With my dad in Soho, London. He talks a lot, and manages not to be boring. Rare, I like that. Another thing I like is that if I have my camera he doesn’t mind me taking a picture. And another. …and another. This is also rare. I photographed him in some winter sun, near the corner of Greek Street and Bateman St. The low afternoon sun was glorious, and a reflection from a window picked him out against the background.
My best of the year so far.
I regularly come back to this thought: Do I have the courage to get a T-shirt printed with “I want to take your photo” and stand in a place like that all afternoon gathering any willing people, no charge – just for fun? Not yet.
London people are often very reserved. They can treat you like you’ve popped out of a spaceship just for making eye contact. But this is a good area at this time of year for a mix of really interesting people, for light and for capture. …Maybe one day I will get that T-shirt.
I booked a trip to Canada – where I am writing from now. Looking for the most reasonable air-fare, the runaway winner was Icelandair, who run seasonal flights ending in October, If theres a transfer in Rejkyavik they offer a free stopover of up to seven nights. I have a good friend who sadly is about to return to Australia – but wanted to see as much of Europe as she could, so – and off I went with companion in tow.
I didn’t really book enough time (2 days) to go and see a lot and we spent a lot of time in Reykjavik before driving out to the area southwest of the country around Hafnarfjordur.
I’m drawn to this kind of place, I enjoy the bleakness, (for proof see my last post on Dungeness), it also has a rich otherworldly or alien quality and feels rich and mysterious.
We were heading towards the famous Blue Lagoon, for a late afternoon dip in the thermal waters and the weather was miserable. I posted on Facebook that it made the west coast of Ireland look like Barbados, I was only half joking. The afternoon before the Blue Lagoon consisted of parking, going for a long walk, getting soaked in seconds, returning to the car and hiding in a cave.
The Blue Lagoon is amazing, I didn’t take a camera or even a phone, I had made that time to hang out and relax, there’s something about taking photos that can get in the way of experince sometimes. Ironically it was the only time the sun came out that day (briefly), when we were in the water and it didn’t matter.
Having said all this, i think i need to be clear, I loved every minute of it. I have eight hours on my way back – If i can wriggle out of the airport I’ll go back and find something else to shoot.
I went to Marrakech in Morocco in February.A lot of people there (far more than here or anywhere else I’ve been) just didn’t want their photos being taken at all. I was thinking about what Robert Capasaid about “If your photos aren’t good enough you’re not close enough” – especially in relation to this one which I took with that in mind.
This is how I felt in Marrakech, wandering around alleys in or nears the souks hassled by bicycles ,vendors and children. They alleys are too narrow for cars and the sound of a two stroke moped engine and bicycle bells are almost always present. I did enjoy it and yet i was very hassley.
As for the quote, there’s wisdoM in what Capa said, but i dont always agree with this theory – its more of a tool than something to live by perhaps? – There are other things to show in photography. Like Trent Parke – who can see wonder in the world, Tony Ray Jones who often describes people through their clothing or what they’re doing or Saul Leiter whose personal work always disguises people into the abstract of repeated patterns graphics or motifs.
I also wanted to mention Niall McDiarmid – WHo has just published a street photography book around Vauxhall Station. I’ve just bought his book so there may be a review coming soon.
Dynamic light comes with the season. I keep saying it and it keeps being true. Here I am back in my favourite Vancouver Coffee house, the weather keeps saying we’re going to experience apocalyptic rain – well it hasn’t happened yet – which is great.
Work is always work, but sometimes its fun – which is not to say I don’t take it seriously. Recently an educational client promoting an Arts Award sent me to Leicestershire where students were learning a dance routine, these students were also being filmed by media students. The brief was to capture portraits,dance rehearsal and the filming activity. And it was only on for three hours.
(if you are after technical info on low light go to the bottom of the page)
I was thrilled to find them friendly and motivated, wait – excited, about the day ahead of them and full of energy. I was also happy to find out they were rehearsing the dance from Rocky Horror’s “Timewarp” – and to finish with a performance in full costume, which the media students would film.
Remembering what it was like to be a student, I realised I would have to catch them in this window for sure. They drift off outside of prescribed hours so quickly it can make your head spin. So it was a tough brief, but I like the challenge. The challenge was also the lighting – I have done a few shoots in these type of environments and I’m often working out on the fly how to balance the three desirables of low light shooting: Freezing action, low noise (grain) and using the correct aperture to get what you need sharp.
I know I don’t really ever talk technical on my blog, but the toughest part is working out which way you’re going to shoot in low-light, especially during a fast moving dance or sport performance. The three main ways are:
1) to drag the shutter and use a second curtain flash to freeze the action – you will get some blur but it can be very effective* if done well.
2) to use a high ISO and get loads of grain (noisy photo),
3) to try and balance ISO, shutter speed and use a little fill flash – which is tricky when the stage lights are so much warmer (orange) than the flash (blue), it can make the results unpredictable.
This third option was my main approach for stage shots. You can see a slight difference in the header image where the centre dancer – the blonde woman, has a good colour temperature, but behind the others are a shade more orange, but the level is acceptable to me.
(*Thanks to http://exposureleeds.org/ for the link).
I’ve been thinking about scale again. After my trip to the US it was bound to happen. I kept hearing those trains. Both in Canada and in the US when i was there this Summer. Here’s one of the results – I’ve been working on it for a while – There’s a couple of points which still need a little alignment. But I like you guys so i’m showing you a preview now.
This last week I had two jobs on – Pleased about that – Work is.. well its a bit of feast a bit of famine, at the moment its feast! Anyway – here are two shots – one from a a yoga flashmob held by clerkenwellbeing, the other is a Pilates instructor who I shot on Friday.