New Zealand D-Photo
THE COLOUR ORDERS
Now, when we say ‘colour theory’ don’t get worried that this is an overly academic subject — we’re really talking primaryschool learning at this point. There are three basic orders of colour: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Primary colours are the colours from which all other colours come about through mixing: red, yellow, and blue. Take two of these primary colours and mix equal parts together and you’ll create a secondary colour; for example, mix blue and yellow equally and you’ll get the secondary colour green. Tertiary colours come about from mixing a primary and secondary colour, for example, primary yellow mixed with secondary green will get you tertiary chartreuse.
These examples come from the traditional RYB colour space used in art — not to be confused with the RGB or CMYK colour spaces often used in digital photography editing and printing. The RYB colour wheel is a helpful diagram showing what the different colour orders are and how they are created. Knowledge of the colour orders is useful in most artistic pursuits, and for photography in particular it is helpful in making decisions around what to include and leave out of a photo.