What catches my eye – London Special

What catches my eye – London Special

I haven’t done a What Catches My Eye e-book since May. So, I thought I would produce one covering the trips I have made to London between June and November this year. It will be out sometime in the middle of December, free to download as per usual.

Here are a couple of images for you in the meantime…

Night photography

I love going out and shooting during the night. Is that a little weird? I don’t know. It’s certainly not the usual time that photographers focus on. Mostly, it’ll be the golden hour or blue hour that are the most popular times around the edges of the night. However, for those who have followed my little and infrequent blog for a while now, they will know that the night is one of my favourite times to shoot. 

I get a bit of a buzz about going out and shooting at night. I like shooting the streets in London, the hustle and bustle of people alongside the neon signs and shops makes for interesting scenes. Typically, I tend to focus on black and white images to emphasise the pervading blackness that is the night.

In my local vicinity, I have tended more recently to focus on the buildings and physical environment more than people. Mainly because Salisbury and its surrounding area has a vastly less dense population. I have been tending to shoot these images in colour, hand-held using a camera within in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). I could (and probably should) use a tripod, but the thought of setting up a camera on a tripod on a street at night doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like a way of drawing more attention towards myself than I would like. Thus, using a camera with IBIS works well for me (I can get around 1/4 second handheld, longer if I lean on something). 

Going out at night in the winter can be a somewhat odd and slightly dissociative experience. As the sun is setting around 4pm at the moment, it becomes dark soon afterwards. I was out the other night just after midnight (a quick trip to the local 24 hour Tesco to get some food for the next morning). There were a lot of people about, seemingly just milling around, and cars moving here and there. Even though it was after 12am, it felt like it was about 6pm. It was quite confusing. However, it was also quite relaxing and invigorating. Occasionally, I like to head out late at night to see what images I can get under the amber glare of the sodium lighting (more on this below).

Last month, I shot a project based on Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places book. The work has been done, the e-book edited and the postscript in its final drafting. It’s not the sort of work that I usually do, but it was very enjoyable. There will be a handmade book as well, because the project was designed around the premise of it being presented in a physical book format. In short, that project is almost finished now.

This month, I have started to look for parts of the town that are still under the garish gaze of sodium lighting. Unsurprisingly, the project is called Sodium. I will blog more about this project a little later, but the main thrust of the project is to document the disappearing sodium lighting that has made up our familiar experience of the night in towns and cities for the last 40 or so years. The trend is to replace the old orange sodium lights with more energy-efficient LED lighting. However, here is an image from the project that is currently under way. 

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There will probably be the usual free e-books available for The Wild Places project, Sodium and another What Catches My Eye e-book is being planned. I need to try to get a better system for displaying the e-books as there are a few now dotted throughout the blog. Maybe a new page on the main menu? The originals are made in Adobe InDesign exported in Epub format, which reads better than the pdf format I end up using for the blog. I will try to set it up so people can get the better viewing experience, but I haven’t found a way yet to do so with WordPress. I hope you all keep well until the next time.

Snow, snow, snow

Today was pretty rough for the weather, but good for photography. I started out in Rinsey taking some video footage, but as I was leaving the weather turned. The car got caught in the snow, so I had to leave it. Hopefully, I can get it back tomorrow (or the day after, as I hear Thursday is going to be worse).

It’s not common to get snow this heavy in Cornwall. The last time I saw it this bad was back in early 2010. I hope it clears away soon, as I need to do a visit and then get back to my family! Anyway, enjoy the images of snowy Porthleven.

London nights

Late last week I went back to London as part of my work, which was quite nice as it was our Christmas lunch. Seemed early to me, but afterwards I noticed we were not the only ones doing work do’s in November as there were a fair few people wearing antlers, Santa hats and such like in various restaurants dotted around town.

After we finished for the afternoon, I took a meandering walk back to the train station. This usually gives me an hour or two for doing some street photography. This time, I also took some video clips whilst I wandering around.

To be honest, I don’t really know what I am doing with video at the moment – it’s very new to me. I set the camera up to record in a couple of different formats: 4K (24fps), 1080p (24 and 120fps). I also set it up to record in black and white. I am just trying to get my head around it all at the moment!

I reasoned that as I do much of my night street photography in monochrome, I would do the video that way too. I probably should have shot it in colour and converted it to monochrome later, as well as flattened the picture profile. Neither my Canon or Sony have log formats (yet, for the canon), so I need to do the workaround that other people do to get a flatter profile for later grading. The footage looks quite murky and grainy, so I need to set the camera up better – and use a faster lens to reduce the ISO rating.

YouTube has been great for working out what to do here, especially the Travel Feels and Peter McKinnon channels. I will post up some videos once I know what I am doing. But, this is still someway off at the moment. It should add an extra dimension to the website, let alone my practice. I like the idea of taking street photography into another place as well as the more usual photography.

I also used some of the time to take some street shots. I have recently had a significant camera kit sell off. Stuff that I don’t use or don’t need has gone. What remains is a more streamlined kit that better suits my needs for street, family and landscape photography. As part of the move, I bought a Sony A9. It’s mainly for street photography, due to the silent shutter, excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF) and very wide area fast autofocus (AF). I am finding that with this camera it’s very responsive, much more than the Fuji’s I had. I tend to shoot much more from the hip with this camera, and I can totally trust it to wake up, lock on, and get a sharp picture on most occasions.

Out and about at night, again

The carnival was out in town tonight. I didn’t get a lot of time to shoot, mainly as I had taken my youngest daughter with me to see it, so I just managed to get a few images in the end. It was nice and busy though in town, so on another occasion it would have made for some good photo opportunities.

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Smoking a fag

I do like it now that the evenings are drawing in (although, like most people in a few months I will have had enough of the dark by then). Night street photography is my favourite time to shoot as I love the black that pervades the images.

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