Week 30: Colourful
I am really looking forward to 2017 now. I am getting tired of starting all of my Project52 posts with apologies and excuses for delays and missed themes and I’m pretty sure those of you who are regular readers are getting pretty sick of it, too. If nothing else, this year has taught me that I really need to increase the amount of photography I do and the range of styles I try. Suffice it to say, however, that 2017’s Project52 will not be using fixed themes. I will need a lot of improvement – both in my self-discipline and my photography – before I try this again.
On the bright side, I can now claim to be caught up on Project52 posts (for the second time this year). I achieved this largely by having to skip two whole weeks. The subjects of “Animal” and “Long Exposure” proved too difficult for me, under the circumstances. I did try for both, but I am not adequately happy with the results to give them a separate post.
The problem in capturing the theme of “Animal” was quite a simple one – it is surprisingly difficult to find animals in Phuket! There are zoos, aquariums, lively reefs, farms and all sorts of other options where there are plenty of animals, but a combination of ethics (I’m not fond of zoos), inadequate spare time and bad weather ruled out each one. My final chance was the cute little puppy which suddenly started showing up in the office car park. It belongs to one of the cleaners and it is absolutely as soft as a brush. If it wasn’t for the fact that it already has an owner, I had given serious thought to adopting it. At the very least, I wanted to photograph it but, on the last day before the deadline, I didn’t have my camera on me and the lively little sod moved around too fast for my iPhone to make a workable photo in the poor light. The picture shown is from the first time I encountered the pup, a couple of weeks before Week 28.
Then came Week 29 and I found myself back in Pattaya. There was a four-day weekend because of a Buddhist holy day and I added a few extra days of field research in Pattaya for work and spent the whole week there. I did a couple of photo shoots with my good friend and favourite model Becca, but the rest of my time and photographic endeavour was devoted to work.
I was, as it happened, focusing my reach on Pattaya’s notorious nightlife, which did at least provide me with a good opportunity to do a long-exposure shot. I do have a 3-stop ND filter for my 50mm f/1.8 lens, so I could have done such a shot during the day, but they are far easier to do at night. I had decided that, on the Thursday night (ie. deadline), I would go up by the famous Pattaya City sign and do a long exposure shot over the city, ideally capturing the lightning flashing off in the distance. This didn’t work, partially because the bright city lights obscured the flickers of distant storms but mostly because the last job I had to do on the night before going off to the sign was a review of an ice bar. The moment I stepped back out into the humid night, every surface of my camera immediately fogged up.
As you can see, the shot was semi-recoverable, with a bit of work on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I could maybe have justified doing a full post for it. However, I was not nearly as happy with it as I would like to have been. My biggest criticism of it is that you can’t really tell that it was a long exposure – there is no movement blur or light trails. Yes, I captured some of the detail in the incomplete husk of the Waterfront development (the skyscraper on the right), but the amount of graininess in the sky shows you just how much editing and boosting the exposure and shadows I had to do. I could just as easily have taken a relatively short exposure with a high ISO and achieved the same effect. At the end of the day, I failed to plan the shot I wanted properly.
So, that finally brings me to Week 30. The theme was “Colourful” and I was fortunately back in Phuket, where colourful streets are the norm, particularly in the older parts of Phuket Town. The city’s old Sino-Portuguese architecture and brightly-painted streets mostly hail from the 1850s to early-1900s, during which the island experienced a major economic boom as a result of the tin mining trade. A minor side-road off Phang Nga Road presented this lovely line of multi-coloured terraced shop-houses. I nipped down there during my lunch hour one day and literally snapped just three photos. This is the third.
Phuket Town, Phuket, Thailand – 27/07/16 @ 13:28:31.
Canon EOS 7D w/. Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens
Focal length: 10mm. Exposure: 1/200th @ f/8. ISO 100
With the bright orange car, the spaghetti restaurant centre-stage and the symmetrical buildings, I am very happy with the framing of this shot. Even the slight kink to the left, caused by the curve in the road, fails to take too much away from the shot. The buildings are quite old, though, and the paint is fairly faded. With the theme for my Project52 being “Colourful”, I wanted to make the colours really stand out, so I boosted the saturation and vibrancy in Lightroom.
The slight problem is that my editing is a little ham-fisted. It is the area of photography where I have the biggest shortfall in skill. That’s not to say that my skills aren’t limited in other areas, but this is where I feel it the most. As a result, the colours look a little distorted around the edges, which I’m not particularly pleased with. Of course, that could possibly be the lens. It is a good one, but it is a cheap one, having cost me about 16,000 baht (approximately £350 or US$450). Cheap lenses will inevitably have their failings. Sigma tends to be quite dependable, though, which is why I think it more likely that my editing is at fault.