Thursday, January 10, 2008

Salons and blown highlights

click photo to enlarge
I've often wondered what visitors to the UK make of the names of our hairdressing salons and men's barbers. When I was young they seemed to be named after the woman or man who ran the place. But gradually, and I guess it started in the 1960s, many adopted punning shop names, some of them quite inventive and many designed to bring a smile to your face. For a number of years I've been keeping a mental note of some of my favourites. Here they are:

Herr Cutz (unlikely to have a German proprietor I think!)
Curl Up 'n' Dye (potentially off-putting!)
The Hair Force (military cuts a speciality?)
The Hair Port (civilian version of the one above?)
A Cut Above (you had to ascend stairs to get to this salon!)
The Head Gardener (lopping and pruning a speciality presumably!)
Ali Barber (no door handle, just say "Open Sesame" to enter)
Prime Cuts (do you leave looking like a dog's dinner?)
Hairs & Graces (someone had used "A Cut Above"!)
Beyond the Fringe (where Alan Bennett gets his hair cut?)
Deb 'n' Hair (Deborah had to dig deep for that one!)
Hair 'n' Now (the fast-food equivalent of hair salons?)
Uppercuts (their styles are a knockout! Ouch!)

But enough of this nonsense: let's talk about blown highlights instead. And I don't mean the sort that are inflicted by one of the establishments above. No, I mean the white (255) that can creep into a photograph in an area of overexposure. Typically it's sky, but it can be white paint, shiny reflections, or any other bright area. Lately, it seems to have become the unforgivable sin of digital photography, and I'm here today saying "lighten up" (pun intended), a bit of blown highlight isn't a problem. It's usually only noticeable by those looking for it. These people are like the audiophiles who spend their time listening for the faults in their equipment rather than the music it's producing. The blown highlight brigade has forgotten the big picture (pun intended again). So in the interests of provocation here's a shot of pylons in morning fog with a massive blown highlight. It also breaks that old photographic rule that says don't let the sun's disc intrude into your image. You don't like it? So criticise me!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/4000
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -2.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off