Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Monthly Favourite - Lilys

Last month I created a post (Geisha of Gion) showing a single image...  a personal favourite.  This is something I will try to do once a month, and here is this month's personal fave....   Lilys

I took this shot in Kyoto, Japan, a few summers ago.  There are countless ornamental gardens and ponds in Kyoto; actually so many so that after a while, one can suffer a kind of blindness to them. This particular pond was not spectacular in itself, quite plain in most aspects, although I was quite impressed with the size and structure of these lily leaves. They were big and bold, self standing above the water; whilst the pond water itself was absolutely perfectly still.

The day was so bright from the afternoon sun, (not the best time to be taking photos), that I had trouble finding a good shooting angle without dazzled out highlights and lost features. Not giving up, I wandered slowly around the edge of the pond until I found the sweet spot. Kneeling down and zooming in a little closer, I managed to position the reflected sun behind the black cast lily shadow, leaving the lily leaves brightly illuminated from above. I didn't even notice all the little pond skater insects until later.

I took several shots of this at different settings, plus one in automatic mode. It's ironic how the auto shot came out the best. (Sometimes Aunty Nikon knows best).


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Greenwich Market - Part 4

Here are the final images from my Greenwich Market shoot.  These were all taken as I wandered away from the market. I have kept them all in the same format as the others (square B&W with some PP). Not much to say about these in particular.

 Digging into something tasty. (Those paper plates are a nightmare in a crowd)

A couple of shoppers on their way in. 

This guy was definately a local. (I can tell)
I shot this directly into the sun, and salvaged the image with a white vignette

The young generation.....

and the old generation.

I have noticed something about peoples' eyes from these shots. In each image their eyes are working in completely different ways:

In image #1, both their eyes are clearly concentrating on trying to pick up food from the paper plates. When people are eating, they concentrate solely on their plate. Their eyes miss everything around them, including the photographer standing next to them.  I am not sure if 'people eating' is necessarily a pleasant image for photography. I try not to take too many of these kinds of shots.

In image #2, both girls are 'eyes wide open' and already have their 'shopping radar' fully engaged. Sometimes shoppers can be looking at shop windows with their eyes, but not notice the people walking directly towards them. Much bumping and last minute dodging ensues.

In image #3, this guy is wandering along in a world of his own. His eyes are reading. The rest of the world doesn't matter.

In image #4, these two girls are looking in different directions. Something across the street has caught the attention of the girl on the left.  As for the girl on the right...  Is she looking directly at me?  Can't tell with those shades.

In image #5, my favourite, the old lady's eyes are concentrating on just one thing....  Holding on tight and making her way home (maybe).  She looks a little frightened by all the noise and people rushing around her. Her eyes look like they have seen a lot over the years.

Friday, 25 November 2011


The following are some images of some of the projects I have been involved with as part of my work.  Basically, I am a design draughtsman working in the area of construction. In particular, I specialise in producing drawings and designs for various architectural metalwork components for new building projects.  The majority of the construction is contemporary residential developments around the London area.  As projects are completed, I always dash in and take a few photographs for our company records.  photographing these buildings has been one of the things that has dragged me back into photography as a hobby.

The following images are nearly all of balconies which I have designed.  Generally, architects use balconies as one of the major features to add something to the overall aesthetic design.  Mostly they are designed using glass balustrade.  Recently, there has been a fashion for brightly coloured glass, which may look nice this year, but sometimes I wonder if these will look rather dated in a decade from now.

I have used my Nikon D80 for most of these, and some were taken with my range of old school digital cameras. I have processed them in different ways...  always trying to get a little more from the original image.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Greenwich Market - Part 3

Markets are great for food and Greenwich Market is no exception. If it is lunchtime, all kinds of foods are available; whether you want to sit down at a table and have something tastey to eat, or walk away with something to go. If you are looking for things to take home, then there are prepared speciality foodstuffs, cakes and preserves.

As London is one of the most multi-cultural cities, cuisine from all around the world is offered at many stalls. A large number of stalls will be preparing and cooking the dishes in full view of the hungry public. Every continent is represented...  North & South America, Africa, Europe, Asia. If you can't find something good to eat here, then where can you go?

Once again, using the Ricoh GRD3, I could get some close-up shots of stall owners preparing their speciality grub. Some people may be able to use a DSLR at these distances, but I certainly can't. If the subject knows they are about to have their photo taken, they sometimes stop what they are doing to either smile or stare.  I don't want to affect their current actions in any way.

In the first shot, with the guymaking pizza dough, I was standing directly in front of him by the stall.  The Ricoh GRD3 has a matt black body, and held in my hand against my black tee shirt, it is camouflaged and not very noticable. As the button is squeezed, the shutter silently captures another image. Click!

I can't remember exactly what kind of cuisine this lady was preparing. I am still not sure from looking at the equipment and what she is doing. That is either finely cut meat or fish, cooked over some traditional type of open grille. 

African food was very popular here. There were several stalls selling Carribean rice, vegetables and curries. I tucked into something from this stall...  a fruity rice and chicken curry...  highly recommended grub.

Oh dear...  my stealthy secret photography didn't fool Ruby Tuesday cake lady. She spotted me as i approached the stall. Of course some people don't like being photographed, or maybe they wonder why we are shooting them. I personally think that if you are going to work on a market stall in a tourist hot spot, you have to expect to be the target of a few snaps. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Greenwich Market - Part 2

Continuing my recent Greenwich Martket post, here are another four images, once again all taken with my Ricoh GRD3. I wanted to capture the sense of the stalls and the people, and how they interact with each other.

There are some quite fabulous jewellery stalls, mostly selling either antique and second hand trinkets, or hand crafted items of very high quality.  The following two shots show a customer trying on some rings.  The second shot was taken as close as I dare.  Although I am not personally a fan of jewellery and other such trinkets, I was very impressed with the quality of the hand made items; they were incredibly artistic with such fine detail.

I am still amazed at how well the Ricoh captures fine detail, especially as I prefer to use a super large depth of field in the kind of photography. Isolating the faces and details within these markets doesn't give the overall feeling of what is going on all around.  I feel that the background is just as important as the subject.

This lady is working away in her leather goods stall.  I watched her for a while, as she punched holes in leather belts.  Her stall sold a whole manner of leather bags and belts, together with all the metal accessories that go with them. I liked her concentration and careful hands.  I quietly took the image while standing up against her stall, with the camera at my chest.  I didn't want to stop her in work.  Another good thing about the GRD3 is its stealth-like silent operation.

Here is the kind of shot you can take while standing in a queue.  Try looking around at your feet...  there is always a chance for an interesting shot.  You don't even need to see this guy's face to know that he is a long haired 'no fear' uber-cool skate-rock dude.  He even has skate boarder's elbow!  I liked his stance and the way he leaned on the board like an extension to his arm.  As with all the shots in this market series, I have cropped to my beloved square format and then vignetted the images.

Another little point I like about the GRD is the fact that for every RAW image I take, I also create a black and white JPEG, which is the image which appears in the camera preview screen.  This gives me a great idea of how the shots will look after my homework.

More to follow, next time.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Greenwich Market - Part 1

There are many places around London Town which are guaranteed to be chocker block full of people at the weekend...  places full of unsuspecting photography targets... interesting people, foreign tourists, fashionable young shoppers, local old timers and general members of the public going about their business.

One of those places is Greenwich, which boasts a great River Thames view and a maritime history, streets full of interesting shops, eateries and drinkeries, and best of all...  Greenwich Market. I don't think I have ever spent any money there myself as most of the stalls are selling arts and crafts, ladies accessories, world foods to go and many other frivolous objects.  Not really my scene in a shopping sense, although my wife thinks it is heaven.  It does however, provide a great place to wander with my Ricoh GRD3 at the ready.

A few months ago, I spent an hour squeezing myself amongst the busy public and the market stalls, to try and get as close to people as I could with my camera.  I deliberately wanted to show a kind of 'hands on' experience of the buying and selling going on at the various market stalls.  I wanted to show people handling the goods, making decisions, while the stall owners are creating their arts and crafts or cooking and serving their tasty food.

Although this probably falls under the umbrella of street photography, even though the market is actually inside a partially covered market square; I wanted to show people in action, whether they are buying, selling, eating or just looking.  With all these images I cropped to a 1:1 square, and processed in black and white, to try and keep a consistency throughout the series.  I have tweaked the images slightly to try and get the best I can out of each image.  There were many images which didn't make the grade, and these were deleted and forgotten.

There are sixteen altogether in the series, but I am going to show them in groups of four, with other blog posts in between them. I don't like to be too linear in my postings.

I have to finally say that I could not have got these images with a DSLR.  Although technically possible, I would not have had the nerve or confidence to aim a DSLR lens at people this closely. This is why I love the Ricoh GRD3.

Second hand paperbacks are always popular.  Nothing very rare here, but many well read 'recent decents' all going for around £1.50.  If you enjoy your reading, then avoid the new bookshops with their limited stock of current releases, and head on down to a local second hand book store. 

Choices Choices!  Which one is it going to be?

Many stalls sell art and photographic images. Some are quite individual while others are rather generic. I always enjoy ficking through these baskets and boxes of pictures. I watched several people doing the same, and I saw many pictures sold in a short while. Seems like a very good business.

 All those photographs for sale in the basket are by Roger Pan

This series is continued....   Take a look at my Greenwich Market Part 2

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Ricoh GRD3

On a recent post I wrote about the Ricoh GRD along with some images taken with it.  As with all technology, camera models are updated and improved; and so it is with Ricoh.  The GRD became the GRD2.  It was improved in several areas, whilst keeping the camera body almost identical. Actually, it takes a good eye (or a Ricoh owner) to even notice the external changes.

Although the GRD2 had solved many nagging little problems with the original GRD, there have been mixed opinions about some of the improvements.  One of the major gripes with the new model was the heavy use of noise reduction in certain modes.  Many people felt that the original GRD had an amazing and almost 'film like' quality to it's output, whereas the GRD2 seemed a little 'blended' and had lost it's uniqueness.  This has actually left the original GRD as quite a cult camera, with many Ricoh owners still using it, even though they have since upgraded.

Around a year later, Ricoh launched the GRD3.  Once again, at first glance it looked exactly the same; although the body was slightly larger with a larger and higher resolution screen. The controls had changed slightly, but the overal feel of the camera was the same.  Why change the ergonomics when it is already just about perfect?  The major improvements on the GRD3 were under the bonnet. Just about everything had been improved and/or tweaked to create a superb new member of the GRD family.

So once again, I had to upgrade. While I still occasionally use the original GRD, I am now the proud owner of the amazing GRD3.  I will not leave home without it.  Even as Ricoh are about to launch the GRD4, I am still learning how to use the GRD3, and still constantly adjust and play with the custom 'user settings'.  I have a nice setting called 'street', which I have set up and prefocussed at around 2.5 meters, leaving me to adjust shutter speed with a quick thumb wheel.  This camera is truly one handed in operation, with a silent stealth like action.  I think I will get another year out of this before I upgrade to GRD4, which has some 'major' improvements, while still looking identical.

Ricoh are a wonderful company, producing some incredibly special little cameras; a company who actually listens to it's faithful and loyal customers' feedback.

So now I am finally up to date with my current cameras (Nikon D80 & Ricoh GRD3), I can finally start posting my more recent images. I will always still pick from my archives when I get the urge to re visit some older work. 

Where to start ?

Here are a couple of shots taken about five seconds apart. One converted to black and white, the other straight out of the camera. I took these while sipping a nice latte in a cafe in Windsor. All my other posts with images taken with this amazing camera can be seen by clicking here.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


My line of work, for the last twenty five years, has been steelwork design. Essentially, I am drawing steel structures and architectural metalwork. I use computer aided design to create fabrication drawings, which are used to create anything from the structural steel frames of new buildings, metal staircases and balustrades, balconies, railings and gates and a whole load of other stuff in between.  I work on the clean side of the business...   sitting in an office, sliding a mouse around, creating ideas and producing drawings on a computer screen.  But just on the other side of a door in my office there exists the dirty, noisy and mechanized side of my industry....  The Factory.

This is the place where my drawings and designs are turned into finished products. Steel is delivered by truck daily, cut into hundreds of different sizes, then fabricated into steel beams, stairs, balconies or whatever.  The process involving the most skill in fabrication is welding.   I have tried it a few times and found it quite difficult.  Concentration, a steady hand and patience are required to create neat and sound welds.

Anyway, back to photography....

Recently I wanted to create an image of welding in action, for a company website.  This turned out to be quite difficult for various reasons. It is not easy to take photographs of something without directly watching.  It is very dangerous to stare at an arc weld directly.  I had to stand at a distance and use a little zoom, look away and wait for the 'sound' of the welding before pressing shutter button.  Also, it proved best to shoot in full manual, as the camera had no chance of metering and focusing correctly.

I admit that the following series of shots are all quite similar.  They do on the other hand all differ slightly in composition, as I was experimenting from different positions.  Some are sharper focused than others.  They all share a lovely duo of red and blue, on a black background.