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.
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 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.