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

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Time Machine - Part 2

On one of my recent posts, Time Machine, I messed about with some of my photographs in Japan, attempting to create some images of Old Japan from the 1920s or 1930s. I used various photoshop processes, including different types of sepia, faded vignettes and some roughing up with some grain.  The results were quite good, although of course any Japanese person would be able to spot all the glaring anachronisms and mistakes.  But it was a fun project to try.

A few fellow bloggers suggested I show some of the original images, and maybe some real old Japanese images. So here are two of them:

Hiroshima Castle, taken in 2006. In my Time Machine post, I tried to create an image of the castle as seen around 1920, by using a dark brown sepia (traditonal plate style) with darkened sides and a slightly rougher grain. I also cloned out the white tourist information sign.  Of course, I have to add that the original castle would have suddenly disappeared on 6th August 1945, and has been completely rebuilt since.

 This is a back street from Nara, which I gave the sepia treatment in my Time Machine post. I had to remove the motorcycle on the left hand side, which was the biggest obvious give-away.  All the overhead electrical cables have been used like this in Japan since the 1920s, although they are now very dense in comparison to yesteryear.

It was also suggested that I show some real vintage images from old Japan. I have to say that I could not find anything I could post which would not infringe somebody's image copyright. (I do respect copyrights to images found on the net).  I do have quite a few images in hard copy books on my book shelves, but I have no scanner. If you are interested, I reccommend you take a look at

So onto my latest adventure with my photoshop time machine...  This time I stayed closer to home (Colchester, Essex, UK), and also not quite so far back in time.  I finally settled on the early to mid 1970's; possibly around 1974. Last summer I took a shot of an open air music festival in my local town park. The actual content in the photograph had nothing which linked it to 2011. In fact, it reminded me of a folk festival from the 1970s. I pushed the image through my photoshop time machine, adding some bad over exposure, hopeless focus, leaking film flare, blue-green process tones and a white border; all reminiscent of photography from cheap kodak instamatic cameras from my early childhood.

This is rather like the hipstamatic apps available on the iphone, which are incredibly popular with iphonographers. I just wanted to go through the process myself...   just for fun.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Not quite quick enough

Whilst wandering through the City of London last night, I was half heartedly taking a few shots of people and buildings. I have to admit that my night time photography, without tripod or flash, is hit and miss. With my shutter speeds down, and my ISO right up, I was getting a slight blur on most of my images. There is not always a lamp post or a wall to rest against.

I spotted the chance of what I hoped would be the image of the night. Mixing slow shutter speed for a little traffic blur, and hoping my subject would stand dead still for me, I knealt down and took the shot.

If I had more time to compose and adjust the settings, if it had taken longer for the young lady to cross the road, if I had a regular supply of London buses driving past; then maybe the results would have been perfectly sharp. Instead, the result was slightly blurred; and the moment was then lost.

The shape of the woman's coat, and the iconic background of the bus could have made for a great shot. But after all this said, I am still happy with the result.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

London Science Museum

Just at the end of last summer, I visited the Science Museum in London.  As a child, this was always my favourite museum. Over the last thirty years or so, it has changed a lot; a complete building extension and makeover, incredible new interactive displays, and of course a whole lot of new science. Many of the old exhibits are still there, including some excellent large scale engineering displays, which always used to interest me as a wide eyed child.

Science certainly does not interest everyone, but there really is no escaping the fact that our lives are totally dependent on the discoveries of the last two thousand years.  At times, modern science may seem somewhat frightening, especially as it has been partially responsible for creating pollution, weapons, and nuclear accidents; but it may be the only thing that saves us all in the end.  Also, every single object in your house or appartment was created through science at somepoint in history.  Could you live without your books, music, radio, television (probably), shoes, cooker, fridge, mirror, makeup, clothes, windows, lighting......?  Could you survive without food? Farming is a science too.

Anyway...   I strolled around the museum with my Ricoh GRD3 and took a few shots; some in the exhibition halls, some around the staircases and some in the cafe.  I have gone for different crops, and various post proscessing. Each image deserves it's unique attention when deciding how to present them.  I shall definately be returning again with my Ricoh.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Brick Lane - part 4

Continuing my series of photographs taken this weekend, with my fellow bloggers Gerry and CC, here are some images from later in the afternoon. After slightly disappointing images taken in the morning at Greenwich Market, I had better luck in the afternoon.  These are all taken around Brick Lane, which is great for street photography.  Photography in Brick Lane is like fishing with dynamite...   you are surrounded by very interesting people and places.

Check out my previous visits to Brick Lane here:
Brick Lane - part 1
Brick Lane - part 2
Brick Lane - part 3
Second hand cameras at Brick Lane


Greenwich Market... and more about the Ricoh GRD3

Last weekend, I met up with two fellow bloggers in London, for a gentle stroll around with our cameras.  We all met at Greenwich Market and wandered around, enjoying the crisp winter sunshine and the goings-on around the market stalls.  If I got a few nice pictures at the end of the day, then I would be happy. 

My two photography enthusiasts, Gerry and CC, were both using DSLRs; while I only took my GRD3 with me. Gerry has been aching to get a Ricoh GRD3 for a while, and CC has been also interested in a smaller capable camera.  We chatted about the pros and cons of the different camera types.

The biggest advantages of the Ricoh are:
  • Fits in the pocket
  • Prime lens (28mm equivalent)
  • Fully controllable (Shutter / Aperture /Manual)
  • It shoots RAW
  • It is almost invisible to public
  • Great build quality
  • It is FAST (focussing and lens properties)
  • Snap focus at pre set distance (FAST)
  • Highly customizable and quick access control system
  • User settings at a turn of a wheel.
  • Ricoh customer support and care

The disadvantages of the Ricoh are:
  • Price (debatable)
  • Small sensor = more noise than DSLR
  • Learning curve
  • Limited to certain types of photography due to fixed lens
  • Many other points that all DSLR owners will shout about
I mentioned 'learning curve' because it takes a while to get used to such an individual type of camera; whereas a DSLR by Canon/Nikon/Pentax etc, will give amazing results straight from the box. DSLRs are designed for ALL kinds of photography, and have modes for every role and there are lenses for every purpose.  With the correct basic understanding of exposure, a DSLR user can create wonderful images from the start, and then go on to get better and better.  I indeed still use my DSLR.

When I first got my GRD, it took quite a while before I was happy with the results. I was actually quite disappointed to begin with. With the Ricohs,you have to put the effort in, to get good results out. There are three user settings on the top dial, imaginitively named 'my1' 'my2' & 'my3'; and these can be easily set up to absolutely any possible settings. Even after all this time, I am still tweaking these 'my' settings as I constantly try to improve my results.

Some days I get great results, other days are sometimes disappointing; but the disappointing days are usually when I have not kept an eye on the settings throughout the day. Another mistake I often make is setting focus to a fixed distance, then forgetting about it, resulting in slightly blurred images, which are usually deleted unless I can create something 'artistic' from them.  The ricoh will auto focus on a half press, like any camera; but it also has an ingenious 'snap' mode which will shoot quick images if the button is pressed fully down quickly (pre set distances at 1m, 1.5m, 2.5m, 5m & infinity).  This is great for street photography, where you don't want to be standing around aiming a large lens at people, waiting for auto focus to work.


Here are some shots I took from our weekend walk about. As you will see, these are sometimes a little grainy as I had a high ISO; but I happen to like grain as opposed to smeary smooth finishing. They are not the sharpest images I have taken, but this was early in the day, and I usually improve throughout the day. I have pushed them through photoshop to rough them about a little, as I like my street images fully of contrast and grain.

Later in the day, we all wandered over to Brick Lane and took some more photos of the trendy folk of the art/fashion/market scene.  I got much better shots from Brick Lane, as I was fighting the sun all morning.  The rest of the images from the afternoon are here - Brick Lane


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Monthly Favourite - Westminster Underground Station

Time for another of my monthly favourites.  Escalator on the Jubilee line.

There is not too much to say about this image.  A few years ago, while travelling on the London Underground, I was so impressed with the grand scale industrial architecture of the jubilee line stations, that I took this shot while going down on the escalator.

I don't think I really prepared the camera for the shot...  just fired away at the far wall of the station. As it was not a very high shutter speed, there is an obvious blurred movement of people in the opposite direction, and the static hanging chains are also blurred from my own downward movement.  I think these add to the image, other than having a perfectly focussed image, which may have seemed quite flat.

I like the rough industrial texture of the concrete structures, complimented by the smoothness of the stainless steel escalators.  There was an evident pinkish light from various overhead lighting, which I have raised slightly in photoshop, which I think improves the drabness of grey concrete.

Those huge horizontal tubes are essential to the stuctural integrity of the building. I think the choice of huge cylindrical cladded tubes was well thought out. They compliment the overall design of the station.

There are countless images out there (on flickr etc), of people on London underground escalators.  I just think that the escalators and the surrounding space need to be awesome enough in themselves to be worth a photograph.  It's all about architecture and people, and how they fit together.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Time Machine

Last week, I finally completed the finishing touches to my lifetime's work. It has been a real strain on my soul; working in my office during the day, but working all night on my scientific research into 'space time matter projection'.  After decades of secret experimentation in my underground laboratory, I finally managed to answer one of the greatest questions posed by mankind.

Is it possible to travel backwards and forwards in time?

Well unfortunately, the answer is no. Which is a shame, because I had a whole list of things to go back and 'correct'; and a whole host of famous places and historical events to witness.   Oh well...

I thought instead, I would mess about with photoshop and see if I could 'add' a little 'time' to some recent photographs; try and use the 'photoshop time machine'. This is just a bit of fun, as I don't particularly approve of such 'retro processing'.  In fact, even the word 'sepia' makes me frown. But I like to try new things sometimes (or in this case - old things).  Most of these images have gone through several processes to add ageing effect. Some are better than others.  I think that the subject matter is important; I have tried to use images which have hardly any modern signs (although there are a few).  I tried to look at real old photographs to see how they age. Just using a sepia filter on it's own is not enough. I was going to add borders to the series; but I hate post processed borders!

Here are some images of Japan using my photoshop time machine. I tried some of London but they just didnt seem quite as antique looking to me. Maybe that is just because I know London too well.  On the other hand, my wife wasn't so impressed with my 'old Japan' fakes...   She knows Japan too well.

There are a few modern clues in some of these shots. There are some spot lights here and there, some modern hair styles and clothes, far too much over head cabling on one of them; but my favourite anachronism is the 'visa & mastercard' sign on the last image.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

The sky went black

Last year, during June and July, we suffered some strange weather in UK.  Even though England is renowned for it's rainy climate; I don't recall a summer as rainy and complicated as this for a long time.  I am not going to suggest global warming is having an effect on our weather, I don't have the proof at hand; but I have to admit that things are getting strange in the skies.

I wanted to take some photographs of some stormy moody clouds, as it was quite topical at the time and I had never really photographed the sky very often. The trouble was that every time the sky was looking like rain, I didn't have my camera at hand; and when I was out looking for clouds with camera at the ready, the sky looked calm and normal.

I started to spend a lot of time staring at the sky last summer.  I noticed so extremely strange cloud formations; complexity and structure on a whole new level. It was as if the weather was going wrong...  breaking down and becoming confused.

One evening, while driving home from London, heading along the A12 at around 70mph; I witness the emergence of hell above me!  The sky was turning black in front of me, through a turmoil of rising thunder clouds across what was previously a calm day's clear sky.  Was this the end of the world?

Just in case this was the end of days, I thought I'd catch a few snaps of the final hours on my GRD3.  I don't recommend photographing clouds while driving along a motorway; this is one of those 'Do Not Try This' things. So, holding the Ricoh at the top of the steering wheel, and keeping my distance from the car in front; I took a few shots.

Here is the result...   hell over the A12.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Fun with a coffee container

When its raining hard outside, and you still have that urge to take some photos;  and you don't want to take more pictures of your wife, children, pet dog or parrot...   or whatever...  and you've had enough with surfing photography websites, and dreaming about your next camera which you can't really afford...   then it's time to head for the kitchen!

Make yourself a coffee, break open a packet of hobnobs;  and while you're there, why not take some photos of the kettle, coffee pot, mugs and coffee container.  If you happen to have the odd toy robot, then you can have a little fun.  Sometimes 'street photography' is just too much hard work,  architectural photography is just a bit serious and boring.  Wildlife images are wonderful but...  it's raining outside.  Try photographing things around the home instead. Look in the drawers and cupboards, on shelves and in boxes.  We all have so much stuff!

I took these images in about half an hour; carefully arranging the objects and moving the lighting.  I don't have a decent camera flash, so I have to make do with available light (and a desk lamp).  I enjoyed playing with reflections and colours, focussing on different aspects.  Obviously a couple of these have been squeezed through photoshop for a quick selective desaturation experiment. I have to say that I am not a big fan of selective colour processing, but I thought I'd even break my own rules this time.

After this little experiment, I can understand the amount of work that must go into advertisement photography, and commercial product promotional photography.  Although for those professionals life is so much easier with pro-lighting, studios, and high end cameras and lenses; making a product really desirable (for example, a cup of coffee) is a true science.