Half-week homework: Red

With this challenge, we begin to think chromatically. Over the next several weeks, I’d like to challenge you to give enthusiastic attention to each of the colors of the rainbow, filtering your world to understand how each familiar component of Mr. ROY G. BIV plays a part in constructing the whole of what you see. We’ll start, out of pure respect for custom, with that most intense of colors: red. With the shortest frequency and longest wavelength, red is a color that insists your eyes stand at attention and drink it in. As such, it’s an extremely popular color for attention-grabbing subjects, whether that means important things, things pertaining to the flashy and narcissistic, or warnings.

On top of that, given its position as a primary color, it’s no surprise that we find red used frequently and broadly. It’s a popular choice as being emblematic of one side in a battle, so there’s no shortage of significance already culturally attached. (There’s even a show called Red Vs. Blue, for heaven’s sake.) Red may indicate passion, being literally and figuratively connected to blood, and as an instinctive trigger for thoughts of fire it may indicate heat. Expanding on these associations, red also may indicate speed, volatility, excitement, and even love. For a dark turn, combine with certain symbology to evoke the grim, bloody specter of communism. For something more mythological (or even science-fictional), consider Mars and/or Utah. The limit is nonexistent!

You may not even have to try; simply watch the world around you for an opportunity. Look at this example of how your photos might just arrange themselves for you:

Neither vehicle is one I posed, nor is the pole a plant. Three people, at different times, simply made a chromatic choice, with little idea that their choices would one day be woven into a confluence of color for one roaming photographer to chance upon.

On our journey through the rainbow, remember that color-focused challenges are ideal situations for selectively-colored photographs. The example below was created in-camera, but it’s an easy enough effect to reproduce in your post-production as well.

I’ve always found that, with color challenges, the more photos you take, the more fun it is. Looking at a whole thumbnail gallery with a single dominant color is oddly soothing; flipping through them one by one transports you into another (weirdly consistent) world. Go wild on this one! A collage might even be the second best way to present your results. The first? Share them with me! Post photos (or collages thereof, seriously—I think they could be really cool!) on our Facebook page or Instagram, tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework. Then, start getting the wheels turning in your brain for the next stripe in that rainbow…

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