01 November 2012

3rd Annual Challenge of Color :: Earth As Art

Touch the earth, feel the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas;
rest your spirit in her solitary places.
~ Henry Beston

A few years ago I was stuck in a rut of blah colors, or lack thereof, in my designing and so I decided to challenge myself to leap from the rut and follow a new brightly hued path. I started the Challenge of Color to push myself, and I took a chance that others might want to play along. 

That first year I was surprised at the response. We used paint store color palettes as our inspiration. I pushed myself last year to find something different. I found the Design Seeds website with awesome color palettes by fellow Wisconsinite Jessica Colaluca.

Welcome :: Brandi Hussey of BrandiGirlBlog

This year I invited my friend Brandi Hussey, my color guru, to be my partner. I was delighted that she said yes! If you don't know Miss Brandi, you really should check her BrandiGirlBlog out. I first gravitated to Miss Brandi for her incredible jewelry. Unfortunately, she no longer sells it, so I am thrilled that I own a few select pieces. Her use of color and love of lampwork and gemstones was a breath of fresh air for me. So delicate and intricate yet so powerful and strong. I love them and cherish the pieces that I have.

Brandi also posts palettes on her blog that are a great inspiration. She is a gifted photographer and it always amazes me at the detail that she focuses on.

{little bud}

Brandi is generous with her many talents. She is a graphic designer as well and has a whole page of freebies of things like printable gift tags and social media icons as well as awesome Photoshop layouts, borders and brushes. You can even make your own cool palettes like she does with her Photoshop palette layout which is the one that I use when I make them. If you get nothing else, please download her Artist's Guide to Pricing. It is invaluable. Did I mention it is free?

But the most impressive thing about my friend Brandi is her command of color. She has shown me that there are no colors that are unloved in nature and that I need to stop and pay attention to the little details all around me to see the beauty. I knew she would be the perfect partner for this Challenge.

Earth As Art

So the point with my Challenges is to challenge ourselves, right? And as a former teacher, learning is in my bones, so it has to be more than just about opening up the crayon box. I knew that I could easily go back to Design Seeds and run the challenge in the same way, but loads of people are using those palettes now, and I wanted to find something to challenge me, too. In preparing for my Challenge of Travel back in August I stumbled on some of the most incredible pictures and I knew that they would be the basis of the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color.

The Earth As Art image gallery is a group of over 120 pictures taken from the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites since 1972. These pictures of the unique features of our beautiful planet are a vital resource for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources. Plus they are just so darned cool! 

All the images that we will be using in this Challenge of Color and all the information that I found came from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which donated all these images to the Library of Congress.

The images in these galleries are spectacular. The views of mountains, valleys, islands and forests was well as agricultural patterns and even heavily populated areas are quite striking in their abstraction. The colors are much different than what you might expect. The satellite land imagery uses a digital palette that relates to the different levels on the infrared spectrum and help to give insight into the specific geography of the image. Here are a few examples to whet your appetite:

Aleutian Clouds: June 1, 2000
Description: These cloud formations were seen over the western Aleutian Islands. Their color variations are probably due to differences in temperature and in the size of water droplets that make up the clouds. 

Isn't that gorgeous? The colors are so beautiful. The patterns are so intricate. And I think what is most impressive is that it is so abstract. If you can't identify the image it has an impact that is just so otherworldly. 

Malaspina Glacier: August 1, 2000
Description: The tongue of the Malaspina Glacier, the largest glacier in Alaska, fills most of this image. The Malaspina lies west of Yakutat Bay and covers 1,500 sq mi (3,880 sq km). 

Oh my. The striations of red and blue with the grounding of the mustard and the brilliant blue. That blows me away!

My pal Brandi got all fired up when she saw these pictures. (I knew she would. ;-) Wild horses couldn't keep her from whipping out about 40 palettes from her favorites. I certainly wasn't going to stop her! So our Challenge of Color will be pulled from carefully curated images taken from the Landsat satellite image gallery from the US Geological Survey complete with the most impressive array of color palettes you can imagine. For this I have to say a huge thanks to Brandi for not only getting so excited but for taking this further than I ever would have expected.

How are satellite images different from photographs?

So glad you asked that question! 

Here is a little lesson in infrared satellite imagery to understand the colors and patterns that you will see in the palettes that will be our inspiration. I am going to get a bit science-y on you, but don't worry, it will be interesting!
Satellite images we see have very different colors than the ones we are used to seeing with our own eyes. That is what makes these images so unique, but why do they look so different?

Below are two pictures of the exact same location: Washington, DC and the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland. (Hello, DC area friends!)

The one on the left is shown in 'true color' meaning that it is as your eye would see it. The 'false color' image on the right focuses on colors in different wavelengths that are not visible to the eye.

This all has to do with electromagnetic radiation. All objects emit levels of radiation in varying amounts and wavelengths. A wavelength is the distance between wave peaks of the radiation that is emitted. These wavelengths make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

You can't see ultraviolet rays or infrared. We can only see a small part of the visible spectrum. Remember ROYGBIV? (Bonus points!)

While we can't see past the visible spectrum, satellites can. The Landsat 7, which took most of these pictures (they are launching Landsat 8 in February 2013 - can't wait!), uses instruments to collect data at specific wavelengths. Seven to be exact. These seven layers of data can then be used to build an image. Essentially, Landsat 7 takes pictures of the same location in different wavelengths at the same time, with each of the seven parts of the electrmagnetic spectrum. These layers are called bands.

Landsat 7 Band Number Applications
1 coastal water mapping, soil/vegetation discrimination, forest classification,
man-made feature identification
2 vegetation discrimination and health monitoring, man-made feature identification
3 plant species identification, man-made feature identification
4 soil moisture monitoring, vegetation monitoring, water body discrimination
5 vegetation moisture content monitoring
6 surface temperature, vegetation stress monitoring, soil moisture monitoring,
cloud differentiation, volcanic monitoring
7 mineral and rock discrimination, vegetation moisture content

The Landsat 7 takes pictures in black and white. The bands show different objects (plants, soil, water, etc) as reflecting different wavelengths of light. So a bright spot shows where a lot of light is reflected. So how does that wicked cool color get in there?

Basically, computers assign one of the RGB colors - Red, Green, Blue - to the different bands and the composite is put together to see the colors from the Earth As Art image gallery.

Vegetation appears as shades of red, because vegetation reflects a lot of infrared light. I find it interesting that the brighter the red, the healthier the vegetation. For areas of little vegetation, the colors will range from white (for sand) to greens and browns based on the moisture content or what organic matter is concentrated in that area. Water shows up as blue to black. Clear, deep water is dark, and shallow water or sediment filled water appears lighter. Urban areas look blue-gray. Clouds and snow are both white.

Makes a lot of sense, right?

So that ends the science of color lesson for today. And I promise there won't be a pop quiz tomorrow ;-)

Are you super inspired yet? 

As I mentioned, Miss Brandi selected 40 of the images and created her special color palettes using them. We tossed around ideas as to how to make this a challenge. We could have just given you all 40 palettes and had you pick, but truthfully, that would paralyze me because I would want to do them all! I think that the best option is to make this a true random sampling challenge. Which means you will have to let go of a little bit of control, but I assure you that once you see all the palettes you will be blown away by how awesome they are!

When you sign up using the form below, I will randomly assign two uniquely different palettes to you. From the two that I send you, you can choose which one you like better. Or you can be super inspired and make something for both! At some point in the month, I will ask for you to choose which palette you have chosen (or both!) so that I can make up the final blog hop list by palette. Since there will likely be more than one person using the same palette, it will be interesting to see how the same picture and palette produce different results.

Here are the details:

Sign ups are open today through Sunday, November 4th. 
Click the tab above that says "take the challenge" for the form.
I have the limit set to 80 participants. 
Blog Hop will be on Friday, November 30th.

By November 6th (keep your fingers crossed!), I will send out a follow up email to all the participants with more information and a complete list of the participants. I will email you your two palettes directly. Miss Brandi will be creating some special badges that we can put on our blogs when she returns from her trip next week. In the meantime, please feel free to use the banner above that Brandi created.

Join Erin and Brandi in the
3rd Annual Challenge of Color

It is only a little planet, but how beautiful it is. ~ Robinson Jeffers

I couldn't agree more! Let's get inspired!


Anonymous said...

Supercool images Erin, this will be fun!

Alice said...

Yay, I've signed up! Thanks for the fascinating images of our beautiful earth from above.

Unknown said...

I am so in for this! You know I can not pass up a color challenge of yours! I even made sure I didn't take on to much just to be ready for you!

Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

Participating in your Challenge of Travel was so inspiring, Erin... how could I resist trying this one out?

Cece Cormier said...

Like the inspiration and Brandi creates the best color palettes. Can't wait to play.

Tanya said...

This sounds intriguing. I can't wait to see all of the palettes. :)

A Polymer Penchant said...

I'm signed up! Loving the concept Erin its going to awesome

Jess Green said...

Well, I have only just signed up for a blog, itching to join the lovely jewellery community and participate in something like this, so I have signed up :)

AntiquityTravelers said...

what a cool idea! great post! I love all that science-y stuff :) I'm in

Anonymous said...

I want in this challenge! It's scary because of course, I always have my fav colors I love to work with and being assigned a palette???? Eeeek! But your challenges are good for me. Love all this info and absolutely fell in love with that first photo! Wow! I hope that one is in the challenge choices, though I almost never work with blue!

Unknown said...

I am signing up, this sound like so much fun. Can't wait to see the palettes.

The Crazy Creative Corner said...

Uhm, is this challenge full? I got a message saying the form is no longer accepting submissions? :(

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

This sounds like a really fun challenge, very intriguing. I just signed up and can't wait to see what my color palettes will be! Thank you to you and Brandi for hosting it!

Cynthia said...

Color me intrigued! I signed up. Looking forward to the challenge.

KayzKreationz said...

I'd love to try this. I participated in last years and it was fun. I've got several things going on this month, but I think i can work it in. Thanks

kmorgan said...

This sounds very exciting! KayzKreationz sent me the info because I so enjoyed her project last year. November is a busy month but I will make the time for beading creations. I loved the science lesson. So cool & very interesting! I too am a former teacher & this was right up my alley. Thanks for the invite!

Murat said...

Ohhh Great. I liked.



Patti Vanderbloemen said...

November is the BUSIEST month for me - 3 craft shows - first one tomorrow. But, I don't want to miss this so I signed up! BTW: LOVED THIS POSTING - very informative! Thanks for taking so much time to write it up!

Jo said...

The images you've chosen are right up my street as I'm an ex-geography teacher, so despite a very busy November I've signed up - I couldn't miss it! Thank you!

Unknown said...

WOW Erin, I am so excited...I can't wait to see the beautiful color palettes you and Brandi came up with!

JeannieK said...

I missed it


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