Photographing Architecture with a Splash of Color

A red barrier provides a splash of vibrant color in this otherwise black and white photo of Web Bridge in the Docklands region of Melbourne, Australia.

Night is a very special time of the day. The darkness seems to concentrate our vision as we’re drawn to the light. In fact we’re unable to perceive color at night, unless that color is lit. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why illuminated objects, particularly colorful ones, look so amazing against a dark sky.

This photo was made back in February 2006 and features Web Bridge on the Yarra River, not far from Port Phillip Bay, in Melbourne. It’s a modern bridge with a striking design that looks great at all times of day. But it’s at night when the illuminated structure really comes to life. The inclusion of the red traffic barrier in the foreground adds an extra dynamic to the photo and, as it joins with the white traffic line on the pathway, helps add a sense of three dimensionality as it leads the eye through the frame.

The photo was made with my old Canon 5D camera secured to a tripod. While it’s certainly possible to make photos at night without a tripod, they become essential tools when extended depth of field and exacting composition are required. The photo was made with a 6 second exposure at an aperture of f22. The sensitivity of the camera was set to ISO 400.

Minimizing Color

A really simple way to remove color from a photo is to make the original exposure in black and white (i.e., Monochrome). Many cameras allow you to do this, though the feature is usually restricted to folks photographing with their cameras set to JPEG.

Another option, for folks photographing in either RAW or JPEG mode, is to convert the original color file to black-and-white in a RAW Converter such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop Camera RAW or Apple Aperture. This option provides far more control over how the brightness of a particular color is rendered (e.g., brighter or darker), compared to that of other colors within the same scene.

In the case of the above photo I went for a variation on the theme. Watch the video below to discover how I was able to remove all but the red color from the original image. It’s fun and really easy, once you know how.

Have you ever seen photos that appear to be black and white, except for a single color. This short video gives you all the information you need to explain why this happens and how you can use Adobe Lightroom to achieve the same result yourself. It's so simple, if you know how.

I have a whole bundle of tips and tricks up my sleeve, many of which I teach in my Lightroom for Photographers course. This is a one-to-one private photography session where, after an introduction to the Lightroom interface, menu structure and tools I’m there to help you work through your own photographs quickly and efficiently. You’ll learn how to achieve amazing results in as little as two minutes per photo. Topics usually covered include the following:

  • Portraits - How to achieve better skin color
  • Landscapes and Architecture - How to bring colors to life and add extra sharpness and better definition to your photos
  • Black and white - Produce dynamic images that jump off the screen or opt for a more gentle, intimate result
  • Workflow - How to dramatically increase the speed at which you’re able to process your photos
  • Organization - How to quickly organize, rate and find your photos
  • Import - How to bring your photos from camera or computer into Lightroom
  • Export - How to export smaller versions of your photos for inclusion into email, Facebook or onto your own website or blog.

If you’d like to chat about my Lightroom for Photographers course feel free to Contact Me directly. If you leave you number I’d be happy to call you back and chat about all the options.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru