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Image of the Month: April 2013

Impressed the judges: Richard Littlefair's
picture of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Each month, we invite members to tell the story behind one of their photographs. Our latest submission — an image of the Getty Museum by Richard Littlefair — won the Challenge Bowl for best monochrome general record print in the Yorkshire Photographic Union portfolio. Here, he explains the inspiration and the challenges behind taking it.

This shot of the Getty Museum was taken on the hillside overlooking Los Angeles during the summer of 2010.

Designed by Richard Meier and opened in December, 1997, the building fascinated me with its curved concrete structure clad with white tiles.

We spent a full day viewing the exhibits and photographing the exterior of the museum. During the day, I took over 100 shoots of the architecture. The weather was bright and sunny and for most of the day I was frustrated by the very high contrast and unflattering shadows.

As the afternoon progressed, the lighting improved and the number of visitors decreased, but closing time (museum closing time!) was nearer.

I waited — TLC, TLC (timing, lighting and composition). I had the composition, the crowds were thinning and the lighting was getting better. I checked and re-checked the camera settings — Raw, 200 iso, f16, 1/320 sec., bracketing exposure set at  2 over and 2 under to make sure; no possibility of returning another day.

Suddenly, all the people disappeared, but, just as I was about to release the shutter, one guy appeared in shot. No matter, I thought, I can clone him out later. Everything else was right – 5 shoots, a quick check – composition, histogram, sharpness, depth of field all okay — 17.25pm. job done, five minutes to find the exit.

Home. Into Photoshop, looked okay in colour but much better in monochrome. A little straightening, a little cloning of the joints between the tiles and take the figure out. Wrong decision — put him back.

I have had lots of comments about this decision but fortunately, the YPU judges agreed with me: ‘T’ okay, ‘L’ okay ‘C’ okay! What do you think?

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