By Judi Lapsley Miller with input from the Art of Birding moderation team

Continuing our 2022 theme of developing an individual style, April’s challenges were all about colour. This was a great chance to experiment and see which colour palettes we are drawn to, and where they fit into colour theory. We rounded the month off with a challenge to create a montage of nine photos on any topic but with a consistent colour theme.

Week 14: Analogous Colours

Her Mystery (tūī) – by Judi Lapsley Miller

Analogous colours sit next to each other on the colour wheel and are considered harmonious. The inspiration for this week was “Her Mystery (tūī).” Tūī embody the analogous colour palette green-blue-purple – simply gorgeous!

Praying Mantis by Sandra van der Lubbe

Moderator Carmen Therrauilt (Canada) says “The image that Sandra van der Lubbe (New Zealand) shared for “Analogous Colours” immediately caught my eye. The colours in this perfectly focused macro image of a praying mantis are absolutely striking and work together so well. With a predominantly green subject and background, the spectrum of analogous colours ranges from yellow to blue. The dash of complementary red adds extra interest and pop to the image. A fantastic choice for this challenge - well done, Sandra!”

Week 15: Complementary Colours

Bursting Out (kākāriki)” by Judi Lapsley Miller

Complementary colours sit roughly opposite on the colour wheel and tend to be seen as pleasing combinations, bright and lively, and increasing the contrast. Inspo for this challenge was this cute kākāriki with his red and green colouring.

Dutch Iris by Jennie Stock

Moderator Marion Skelton (New Zealand) selected this gorgeous photo of a Dutch Iris by Jennie Stock (Australia). Marion says “I loved the simplicity of this photo showing the complementary colours in the flower and background. The flower became the main focus of the photo and the background helped make the flower stand out. This definitely fulfilled the brief for this challenge.”

Week 16: A colour palette from nature

The Sign of the Southern Cross (tūī)” – by Judi Lapsley Miller

The inspiration spark for this challenge was to find a colour palette in nature, photograph it, and identify where the palette fitted into colour theory. When creating photo art about birds, I let their colour palette dictate the direction I head in, such as in this piece “The Sign of the Southern Cross.” Tūī are the colour of night, with iridescent blues, greens, and purples – an analogous palette. Here, I moved the colour palette of the native leaves to create a bouquet that matched the tūī.

Kākā by Astrid Authier

Moderator Karen Miller (New Zealand) selected this stunning kākā photo by Astrid Authier (New Zealand). Astrid cleverly took a complimentary photo of a red and brown kākā against a green backdrop, then turned the background into an analogous colour palette matching that of the kākā. She did this using the masking tool in Lightroom to separate the bird from the background so that her changes affected just the background. Astrid says, “I like the original but the red/brown turned out quite well and looks very autumnal!”

Karen comments, “This is a beautiful capture and the facial expression shows the inquisitive and cheeky nature of the parrot. It looks like he’s thinking of doing something naughty. I love how Astrid changed the background to orange and brown tones. The splashes of orange worked in harmony with the bird’s cheek feathers and really made him stand out from the background. I agree, it looks very Autumnal.”

Monthly Challenge – photo montage

The challenge was to create a 3x3 photo montage with each photo showing a different subject, but all the same colour (e.g., green) or colour same palette (e.g., red and green). The idea was to show how colour can be used to create a pleasing arrangement.

Montage In Green by Carole Garside

Carol Garside (New Zealand) went with a yellow-green analogous palette but then effectively used complementary red as exclamation points in her composition. The most noticeable is the head of the kākāriki parakeet in the middle, but elsewhere, there are touches of red in the leaf veins and beaks, as well as some warm browns. This is known as a “split complementary” palette, and it delivers a fantastic punch.

Quilt Montage by Karen Watts

Karen Watts (USA) “quilt” grabbed my eye immediately. She explains, “We made a short trip to Albuquerque, and found beautiful blooming trees and flowers. The wisteria is my favourite. While there a visit to a quilt show also yielded nature-inspired quilts using purple and green.” Karen riffed on the idea of a quilt with her montage, using flowers and quilts in a diamond grid, overlaying her beloved wisteria. With a mostly analogous green and purple palette, she also used the split complementary technique with touches of yellow to draw the eye.

Teal Montage by Lorraine Neill

I just loved this calming montage by Lorraine Neill (New Zealand)! The complementary cool teals and warm peach tones stood out from the crowd and made me long for summer days at the beach. This palette shows that you don’t have to go full-on saturated primary colours to take advantage of the complementary colour space.

If you’re struggling with refining or bringing harmony to a series of photos, think about what colour palette you’re working in. With some judicious colour toning, you might find you can bring it all together with just a few tweaks. Likewise, eliminate those photos that don’t quite fit colourwise.

For more photo fun, join in the Art of Birding challenge – Throughout May where we’re getting arty!

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