Color Wheel x Many Times


I thought of two things that teachers — one high school, one college — said to me years ago while I was taking pictures.

1). High School Art Class. We were making (egads! how 70’s; how embarrassing) yarn wall hangings. I designed something that would compliment my mother’s newly decorated powder room, which was wallpapered in a pink and apple green plain. (As I said: it was the 70’s.) He said that he understood my desired to make something that matched, but that I would never understand color if I thought those two ugly colors ever co-existing naturally.

2). College photo-journalism class. Instructor insisted that if anything was worth one shot, it was worth an entire roll of film. He didn’t have an answer when questioned if that meant 12, 24, or 36 frames. If you had a roll of 36, and you only shot 12, your grade would still be reduced. As a poor student who could barely afford film, much less photographic paper, I had a difficult time following this rule.

I never disagreed with my art teacher about the aesthetic value of pink and bright green. In fact, I don’t really like either color that much and together I think it is a rather putrid combination. Yet, I thought that if what he had expounded ad nauseum about the color wheel was right, if I had understood anything that he had lectured about, those two colors did sort of “go together”.

As for the “shoot an entire role” theory, I think that is what kept me from experimenting much with my 35mm SLR film camera. For years I thought that I couldn’t afford photography because I could never “waste” an entire role on one subject. While film was expensive, and Henri Cartier-Bresson famously stated that “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” and that We seldom take great pictures. You have to milk the cow a lot and get lots of milk to make a little piece of cheese, I could have benefited from multiple chances to explore photographing one object in several ways. Now, with a digital camera, I’ve been able to shoot multiple shots — in differing angles, in different light, at different distances, with different camera settings — badly photographed photos are only a second away from the delete key.

As for the pink and green: see for yourself. They do co-exist. How about that!

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