Friday, April 08, 2011

Colour, fishing boats and aspect ratios

click photo to enlarge

"When you look at a colour picture you see the colour before you look at the message."
David Bailey (1938- ), English photographer

The quote above is taken from a recent interview that David Bailey gave to the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Being David Bailey, the interview is full of quotable utterances, some of them insightful, others outrageous and a few that are intended, I'm sure, to "take the mickey". But, sticking with this statement on colour, here it is in context: " and white gives you the message immediately. Colour’s a warning thing. Berries are red so that the birds know to eat them. When they’re green they don’t eat them. When you look at a colour picture you see the colour before you look at the message. " I don't agree with Bailey on the first part of this. Black and white can give you the pattern before the message. Moreover, sometimes monochrome overlays the artist's message with meaning that derives from the medium. But, I do think that the last sentence is often true, and I think it is a positive aspect of working in colour. Colours do seduce the eye, and it usually happens immediately, before subject, line, composition, and rest come into play. It happened to me this morning when I decided to photograph these fishing boats on The Haven in Boston, Lincolnshire. The sun was strong, the light was harsh, and there were no clouds in the sky - not my favourite photographic weather. But when I looked at the boats I saw three primary colours in a row - yellow, red and blue - and I thought that this sequence was enough to hang a photograph on, despite the countervailing circumstances.

However, there was one thing I knew I'd have to do wth this subject: change the aspect ratio from 3:2 to 4:3. I find myself doing it reasonably frequently with my current camera. It wasn't something that bothered me too much in the days of 35mm film, but having used a 4/3 digital camera for several years I have come to appreciate the less elongated shape of 4:3.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 75mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On