More color!

Hello again!

Well as I told you last time I've been shooting some Kodak Portra during this summer. After shooting my first roll of color film in the forest with my friends I went out with my girlfriend to take some more color shots. The Images below are shot on Portra 160. I really like the colours for this type of photos.

© 2014 Photography by Joel Foo

In July Jesper and me took the train to Västerås, Sweden. Just about an hour from Stockholm. Every year there is a big event held there. Power Big Meet is the biggest american car show in the world actually. Over 20.000 cars. Street Rods, Customs, 50's cruisers, 60's muscle cars, Corvettes, Mustangs and Camaros. It's all held outdoors on a huge airport field. People come from all over the world and show off their cars or but one. There is also a huge market selling all kind of stuff. It was really a hot day. Around 30-40 degrees Celsius. The only shade that could be found was the one created by their cars. These photos where shot on Portra 400. 

© 2014 Photography by Joel Foo

For those who don't know, I've been shooting BW exclusively for more than 3 years. After shooting in color at Power Big Meet I really enjoyed shooting and seeing the results. When I started doing photography I often converted my digital images to BW. I liked the BW look, but I also realised that my images became a bit less cluttered or busy in BW. In other words trying to compensate for my badly composed and/or lit photos. I'm not saying I'm a whole lot better now, but at least I feel aware of it and try to use it as best I can.

Color really adds at least two different dimensions to the photo. The first one being simply color, soft and subtle midrange colours like beige or green, or deep and saturated strong ones like red and blue. The second dimension is everything color creates. Atmosphere, warmth, cold, color combinations and different compositional alternatives where color is the main or complementary key. Shooting in color is very different from what I'm used to. Shooting in BW is all about light vs dark i.e. contrast. To make something interesting in BW you have to have a good relation and composition between light and dark. Whereas color gives the eye something additional to focus on. With the little experience in shooting in color I have I found myself shooting like I would with BW but trying to see and considering the colours. The light and dark ratio is in my opinion a tiny bit less important in color photography than BW. Since the color in combination or alone acts as contrast or light and dark itself. Nevertheless photographs are always created by light and therefore it is inevitable so consider the light and dark ratio. 

Further on in August me and my girlfriend traveled to Prague, Czech Republic. This is where I had a change of mind. Color film in contrary to a digital color image (RAW) is always balanced to a specific color temperature. This means, as you probably already know, taking a photograph indoors with artificial lights captured with daylight balanced film will give you a yellow or blue/green tint. Not only does the whole color palette change but so does the mood with it. Since our eyes and/or mind corrects these color changes automatically seeing them uncorrected as captured on film, or digital sensor for that matter, tells or our mind that the mood or colours aren't right. There is something "wrong".

© 2014 Photography by Joel Foo

These photos explain what I talked about above. Artificial lighting that isn't daylight balanced to around 5500K will give your daylight balanced film different color tints. The photos above are shot with the same film as I used in Power Big Meet, yet it creates a very different mood and color. The colours effect the way we perceive the photo. Of course the whole lighting situation is different indoors or outside at night but then again, colours do effect the photo. Probably as much as lighting does.

There are of course ways do correct this with tungsen balanced film of color correction filters but to me it seems just to be too much of a hassle. Note that I haven't tried color correction filters so I can't say this for sure. Maybe I'll try it one day or ask my color shooting friends to try it.

During the day the color temperature also changes but also depending on what the weather is like. The colours captured on film vary a lot depending on these factors since color film is always balanced to a specific color temerature. Here are some photos with the same film, Portra 400 but in different weather conditions and time of the day or in combination. Not the best examples but they are just a visual demonstration of my thoughts.

© 2014 Photography by Joel Foo

With BW film I can almost completely ignore the different color temperatures outdoors during the day and indoors at any time. I only have to concentrate on lighting and contrast. I like to shoot Indoors and in subways or on subway stations.  Been given the characteristics of color film, the variation in color really bugs me. Also I've lately found color too pretty, cute or "perfect". Almost like a fake reality. This is my personal opinion. Color is very complex. There is so much that has to be there in order to get the right mood or feeling.

I've been looking into other color films such as Fujifilm's PRO-series. The images I've seen on flickr and from my friends seem a bit cooler, as in colder, which I like. I've also looked into the less expensive films such as their Superia and AgfaColor's Vista. Personally I really like the results I've seen on flickr. I still have a roll of Vista in my Leica so I don't have any of my own photos to show you. But check out Yeow on flickr! He does some amazing stuff with Vista 200. I'll give it to you, yes, they are all shot in daylight, but still :P This is something I really like. Many of the known film photographers I admire shot on color film that doesn't exist any more. This is really sad but there is still hope for film. Just look at Cinestill and Ferraria! It's great that people can create new film in a digital age. 

After my vacation I started to shoot BW again. To my great surprise I just couldn't stop seeing in color! I was walking around town with my camera and all I could see was color images, combinations and compositions. This was a weird feeling and somewhat disturbing. But within time I started seeing in BW again. As always I'm a bit confused, but at least I've ventured into the realms of color film. Honestly I can say that I like color film but not as much as BW and certainly not all color film. My own preference is BW at least for the mood and type of photography I'm currently doing. I guess shooting color is just another way of playing the piano. 

Until next time.. Keep shooting!