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

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Monthly Favourite - Weir Boardwalk

I am a fan of perspective, lines, points and geometry. Maybe this comes from my somewhat unfashionable interest in mathematics. I see geometry everywhere I look; part of my brain is always measuring my surroundings and picking up the patterns that exist around me.

This is an image of a boardwalk along a canal weir. The persepctive screams out everytime I walk along it. The addition of the shadow from the sun, cutting the image directly along the center, required me to take the photo. I converted to black and white, and added a blurred vignette to give it a slightly spooky feel.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Chrisp Street Market

I have often found myself wandering around markets with my camera in order to capture some images of the public going about their daily lives. I think that markets are great hubs for people of all walks of life. I have previously written and posted some images from some of the more well known markets, including Brick Lane, Portabello Road and Greenwich Market. Those markets are all quite trendy and are generally magnets for the incurably cool.  The majority of markets are not cool nor fashionable; they just provide the local population with a source of affordable groceries, goods and clothes. Many of them are the focal point of a local community, often surrounded by the housing, the local supermarket, post office and a couple of pubs. These are the markets that don't get onto Time Out magazine's lists of places to see.

Chrisp Street Market is such an example. It is located in the east end of London (not the fashionable part). It was originally designed by Frederick Gibberd, who was responsible for some great (and controversial) civic architecture throughout the 1940s to 1970s; including the original plans for Harlow new town, Liverpool Cathedral and a long list of other familiar buildings. We are talking concrete architecture here.

Chrisp Street Market, after all these years, is starting to look a little run down and very shabby; although there are big plans ahead to bring it way up to scratch.  Total make-over!  (once the local council can afford it).  This does not stop the place being a hive of activity, full of market stalls, small shops and local shoppers. It just goes to show that people love to trade, buy and sell, meet up and gossip, whatever the local environment.  I believe that these little markets are far better for people and community than the countless out of town shopping centers which seem to be taking over the land.  Not everyone drives a car...  a statement very much true to many of the Chrisp Street Market locals.

Here are a few shots of those busy folk at Chrisp Street.

Monday, 18 June 2012

...another architecture post (from Japan)

Here are some images taken while walking around Osaka, and pointing a wide angle lens up at the surrounding buildings.  Nothing very clever really. I am still not sure if architecture in japan is particularly attractive or even progressive.  The following three images could be in any city around the world, but are from Osaka; and probably represent the more accessibly aesthetic side of Japanese architecture.  I pushed all these through Silver Efex Pro for the monochrome conversion.

This is the Umeda Sky Building, which is certainly tall and modern, with some very interesting ideas; but I still don't personally think it is very pleasing on the eye.  This is somewhat unconventional for Japanese architecture, and is 'loved-hated' by the Japanese.  Great roof observatory. 

This, on the other hand, is my second favourite Osaka building. (after the Crystal Tower). This is the Suntory Museum, designed by 'concrete loving' Osaka born architect, Tadao Ando. It was a wonderful arts complex situated on Osaka harbour. I say 'was', because the building closed in 2010. My wife, who is from Osaka, thinks it may have closed due to lack of interest!  I think the Arts do a lot better in London / Paris / New York etc. than they fo in Japan.  Shame. 

Here are another two examples of Japan showing that it can be brave and artistic, and willing to step outside the norm.  Maybe museums and galleries are the exception in Japan, and have the go ahead to be formed from interesting shapes and materials.  I love these two buildings:  Osaka Science Museum, followed by Osaka Museum of Art.

Here are some examples of ugly Japan, which I still think make great photographic images.  Of course we can find uglyness in any city around the world, but I actually like the brutal and ugly side of Japan. Totally non-apologetic structures for purpose and function.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Town Centre Cycle Race

For the last three years, on a day in June, Colchester town center has been closed off completely to the traffic, for the Halfords Tour Series cycle races. This tour series has stages in various towns up and down the country, and displays some of the top road race cyclists, as well as a large and noisy public audience.

For me, it was an excuse to wander around the crowds lining the race barriers, with my trusty Ricoh GRD3, to try and get some images of the event.  I have not really had much experience in photographing sports events, let alone any kind of fast moving vehicle action.  I had to try and be a little creative with the small Ricoh; especially as I don't have DSLR zoom lens capabilty for those classic telephoto style images of cyclists coming towards you at speed with lots of back ground blur and isolated faces.

I saw quite a few people with high end Canons and Nikons with 200mm F.2.8 lenses. I saw guys with bags full of lenses and heavy duty tripods.  There was equipment hanging around necks worth more than my car!  So all I can do is try to squeeze a few clever shots here and there, attempt some panning shots and try to fill the rest in with background imagery.  Of course, a little post processing and cropping helps. So here goes.

That's the best I could get out of the actual cycling action.  I also wanted my ususal batch of people shots; some were connected with the race, while others were just out and about that evening.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Another architecture post

Every time I am in London, I try to get some architectural photography opportunities.  Although I do not profess to be expert in architecture, my job is connected with the building industry.  I have posted about London architecture previously and I think London will always provide an endless supply of camera candy.  So without too much waffle at the start, I shall just present a few images of some examples of modern architecture in London.  These are taken with a variety of cameras, but predominately by Nikon D80.

Willis Building & Lloyds Building. The Lloyds building was built between 1978 & 1986 (quite a long construction time compared to today's building projects); and was a catalyst for ultra futuristic designs across the globe.  The 'inside out' structure was designed by British architect Richard Rogers, and was probably very influenced by the Pomidou Center in Paris. In my opinion Lloyds is a beautiful design, and like much of modern London, sits well amongst the surrounding mixture of traditional buildings.  I am still amazed that a building so futuristic was built around 30 years ago.  The three tiered concave style of the Willis building, seen here opposite Lloyds, is a more recent addition to the city. Designed by another great British architect, Norman Foster, the Willis Builing was one of the first new structures in the city for a while, and part of the new cluster of towers slowly rising up from the City of London.  The buildings compliment each other very well.

Kings Place, home of the Guardian newspaper, Network Rail, and a perfoming arts center, is located in the Kings Cross area of London. It is quite a striking building, particularly when viewed from the Regents Canal. I have not attempted to capture the whole building here; I just liked the complimentary textures of shiny new green glass, a chilly morning's blue sky, and the nature of dense tree foliage.

Plantation Place and neighbouring church St Margaret Pattens.  Plantation Place is not a particularly beautiful example of modern architecture.  It is very modern and has some interesting design ideas; but I think the building is really just purposeful. Although it is quite low rise, compared to many towers, it has a massive footprint; and serves office space for many different city based companies.  I took this image just to present the old and new together.  That is how London works architecturally. A beautiful mish mash.  The old church is a real survivor throughout London's history.  It has been rebuilt several times since the 11th century.

This is a close detail of the glass facade to the main atrium of Tower Bridge House , another Richard Rogers design. This is a small but quite stunning futuristic office building, sitting directly opposite the 1000 year old Tower of London. (once again the mish mash).  In this image, I wanted to create a kind of architectural abstract.  I have a fondness for tinted blue-green glass, and I really liked the criss-crossing mullions and steel braces supporting this glazed curtain wall facade.

Everybody (from UK at least) (I hope) knows the Gherkin, or officially 30 St. Mary Axe. Well this is not about that lovely obelisk.  The new baby on the block here is the Heron Tower. Another, in my opinion, a stunning and brave tower for the old city of London. At 230m  (755 feet), this is now the tallest building in the city. (the Shard is not in the city). The second  image shows the view of Heron Tower from the forecourt of Liverpool Street station.  230 meters may not be the 21st century super-tall of Dubai and Beijing; but this is London...  and we are realistic. We don't need 800 meter shiny spiked status symbols; London already has status and plenty of it.

To the east of London, there is the Canary Wharf development of office buildings. More on Canary Wharf another day, as it is a photo blog post all of it's own.  1 West India Quay, located on the edge an old shipping dock, is a mixed use building (hotel and luxury apartments.  It has a 'blade' shape form, and I just happen to find the building rather elegant.

Okay, so that's enough handsome buildings for now.  I shall try and throw up some more from time to time.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Portabello Road

Last month, I met up with my blogger friends, CC & Gerry, for a wander around Portabello Road and it's various markets and bric-a-brac shops. It is definitely one of my favourite places to get some interesting people images.  The public visiting this market are a real cross section of society, including tourists, antique fans, junk fans, trendy fashionable people, arty types, and the real locals just trying to get their weekend groceries. Portabello Road is a very long road indeed, and is split into different kinds of market trade areas; starting with the most famous antique & bric-a-brac stalls, then leading onto food and eating places, and finally an interesting market selling everything from clothes, music and accessories.

It is always incredibly busy when the weather is good, and still busy when it's not. There are colourful and interesting characters everywhere you look; old and young.

As usual for street photography, I have used my Ricoh GRD3.

This old girl was singing songs and strumming away on her old battered guitar to a small collection of bystanders.  She was like something from a byegone era, but had talent and happy confidence enough to play her songs to the public.  (for a few coins too, of course).

I really liked this VW camper van, which had an installed coffee machine.  I think this was the owner, who was relaxing with a book while business was quiet.  This is definitely 'cool'.

Further along, I spotted this very dapper chap, dressed in smart jacket and cap. He was laughing to himself while reading something on his phone.

Nothing much to say here...  A glass of wine and cigarette. English pubs are all now non-smoking places.

There was something strange and compelling about this guy.  He reminded me of a quaker or a missionary from times long gone. Aiming the camera up from the hip gave me this dark and foreboding shadow under the brim of his hat, which I accentuated against the white building walls

It seems to me that about one in four people in public are always using a smart phone; and the number is rising. This stall owner is wrapped in crochet while relaxing for a moment. I thought that this was the one image which deserved a colour process.  Everything seems stoney grey, apart from the crochet blanket.

This guy, also on the phone, was left guarding his partner's bike while she was in a shop. The sun was bright and the bicycle shadows were strong on the ground.  The red bike just ached to be photographed.