Fuji X Adventures in North America - Small Town Colour

Photographs shot with the X100, X-Pro1 and 18, 35 and 56mm lenses.

It took me so long to learn, that beautiful balance of colour. How could such richness in photography have ever been considered vulgar by the so called art critics of the sixties? I recently had the good fortune to dig into the book Saul Leiter: Early Color. It's a remarkable work, containing inky blacks and tomato ketchup reds and cadmium yellows and incredibly it was entirely overlooked upon its original release. The photographs contained within, taken in the 1950's, have this incredible and intense plasticity about them. And the smooth smudged richness of them! These characterful traits come from the low speed of colour film, ostensibly ill-suited to the street photography of Saul Leiter's 50's heyday due to the way moving figures blur. But I love it, New York looks like the most beautiful fairytale in his work. And when he matches colour with the whiteness of snow and the blackness of shadow, magic happens.

Losing yourself in such imagery really makes you look at your world differently. And it made me look at the small rust belt town of Bradford differently too.  Those vivid advertising hoardings and neon signs of Bradford PA blazed against the dull backdrop of glass, concrete and stone...

I came to Bradford for the fall, that short time when the leaves turn to such deep oranges, yellows and reds - an incredible firework display and a natural draw for a photographer. Bradford did indeed have beautiful fall colours, but in searching avidly for the richest bursts of colour in the autumn foliage, my eye began falling on more seemingly prosaic sources - objects and curiosities that had a magic of their own. Happily, Fuji cameras are all about colour. Their JPEG's have fantastic film simulations, such as Astia and Velvia and Pro-Neg Hi. And I milked them for all they were worth...

And I find it strange how camera enthusiasts can obsess so much about the sharpness of a shot, yet never about the richness of colour or the beauty of tonality. They get hung up over resolution but never about whether the photo sings or not. They proudly show off the sharpness of an image of swans pootling around randomly on a flat, overcast lake and ignore the melting strawberry ice cream pooling a vivid glutinous red on the concrete. Because swans on ponds, that's what dpreview readers want to photograph, right? Agh. It makes me want to throw bricks at them. 

Beautiful, ochre bricks baked to a rich sheen. 

Seriously, wander your town. Stop thinking about what's accurate and sharp and neutral and just start drinking in those reds and yellows, greens and blues - make something out of them. Embrace them. And don't forget that a good rainfall, or the golden hour around sunrise and sunset, makes them all the more beautiful.

Once again, thank you for stopping by. The Fuji X Adventures in North America series will continue with more small town action, after a review of my year with the Fuji X series, coming soon...