blood about it, whilst the green and blue are pastel variations. As I looked at them I reflected that he was wise to leave yellow out of the mix! I've photographed these houses before, and admired their departure from the traditional colours of English housing. Here, next to a field of ripening wheat, under a big Lincolnshire sky where grey clouds are moving in from the west to drive out their white, "fair weather" companions, the colours bring a welcome splash of colour to the rural scene.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 21mm (42mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On