Saturday, 10 April 2010

Les parapluies de Angleterre: Coloured shadows or coloured light?

Last Saturday the theme of the Guardian's "Your Pictures" was COLOUR. I didn't see the theme announced, otherwise I might have been tempted to submit something (a shot of a shelf of books in the Colour Reference Library perhaps?). This shot came third and impressed me most, simply because it is a very nice photograph and it relates to my research:

Photograph: David Bond, published in The Guardian, 10 April 2010

The strong shadow of a child holding a multi-coloured transparent umbrella. It triggered a train of thought on one of Goethe's most discussed aspects of colour theory: coloured shadows and after-images (see: Farbenlehre, Didaktischer Teil. 1. Abteilung, 6. 62-80 - Farbige Schatten). But looking closely, it is not as simple. When white light shines through a transparent material, in this case plastic), are we not effectively looking at coloured light? Or a combination of coloured light and the shadow of a transparent material? The presence of the "real" shadow of the person holding the umbrella makes it tempting to define the umbrella's shape on the ground as the umbrella's shadow, whereas strictly speaking only the outline is a real shadow. I guess the question of the materiality of transparent materials needs to be discussed, which might make one look at stained glass windows in a different light (pun intended). In comparison, here is my own (vastly inferior) shot of the same subject, minus the person, but with a nice British single yellow line thrown in, which matches the edges of my daughter's pink umbrella.

Flora's umbrella in the sun. Photograph: Alexandra Loske

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