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

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

City of London - Part 1

I often visit the City of London as part of my work.  It is a great city and an amazing place to photograph.  London has a broad spectrum of architecture, mixing new contemporary with classical styles. The roads are not mapped out on strict geometrical patterns like Paris and others; nor in a grid block system like New York and many modern cities. It is a maze of major roads and alley ways, grand avenues and city streets; all seemingly random in their layout.  This is due to the two millenia of gradual expansion from Roman times to modern day. Every turn of a corner can lead to a whole different feel and style.  A city full of secrets and small wonders.

The City of London is historically the oldest part, and is also the finacial centre of the capital. The London stock exchange, together with New York's and Tokyo's, form the three points of the world's finances. Interestingly enough, even though the world has been on it's knees lately, partly due to the greed of a few rich investment bankers, it seems that nothing has changed in The City.  New buildings are being built, Bentleys are being driven, over priced sushi is being eaten, wine is being quaffed, bespoke suits are still being worn everywhere and the gentlemen's clubs are still fully reserved.  So while the rest of us try to work out if we can afford a holiday next summer, life carries on regardless in the city. 

That all said...  I still love to wander the around with my Ricoh and snap the people at work, rest and play.  As you will see, none of these people are Bentley owners, and probably haven't received a million pound bonus this year.  But they probably all work, eat, drink and socialize in the City of London.  People like me!

Quick hat adjustments

sitting and watching the world go by

revolving lunch doors

keep up!
they came straight out of the sun at one o'clock

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The cool method of leaning against a tree

'Cool'  or 'coolness' is very difficult to define. I originally wanted to explain 'cool' using my own thoughts; although I immediately struggled to describe the status of cool.  I generally do not like to directly quote Wikipedia, as it is a lazy cop-out and quite possibly inaccurate; although I found that the Wikipedia definition of 'coolness' seemed to cover the basics for this post anyway...

Cool (aesthetic) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Something regarded as cool is an admired aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist. Because of the varied and changing connotations of cool, as well its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning. It has associations of composure and self-control and often is used as an expression of admiration or approval. Although commonly regarded as slang, it is widely used among disparate social groups, and has endured in usage for generations."

I should advise you check the whole article on Wikipedia - Cool (aesthetic)

Many people, mostly aged between 20 and 45 (I am outside this catagory now), desperately wish to attain the status of cool. It may take them a long time to reach the goal of natural coolness, which is the point when they no longer need to try. They will spend a lot of their income on staying one step ahead of the current fashions. They will need to be seen in the most happening locations; be seen with the right people and discussing the important cool 'stuff'. I believe going to certain colleges and dropping out of particular art courses is also very important.  Of couse, being seen at the coolest clubs is a good thing; but still being seen there when that club has become popular is a bad thing. It is also quite possible to be cool when living in another country, which allows for the obliviousness of common styles and culture, thus realizing a particular self confidence in persona. This is particularly true in the music and fashion centre capitals of the world.

Eventually, a young man will attain the perfect status of cool. At this point he will not even realise he is cool. He will just 'be'. He will not need to think about fashion and music, or people and places.  He will just do all these things without any inner thought.  A form of zen cool.

For any normal person, a simple thing like leaning against a tree in a public place, may seem like a simple matter (even though it may feel somewhat awkward or embarrassing). Why would we need to lean against a tree in the first place?  A cool person would use the act of leaning against a tree for two main purposes: being seen by members of the public, and watching out for other cool people.

The location should be a popular public place with a mixture of general public and cool people. The London Southbank is a good example of this, with a large and varied demographic of pedestrian public. Many will have cameras, which will ensure being photographed while leaning against a tree.

The tree itself should be chosen carefully. A very large and mature tree may render the person less important and proportionally insignificant in size. A very small tree would be quite unsuitable, as it may not support the person safely.  The tree should also be chosen for its aesthetic appeal; for example a tree with a very cool silver camouflage style bark.

An individual fashion style is intrinsic to the whole act of leaning against a tree. I could not possibly advise on the fashion elements of the process.  I believe it would help if it was a good combination of designs resulting in a relaxed and unpretentious look. 

The stance is possibly the most important point, even if all the other points have been covered. There are many styles of leaning thoughout the history of coolness, which all have their particular good points, although a truly cool person must find his own way of leaning.  The turn of the face, the expression and composure, the angle of lean are all important; but very often it is the finishing touches which complete the whole image...  the position of hands and fingers.

I present to you the cool method of leaning against a tree.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Japanese Matsuri Festival - London 2011 - Part 3

These are the final batch of images from the Japanese summer festival. Not much to say here; just that I had a great day with my friendly bloggers CC and Gerry

I normally don't take posed pictures, but this old lady was so nice, and was delighted to be photographed.  I even thanked her in the appropriate polite Japanese, to which she was genuinely amazed (or maybe not).

A Harajuku style Japanese girl with blonde hair and English boyfriend, heading for the anime area.

Many Japanese visitors came dressed in traditional garb.

The following two images were my favourite of the day.  They are more in line with pure street photography, being totally unposed and containing some character and feeling. This is also why I love the Ricoh GRD3.

Check out  part 1 & part 2 for more Japanese festival images.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Monthly Favourite - Sunset on the River Colne

This month's favourite was taken about four years ago, whilst cycling along the River Colne near Wivenhoe. This was something I used to much more regularly than I do now, and I know I need to get back onto my bike again soon.  I had my Nikon D80 with 18-70 lens in my back pack, with the idea of getting a few riverside and landscape images along the way.  It really is a lovely quiet river, which gradually expands into an estuary as you cycle along it.

I stopped to look back at the sunset which was starting to take shape behind me as I cycled.  I don't normally take pictures of sunsets,  but I was so impressed with the colours and structure of the clouds which were complicated and fragmented, mixed with aircraft vapour trails hanging in the sky.

The strange looking steel structure is actually a rather old reminder of the industrial revolution. It is part of a cable car conveyor system, which carried gravel stone or sand from a quarry, about about 500 metres inland from the river bank, down to a wooden jetty, where it was loaded onto river barges for transporting to locations up or down river.  It is incredible that these rusty old structures are still standing as a testament to the 19th century. Even the timber jetty still stands, although somewhat dilapidated.

I just thought that the old tower and jetty complimeted the wonderful sky...   a touch of 'man versus nature'.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Japanese Matsuri Festival - London 2011 - Part 2

Following on with my last post from the Japanese Matsuri Japanese Festival on the London Southbank, here are the next bunch of shots I would like to show.  The first four are all food stalls, selling various tasty savoury snacks in the Japanese style. The one thing that photos can't always convey is the noises and sounds of a thriving market. People often assume Japanese people are very quiet and reserved (which they definitely are in many situations), but when it comes to a market style scenario, especially involving food; they can shout their wares with the best of them.  These guys below would all be yelling out to the crowds...  tempting them into trying and buying the goods.  As this was a 'festival' as opposed to the real thing, these guys were giving it everything, and enjoying themselves while enthusing the slightly unsure British into tasting octopus, sushi, tempura, and some other distinctively Japanese foods.

Now eveyone must like tempura, surely.

This is 'takoyaki'...   fried octopus in batter.   
Actually my favourite Japanese street fast food.

and that'll be beer then...   

Looks like various fried foods and rice, boxed and ready.

Back to the traditional arts. Calligraphy, fabrics, paper etc

Members of a troop of traditional performers, in full kimono dress.
Taking a break between their music and dance displays on stage.

Some of the traditional music and dance which was performed on the main stage was quite breathtaking.  It ranged from the beautiful and colourful movements of traditional Japanese dance, to the rumble and roaring rhythm of the taiko drums.  These acts certainly drew in the crowds. I think you could probably hear the taiko drumming from a mile away!

Check out part 1 & part 3 for more Japanese festival images.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Japanese Matsuri Festival - London 2011 - Part 1

One of my favourite things about blogging is...   getting to know fellow bloggers!  Having run this blog since last July, I have regularly followed several photography blogs. The great thing about blogging is leaving and receiving comments (good or bad) (or should I say complimentary and critical).  Last summer, I met up with two fellow bloggers CC and Gerry at the Japanese Matsuri Japanese Festival on the London Southbank.

Gerry and CC are both Americans living and working in London; so it was really great to meet them and chat about cameras and photography, as well as their views on life in London. All three of us are interested in street photography; each with a slightly different styles and methods. The Japanese festival was a good chance to get some interesting people shots, although at times it was a little too crowded.

'Matsuri' essentially means festival or holiday.  It is quite a common summer event in Japan, involving food markets, dancing, singing, arts and crafts...  generally all things celebrating Japanese culture. In Japan, every town and village will have matsuri during the summer; each festival being slightly different depending on its locality.  Really, this is no different to any other country around the world which has summer festivals. In England, for example, countyside villages have always had a traditional summer fayre.

This was the third large Japanese festival in London, and the largest one so far. As soon as I arrived, I was amazed by the number of visitors there. It was seriously crowded and obviously quite popular.  Also, I haven't seen so many Japanese people in one place since my last stay in Japan.  The majority of stalls were selling Japanese foods and drinks; followed by a great many stalls selling arts and crafts, books and clothes.  There were quite a few demonstrations of traditional arts, including dance, music and martial arts.  The public were very involved in much of the goings on.  This festival happened only a couple of months after the terrible earthquake and tsunami; so there was an on going public appeal for help for those victims.

So, myself and my fellow bloggers, chatted and wandered around, quite often losing each other in the crowds.  I took my Nikon D80 with a 50mm prime lens, together with my faithful Ricoh GRD3. I took many images, some good and some not so good.  I was struggling with the sunshine which was playing havoc with my settings. I was constantly trying to get the exposure right, but the light was changing from 'quite dark' under the stalls to 'blinding' along the riverside walk.

I have quite a few images to post, but here are five of the food and art stalls.  These are all taken with the GRD3...  and cropped square.

Check out part 2 & part 3 for more Japanese festival images.

Sushi chef, hard at work.

Ladies making origami 'wishes' and raising money for tsunami victims.

I think he is making 'okonomiyaki', a kind of tasty fried pancake.

Japanese calligraphy. An art form in itself.

Old ladies are always great at knitting.  Here all for charity.