Dealing with the red-shirted tourist – travel photography tips

You have that medieval street lined up and composed, there is a break in the crowds and others are waiting behind you to take the shot. As you press the shutter, out steps the tourist in the red shirt – guaranteed to lead the eye away from the ‘real’ subject of the shot. I’m not criticising someone’s clothing choice – they can wear whatever they like. But it can present challenges for the travel photographer.

red shirt tourist

red shirt tourist

I’m going to show you three ways to deal with this situation. There are other ways, such as cloning out in photoshop – but that can be a pretty laborious task. You could also take a series of shots and stack them hoping that the machine will recognise and keep only the stuff that doesn’t change. Tricky in a narrow crowded street. But all is not lost.

The first solution is to just crop out that part of the scene – if he’s on the edge of the photo, you might get away with it, although it’s not the composition you were aiming for.

red shirt tourist

Red shirt tourist

And they won’t always be at the edge of the frame.

The next thing you can do is take the image into Lightroom or Photoshop Elements or equivalent where you can edit by specific colour. In this case I am using Lightroom, and have taken the red channel and zeroed the saturation – just for that channel. All the other colours remain unchanged, but you have neutralised that red beacon.

red shirt tourist

red shirt tourist

So you still have the flesh colour in the face and the ambient warmth of the light, while retaining your composition – and gone are the red shirt and shoes.

Finally, if all else fails, get the tonal values right and convert to black and white (B&W). There are two ways to do this – you could just save as greyscale – but often that kills the drama of the image. The other and my preferred way is to play with the colour channels until you have the right degree of detail in the shadows, and the right level of contrast, then desaturate the whole thing.

red shirt tourist

red shirt tourist

So whenever you see a travel photographer produce in B&W – he or she may not be being ‘arty’ – perhaps there was a puce pink umbrella, or a red shirted tourist leading the eye astray 🙂

Is there a cathedral in that puddle?

Reflections can make for interesting photos, and with the rain in Salisbury, Sharon was prompted to ask the question in the title of this post – alas with all the puddles around I just couldn’t get a nice shot of the cathedral. That is, until we checked out the Salisbury and South Wiltshire museum. As we approached the museum – and being cued in to look for reflections I saw a great reflection in the window. The result is this fragmented view of the cathedral:

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

I used a wide aperture lens out to f2.8 in order to ensure that the focus would be on the cathedral, while leaving the window frame a little out of focus.

Sometimes you can find great reflections inside too – the modern font in the cathedral provides a wonderful reflective surface in which to mirror the main windows. The font was designed by William Pye and is the first permanent font for over 150 years. It was commissioned over ten years ago by by the then Canon Treasurer and now Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne. The font is three metres across and constructed as a bronze cruciform vessel atop a purbeck marble plinth. The water flows constantly, but the font is so constructed as to provide a perfectly smooth surface.

Salisbury cathedral font

Salisbury cathedral font

So it’s worth looking for opportunities for interesting reflections 🙂