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

Friday, 27 July 2012

Osaka #1

I have spent quite a lot of time in Japan's second city, Osaka.  I have blogged about this city a few times before, most notably here: Osaka - Crystal Tower  and here: Osaka - Night Shots.  On my previous posts, I have often shown images of the modern architecture of concrete and glass, which is really not so different to other modern cities around the world.  The parts of Japanese cities which I enjoyed the most, were the small roads and back streets; where there is a mix of mundane architecture, traditional decor, brutal ugliness, pot plant horticulture, neon signs and air con fans, webs of electricity cabling, youthful cuteness and hi-tech pointlessness.  It is very difficult to explain the feel and style of these wonderful little back roads.  A general mix of 20th and 21st century oddness; a mish mash of syles and ideas borrowed from across the globe.

One of the things that always amazed me was the respect for property, even in the less that desirable parts of the city. For example, in the first image of the little corner bar, there is a little line of empty wine and sake bottles, which are often placed for decoration even though the bar may not be open.  If these bottles were left outside in the England, they would be knocked over and broken, stolen, rolled around the street by drunken idiots for fun.  In the same way that all the flowers and plants left outside shops and restaurant, are not stolen or vandalised.  I wish this kind of respect was the norm in UK, instead of the binge drinking anti social behaviour, which is completely endemic in British society.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

City of London - Part 4

This is merely a continuation of my last City shoot. These are some more images which I saved for another day.  Today in fact.

This first image was taken while I stood still with the camera propped on the hand rail by my side, waiting for people to just walk on by. I picked this point based on my fondness for brickwork, particularly victorian walls. The addition of the stainless steel handrail adds a nice linear detail.  Using this rather lazy method of people shooting, I am able to get many photographs with different subjects, allowing me to pick the best one.  I picked this lady due to her smart outift, concentrated expression and just her walking stance. It always amazes me how differently all people walk...  smartly, slowly, quickly, scruffily, shambling, orderly, purposefully...  These are the things that can be shown in a frozen image.

I liked how this one turned out.  The guy was standing in the same position, looking up,  for several minutes; allowing me to compose this image how I wanted it.  I exposed correctly on the guys jacket, which threw the shadowed background into complete blackness. It came out far better than I hoped, especially the way the facial features are exposed in against the shadow.  I still have no idea what he was looking up at!

On this next image, I was originally taking a photo of the building across the street, which has touches of 1930s art deco in the east end of London. I got that clean shot off okay, but then I got the idea of capturing some street action. I took several images of people 'just' stepping into my view finder. I saw this cool London girl approaching, and had just one opportunity capture her just how I wanted to.  Click!  Thankyou.

I have tweaked the colour curves using photoshop, to bring out the London bus, and raise the colour in her hair and skin.  The addition of head phones give this image a touch of 'Cool Britannia' (imho).  I have noticed that lots of 'street photographers' look down on post processing and cropping etc. It is not pure enough for them and goes against their 'rules' and 'ideals'.  So then, I am not a pure street photographer...  oh well.  I do things my way.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Olympic Torch

I'll keep this one simple. 

Last week the Olympic Torch went right past my house. In keeping with the June and July weather to date, it was a wet and rainy day.  I hope the whole Olympics won't end up being held under rainy skys.  It was pretty convenient for me to be able to just step outside and watch the torch go by.

It was good to see everyone come out of their homes to watch this 'once in a lifetime event'. The torch was due to be run up the hill (and it is quite a hill) at around 8.45 am. Looking down the hill, I could see lots of umbrellas and cheerful onlookers all patiently waiting for the torch.

Looking up the hill, more locals all waiting along the side of the road. At the top of the hill, just out of sight, lies Colchester town center; where thousands of cheering public would be lining road, ten deep at least.

I could have taken many shots, close ups, artistic images etc...   but instead I just held up the Ricoh GRD3 and pressed the shutter.  So to add to all the other thousands of similar images of the Olympic Torch; here's mine.

Hooray...   (slightly underwhelmed by the whole occasion, but still pleased to have witnessed it)

Friday, 13 July 2012

The British Seaside

Here in the UK, June was the wettest June since records began. July has continued to be much the same. The British summer seems to be changing from the long hot happy summers of my childhood, into cooler rainy wash outs with tendancies to floods and storms. I used to feel that maybe these dull summers were just one offs; but they seem to be happening more often than not.

This July, there have been some serious rainfall in the county of Devon, better known as the 'English Riviera'.  Several rivers burst their banks, cars and houses were swept away or ruined, as a whole month of rain fell in one day.  So where did I decide to spend a week away this year?  Spain?  Italy?  Turkey?  Florida? 
Of course not.  I spent a week in Devon.

Rain....    Rain....    Rain....

Well of course it wasn't that bad all the time.  I enjoyed three very warm days, and one very hot sunny day. I think I made a good decision to head for the coast on the sunny day, and here are some images of a small rocky cove called Oddicombe Beach near the small coastal town of Babbacombe.  As you can see from the following images, it is a very small bay; and the tide was in for most of the morning. So most people sat around on the hard area waiting for the waves to roll away, while eating ice creams and sipping beers.

Ice cream in one hand, Ricoh GRD3 in the other; I took a few holiday snaps for my blog.

I have tried some different colour treatments on these images. The first three images have softened and slightly desaturated colours, with a tweak to the hue. I wanted to them to look a little 'painted' in the old post card way.


This next image has had a cross process effect, which gives it that 1960s-1970s feel, which is quite apt as Oddicombe Beach has not changed since those decades.

Here's a good old black and white conversion for this lovely old couple. Hello Gorgeous.

Just a little tweaking of contrast and sharpeness for this one. This life guard was making sure none of the old timers got into trouble during their surfing or kite boarding antics 

And just to prove that not everyone at the beach was in their sixties; here's a shot of some younger ladies heading for the beach.   Cross process filter with a touch of vignette.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

City of London - Part 3

I have recently been reappraising my work. I have often considered my images of people in the street, to be 'street photography'.  Now after reading countless websites, books and discussion forums, I have to say here and now that I am NOT a street photographer.  There are many amazing 'street photographers' out there, who take far more intelligent and artistic images. Their artwork involves meaning, thought provoking imagery, humour, amazing insight, and a whole deeper level of photography than my images.

Having recently been to a few exhibitions of street photography, I can now see that my images fall way short of the expected and acceptable level of photography within the street photography genre.  At first, I felt a little down hearted at the fact that my images are actually considered slightly clichéd and obvious. But I have since thought about this, and have realized that I like what I do. I may not be a 'street photographer', but I do take photographs in the street.

I was quite amused and shocked when I read the list of 10 street photography clichés at the brilliant Shutterfinger photography blog. I think I have fallen into many of those on the list. Maybe just owning a camera is a cliché in itself now.  I just can't win.  

My photographs are not just random snaps though. I do compose the vast majority of my photographs using the following criteria:
  • The background (on the most part) has to be interesting and have a connection to the main subject. This is down to the fact that I have as much interest in the surroundings and the area as the subject itself. This is the case whether it is a poor housing estate, a modern city environment, or a bustling market. 
  • The subject has to be reasonably interesting, and compliment the backdrop mentioned above. I like to capture a broad cross section of our society, and present them in an interesting and sometimes flattering way. I try to capture singles or pairs, sometimes more; but generally I avoid random crowd scenes. 
  • I like to get as close to the subject as possible. From 5 metres down to 1 metre if possible. I like a large depth of field and a wide angle to draw in the whole scene.  I am not a fan of DSLR isolated images, taken from a distance with a zoom lens.  
  • Other criteria may exist but are made up as I go along.

So there we are.  Although my images are NOT street photography, they ARE images of people in the street. I don't consider them to be street portraits though, as I have taken them candidly, and they are not really centred on the face.

I just love people, society and architecture.  I like the combination of place and person.

That is what I do, and that is what I will probably continue to do.

So anyway...

My rail journey into London terminates at Liverpool Street Station, which is in the heart of the financial district of London. The whole area is in a rate of rapid development, with new architecture rising up all around. I took all of these around the commercial and public spaces in the station's immediate vicinity.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Japanese Gardens & Temples - Part 4

Here's another bunch of images taken in Japan.  When I look through all my old images from my times in Japan, I still keep discovering more and more things with which I think I can create another blog post; although I don't want to scrape the bottom of the barrel of course.  Sometimes my photography blog isn't about photographic images per se; I also like to just present some interesting pictures that I have managed to capture.  Over the years I took many pictures from temples and gardens but the majority of them were not that great. This was mostly due to my lack of photography know-how at the time, which I hope has improved over the last two years. I really can't wait to go back again soon, and I will probably spend all my time wandering with a camera, (while my wife shops and visits all her friends and family). 

In every single garden or temple grounds, there are scattered many decorative lanterns, known as tōrō. Most commonly carved from stone, although sometimes in metal or even wood and paper; these lanterns originally were found only in buudhist temples. They slowly became common place in shinto shrines, and then eventually in private gardens. In some parts of Kyoto, they are absolutely everywhere.  I have always found them quite interesting, and rather photogenic. 

See also part 1, part 2, and part 3 for more of my Japanese Gardens & temples.