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Two upright tray tables is made up of me, Kenan Irving and my wife Charise. We travel as much as we can, trying to take amazing photos along the way.

Creative Ruts, The Color Wheel and Making Ice Cream That Doesn't Melt

Creative Ruts

It's not easy to create something new and unique. It's far easier to redo the same idea over and over again, even if it's not a good idea in the first place.  That's why you see so many movie sequels and tv sitcom reboots. It's difficult to break out of a comfort zone or to do something unexpected. We've certainly been guilty of reusing the same pose, location or edit. But who wants to do the same thing all the time? With that idea in mind, last summer, we started a photo project to force ourselves out of a rut. Now, one year later, we looked back on the project and re-edited the same pictures to see how time has changed our tastes. The subject of the project? The color wheel.

The Color Wheel


The world is full of colors, and they're not combined by chance. Our eyes and brains perceive them in specific ways. Culture and surroundings help dictate how they make us feel. Red means stop, green means go. The cowboy with the white hat is the good guy. Pink is for girls; blue is for boys; green with envy; red with anger; royal purple; etc. Color can influence our mood and compel us to action. 

It would be easy to get into the weeds quickly when it comes to color theory. You could spend hours talking about color harmony, context, and combinations. The basis for this project though was the color wheel and complementary color combinations.

Issac Newton invented the first circular color diagram in 1666. It was made up of the primary colors red, blue and yellow. You create secondary and tertiary colors by combining colors on the wheel. Over time, it has evolved, and there are several versions of it. If you want to experiment with it and see how different combinations work, Adobe has an excellent web interface you can interact with. Complementary color combinations are created by selecting colors that are directly opposite of each other on the wheel. Those combinations were what we designed the following shots around. 

Yellow/Purple

Nikon D750 and Sigma 50mm 1.4

Charise is a trooper. Turns out sitting cross-legged in a bathtub while someone throws homemade colored powder in your face, isn't the most comfortable of positions to be put in. She never complained though, even when we became concerned about the skin-staining potential of the powder. Best wife ever! 

Orange/Blue

Nikon D750 and Sigma 50mm 1.4

There's an elementary school by our house that's very colorful. Bright primary and secondary colors decorate the exterior. We went out while the sun was setting, which helped create the shadows through the circular grating on Charise's face and shirt. The issue with the ice cream was the heat. It was August. It's hot in Louisiana in August. Oppressively hot. The ice cream wouldn't have lasted two seconds. So what you see isn't ice cream. It's powdered sugar and shortening, dyed orange. Ingenuity! 

Red & Green

I don't have much to say about this one except that we were trying to rip off a photo we had seen of Taylor Swift. Good artists copy; great artists steal, I guess. 

Green & Magenta

This shot is the first picture we took in the series. We couldn't have come up with a better green/magenta location if we tried. Purple wall, Green VW, it was perfect. Charise put on a purple shirt, green shorts, and green Chucks to carry the throwback theme. Originally Charise was holding a glass bottle of purple Nehi, but the purple in the drink didn't photograph well. I think the Polaroid is better than the first idea anyway.

Red & Cyan

Nikon D750 and Tamron 28-75mm 2.8

We wanted to do something with neon. However, we couldn't find a location that we liked. So we tried to recreate that feel with a variety of things which all failed. In the end, we decided to use colored gels on speedlights. The Blue flash is behind Charise's right shoulder firing directly into the camera. The red flash is beside her, firing up into her face. It's not quite the neon we originally envisioned, but it's close and still has the same feel. 

Blue & Yellow

Nikon D750 and Nikon 18-35

My favorite idea was for blue and yellow. It also took the longest to create because it was utterly dependant on the weather. We knew that we wanted a yellow trench coat and umbrella against a stormy sky. We ordered the outfit and just waited. The conditions were right on a drive back from New Orleans. We hopped out of the car, shot and tried not to get struck by lightning.

Conclusion

If we never tried anything new, we would just rehash the same things over and over. It's called a comfort zone for a reason. It's a comfort zone because it's comfortable. It's easy. We're continually trying to become better photographers, and we'll never stop growing. Projects like this though help us to look at the world in a way we might not have and hopefully help us to create something that makes us proud. Let us know what you think of the series down below in the comments and be sure to tap the Instagram link to follow our feed.

The wind was rough! Charise almost blew away Mary Poppins style.