Friday, February 19, 2010

Colour popping

click photo to enlarge
I'm not a fan of colour popping, the trick of converting a colour photograph to black and white and deliberately leaving an area of (usually bright) colour. It seems to be a technique of the digital era: I certainly don't remember seeing it in the days of film. Image editing software such as Photoshop make it a fairly straightforward thing to do, and boy, has it been done in recent years. In fact it's been done to death.

I see it regularly on photography websites. Clearly some people are very taken by the technique, however I'm not. It has always struck me as "gimmicky", and I can't recall a single image that was improved by having this done to it. That said, I imagine you're wondering why I've done it to today's photograph. The answer is, "because the subject suggested it."

I was passing Quadring church in the fog, and stopped to take a photograph of this fine medieval building. I've photographed it a few times - see here, and here - but lately I've avoided doing so because that scaffolding on the spire has been there for months, an abcess on a thing of beauty. During my visit the fog was giving the scene a drab grey look, and I thought it was sufficient reason to overcome my dislike of the enduring scaffolding. But as I walked to my favourite position for photographing this church I came upon a bunch of the brightest, pink roses that I've ever seen. My first thought was that they were artificial flowers made of silk or some such material, but they proved to be the genuine article. The roses had been placed near a newly dug grave (just out of shot), probably yesterday, and their fresh, bright, summery radiance looked very out of place on a cold, foggy, February day. "Colour popping!" I thought, and took this photograph which I then converted. My first essay in the style is likely to be my last.

Looking at my image, and digging deep for justification, I suppose I could say that the colour popping device emphasises the unseasonal incongruity of the bright, fresh roses in this dull, dank, setting. What do you think?

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On