Unexpected Pleasures In Technicolour

The last time I used colour consistently was last summer with my Pentax K10D, approaching a year ago now.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed an extended mono phase, partly because I just love the simplicity of black and white, and partly because I haven’t really found a consistent way of making colour photographs I like.

I’ve come close with presets in Hipstamatic, then Snapseed, and not quite so close with the in camera settings of my Pentax Q.

Out on my first proper photowalk the other day with the Lumix GF1, trying out one of my favourite lenses I’ve ever used, an M42 Zeiss Flektogon 35/2.4, I was, as has become the norm, well immersed in monochrome. 

The GF1, like its little sibling the LX3, has an excellent dynamic monochrome mode that gives me b/w images I like straight out of camera.

But then I came across a leaf on the forest floor, that epitomised the slow draw that autumn has over the summer. The colours were too beautiful to ignore and capture in b/w.

So I switched from the b/w custom memory I’ve created to a colour mode.

I half stumbled, half experimented through a set of “My Color” (alas the Japanese, like Americans, can’t spell colour) modes in the GF1, and one that seemed to capture the leaf just as I wanted – natural, yet somehow deeper, more vivid, more special. And yet simultaneously, a little moody and muted too.

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Experimenting further, I managed to make a handful of photographs with this mode, after a little extra tweaking, and saved it as a custom mode.

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So for now, I have the C1 mode for (dynamic) b/w and C2-1 for what might reasonably be called dynamic colour. 

I don’t how much is the camera settings and how much the lens, but I know when I used the Flektogon both with film and with my DSLRs I was rarely disappointed. It has its own certain magic.

It will be interesting to see how this colour set up works with other M42 lenses, and, eventually, with a native Lumix Micro Four Thirds Lens, if I get one down the line.

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With this combo though, it makes me very excited to shoot more with the GF1 and Flektogon combo, especially as it was very pleasing with b/w photos too.

How do you shoot and process colour photographs? Does it vary between cameras or do you have one consistent approach that gives you the same colours? 

Let us know in the comments below. (Remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

9 thoughts on “Unexpected Pleasures In Technicolour”

  1. Dan, my color photography is usually an explosion of different colors. Every so often I set myself a challenge like looking for a red object and the focus of the photo is mainly of the red object. I need to look at why I like so much color the way you love your focus on B & W xoxo susanJOY

    1. Hi Susan, I thought you’d like a post with colour photos!

      When I used to shoot a lot of film, I remember I read a “golden rule” – always shoot red. On film, red objects more often than not turn out very pleasing in the final image. With digital it can be harder to get a satisfying colour without it being overblown. This is something I want to experiment with, with this colour set up on my GF1 camera, see how it works out for capturing different colours. So far for greens it gets a big thumbs up from me.

      I love colour generally in life, it’s very stimulating. Just with photography I find it easier to be more focused when shooting b/w.

  2. I love the slightly muted colors (sorry, colours) in these photos. And it is nice if you can find in-camera custom settings that give pleasant images SOOC, or at least produce files that need less post-processing. Something I also try to do with the X100 – in black and white, as I decided to return to 100% mono –, but some post-processing will always be necessary for me, I guess.

    1. Thanks Robert (I was just teasing, English is the most curious and quirky language!).

      I have three cameras now that give me a look I like SOOC with b/w, and the GF1 works for colour too now. I think there might be further scope with my Pentax Q, I just haven’t tweaked enough yet.

      What do you think is lacking with the X100, or in other words, what are you altering/adding in post processing that the camera doesn’t do?

      1. There are a few things I add in PP: “grain” (not so much to simulate film, but to get some structure in the image; and “noise” is just not the same for me) and a some vignetting (to get the focus on the main subject). The grain feature is not available in the vintage X100, and vignetting is something for post-processing anyway.

        And I like black & white with deep blacks (the X100 can produce beautiful blacks), but combined with highlighted shades of gray. So faces won’t be too dark. Currently, that’s just easier to get in PP, no matter what camera and/or settings I’m using.

  3. I shoot mostly color and go for realism but struggle to perfect it. I’m used to the look I get from Fuji 200 or Kodak Gold 200 and keep hoping to just replicate that in my digital cameras but have not yet had much luck. The natural color setting on my S95 works well enough for documentary work but not really for artistic work. Fortunately I tend to lean on film for art anyway.

  4. I think the only digital camera that has consistently given me the colour results I wanted, straight out of camera, is my Nikon D50, particularly with my 50mm f1.4 lens. Generally, I prefer shooting film for colour, particularly Portra, Velvia, Ektar and Fuji Superia or C200, although I am trying to avoid Fuji films now

  5. Beautiful colour pictures … they are 😉

    My own colour pics are usually slightly de-saturated. As I often do a black and white version – besides the colour verision – in postprocessing, I tend to do in-camera processing as careful as possible.

    1. Thank you as always for your input Reinhold.

      I really try to make the decision about colour or b/w before I take the shot and set the camera up accordingly.

      Though in the past I’ve shot colour film, an converted a few to b/w and preferred them!

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