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

Thursday, 26 April 2012

London - Shooting at Night - part 3

Following on from some recent posts, here are a few more images taken after dark around the City of London. I have taken all these with my Ricoh GRD3 using various styles of photogtraphy.  I don't like the idea of having a particular style. In fact, most of my images are just a hotch potch of different styles, as if they were all taken by different photographers.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

This was an easy shot. I held the cametra steady on the top of the central handrail, took a few test shots while no one was around; then snapped this guy with the headphones as he approached. This is one of those images where I have tried to capture the modern mix of London City architecture, while using a member of public to add substance to the overall effect.  I think the amount of movement in the walking motion is just right.  I did take a few shots, with other people walking up and down, but this guy seemed to really suit the city worker subject.

These two guys formed a nice sillhoutte outside Farringdon station. I prefered the colour version of this image, especially the blue stripe against all the other brown tones; although I have desaturated the colours slightly.  This was a hand held shot with a slowish shutter speed which really needed a tripod, but I think I just about got away with it.  Tripods remove any chance of spontaneity in photography.

I love the city cyclists around London. They are everywhere at all hours of the day, taking on the buses, taxis and cars of the capital's roads. Smart and brave! Here's a typical scenario of three cyclists waiting for the green light at this junction.  (They don't usually wait for the green to go).  I think I have a glimpse of eye contact with the nearest guy.  It's a modern scene deserving of colour.  It just didn't work in black and white.

Getting close with my Ricoh; possibly invading personal space. I've definitely got the eye contact here. I was a little unsure what he was about to say after I took his shot. But he didn't react, and just crossed the road.  I really liked how the shadow worked in this image.

I still prefer day time photography though...  It's far easier!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Monthly Favourite - Cambridge Punting

This is the slot where I can post photos which I have taken, which don't particularly fit into any particular theme. This month's image was taken while spending an hour or so on the Cambridge city waterways. I enjoy visiting Cambridge for many reasons (apart from shopping trips with my wife); it is a lovely city to just wander around and soak up the learned heritage, enjoy some food and wine, and maybe take a riverboat trip.

Punting on the river is incredibly popular during the summer months, with many boat hire jettys at various locations along the river.  You can either opt for the guided tour; sit back and relax while a chatty guide will do all the work whilst telling you all about history and buildings of Cambridge.  Or you can have a go at punting your own 'punt' (boat), or row your self along, and forget all about the historical Cambridge and all of it's wonders, and just relax for a while.  I have tried both methods and both have their merits.

I took this photo of some people having fun messing about on the water.  It was fun watching them struggling slightly to get the boat through the bridge. Much giggling a frivolity ensued, whilst the tall girl with the pole kept bumping her head on the underside of the bridge.  It was a wonderfully hot day, and I couldn't have imagined being anywhere else at the time.  One of those perfect days.

I picked this photo becauseI like the way the sunlight back-lights the subject, with greens and golds of willow and stone.  I think the bridge makes a great frame to the subject, and I just like the mix of water, stone, willow and sunlight.  But most of all, it just reminds me of that all too short period of the English year - Summer.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Battlesbridge Market

Back in September last year, I posted some images from Battlesbridge market.  The images from that post were all taken with my Nikon D80.  I have since returned with Nikon and also my Ricoh GRD3 to get some more shots of the old bric-a-brac and antiques that can be found there. I often have two cameras in my bag.

Although Battlesbridge sells mostly antiques and bric-a-brac, there is also quite a lot of garden equipment for sale. A lot of it is unique and interesting; but there is also the usual tacky nonsense which seems to sell well to the garden lovers of Essex. 

Having owned several classic cars from the 50's 60's and 70's, I just love motor memorabilia. Old reminders from a slower time. These old pumps are actually for sale...  I just can't imagine anyone buying them.

This fossil like formation is actually much larger than it seems. Standing on a box and leaning over, pointing my camera downwards, was the only way to capture this 2 meter wide concrete garden sculpture.

This rusty face of the Buddha was a close up on a life size cast iron statue. Once again, on sale for someone with somewhat eclectic taste and a very large garden. I just like the texture and colour of rust.

Here is yet another statue which may yet be erected in someone's garden. I took a shot of her because I appreciated her modesty!

I wasn't sure what kind of statue this was, and who would buy this one.  Maybe it's one of those cherub type things...   I just liked the tatty old face. Definately not a work of art. 

This was a close up of a copper and enamelled leaf sculpture. The white enamel flows nicely into the cast grooves of the leaf, resulting in a wonderful texture and pattern.

A corner full of sellable junk. New and old.

The rest of these were taken with the Nikon D80.  I was less than satisfied with the results from the Nikon, so I ended up messing about in photoshop, having fun with sepia and ageing on a couple of them.

London - Shooting at Night - part 2

Here are some more shots taken with my Ricoh GRD3 at night time around City of London.  If you want to take great pictures at night then you really should use a tripod.  But a tripod if no fun, and completely useless for taking pictures in the street.  Apart from being a nuisance on the street, you don't exactly capture 'moments'.  I only ever use a tripod if I am taking architectural images and when I don't mind carrying it around with me for hours. Instead of a tripod, I sometimes use a lamp post to hold my camera against; or in the case of the following image, I rested it on top of the yellow button box of the traffic light post.  Is this cheating? I don't know. I was using ISO 800 and f1.9, and had to settle with a shutter speed of 1/60.  It is not easy shooting at night.

People crossing the street can be a very easy target for photography, it's a non stop supply of moving subjects marching towards you every three minutes.

I liked this shot solely because of the questionable expression behind those glasses.

A nice attractive background with strong back light can provide nice images, if you hang around long enough.  Although hanging around in one place with a camera can seem slightly suspicious to security, CCTV, shop owners and everyone else.  It's best to keep moving.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

London - Shooting at night - part 1

I had a go at shooting at night recently. Taking pictures of people after dark, without a flash, is quite difficult. I think I need quite a bit more practise to master this, or a much faster camera. I made use of the surrounding London City lighting as best I could; sometimes sillhoutteing people, other times illuminating them.  Even so, getting the camera set up was really quite difficult.  I was using ISO 800 as a base line, together with f1.9 when the camera let me.  Of course this was limiting my depth of field and I was having a nightmare getting things focused, let alone exposed correctly.  Next time I will try manual mode and set up zone focus; and just keep trying.

Night photography is fun though, and certainly a challenge.  There is a whole different group of people in the city to shoot at that time of night; starting the evening with the madness of the rush hour, leading to the city workers drinking at bars and restaurants, and lots of hard working people in between like street cleaners, security guards and cafe/bar staff. The railway stations and concourses are great starting points, and also are well lit for easier photography.

Here are a few images from my first attempts at late night street shot, using my Ricoh GRD3.

I took this at the start of the evening. The streets were busy with commuters, cabs and buses.

I was trying to use the back lighting to get some sillhoutte type images of city workers, but didn't really get any 'interesting' people or images.

Liverpool Street station escalators, and a few brandies after the rush hour

The security guard in the last shot asked me to stop taking photographs (for no reason whatsoever, of course). So after that I decided to sneak behind him and take his photo.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Crystal Tower - Osaka

Japan, in my opinion, is not a country of great architecture.  I have always been slightly disappointed with the overall style and aesthetic of their major city buildings. Whereas the rest of the modern world is creating some incredible new shapes and forms, changing and breaking all the traditional rules; Japan still tends to be quite conservative in their new developments, sticking to the general rectangular format and somewhat drab concrete based materials.  Tokyo, the largest metropolis on the planet (36m pop.),seems to sprawl horizontally for over 100 kms from the harbour to the mountains; and consists largely of concrete low rise, with various clusters of medium height towers.  None of these buildings, apart from a couple of recent exceptions, are exactly breath taking examples ultra modern architecture.  There is a recent business area development, called Shiodome, which has shown what is possible when Japan's architects are a little braver.

Underwhelming Tokyo Architecture

I have to point out of course that Japan is one of the most earthquake prone places on earth. This is the main reason why the buildings do not strive to reach the clouds, as they do in China and the Middle East.  Never the less, I am still surprised that a country renowned for having one foot in the future, does not display it's futurism through it's buildings.

It may be, however, that the Japan does not feel that it has to build so high to prove a point of status and power, in the same way that China and Dubai do. (In fact, Dubai has countless skyscrapers over 1000M tall, but most of them are empty. The whole Dubai dream may be a scheme with illusions of grandeur). Japanese people are not awe-inspired by size and height, by exterior decor and grandiose design. They are more likey to be impressed by the interiors of the building, the quality of the decor and the practicality of purposeful design.

A city does not attain greatness just through it's buildings. Tokyo is an amazing place...   exciting, unwordly, futuristic, chaotic, clean, safe, efficient, nosiy, fun, massive.  It is a city built for people. It has culture, history, food from every part of the world, more shops than anywhere in the world, music, theatre, comedy, grafitti, transportation which works properly. It has amazing sub-culture, youth culture, fashion.  I could go on. An arial shot of Tokyo does not do it justice. The real Tokyo is at street level. I shall save that for a future post.

This post has wandered off target to be honest. It is titled Crystal Tower, Osaka.

Osaka, is the second largest city in Japan; and is generally a lot more industrial in it's nature. There are a few interesting architectural examples, but on the whole it suffers from a similar conservative design. There is, however, one building which I have always found attractive.  It is the flagship of a group of office buildings at the Osaka Business Park. The style is incredibly simple, rectangular, and mirror glazed. I think that the proportions of the building are perfect.  The best thing about the building is the way in which it reflects the sky, changing colour in an almost chameleon like manor; sometimes contrasting and other times almost disappearing.

This is Crystal Tower.