Whilst the building is quite striking from the front during the day due to its solid pillarbox red paint scheme and large bejewelled hanging glass facade, it becomes even more exaggerated at night when much of its surface disappears into dark and it is illuminated by strong bands of red spot lighting and subtle recessed yellow accessories.
I had tried photographing this structure at night before, but with little success, the colours always seemed to be rather washed out on my iMac afterwards. Eventually I realised that it was a simple white balance issue as I had left the camera in “sunshine” setting which causes some of the yellow and red to be reduced. This is no good to me, I’d rather go the other way.
Switching the white balance to cloudy means the colouring is not offset unsatisfactorily, and by the time I took this particular shot I had Vivid mode enabled on my Nikon D700.
The other issue that had made previous shots less successful was my attempt to use the right equipment in the wrong way or the wrong equipment in the right way!
Ideally I should have locked the D700 down to a tripod to nail the sharpness and clarity that I wanted, but I have never actually managed to organise doing this. Every time I went near The Mailbox at night I was without the wee-three-legged-beasty, and usually carrying a lens that was either too short a focal length to reach, or too slow to allow the rapid shutter speed I needed when zoomed out to prevent my cold shaking hands having an impact.
Thankfully, though not for the sake of my credit card, the Focus on Imaging show came along and I finally picked up the lens that I had been after for some time having seen where I was falling short when it comes to event photography in the past.
A couple of days afterwards I took the D700 out at night with its new 70-200mm F2.8 VRII eye, and took this shot, in Vivid mode, at a sensible ISO (for a D700), and handheld….
The only processing I performed on the iMac afterwards was to correct the little barrel distortion, straighten and crop to align the image slightly more correctly than I held it, and to touch up a feint wisp of something unsavoury reflected in the blackness below.
I like the mix of strong hard parallel lines above the soft waviness of the transition to the lower black area.
This mix of light and shade also inspired me…
…To see what a monochrome treatment would be like. By taking the colour shot, dropping the saturation and pushing up the contrast a little I produced this black and white version which shows the tonal range quite well. Again, the strong lines and soft waviness live in an aesthetic juxtaposition that, for me, works quite nicely.