Camera: Canon 1D III
Focal Length: 18mm
Brown is the color of the earth and early brown pigments were obtained from dirt, clay and mud along with naturally sourced umber, ochre or sienna. Brown is the color of wood and what you got as a kid by mixing your paints together, particularly red, yellow and black.
One shade of brown, mummy brown was, quite literally, for some time in history, a color obtained by digging up and then grinding up mummified corpses that were common in Egypt
The shot above is a doorway in a stone wall found in Aberdeen, Scotland. It looks like another portal had been repaired at some time in the wall with brick that is now weathering open. I remember this brown really jumping out at me when I ran across it including the green growing out of the bricks. This is probably because Aberdeen can be almost oppressively grey. The skies are grey, the seas are grey and the buildings are made out of grey granite downtown. So seeing a display of brown seemed like an almost riot of color.
When looking at an 8-bit breakdown of the colors in the image above however, you can see that there is much more than just the brown. Yellows, greens and even some purples are in this image which really does surprise me. What starts to emerge is a color fingerprint of each image. Comparing color fingerprints should in principle allow you to identify similar things, though as you’ll see below, color fingerprints can evoke very different subject matter…
Camera: iPhone 5s
Focal Length: 4.12mm
As I think about color in photography, I start to see images that despite being completely different subject matter, end up evoking some of the same thoughts or memories. For instance, this brown leaf, an image taken years later, for some reason made me think of that door I photographed in Aberdeen. I did not understand why until I looked at the 8-bit color profile or fingerprint of the leaf below.
Which is very similar to the 8-bit color spectrum of the door in Aberdeen at the top of this post.
Looking at them side by side, door 8-bit color profile on the left, 8-bit color profile of the leaf at right, you can see that very similar colors are present. The colors in the leaf are a bit brighter or vibrant, but the same general n-dimensional color profile is present in both images. When you start to think about color and the color in light in your photography, this is what starts happening. Its always fun to do after the fact, even years later in this case. But its more powerful when you start to think in color and light in the composition process.