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

Monday, 26 March 2012

Japanese Gardens & Temples - Part 2

Following on from a recent post  Japanese Gardens & Temples - Part 1 , here are another five images taken from various Japanese temples and other buildings around Kyoto area. These all show a similar building style, which probably originates from Chinese architecture, although far less ostentatiously adorned. The roofs all share a familiar form with those up-turned corner hips and eaves. They were all built from timber, to withstand Japan's constant shaking ground; and have often been burnt to the ground from either nature or otherwise, and then been completely re-built throughout their centuries. Simplicity is generally the theme of traditional Japanese architecture, providing places for bhuddist monks to reside, work and meditate; or in some cases, wealthy aristrocracy to enjoy their riches and pleasures.

See also part 1, part 3 and part 4 for more of my Japanese Gardens & temples. 


Friday, 23 March 2012

London streets

Many of my previous posts have contained quite a few photos per post, together with my usual rambling writings. This is mainly because I have been generally catching up with my current photography by posting lots of images which I have taken in the past.  More recently though, I am posting images from much more recent times.  I am nearly up to the present day!

Many bloggers manage to post an image a day. I don't think I will ever be able to manage that as I usually take a whole bunch of photographs on one day, then maybe not use my camera for a few days. So possibly my posts will be slimmer in content in the future, or split over several posts.  I shall try my best to keep the blogging going what ever happens.  (I have become strangely addicted to this posting and writing process)

Here is a quick post of three images which I took quite recently. I took a wander around some west London streets during a lunch break, with my GRD3 in my hand.  It was very cold and sunny.

This first image was a 'walk-by shooting' of a woman as we passed each other.  As she was approaching, I could see the intense look on her face; she looked determined and strong, but possibly late for her train, as she marched along at speed.  She was concentrating enough to not see my camera at about two meters distance.  I get a sort of buzz from capturing people at such close range.

I have noticed that when people are linked into their personal equipment (i-phones etc) that they are totally clueless to the world around them. There has actually been a massive recent rise in the number of road deaths from i-phone zombies. It is so easy to take a photograph of a person while they are wired in to their personal equipment and their thumb is rapidly sliding over the screen.  That said, I still think it is important to capture a person with a good background. This guy is stood up against the silver doors, using his i-phone, smoking a cigarette.  To the left of him is a wall mounted ash tray.  To the right of him is a no smoking sign.

This last shot is my favourite of that day.  I thought I would capture her with a 'walk-by shooting' without being noticed. I didn't even look at her as I walked by.  When I got home and checked the image on my computer, I could see how she was staring straight at me with her awesome mirror shades, a coffee and cigarette on the go.  When I zoomed into those mirrors, I could just see myself stepping briskly by.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

More London - More Architecture

This post is a mixture of some older Nikon D80 images together with some more recent Ricoh GRD images of More London.

'More London' is the office development directly next door to London City Hall, on the South Bank near Tower Bridge. It is a cluster of contemporary mixed use buildings, with public spaces and river-frontage. The most famous iconic building here is the new City Hall, with it's curved glass and impossible spaceship shape. Most of these buildings are purely company offices, but there are several other uses including a theatre and various shops & cafes etc.  There is also 'the scoop', which is an eliptical shaped open air stage, used for various free art performences, or just sitting in or skateboarding around.

I always seem to end up in this area at the start of a day's photography. It is always smothered with tourists, but feels very free and easy unlike London's notoriously busy west-end. Of course, everybody is taking pictures of the City Hall, and Tower Bridge; and there are also some incredible images of various parts of More London on Flickr. It is a HDR enthusiast's dream, although I have to say that I am no HDR fan.

I took these first group of images several years ago when I first got my D80, and also when the development was still quite new.  Architecturally, these buildings are show pieces for modern materials and styles. I particularly like the bronzed aluminum cladding and the coloured glass of the middle two images. That building looks warm to me, as opposed to some of the pure glass buildings.  The third image approximately marks the point when I started to allow people into my photography, realizing that the public can actually compliment the architecture.

The next set of images were taken quite recently using my Ricoh GRD3. I have certainly allowed a scattering of public to wander through my viewfinder. I have processed these through photoshop, trying out some slightly bleached out palletes, while creating black & whites from the others.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Japanese Gardens & Temples - part 1

I haven't posted any of my old pictures from Japan for a while. In this post I thought I would show some of the more peaceful images of Japan. Many of my previous Japanese pictures have been of city centres, noisy streets, crowded shops and generally the chaotic and modern side of Japan.

These were all taken over three years ago as I have not been back there for a while. The cameras used would have been my old Olympus C-8080 WZSony Cybershot W1 or my Nikon D80 .  Many of my earlier archived images from this period now seem terrible to me; full of over-exposure, blur and general bad composition.  Most of them are purely 'holiday snaps'.  I have taken the better images and pushed them through photoshop to add a little renewed vigour to them. I have cropped them slightly, added a little contrast and vibrance in some of them. Hopefully the resuls are a little better than the originals.

So here are a few images of the gardens of Japan.  They are very much different to the typical English and European formal gardens of grand stately homes. Japanese gardens tend to imitate the natural world, minature worlds of beauty and simplicity. There is a total absense of symetry. The gardens often surround a temple building, which are often simple wooden structures with their own elegant beauty. Stone or wooden shrines will be located at various points around the garden. The ornate bridges and ponds all create a place for meditation...  places to find inner peace and sanctum. Although most of these places are now havens for Japanese tourists, they are immaculately maintained and preserved, and still provide the beauty, if not the possibility of meditation.

See also part 2, part 3 and part 4 for more of my Japanese Gardens & temples.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Local Photography - part 1

I often find myself jumping on a train to London for a day of shooting, or even driving further a field to other towns and cities, with the general assumption that the streets are far more exciting elsewhere and the people are all incredibly interesting away from home. This is of course not necessarily true. It is just the general over familiarity of one's own neighbourhood which tends to lessen the thrill of street photography. Same old faces... same old streets... even the same sounds and smells. In this post though, I want to post a few images of some characters I have captured over the last year while strolling around Colchester at the weekends.

Some of these images are not great, due to the quickness of the shot. Strangely, I feel more inhibited (more shy) in my own town with a camera than I do in the centre of London. This maybe due to the 'normalization' of people with cameras in London; there being tourists and photography enthusiasts hanging around every place of interest.

These are all taken with the Ricoh GRD3.

I took this at a festival in my local park last summer, although I see this guy on a regular basis cycling his 'unicycle' around town on all the busy roads - Utter madness! (I always thought unicycles had a small wheel, but this looks like a mountain bike wheel with adapted pedals and a seat).  There is also a girl dressed like a ladybug in the background, although I have no idea why.

Taken at the same festival, I spotted this chap posing with his walking stick. I say 'posing' due to the fact that his jacket was bright pink...  although it will remain a shade of grey in my blog.

Usually seen after dark, and usually in pairs or small groups. Quite a rare image taken of the traditional English goth....   apparently alive and well, proudly sporting his latest summer attire. He shouldn't be out in the sun for too long in case he begins to get a tan.  Long live the goths!

I messed this shot up really... cutting off the top of his head, and not getting all of his shadow in the frame! This is one of those shots I wish I could retake.  This old guy had the cleanest and shiniest coat I have seen in a long time.

I took this in a local shopping centre. I think you can read quite a lot from this couple's expressions. I think he may have said something like - "It was a joke.... honestly, darling".

 Lady in a fake fur coat walks passed a fake fur hat stall.  Thats all!

I took this walking  up my own street one foggy morning. I liked the white-out of the fog in the background, and I liked the golden colour of her leopard style coat and blonde pony tail.  The added 'Love Bistro' sign board added a little more substance to the image.

I really do not approve of tasteless manipulation of images using photoshop etc. Typically I can't stand black and white images with selective colour processes. I think it is known as 'Colour Popping' .  In my opinion, it ruins a good black and white image; and something serious photographers have absolutely no interest in.   Anyway....  here's my attempt! 

I really have no idea who this is!   Is that a Ricoh GRD3? 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Reflections in Architecture

On a recent post ( Architecture - Reflections ) I showed some images of architecture reflected in water. I wanted to show how a building can be seen in a different light; and actually, anything reflected in water can look amazing.

In this post, I want to show how the building itself can be a great reflective medium.  Many modern buildings are covered in glass; so as we walk around the city, we are surrounded by mirrors of all shapes and sizes.

This first image was taken in Osaka. The modern buildings there are much like other cities, employing a whole lot of glass cladding. This tall, and somewhat bland office building, acts as a perfect mirror to reflect the image of the more interesting cylindrical tower.  I liked how the vertical lines all converge with perspective, whilst the horizontal lines are all basically horizontal.  Actually, I tweaked around in photoshop using the stretch and skew commands, to straighten those horizontals. The final geometry is probably impossible to capture in reality; but in my opinion, it is an improvement on reality.

This image was taken somewhere in London, although I cannot remember where. Pointing the camera upwards at an angle, from the bottom of a narrow passage between the two parts of the black glass buildings, creating a symmetry with a mirror line which is quite hard to spot.  This is quite a high tech abstract in some ways.

Sitting in airports can be a horrendous experience. An interest in photography helps, as long as you don't attract too much attention from airport security, who seem to believe that anyone with a camera is a possible threat to the nation. Modern airports are incredible examples of serious large scale engineering.  I photographed these white tubular steelwork supports reflected in a wall of mirrored glass.

These are two images from the same building near St. Pauls and the Thames embankment. Each building reflects the similar building opposite, with plenty of sky and cloud.  Once again, I spent a while straightening the vertical lines until they were parallel.  The first image is colour as taken by the camera; while the second is converted to black and white.

Taken near the Tower of London, this modern glass cladding is reflecting some much older architecture. One of the things I like about London is the rich mix of styles, all sitting happily next to each other.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Monthly Favourite - Osaka Amerikamura

I don't really have any special reasons for liking this image...   maybe it reminds me of a place and a time in my memory; possibly it is the slightly shabby concrete architecture; the flat-iron shape of the building. Obviously I have processed the image with some added grain and vignette, to add a little roughness to the feel of the composition.

It's in a part of Osaka called Amerikamura; a kind of 'Camden Market' for the Japanese youth to hang out or spend their money on fashion and music. Hundreds of tiny shops, boutiques and record markets all rammed with Japanese rockabilly-heavy metal-hippy-punk-rasta-techno-goth-R&B lovers. If a music genre exists, Japanese kids will follow it; and invent some strange ones of their own.

Can you see the mini statue of liberty on the roof in the back ground?  Another Japanese nod to American culture.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

City of London - Part 2

Following on from my last post, here are a few more shots I took on the same day. 

I took this shot through the glazed entrance of some posh company lobby.  Security doesn't like this sort of thing really...  but never mind. I quite liked the soft grainy feel of the image as it seems to suggest a certain quietude.  I often think that the front of desk job in these kind of up market company head offices must be such an easy number. Unlike a busy hotel lobby, these always seem so quiet and serene. Just doesn't look that busy to me.  (I hope I haven't upset any receptionists now).

This one is almost the same as another on the previous post. Shooting into the sun is great fun but really quite difficult to get it right.  The camera of course will try its best to correctly expose the image, depending on the set up; but even then I often have to take a few test shots in manual until one looks about right.  It is impossible to tell from the LCD screen or even the histogram if a successful shot is taken. You can't tell until you load them up on the laptop at home.  (Of course, there are many good photogtaphers out there who DO know exactly how to take these shots, without depending on luck)

Sometimes I like to take shots while standing still on some steps with the camera poised, letting the subjects walk through the view.  I don't mind if heads and feet are cut off, as long as the image is dead straight with architecture in the background forming part of the image.

Or sometimes I stand at the top of steps or escalators and shoot people as they come up into view.  This isn't a great image, but it explains what I mean.  It surprises me how trance-like people become when commuting in the city; walking and travelling around with i-pod headphones in, or twiddling on smart phones, in a zombie like state. This lady gave me the impression that she was sleep walking.

Here is an shot of someone in a good mood, full of life, and enjoying the sunshine. I even managed to capture some of those sunbeams bouncing off the glass in top left corner.

Here are two shots I took within minutes of each other at the same location outside Liverpool Street Station.  Big guy on the phone.   Lady reading a paperback.  Both these images benefit from great natural lighting together with nice architectural texture. Of course, the subjects are both interesting looking people.

I shall post some more City of London images again soon.  I always have my camera ready when I am in this amazing area.     Architecture and People....   Architecture and People.