On a recent visit to London we came across a Graffiti event being held in a subway near the southbank. 50 or so grafitti artists were creating works as the world carried on around them . What was striking about the images being created was the very strong use of colour. Very graphic colours with strong contrasts, even when more pastel shades employed these were invariably edged in black to provide an overall definition and contrast to the image being portrayed. It is clear that images lacking this definition simply do not have the same impact as those images that do.
(Left) Typical image, relatively simple composition but featuring strong contrasting colours. For example, the black edges, yellow bulk, and green details against contrasting background all elements that add to the colour impact of the completed image.
(Right) Even where the image might be considered to have more artistic content and uses fewer colours the same elements are essential to the overall impact of the image. For example the vivid pink lips on the otherwise black and white face dramatically lifts the overall impact of the piece.
Another example in the use of colour could be seen in the window displays in Fortnum and Mason (Below). Clearly a great deal of care goes into the presentation of the products in such an establishment and whilst the pastel shades employed are more subtle than the graffiti artists pallets then the same elements of a definitive colour against a contrasting background works well to highlight the display. The use of frames in the displays automatically frames the merchandise being sold complemented by effective use of lighting.
Technical Issues and solutions. The graffiti artists were working in an underpass, accordingly there was natural light at the entrance and fluorescent light in the middle. This meant paying careful attention to the white balance setting, it was also necessary to increase the ISO setting to 1,000 in order to obtain a reasonable shutter speed for a hand held shot as a tripod wasn’t available. Particularity as I still wanted a reasonable depth of field for the shots taken at an angle to the images. Even so in some shots there is motion blur, some partial, depending on the activity. However this is deliberate as I quite like this effect in the images.
The Fortnum and Mason displays were photographed at night and similar speed issues existed, however as these were taken almost parallel to the display depth of field was less of an issue and thus the aperture could be wide open and ISO raised only slightly. The other main issue was the unwanted reflections from shops opposite and hence it was necessary to take some shots at a slight angle in order to eliminate the reflections from view and ensure the displays could be seen clearly seen.
More images here – example of colour