Mad sky, madder lighting…

Even though it was well over 12 years ago I can still remember standing on a pavement outside a rather dull new building on the University of Southampton campus which wasn’t actually open or even finished and thinking “how am I going to pull this one off?” Normally with architecture news jobs you can rely on having somebody walking past or an interesting view from inside out but on this one… nothing.

©Neil Turner/TSL, October 1999

I messed about for half an hour trying to get an angle on the structure that didn’t show cranes, builders doing the finishing touches or plastic barriers. Miserable failure. There was one redeeming feature though – the sky was a beautiful deep and even blue. I’m no great fan of polarising filters but this was calling out for that kind of treatment so I grabbed my flash gear from the car and decided to underexpose the sky and get as much light into the foreground as I could. That meant giving full power up into the street lamp that helped the composition which also meant that I could underexpose the sky nicely.

©Neil Turner/TSL, October 1999

After that my mind started racing and I decided to go for something so over the top that even I would have bet the Picture Editor would have laughed as she put it into the dustbin.

The red in the street lamp was achieved by using a red narrow cut colour effects lighting gel over the flash, which was on full power and raised as high as I could get it so that the red would balance against the saturated and underexposed sky.

This was the first time that I had tried anything like this and the great thing is that I was wrong. They used the mad picture…

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