Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold.

I remember being blown away by a number of Gregory Crewdson’s photographs a couple of years ago; how effectively the contrast of light temperatures were captured, and how their properties fused a sense of habitual comfort grasped by an air of apprehension. Back then, it was all the elements in the photo placed together that struck me equally, but nowadays I have identified more of a specific awareness and appreciation for the combination of warm and cold colour temperatures that share a composition.

1466679806-k4vixt9bcw4tpqk1jjad-xlGregory Crewdson, Untitled (Mother Complex), 2002.

I have recently across some photographs of Remi Thornton, which have more of that concentrated presence of contrasting light temperatures, heightened by a chiaroscuro effect; on the one hand, there is a rich golden light, and on the other, an impersonal, fluorescent white light encompassed by black.

Boys-BathroomRemi Thornton, Boys Bathroom, n, d. From JCC Ranch.

These mixed light conditions create an intense and cinematic effect, especially when paired with deep shadow. In Crewdson’s compositions, the light is more diffused and spills over his subjects whilst making contact with other props, whereas Thornton’s light pierces through the dark air, looking rather alienated from its surroundings in some instances.

102450-1457487290-Thornton_Blue Stop-xlRemi Thornton, Blue Stop, n, d.
1447648440.7a37874d953f045a4e63fb85d1aca13bCallum Hutchinson, title not found, n, d.

Both effects are intriguing, however, I especially love the different combinations of intensity and temperature in Callum Hutchinson’s photograph, which falls somewhere between the examples discussed so far. Here we find not only shades of blue and yellow, but also red, green, and purple in varied amounts and across reflections as they appear distinct from the blackness of their surrounding area. That vertical accent of green on the door rim that comes forth from its background, lining its neighbouring shadow, is, in my eyes, irrefutably wonderful.

Funnily enough, I have unintentionally captured this mix-of-light-temperature effect recently whilst testing some camera settings for my nephew’s surprise birthday party (yes that is a subliminal warning sign about a bad photograph ahead– prepare yourselves). The photo is laughable, but – whilst worthy of bonus points for the feature of a batman dressing down – illustrates my point.


A diluted version of the effect also featured in a more recent exploratory exercise, when experimenting with reflections in photography on a spontaneous weekday afternoon.

Side note – this is the same girl who owns that batman dressing gown; apparently, she has a lot of patience and features in many of my photographs. She is set to feature in one of my paintings soon, so stay tuned!

Joanna Portelli, Untitled, 2017.

So there you have it: my observations about the different colour temperatures in photographs that, in my opinion, create an air of mystery and excitement the more saturated and intense. The effect can be created by *drum roll* using different sources of lighting at once, which may seem obvious, but I had to stumble upon it by accident – stop judging, you!

In case you haven’t already, check out my previous blogs and find me on Instagram to get in touch!

Over & Out,



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