The other day I was driving through one of the local town beach parks, just cruising around hoping to see something that would entice me to take some pictures (or "cruising for snaps" as I like to call it), and was shocked and delighted to see that the old concrete bunker of a snack bar had been painted a wild Caribbean blue. Wow! What a color. We're not talking a pretty seaside blue or a gentle sky blue, but a downright radiant spin-your-head-around blue.
I knew I wanted to photograph the building but really wasn't sure what I wanted to say with the pictures. Should I shoot the entire building? I tried that and the shots were OK, but I wanted something slightly more abstract where the color would carry the shot. A corner of the building with the beach in the background? (Maybe--I'll show you that photo tomorrow.) Some detail? I was kind of lazy at first and took a few halfhearted snapshots, but the closer I got to the building and the more I began to study the details, the more intrigued I got.
This color was just screaming to be photographed and I was determined to find some detail or composition that really let it be the star of the shot. Then I saw this drinking fountain: perfect. Nice and shiny and polished and bold enough to stand up to the wall of blue. I shot about 50 different compositions, just tweaking the placement and playing with different ideas. Talk about fun! I shot the photo with my Nikon D90 and an 18-70mm Nikkor zoom, but could have easily shot it with any point-and-shoot camera. It was a simple, direct shot.
While I was shooting I got into a nice conversation with a woman whose son who owned the snack bar and she asked me what was attracting me to the shots I was taking. I told her it was the bright Caribbean blue walls (stunningly, she told me that it was the town public works department that chose the color) and she told me that she was Greek and that the colors (the building's trim is bright white) reminded her of the Greek Isles. How great that this ordinary little snack bar had been transformed into such an exotic space with just some paint. (I immediately wanted to go home and paint my house this color.)
Anyway, I shot a lot of different views and details of this building and will probably return to shoot more--it was that much fun. One of the things that I liked about finding such a wild and strong color was that it reminded me of some of photos of Pete Turner, my hero in color photography. Pete is the master of brash, wild colors and one of his photos of a yellow and red plastic garbage can on a beach has stayed in my head since I first saw it decades ago. Some photos affect you that strongly and plant themselves in your imagination.
Keep your eye and your imagination open for bold, wild colors because you never know where you'll find them and then work them until you find the perfect shot. Pete Turner found a classic shot in a garbage can at the beach and I found this great fountain shot at my local beach. The shots are there, just keep looking.
Farming in Deep Southern China
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