This reference photo makes me think of the mood of November in The Rockies : more about values than colour. (Driving through the mountains registered as a complete absence of colour - or of warmth — or possibly of life. I could almost feel the weight of solid rock above me. It must be genetic: my grandmother, a Prairie kid if there ever was one, experienced the same deprivation of colour in Summerland’s lack of lingering sunsets when they retired there. They almost moved back to Saskatchewan.) I took the original photo because I absolutely loved the broken field of rock and evidence of continental drift in its tipped angularity. But it was too dark for me.
So I cheated. I poured cadmium reds and Burnt Sienna into the cliffs and covered the lower rocks with mosses; phew. Only the sea honestly remained true to the overcast sky.
So when there was a splendid snowstorm here yesterday, and everything was a black-and-white photo, I began to think again about the absence of colour and concocted a small experiment to perform on my long walk. The only equipment needed was a pair of sunglasses and the only preparation was to put them on. Sure enough, my surroundings warmed slightly due to the addition of transparent brown overlays ( you will remember that brown is made from red+yellow+blue). I presume that full-spectrum lights achieve the same thing by containing the wave lengths of all three primaries so that even the act of viewing a reference photo or that of mixing pigments remains true to the original inspiration. Otherwise, nothing feels quite alive. In tacit recognition of that observation, I often tweak a good photo by raising its colour saturation in order to restore its “sunglasses” feel. Sometimes I have to do push the envelope more than that. I admit it.
I do this in the service of my gratitude for our exquisite blue planet, she who sings in a universe of black and white.