The story behind the photo with Ben Weeks

In the second installment of our Story Behind the Photo feature, we've invited Warehouse Express' Ben Weeks to share one of his images and answer a few questions. We hope it gives you a little inspiration to enter the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) Red for Heart photography competition - all you need to do is snap a photo that incorporates the colour red!

f7.1, 1/400, ISO 100, -2/3 stop exposure compensation

When and where was this photo taken?

This shot was taken in Cusco in Peru.  I was in Peru to trek the Inca Trail with the British Heart Foundation and we spent a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the altitude (Cusco is a lofty 3300m above sea level).  It transpires that the humble VW Beetle is an extremely popular method of transport here - they were everywhere!  This particular Beetle caught my eye as we walked around one of the higher parts of the city.  It was parked in one of the quiet back streets down below and looked slightly at odds with the surrounding scenery and dusty mud-brick buildings and cobbled street.

What kit was used to create this image?

The shot was taken on a borrowed Canon EOS 550D.  I'd chosen this camera as it was small, lightweight, yet offered the ability to record HD video as and when needed.  The lens was Canon's EF-S 18-200mm image stabilized lens, set at its longest 200mm focal length.  Because the lighting was very bright and the lens was stabilized I was able to shoot hand held - which was just as well as I hadn't taken a tripod with me!  Obviously I've played about with the colours of the image afterwards using Adobe Photoshop Elements to keep the colour of the Beetle and desaturate the rest of the picture.

What effect do you think using the colour red has had on this image?

Quite simply, I may not have noticed the shot if the bright red of the Beetle hadn't stood out so much against the browns and yellows of its surroundings.  Although I've made it stand out still further by changing the surroundings to black and white, the red of the car hasn't been touched.  My resounding memories of Cusco are of a bright and vibrant city; even though many of the buildings are literally built from the earth, I don't remember the city as a dull, earthy place - I remember it as being full of greens and golds and, of course, reds.  Little wonder that the flag of the Incan people is the Rainbow Flag.

What do you like about this shot?

Aside from the contrast between the bight colour of the car and its surroundings, I love the textures and patterns in the street and steps - the latter reminding me of some kind of M.C. Escher sketch!  If you look closely there's a man carrying a sack over his shoulder making his way up the street.  The Beetle just seems quite happy to be sat there watching the world go by, while the world is generally apathetic to its existence!

What (if anything) would you go back and change if you could take this photo again?

Ooh, that's a tricky one.  I have such fond memories of Cusco that I struggle to find anything wrong with any of the shots I took there!  If I'm being super critical I perhaps could have changed my viewpoint so that he electricity wires didn't cut across the car (although I'm not sure that was an option).  I might also have waited until the shot was completely devoid of people to see if that made for a stronger image, although I quite like the chap going about his business in the corner of the scene and am inclined to think he adds to the photo, rather than detracts from it.

In case you missed it, check out last week's Story Behind the Photo post with pro-photographer Richard Peters.

To find out more about the Red for Heart photography competition visit bhf.org.uk/redphotos

Ben Weeks is a Technical Writer at Warehouse Express. If you would like to read more about Ben's adventure in Peru, including lots of tips and advice, you can find his articles on the WEX blog here.