I normally carry a camera when visiting Totnes as there’s always so many interesting characters to see. The town used to have a large student population (that is many students as opposed to large students) but since Dartington Hall closed its doors in 2010 they have all disappeared. However the town still retains its quirky character and holds on fiercely to it’s independence from the major, national retailers. It boasts a lively and regular market and there’s always lots of ‘artistic’ events going on. It has a bit of an eccentric but happy vibe.
There’s always an array of music buskers as well as occasionally Poetry and drama buskers. It’s not very often you can see and hear a Hurdy Gurdy busker. This sounded fab btw.
Pictured above are shoppers, friends relaxing over a coffee, shop owners and workers and even a ‘Hairy Barista’ that’s the owner and the name of his coffee shop. If you’re ever in the area have a stroll around and if you can, make a market day it’d be even better.
All of the following images were taken with my X100f Fuji camera in Bristol. I’d just come back from a trip to Glasgow and had a fantastic time there. I’d taken my X100f with me but to be honest I was quite disappointed with the results i.e I’d got too many failures. I was with my wife, brother and sister in law so perhaps I hadn’t considered accurately what I was trying to achieve photographically. I’m not saying that you can’t use the X100f as a point and shoot camera but at the end of the day a camera is just a machine and not intelligent. So spurred on by my dismal results I headed out to Bristol from my home in South Wales for a few hours of more careful shooting.
I’d decided to change a few things, firstly to shoot primarily in B&W (Acros Red) with RAW for Back up and more importantly to take much more care with my exposures, focusing and composition. I think that I see things differently when shooting in B&W significantly in terms of shapes/patterns and contrast. I also made the decision to shoot mostly in manual mode. In Glasgow I’d used various types of auto or semi-auto modes. I think this last decision has proved to be the most important.
The lighting in both cities was similar, very bright and high contrast. In Bristol I took much more care with highlights. I find that exposing for highlights is preferable mostly. I find that shadow detail is often much easier to recover in most circumstances.
99% of the time I never ask permission to take a photograph but for the photograph above I did ask, mainly because I received such a terrible frown from this lady I thought it only polite to ask. She was lovely and agreed straight away. I felt obliged to try her Goat Curry which was delicious.
Outside of the market I choose not to fight the contrasty light but rather to exaggerate its effect. You just have to think in simple terms of light and shadow.
Here’s a fun idea to try with any camera that allows you access to slow shutter speeds. The idea is simple and that is to choose a slow shutter speed, typically slower than 1/4 second and to deliberately move the camera whist firing the shutter. Bright light sources usually work well as they really show the movement. The results are only partly predictable but that can make it fun. If your camera allows it, also try a double exposure as in the image above. The middle part of this image had no movement and was the first in the double exposure sequence. For the secondary or double exposure the camera was moved.
All the images in this post featured the same set of small LED type Christmas lights. The difference in colour tone and feel was due to under or over exposure as well as post production in Lightoom. Typically contrast, saturation , black point and highlight values were changed to get the required result…… basically just messing around. They can make for interesting and abstract type images and can be great to print or simply use as a PC screensaver.
This image was a snapped on a recent trip to Cardiff. It’s a simple shot showing a woman having her nails painted. There was something about the closeness and calmness of the scene that struck me, almost intimate in nature. Taken through a window in one of Cardiff’s many arcades. It’s certainly not the greatest documentary shot ever but that’s not the point. It’s just one of those many interesting scenes that we can see on any day but caught in a single passing moment.
Technical stuff – I used a Ricoh GR111 compact camera that was set up with a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 sec at F5.6, using touch screen to focus and take the shot. I’d previously set the camera to be reasonably near correct exposure values. This allowed me to concentrate more on framing the image. The image was taken whilst walking without stopping.
I popped down to Cardiff this week (Early October 2019) to shoot some street images. Half of the fun of ‘Street’ is that you never know what you’ll find. The above image was taken in the first five minutes. Recently I’ve been using the Ricoh GR111 camera with its 18mm lens (28mm equivalent on 35mm cameras). It’s a fantastic camera and very small and discreet and once setup properly is easy to use. One of the things to remember when using it though is that because of the wide angle often you need to be very close to your subject. This can bring it’s own difficulties as well as rewards. I decided on this particular outing to go back to my trusty Fuji X100f. This camera has a 23mm fixed lens (equivalent to 35mm on a 35mm full frame camera). Many people say that this particular focal length is very similar to our natural eye. It yields a very natural look and allows the photographer to be a little more distant from the subject.
Having the correct settings can obviously have an effect regarding successful shots. Being near the correct exposure is important, setting the exposure triangle so you’re fairly near the correct values. I discovered that setting the shutter speed to a minimum of 250th second has resulted in less missed shots due to camera shake or subject movement. Fast autofocus is a must but the next time I’m out I’ll try going fully manual including focus. Below are a few more shots taken during my 2 hour session.
I lived here for a year during the mid 70’s. It’s a vibrant town that has been known as the Blackpool of the South. The Amusement arcades are still there with their promise of ‘get rich quick’. The cafe’s, pubs, fish and chip takeaways as well as a plethora of gift shops that sell anything and everything are still there too.
These images are some of many taken during an intensive day of ‘street’ shooting in Paignton during the summer of 2019. Paignton is one of the towns that the English tourist board describe as The English Riviera, the term basically includes the areas of Torbay (Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.)
The demographic includes seasonal workers, holiday makers, entertainers and of course the locals. The Main Street is always buzzing and full of fascinating characters. Even though it’s more than 40 years since I lived there, very little has changed. In fact it’s almost like going back in time.
I don’t know why but I keep coming back to ‘Street Photography’ as one of my favourite photographic activities. I guess it’s possibly to do with the unpredictability of the subjects and scenes that you’re likely to encounter on any jaunt. I still find it uncomfortable to point my camera at people I don’t know and take the shot. Needless to say I consider my success rate quite low but when the technical and artistic sides come together you can end up with a very satisfying image.
Being in the right place at the right time isn’t enough. Composition, exposure, focus are just a few of the things that need to be correct and in an instant too. Pre planning can sometimes help such as shooting at an appropriate aperture to give enough depth of field. The same goes for shutter speed and sensor sensitivity (ISO). The thing is that even when all of that is good, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up with an interesting image.
The question of ‘What makes a good image?’ is a difficult one to answer. For me the answer is not just that the image should be able to tell a story but there should be enough information for the image to ‘stand up on its own’.
Where the subject is in the frame, the things that surround the subject, the location, clothing and background objects are all really important in a successful image and can help lead the viewer to come to his/her own conclusions. Lastly the image should have a good aesthetic, whilst this is subjective it should mean that even if the subject/topic of your image may be considered ugly its not impossible for the photograph to look good.
This street shot was taken in Cardiff a few weeks ago. I have to say from the start that I find ‘Street’ photography both challenging and rewarding. To my mind, my favourite images are where the photographer doesn’t ask permission for the shot. In this particular instance, I knelt low to the ground and simply allowed people to enter my frame. I’d pre-focused on the place where I. estimated my subjects to be and gave myself a healthy F8 or so to give latitude for error regarding depth of field.
When permission is asked for (and if granted) the results are always different and often, (although not always) quite as good. The subject will either pose or be given a pose. Which to my mind makes the image look slightly unnatural and staged. The image below is an example of an image taken a few minutes later of a market stall vendor whose permission I asked.
I like this image but not nearly as much as the candid shots.
This image was taken through a shop window in Brescia in the North of Italy. It would’ve been so easy to walk by and not notice the scene. I’ve titled this blog ‘People at work’ but really its a bit more than that in as much as its also people in their work environment. In this instance there’s the dynamic between the workers on one side of the counter and the customers on the other. I choose to shoot in colour as it added to the natural warmth that I associate wth cooking pizza, breads and cakes. There’s a small detail that amuses me too, and thats the couple at the far end of the shop in matching stripy T Shirts. (very cute).