Colour – by day and by night

I want to pursue the theme of colour.

Each morning Mrs. Ha and I rose at dawn and enjoyed what was on most days the best of the light. However on the rare occasions that we stayed up past our usual cocoa time there was also captivating light to play with.

The beauty of a modern digital camera is the ability to capture more of the light in a single frame. I did not shoot any HDR images. I felt the Fujifilm XT-1 provided me with superb dynamic range in single frames. I happily shot away up to ISO 3200 and without a tripod.

At dawn the colours were soothing and calm.

Calm Dawn Dawn - Porto

And at sunset the fires were blazing and the photographic opportunities red hot:

Sunset - Porto Sunset - Porto Sunset

How much more drama could you ask for?

Well how about the night time blues? A couple of years ago this sort of image would have been unthinkable from a small camera, handheld at night.

Boat in Blue

In between time the problem was overly harsh light. Beyond 9am the softness ebbed away and my solution was invariably to seek out the shade, out or indoors. I wonder how many people walked past or indeed on these tiles? It is truly in the detail.

Floor Tiles Tiles

I also use processing software to extract from my images what can be lost at first glance. I shot this in a gorgeous railway station. At first glance the frame did not look promising. Extreme highlights from the windows and lost detail in the shadows. I pushed this frame through NIK’s Color Efex Pro and used the tonal contrast and detail extractor filters. I worked the extremes of the dynamic range in LR5.5 and here is the finished result.

At the station

This was shot using what is disparagingly called a ‘kit lens’ – the Fuji 18-55mm zoom. I adjusted the perspective in Lightroom. It looks like an HDR blended image but it isn’t. I do like the glow. Deep in the background you can even see Mrs. Ha.

Finally, a photo taken at the hottest part of the day – just after lunch. I wandered off without even Tom and Huck and the reward was what I called ‘Meet & Greet’.

Meet & Greet


So there we are. Another gad about a town called colour. No big DSLR. No Tripod. No fancy lenses. Just a willingness to get up early, stay out late and keep to the shade.



Colour photography

Some countries bellow ‘colour’ at you through a megaphone. India is a great example. I have learned working with Gary Tyson of F8 Photography how powerful the right colours can be. When I wander with my camera I much more sensitive to the impact of vibrant colours. I often find them in unexpected places.

One morning we were shuttled off to Castelo Rodrigo with the usual laundry list of must see sights beckoning. I think I missed all of them. The guide was trying to draw me towards the centre of the village where, rather worryingly, was to be found an ancient pillory. And on the map a little further on, the ominous sign for a Prison House. I suspected a plot. Remember, remember, the 20th June……

So I, Mrs. Ha and our fellow hooky player quietly fell back from the quacking pack of ducklings and explored the lesser publicised areas of downtown Castelo Rodrigo. Here are a few colour punches from our ramble.

Broken door Purple door


I love the tiled roofs, the gorgeous ochre (?), so easily overlooked.

The Village of Castelo RodrigoColour is everywhere:Frames


Patio de Castelo

You simply need to keep your eyes off Mrs. Duck and steer clear of the junk handicraft shops. What struck us all was the gardens. Every home seemed to have a Chelsea Flower Show potential winner, probably in the best wildlife garden category. Magnificent hydrangea macrophylla, fruit bushes and for me the enveloping surround sound of birdsong, most notably the Serin. Even the humble House Sparrow, Passer domesticus seemed driven to serenade us, if a spadger can do such a thing.

Sadly the experience was timed out and Jemima Puddleduck called us all to order so we could quack and waddle our way back to the cruise boat. At least I had had my Colour-fix for the day (one of the lesser known Gauls). Thank you Castelo Rodrigo.




Dramatis Personae

As I shook off the horror of having to travel with a cast of tens if not thousands I amused myself by holding some casting sessions. It started in the hotel when I noticed that the waiter at our breakfast table bore an uncanny resemblance to Eusabio. If it is not in too bad taste I would say he is a dead ringer. I didn’t get a chance to test his soccer prowess. He poured a mean cup of coffee though.

The restaurant was managed by none other than Jose Mourinho. The same dour expression. Perhaps a little pout to go with it? And then the coach driver. Ladies….. hold on to your undies and resist all temptation to pretend you are at a Tom Jones concert – no knicker throwing please. It was George Clooney. The tour guide gave out false info and said his name was Joan. Lies. All lies. He was definitely male and I quickly tipped off the ladies in our small group. Thereafter he was ‘George’. He loved it. I didn’t see him with a Nespresso though.

Others on my cast list include:

The Pianist

The Lush

The Man with the Rug

The Tipsy Man with the cane

Mr. Bean

The Odd Couple

Dad’s Army

The Barrister Babe.

Roger Jennings

and sadly,

The photography bore. How on earth did I he creep in.

The pianist was called Nelson. I didn’t count his eyes but I think he was missing an ear for music. All the right notes but not necessarily in the right order. Perhaps he was Nelson van Gogh. Perhaps it was he of whom Elton John was thinking when he wrote Don’t shoot me….

Mr. Bean owned a vineyard that produced port wine. He hosted a dinner for our group one evening and it went down a storm. He was a born comedian. He would give Rowan Atkinson a run for his money any day. His English was not entirely broken but surely badly cracked. He simply loved telling funny stories and rarely have I seen a man so consumed with a love for his vocation.


The Lush was a lady with a penchant for martinis. And wine. And I guess pretty much everything else behind the bar. Maybe even the barman. She was the oddest human shape I have ever seen and by golly I’ve looked in a few mirrors in my time. Her ‘taste’ in clothing reminded me of the Dolly Parton quip – it takes a lot of money to look this cheap. I am sure she was a lovely lady but I considered her far too dangerous to approach. I tacked away each time she bore down on us.

The other characters I may discuss later but I am wary of lawsuits.

You need a photo from Portugal for today. How about this one to show off the beauty of the Douro.

Douro Valley

And perhaps a little rock to gorge upon:


And tomorrow I may return. We shall see. Adeus.