The English Riviera

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.)

Gift Shop and shopper.

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.

Grand Central bar and Cafe.

More from the street

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.

Students near the cathedral.

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.

Moroccan chef at indoor market.

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.

Just let things happen.

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.

People at work

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).

Jo’s Blog of the day

It was minus 6 degrees here on Dartmoor. My little dog (Ella) stepped from the car on to the snow and almost disappeared! The light was fantastic, the air was crisp and all sounds were muted. I had tried to get to Haytor but this was the nearest I got. Haytor was about 3.5 miles away but I’d already passed too many vehicles that had gotten stuck and didn’t want to run out of luck.

A fuji 10mm-24mm lens was used at the 10mm end on a Fuji XT2 mirrorless camera.

Jo’s Blog of the day

Slightly abstract image here. Made up of three different textures. Concrete, water and sand. The colours and contrast have been exaggerated massively to create more impact. The shot was made looking downwards from a seaside carpark (lower left of frame) into the water (middle of frame) with the submerged boat ramp on the right side of the frame. I think though that  knowing this makes the picture less interesting.

Jo’s Blog of the day

On my way back home from a trip on to Dartmoor I turned a corner to see the South Devon lower fields lit up by the sun. The contrast between the snow covered fields and the dark wintery hedgerows and trees looked fabulous. The light gave the landscape a ‘graphic’ two dimensional quality that I thought a monotone approach would suit.

The image was taken on a fairly long range telephoto lens at the 400mm end (equivalent to about 600mm on a 35mm full frame camera)

JO’s Blog of the day

A lot of people ask, what is the best camera? The answer has to be,the one you’ve got with you. Nowadays theres so many many ways to capture interesting images. Sports cameras , mobile phones, Go Pro’s and of course conventional digital and analogue cameras.

This image was taken using my old Go Pro camera in a waterproof housing. I set it take rapid fire stills images. Placed on a cheap little tripod in-between the rocks. As the waves came down the gulley the camera fired maybe about 50 images. This was my favourite.

It’s not what you could call an ‘intelligent’ image. I didn’t really frame it, set exposure values or focus it, but it captured the effect I was looking for. It can be fun to experiment even if thing go wrong. The point here is I wouldn’t have risked placing an expensive camera and lens so close to this fast flowing salt water full of tiny stones, sand and rocks.