16 May 2008

Colour and light

This well-hidden corner in the old town of Cuitedella in Menorca must have been photographed countless times by different groups of my students during the photography holidays I run on the island. I just can't see how a photographer could possibly walk past this place without raising a camera. It positively demands your attention because of those wonderful colours.
However, it is never easy to photograph. The first problem is lack of space; you just cannot get back far enough. This tiny little square is very small indeed, and even with a wide angle lens equivalent to 24mm, it is difficult to include as much in the composition as you would like. Use a lens any wider and the distortions completely ruin the atmosphere of the scene. The answer to this, of course, is to decide which particular elements of the scene you find most interesting, and concentrate on those. In other words, careful cropping in the viewfinder.
Then there is the difficulty of parked motor scooters and bicycles. On occasions these can add to the interest, but this very much depends on the type and visual appeal of the bikes that are parked there some are more interesting to look at than others.
The last problem is the light this photograph was taken around midday with the sun very high so that it shines down into the narrow square, which is surrounded by houses in a narrow back street. The downside of this type of light is the strong shadows and high contrast. But it does have the advantage of bringing texture to the wall, and addng shadow patterns across the cobles.
I like this subject best of all on a sunny day when the sun does not shine directly down on it in the morning or afternoon. Then it is very bright, but soft, emphasising the reds in the wall, and the green of the leaves and the wooden bench. You need to adjust you White Balance (WB) in these conditions using Cloudy, Shade or Custom settings.
Blue, red and green is a powerful colour combination at the best of times, and when those colours are combined with simple outline shapes the tree, archway and the bench. An interesting image should result.

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