I wonder why the theorists refer to opposite colours on the colour wheel as ‘complementary’; the fact that they are opposite suggests to me that they ‘contrast’ or ‘compete’ rather than ‘complement’ each other.
As a matter of interest I have tried to find examples in the natural world of complementary colours appearing together but with the exception of red and green, of which there are plenty, I haven’t found this too easy. My gardening books tell me that there are a numerous violet flowers that have yellow centres and a search of Flickr revealed these lovely crocuses by Kees Straver from Holland. Kees’ photo stream is well worth a visit and his use of colour is really stunning. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tropical-blizzard/collections/ [Accessed 30 July 2011]
Whilst I was able to find several examples of blue and yellow together, blue and orange was another matter and my Flickr search this time mainly revealed orange flowers taken against a blue sky or other blue background. John Glover, fine-art garden photographer, http://www.johnglover.co.uk/ [Accessed 30 July 2011] recently interviewed for Digital Camera magazine said that to be successful in any area of photography, you need to know your subject. ‘ A wildlife photographer turning up in the Serengeti plain a week after the wildebeest have migrated is in for a long wait’. Harris, G. (2011) The Digital Camera Interview: Digital Camera 115, pp 102-108. Similarly a plant may only have a week in a year or even a decade when it will look perfect…. So for example it’s no good trying to photograph roses in January or bluebells in September and I wonder if this is one of the reasons that I’m finding some colours elusive at present. There are plenty of blue and yellow flowers around in the spring but in July and August the colours around us seem to be the warmer colours; reds and oranges for example.