Tension in Life

Yesterday i was exploring Berlin with a good friend.
It was a wonderful sunny day. One of the finest days of this summer despite the weather of the last couple of weeks.

Going back home i took the bus from main station to my little suburb.
This route shows a really nice part of Berlin.
You pass some of the administration buildings. Like the former east meets the former west.

The bus serves the middle class of Frohnau as well, as the blue-collar neighborhood of Wedding.

Close to the Ministry of Traffic i was smitten.
On the right the ministry building, granite slabs on the stairs, posh entrance made of glass. Very high classed.

Left side of the street, close to an apartment building. You could see the meadow from the ministry, and there it was: laundry on a clothes line: White bed sheets streaming.

This could only happen in the middle of Berlin.
These complements make life so exciting. It really spices living up.

And I have found the subject of the day
contrastive pairs
East – West
Old – Young
Warm – Cold
Politics –Citizens
White Collar – Blue Collar

Keeping this in mind, people would talk about contrasts.

Contrast is a word of Latin origin. It includes the words contra = contrary to; against and stare = to stand – so contrast is a “standing against” – roughly translated. I just had to realize that English is sometimes not very far away from Latin. Contra and contrary are so much alike.
Anyway contrast leads again to our contrastive pairs.

Contrast is very important in photography, you want your pictures looking brilliant.
And to be brilliant they need the right amount of contrast, which is the difference between the lightest dot of a photo (usually white) and the darkest dot (usually black).
If the difference is not big enough pictures tend to look a bit dull, not really blurred, but flat and low or poor in contrast.

In Graphic Design we have even more contrast, a full playground of them.
A big contrast it the one of Black and White.

Just have a look at the variations.
Every time it looks a bit different.

Can you see the difference?

The following picture has a merely similar part of black and white.

Filling the black field with many white dots.
More black or more white?
I am not sure, all I know is that it makes me dizzy.
In school my teacher told me: white is only white when black is around and black is only black when white is around.

But you can have also black when red or blue is around.

It gets more interesting when you change tiny parts.
I just colored the very center dot gray.

Looks just jejune, not standing out anymore.
No real difference towards the black and towards the white.
And it is not very exciting.

It’s spiced up after changing the gray to red.

Bingo, what a change.
This is interesting and exciting.
The dot just jumps into your eyes.

Although the contrast in lightness between red and black is not that big as the one of white and black.
But yet it is very intensive. The luminous power of red is much higher than the one of black.

Another contrast is the one of cold and hot.
I am not talking about the feeling when you accidentally turn of the wrong water tap. And i am also not talking about the very nasty feeling when you have to leave your warm bed in the morning and have to face the coldness of the kitchen.

Some colors appear to be warm or hot and other colors appear to be cold.
This is a psychological phenomenon.
We think that blue is a cold color. The more blue in a color, the colder it appears to us.

Just think of a green, as we can see it at the beginning of spring.
You even can feel the sunshine in that very green.
Full of life, boosted up with yellow, so this green appears so warm to us.

During the year, the yellow is cut back and more blue appears in our leaves.

Colors mixed with red or yellow radiate with warmness.

Just have a look.

While printing you use 4 printing colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. We talk about CMYK, the K is used for Black but it means Keycolor. We will talk about that much more detailed in another blog post.

This is a contrast made up from 100% Cyan and 100% Magenta.

Got even more results of contrast experiments in my bag.

Sometimes black appears to be a bit harsh, even if the contrast is brilliant.
So you can soften it by using gray.

Remember art classes at school. We used to get gray by mixing black and white.
In graphic design, especially when using computer applications for that like Photoshop, Illustrator, TheGimp, Paint or what ever, you get gray by using less and less black.

Just have a look at this little bar.
On the left there is 100% black, counting down in steps reducing the percentage by 10 we are getting 100% white on the right. 100% white is just 0% black.

You can get this transition much more elegantly with a color gradient. You won’t see the steps in it.

You can try this with a sheet of paper and some watercolor.
Just humidify the paper. Be careful, don’t use to much water. We don’t want our sheet to rip.
Now take your brush and add really liquid black at one edge of the paper.
Take the paper, hold it upright and let the color flow right to the other edge of the paper.
You will get a perfect, smooth, stepless, wonderful color gradient.

I did one with my computer.
Looks great too.

Direction 100% black down to 0% black.

Lets play with more contrasts and colors.
I decided to use a very dark, somehow cold gray. This gray is 75% black.

You see the difference for sure, but … I mean … it looks boring. Really boring to me.

Ok, another dark and gray contrast, blue and gray in this case.
The blue is mixed: 100% Cyan and 100% Magenta.

This is nice. More brilliant than before.

What is going to happen when we take a lighter blue?
A blue which is just 100% Cyan.

Contrast is low again. The luminosity is not that different anymore.

Let’s add some yellow. Ok not just some, but all of the yellow we can get in this game: 100%.
A very luscious green, intensive and warm. As we said before, the yellow adds warmness to the color.

Lets get rid of Cyan.
Gray and Yellow.
Just like sunshine after a long rain.
Warm meets coldness, light meets darkness.
You can’t hardly get more tension.

But don’t forget Magenta.
We are going to add Magenta, 100%, to our Yellow.
Voila, RED at its best.
Luscious, brilliant, outstanding, powerful.

Remember the little red dot in the ocean of white dots?
Here is the very red again.

Warm and cold meet each other.

You can’t take your eyes off the red. No chance.

What is going to happen when we skip to pure Magenta?
Not that low as pure Cyan but not as strong as pure Yellow.
Nevertheless it is a lovely contrast.

If some of you get a strong desire to pick up the phone, yeah that’s right. German Telekom, I guess they started to buy other phone companies too, uses this very color plus a shade of gray.

Finally my favorite contrast.
Dark gray with luscious orange = 100% Yellow and 50% Magenta.

Don’t know what to do without this color.

Contrasts – you can’t just get them because of the weather or playing with colors.

Every arc of suspense contains contrasts-

An old building versus a new building – in this case also the windows. Berlin Main Station meets Berlin Reichstag (Parliament)

Have a look at black-and-white picture and color picture. Young children towards adults, past towards present.

Hope you enjoyed the little journey into the world of contrast.
Maybe you would like to write a bit about contrasts in your life?
Where do you find them? What kind of contrasts are these?

To me: the tension you get with contrasts just makes my life colorful.


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