Buildings at Funny Angles – The Mailbox, Birmingham

In the third in my series of buildings at funny angles…
…following Part 1 and Part 2, I reach this initially disturbing but colourful image.

The Mailbox at Night, Colour

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8G AF-S VRII @ 150mm, Exposure 1/13 @ F2.8, ISO 800, I finally got a good shot of this corner of the Mailbox at night, handheld, with the new lens I have just bought. This image is largely what came out of the camera, apart from basic but minor structural improvements, and the obvious conversion from Nikon RAW (NEF) format to JPG for this blog.

Looking like a Northrop Grumman B2 Spirit stealth bomber at night with MAX Power underbody lighting, this shot is actually of one corner of The Mailbox building in Birmingham City Centre.

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.

The Mailbox at Night, BW

Nikon D700 'FX', Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8G AF-S VRII @ 150mm, Exposure 1/13 @ F2.8, ISO 800, This is the same shot and largely the same editing as the colour version above, but with the saturation dropped out and the contrast pushed up a little to get this striking Monochrome treatment.

Have fun,

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(c) Nakedigit 2011


About nakedigit

I have legs and a camera. I also occasionally use a passport. The camera with my brightest lenses can almost (almost) see in the dark. So the only thing stopping me from putting it all together regardless of where and when i am is, well, me really! However, when i don't completely muck it up the results may end up here on this blog and also my Flickr page. I now Twitter and a website is coming... ND August 2010
This entry was posted in Architecture, Birmingham, Birmingham UK, Buildings, Colours, Equipment, Nakedigit, Nikon, Photography, red, yellow and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Buildings at Funny Angles – The Mailbox, Birmingham

  1. Pingback: Buildings at Funny Angles – Citrus Regularity, London | Nakedigit

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  4. helenog says:

    This is a great photo – I always find the Mailbox more difficult to photograph than I imagine. I love both the colour and B&W version, but in particular like the little touches of green that appear in the colour one. Great perspective 🙂

  5. nakedigit says:

    Thanks Helen 🙂
    Yes, i’ve had trouble with this building before. I’m relieved that I finally got a shot i like out of it. You’re right about the green as well, it gives it a nive little kick away from the general red/yellow warmth of it.

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  7. Pingback: Buildings at Funny Angles – Millennium Point Car Park, Birmingham | Nakedigit

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