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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Brick Lane - Part 3

Back again to the Lane...   a few more shots of Londoners and visitors going about their business.  brick Lane is such a good photographic opportunity, full of interesting shops and people.  See my previous posts Brick Lane - 1  and  Brick Lane - 2  for my introduction to Brick Lane.  The best way to understand the vibe of this street market is to go there and just take a wander around.

Before I proceed, I would just like to plug a fellow blogger who has also captured som great shots from Brick Lane ; Gerry's Photo Blog.  I have followed Gerry's Blog for a while now. Gerry has the knack of capturing images of 'real people' all around London.  He is also brave enough to capture eye contact sometimes; the all important connection between photographer and subject.   I, on the otherhand, still shoot mostly candidly.

With street photography, I often 'shoot from the hip'. The term is supposed to originate from the wild west, and the gun slinging cowboys who 'quick drew' their colts and fired straight from the holster.  Bang Bang Bang.  Unlike the wild west heros of yesteryear, I carry a Ricoh GRD3, and not a Colt 45. Instead of shooting people dead in Tombstone, Arizona, I take photographs of the general public in London, England.  Shooting from the hip is not really the apt term; most of the time I have the camera in my hand with my finger over the trigger.  Snap Snap Snap.  It can be from my stomach, from the side, from the chest...   what ever works.

I have set up my Ricoh GRD3 with a pre-focus distance of 2.5 meters,and adjust the shutter speed and apertutre to suit the situation.  Generally with my street shots, I like a large depth of field, as I think the background of the image plays an important part for me.

Anyway...   A guy in Brick Lane, standing still, contemplating life with a cigarette. Shot from low angle (but not my hip). I wanted to get the perspective of the street to merge behind him.  This is Brick Lane during a quiet week day; on a market weekend it is hard to move.

This is one of those passing shots; moving-subject and moving-photographer. Camera hanging around my neck, resting on my stomach, hand on shutter button. It's not always easy to frame the subject when shooting using this method; a little guesswork and some luck is required, although the percentages are getting bigger all the time.  I do regret that I have missed her feet, and have far too much sky. But the happy expression on her face, and the wonderful victorian buildings in the background both saved this shot from the delete-monster.

Here is another shot as I walk passed this girl, as she is peeking through a fence. Once again, she is caught way to low in the frame, but I liked her wistful expression and her aloofness to the rest of the world.  But this is a 'could do better' shot, something to learn from.

This is an accidental shot.  I was actually taking a shot of the mural, which is beautiful in colour, as two ladies marched across my viewfinder.  Later on, when looking through the shots on my laptop, I decided to save this one too.  There is something very calming about the eye in the mural, overlooking all the tension of the market madness.  People rushing around, grabbing bargains, shouting, eating, smoking and drinking...   while all the time, the girl on the wall is frozen in time, with a face you cannot forget.

This last image was a passing shot which turned out to be my favourite.  Shot from the hip, at around 1.5 meters, this shot didnt even need much of a crop.  The victorian brick buildings of the background are unmistakingly British.  I liked the strong features of this obviously stylish and cool lady, who just happens to be enjoying her lunch on the go.  The overhead railway bridge protected me from too much of that bright overexposed sky.  The final touch for me was the second figure walking in the other direction, adding scale and depth. This all goes to prove that 'luck' is a big part of this kind of photography.

I need to get back to Brick Lane and its surrounding trendy streets.  I recommend it to anyone.


Gerry's Blog said...

Awesome Brick lane shots Bill... by the way Happy New Year !!!!!!! I love the depth of field in your shots... I normally keep my camera at F4 unless its really sunny then I go to F11 I like shallow DOF but you are a master at closing down your aperture and getting some great shots.

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks Gerry... Happy New Year to you too.

Achievable DoF on the GRD is not quite the same as available on a DSLR. The sensor is very small, the focal length is quite short, and its a 28mm wide angle; even though you can stop down to F1.9. All these things combined don't allow the same kinds of isolating DoF you get on a DSLR. A narrow DoF can be achieved when the GRD is close to the subject, but this is for somewhat more experimental or artistic shots. I have managed to achieve a slight background blur in some street shots, but I use my Nikon D80 for those kinds of images.

GRD3 for all it's merits, is still a point and shoot camera. That is why it is my weapon of choice.

Michael Gatton said...

Great shots, Bill. And other thyan the girl who is smiling, they all have that distant, lost-in-thought look, that seems pretty universal. A blank slate, perhaps, onto which we can project our own thoughts and worries. But what about the smiling girl? She's holding a package - good news? Something out of the ordinary must have provoked it. Or is she smiling because she spotted you taking her picture?

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks Mike. I think people from the big city fall into two catagories... they either have a slight aloofness to their environment, or a serious concentration of the facts at hand. Both are a method of survival, a way to cope with the madness and speed of the world we live in. Me? what am I? I am just an observer... lol.

The smiling girl looks like she is about to meet someone important... friend, husband. What is in that envelope? We will never know.

Happy New Year, Mike.