Dogwood 52: Assignment #3 "Red"

Some friends and I are doing the Dogwood 52 Week photography challenge. We submit a photo each week on a given "assignment" along with commentary and discussion. This week's assignment was:

[Artistic] Red: Shoot whatever inspires you. Red should be the focus of the image. Don't be afraid to be creative.

The submissions follow in order submitted along with the photographer's commentary. We'll add other commentary and critique from the group as it comes in.

Bryan Chan

Bryan isn't a regular contributor, but he wanted to send in a photo for this assignment. Here's "Don't Look Back"

The title of this one is "Don't Look Back". I have always been amazed at how big traffic lights really are close up, and the fisheye really pulls the stoplight forward and everything else back. I was looking for a bit of movement with the car lights so I was on shutter priority for 0.8 s, which is about how long I can hand hold my camera before it starts getting really wobbly.

Gear Sony A7s, Rokinon 12 mm

Params 12 mm, f/2.8, 0.8 s, ISO 250


I came across this crane at night. I liked how the individual lights on the crane popped, and the vividness of the colors on the containers in front. 


Finally chose one (with some help). I had a lot of "ideas" for this assignment but struggled with the execution. Inspired by @carias on Instagram I decided to play with color light and portraits. Without having the gels to use on an actual flash I used a good ole brake light on my dad's truck in a dark garage. You can see from my contact sheet that it took some playing with to get different effects. I ended up settling on this image because I felt it more emotionally spoke to the assignment. 


Red is an auspicious color for the Chinese, I chose this one for the range and depth of red tones.


This shot was extremely serendipitous. I climbed up to the top of a parking garage (good trick for getting some higher perspective in a city since people assume you just parked upstairs). I was looking around for neat city shots and looked out over this street in Chinatown. Literally just as I was thinking it'd be really awesome if a red car pulled into view just now this one did. Spicy!
That said, I'm normally so much more at ease with black and white and this assignment was very challenging for me. I think color is either obvious (like in a portrait) or distracting. I don't often see color as something that tells the story or creates the image. That said, after about a day of dud shots (Oh, a red door, that's gotta be cool, right? No—super boring) I started to find some ways that "red" told the story for me. At the end of the day, the serendipity of this story sort of charmed me into picking this photo, but I'll share a few of my other options to give an idea of what was interesting to me.


I was on an evening run along the harbor waterfront, mostly because I was feeling lazy but also partially to get inspiration for this week's photo. I spent most of the run looking out for red things but nothing really seemed to stand out. Right before I decided to turn around, I saw the red glow of the Rusty Scupper sign off in the distance. I ran over and decided that this would be my shot--I'd have to come back another time with something other than my cellphone. 
I like this shot because the red from the sign is so strong that it is blanketing the entire area. The rusty red brick is now illuminated with a fierce red. I do, however, feel that this is somewhat lacking a clear subject.
Megan: What a great idea for this assignment!  The reflection of the sign on the pavement is very powerful.  It creates a striking mood and statement about this area.  I imagine during the day it has a completely different feel.  I played around with cropping this image to try to crop out the restaurant sign to focus on the red ground but in doing so I lost the fun background lights of the city and the focus of the image became the entrance sign.  I feel you creatively captured this assignment in a fun way.


I call this, "Red tulips and an aloe plant looking out longingly for sunshine on a rainy day." I always love how different shades of red can elicit numerous different emotions, even in the way it contrasts against its surroundings in almost disparate ways. I empathize with the red tulips and aloe plant as the Boston winter nears closer.