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

Saturday, 29 December 2012

UK Summer 2012

The weather in UK throughout 2012 has been quite unappealing. We English have a reputation for always talking about the weather; not surprising since we live under generally overcast skies and spend much time avoiding the rain. 2012 has actually turned out to be the wettest year since records began!

Here is a shot I took whist holidaying in Devon (the sunshine county).

Well it wasn't all rain...  and I thought I should post a few images of summer; just in case any of my English readers have forgotten. As usual, these all taken using my beloved Ricoh GRD3.

Summer dresses were plentiful around the fashionable parts of London. I took her picture from two metres away, and although she is not pin sharp in focus, her sense of style certainly was!

Now for a more traditional style of British summer attire, you really can't better the knotted handkerchief and proud sun burned belly!

Roll on 2013...   and a happy new year!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Blogging on Christmas Day

Sitting around a television watching yet another repeat of Only Fools and Horses, wishing l hadn't eaten quite so much turkey; while the rest of the family laugh, drink and argue their way into a festive black hole...  l decided to reach for my phone and write a post on my blog. With a glass of ruby port in one hand, and my Samsung Note 2 in my other; writing couldn't be easier, especially as I am actually 'writing' this using the Samsung stylus which is quicker than typing with a laptop keyboard.

Anyway...  this post has nothing to do with Christmas. It is actually just another photo post; or an excuse to post some Street Photographs which I have taken over the last few months...  Or an excuse to not get dragged into the family disputes going on around me as I write this.

So here is a small selection of Colchester locals; all with hints of pink and orange.  This makes a change from my usual black and white presentation. Maybe the festive spirit in me showing itself in full colour.

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Cambridge People

A few months ago, I visited Cambridge to do a little shopping. Cambridge is an hour's drive from my home, and is a nice place to wander around. I wanted to get some street images from the people of Cambridge; especially as the city is crammed full of university students, foreign tourists and local Cambridgites. It was one of those days where I ended up being very disappointed with my photographic results. At the end of the day, I realised I had my camera all set up totally wrong, and most of the shots were blurred and messed up.

I did, however, get three images which I was pleased with:

There was something nice about this girl. She seemed to hold a very content composure, as she wandered through the old shopping streets. I captured here nicely in front of the victorian shops. 

 Now this girl definitely clocked my hip-held camera action. Looking straight into the camera!  Once again, I liked the way I framed her as she crossed the road, mid-stride with her hair caught in the wind.

Here we have a nice old couple sitting together. Two different expressions and postures. This time I actually stood in front of them and took their picture, without my usual secrecy. I like the aged expression of the old chap; probably wondering why I am taking his picture.

Next time I visit Cambridge, I will get many more images.  I shall check my setting properly.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

City Noir

I have been very quiet recently on the blogging front. This is partly due to trying to move home, a heavy work load, cold damp uninspiring weather, and of course my general lazyness. Sometimes I just don't feel like the writing, photo editing, uploading, etc. The worst part is not having the urge to go out with a camera and actually shoot stuff.

I blame November for all of my flat brain activity. November is the first proper month after the UK shifts the clocks by an hour, thus causing every evening to be dark by 5pm. November is the month when all of a sudden, all of the roads are jammed with people who have no idea how to drive at night; hence my daily commute becomes tiring and stressful. November is also flipping cold in UK.


I have just recently gone out with a few fellow photographers to London, with a photographic theme and purpose. I usually do my photography on my own, with the freedom of my own making. Sometimes, however, it is great to work with some like minded people; with whom you can bounce off ideas and experiences, and learn quite a bit about our favourite pastime.

The theme of the evening was 'City Noir'; the purpose being to take photographs heavily influenced by the images of 'Film Noir' from the 1940s and 1950s. Luckily for me, Film Noir has always been one of my favourite cinematic genres. I have countless old VHS tapes, DVDs and books of film noir. I have always been attracted to the darkness of the scenes and the style of the imagery.

Most of the films seemed to involve individuals or gangs on the wrong side of the law, always deperately trying to survive within the gritty underworld of crime and deviance. These were the crooks and gangsters with a badly planned bank heist, or the guy who steps into the seedy world of vice. There was often a female role and love interest; either the down-trodden gal always trying to please her heartless hoodlum man, or the platinum blonde femme-fatale intent on the money, power and eventual destruction of the men she ensnares.

All the films were set in the alleyways and streets of American cities, in the shadows of brick walls, old warehouses, low rent offices, cheap hotels and motels... always seeming to be at their best, filmed in the black of night under the limited glare of old street lights and illuminated windows. The use of shadow and darkness was very consistent throughout the film noir genre.  Truly high contrast B&W.

For a little list of the greatest examples of film noir... check this Eddie Muller page.

And if you were to just search for film noir in google image search, you'd get this.

So anyway...

I met up in London with my camera-buddies, and spent about three hours lurking around dark alleyways and street corners of the big city. If you wander away from any main street, you'll soon find dark and somewhat lonely looking places, with just a few people hanging around. London is a fairly safe city compared with some places, so I was quite happy to lurk about with my stealthy camera ready to capture people.

As it was a very low light scenario, I set my Ricoh GRD3 up at a high 800 ISO, which is fine because any grittiness or grain actually helps these kinds of shots. My F1.9 or 2.2 was good enough to just about allow a hand held 40th or 50th sec shutter speed.

Here are the best results from my City Noir night.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Playing with light

I have seen many amazing 'light painting' images on Flickr. There are people out there who can create some of the most incredible images using simple lights, torches, glow sticks etc.

Take a look at this:  Flickr - Light in Motion   and there are many other similar groups and websites.

I am a member of a weekly camera club; and every now and then we try something a bit different.  So last week a guy showed us a few simple tricks and helped us create a few images painted with light.

These are my simple attempts:

1) Take a kitchen whisk (one of those simple hand-held wire loop ones).
2) Stick a ball of wire wool into the end of the whisk.
3) Tie the whisk to a piece of string.
4) Set fire to the wire wool.
5) Get someone to swing it around and around themselves. (like an irresponsible windmill)
6) Take pictures of it.  F11 - ISO 100 - 15 sec

 Similar steps as above, except this time let the fire spinning fool walk from side to side while shutter is open.

On this image, we attached some electro luminescent glow strings to a person's legs and arms. This person then proceeded to walk along in front of the other fire spinner.  I tracked him as he walked by turning the camera slowly on the tripod.  This gives him that kind of Tron style glow.

We had a fun evening.  Several adults with cameras, behaving quite irresponsibly with fire.

Osaka #5

Here are a few more images from down town Osaka. The place is a messy crash of noise and colour, people and bicycles. It is a mish mash of old style market trading and small shops, together with an uncoutable number of restaurants and bars. Running through this scene is the addition of high tech modernism and futuristic automatism.  Old world meets new!  This is somed up by the way that the man in a small shop selling next year's cameras and computers would prefer cash instead of plastic. 

The street level is a cacophony of noise and people, shops and modern neon signs, vintage paper lanterns and over head power cables. When you look up you see the tall concrete buildings and offices of corporations and hotels, covered in further advertisements on an immense neon scale.  If you have seen the amazing 80s sci-fi movie 'Blade Runner', then you already have a feel for Osaka.

Next year, I should be back in Japan for a while; and relish the idea of letting loose with my Ricoh. I have become a lot braver in my photography since these photos were taken.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Osaka #4

I think I've done enough 'people on the street' photography for a while. I don't want to get stuck in a rut by posting the same old thing too often.  So instead, I will just fall back on my other old favourite subject, urban Japan; in particular my old favourite, Osaka.

Firstly, The Tower of the Sun , an interesting remainder of Expo70 Osaka. Still standing, next to a current amusement; this intersting testament to 1970s optimism in science and nature certainly grabbed my attention.

Two images here of Tsūtenkaku, "Tower Reaching Heaven", an observation tower built in the 1950s. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Osaka, and has been a great advert for Hitachi for many decades.

Carrying on with towers; how about a towering Gundam robot? This is a huge advertising board on the side of a toy and model store, which specialises in robots. There are more robots in Japan than the rest of the world put together, and robots have been part of Japanese culture for many decades. One of the most popular robots is the Gundam series, which have sold books, magazines, toys and models by the millions.

This is the head quarters of NHK television in Osaka. NHK is the Japanese national television service. I have previously held a view that much of Japaese architecture is quite reserved and somewhat bland. This building though seems quite playful and interesting in comparison. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

City of London - Railway Passengers

My day job sometimes requires me to take a trip into London. I always manage to avoid the mad commuter rush hours by taking later or earlier trains. It is usually during these times when I have opportunity to take a few photographs of Londoners going about their daily routines. Another reason why I love my Ricoh GRD3; it's in the pocket and ready to go.

The following series of images were all taken within the last two months, but at varying times. They were all taken around the major London Railway Terminals of Liverpool Street Station and Victoria Station.

I think railway stations are great places for photography.  There is grand architecture, cafes and restaurants, shops, noise, action,  and of course an abundance of people.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Monthly Favourite - Jelly Babies

I haven't posted a monthly favourite in a while. Actually my general posting rate has slowed a little; this maybe due to the fact that I sometimes dry up on the photography front through lack of 'being bothered'. There is so much more in life than wandering around shooting everything. I've recently got back into reading literature; having worked my way through quite a few novels already. I have a small family to have fun with. My work is also always sapping all my time.

So my free time shrinks and what little I have can not possibly all be taken up with photography. (or can it?)

Well enough moaning about my ever decreasing personal freedoms...

This month's favourite ....(or a poor excuse to post a 'one off' image that doesn't fit too well into any of my themed posts).... is of some public artwork which was installed onto a stone plinth at London's famous Hyde park Corner.

Nothing traditional here (by god we already have thousands of dead heros cast in bronze or cut from stone). Nothing too arty or clever here (this is Hyde park Corner, not the Louvre or Tate). But something to catch the eye of the passing tourists and drivers. A sculpture made from highly polished coloured clear and opaque resin. Something about three meters tall.

I present to you... Giant Jelly Babies.

This isn't necessarily a fantastic photo.  This is really point and click.  But even so, I like it.  So there.

I have added this video, which should give an idea of their actual size and location.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Southbank - Part 2

Following on from my previous post, here are the rest of my images taken on my wander along the London Southbank.

I can see in my images a familiar style, which without any deliberate thought, has started to become quite regular. I like my subjects to have strong architectural and simple backgrounds.  The stone and concrete canvases in the following examples are all true to this theme.  Although I enjoy processing in black and white, I also like to see colours when they deserve to be displayed.  The following two shots are both reds/oranges on grey, which work well in my opinion.  The runner's stretched leg seemed to line so well with the wall handrail; her legs forming a pefect 90 degree square.

Sometimes colour doesn't work for me.  In this scene, even though the yellow concrete structure is rather unique and eye catching; I prefer the B&W version.  I really like the imprinted brutal concrete architecture here; forming nice diagonals and verticals.

A view of the same yellow concrete staircase now works best in full colour. Maybe because of the over-sized red painted slogan. I have to say that I had seen some amazing photos of this staircase already on flickr; and I waited and waited to try and get an interesting image. Blatant copying on my behalf but this fell way short of the images by other people.

Some more images along the southbank. The black and white images here were taken with my Ricoh GRD3, while all other images on this post were taken with Nikon D80. The last image was of a guy who was singing and playing guitar on the stony Thames beach. He managed to capture a good size audience who all watched from several meters above on the footpath.

Check out my last post on The London Southbank - part 1

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Southbank - Part 1

The Southbank must be one of the biggest tourist traps in London. During the summer months, it can be so packed with people wandering along enjoying the views of the Thames and all the places to visit along the path.  They generally stroll slowly along from the Tower of London, over Tower Bridge, passing the Golden Hind tall ship, the Tate Modern, the Millenium Bridge, Globe Theatre....    takes a long breath   ....Festival Hall, Southbank Center, County Hall, London Aquarium, and finishing off by the famous London Eye.

Its fun to see hundreds of foreign tourists all standing by the river bank wall, having photos of themselves with the Tower of London behind them. Well I hope they all enjoy themselves in London, and go back with good memories, and hopefully a good impression of British people (I seriously hope they do).  I hope they don't all feel that twenty pounds each is too expensive a price for the pleasure of queuing for forty five minutes for a fourty five minute ride on the London Eye.  I must admit that I am finding London one of the most expensive places in the world (even compared to notoriously pricey Tokyo et al).

I enjoy merging into the crowd as they amble along, taking a few shots of people as I go.  It really is a good place to take pictures of people, especially as everyone else is doing the same.

There are quite a few of these big painted concrete 'beds' along one part of the walk. They were all taken up by couples in somewhat laid back manor. People genuinely enjoying each other's company for conversation and relaxation.

A few shots alongside the London Eye. The guy on the left is drumming up interest into some kind of magical ghoulishly feindish stage show, and dressed like a bloody surgeon (literally).  The girl on the left was interested in looking cool (in a kind of tall Scandinavian way)

Working hard while everyone else sits around sipping cappuccinos or beers.

Oooh look - I seem to have created a nice monochrome set with orange highlights!

Check out my next post on The London Southbank - part 2