A single bold colour – red umbrella on a snowy morning
Using bold colours · making a colour stand out · low light photography · having patience · shooting raw
I’m not a great fan of black and white images that use a spot of colour. It seems a little forced to me, and the effort that goes into this sort of picture post capture is rarely rewarded with an attractive image. Well, that’s just my taste, anyway. I do like images that use limited colour, so long as the setting is natural or realistic looking. And, in fact, I actively go looking for this sort of thing – not just to show a black and white scene with a burst of colour, but rather to show how some colours can stand out against others.
I took this picture outside the Bank of England, in a square I cross everyday on my way to work. The place has a great atmosphere about it and it’s a favourite place of mine. I like to shoot the commuters as they emerge from the underground station, as they come out well lit into gloom of the morning. On this morning the wet snow added to the gloom, but it also created the luck that had this chap appear with his rather buckled bright red umbrella. While usually this is a monochromatic type of scene, the bold brolly really broke the formal grey and upright structures with it burst of jollity.
As always when I’m shooting at night, or in dawn or dusk situations, I had the camera set to raw+jpeg so I can choose which light source to balance for afterwards. In this case I took a custom white balance sample from the white tiles of the underground tunnel, the light of which matched that shining on the man and his brolly. Doing this made him look normal, while the cold of the sky could be brought out with its blue.
This wasn’t the first picture I took at this spot that day – I’d probably shot four or five other people as they emerged from the tunnel, and while they looked pretty good I reckoned that by hanging on I could improve my chances of getting something extra. It paid off – and it usually does. I spot a scene with potential and frame it up – then just wait for the right person to come along and walk right into the picture. It takes a bit of patience, but that’s the whole point. You need to be able to recognise when you haven’t quite got the best shot that could be had, and that by waiting a little longer you could improve it.
As with the other pictures I took before hand, without the brolly this is a picture of a man coming out of a tunnel. With the brolly it becomes something more exciting. And that’s what you get when you mix luck with patience.
Samsung GX10. with Rikenon 28mm f/2.8 lens, 1/30sec @ f/2.8, ISO 1600
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts about bold colour.