I am in the process of doing the Magnum The Art of Street Photography course. I thought when I started that I would be able go through it quite quickly but it has proved a bit more difficult than I thought. Winter in the UK meant that there weren’t many events happening and then just when I thought I could visit some events in London the corona virus outbreak put paid to that.
Episode 6 is about photographing people, which is one of the difficulties you have to get over if you want to do Street Photography, and not everyone is comfortable with taking candid shots of people. Peter van Agtmael however was correct in his assesment as to why we want to photograph people, in that their expressions and gestures are infinite and interesting.
I couldn’t complete the two assignments exactly. One being to take Street Portraits set by Peter van Agtmael and the other set by Carolyn Drake which is to get to know your subjects of portraits. That we would require me to probably spend more time getting to know the subjects than I was prepared to do on a limited time visit.
On a 7 day city break though I could address some of the issues of getting close to the subjects and making photographs of people doing real things and putting them in place in that rectangle we call the viewfinder. Istanbul being a busy, multi-cultural city proved to be an ideal location.
I used my Panasonic Lumix GX8 with either a 25mm f1.4 (50mm equiv) or my 17mm f1.8 (34mm equiv) lenses. The fully articulated screen on the GX8 proved useful for some low level portrait format shots where people were unaware that I was photographing them, especially as I had turned it to ‘quiet’ mode. I also had my 7.5mm fisheye lens but that is for another blog post on the subject of mosque interiors.
Although some areas of Istanbul were a bit quiet, the quayside at Eminonu which is the gateway to the Golden Horn, a flooded river valley which flows south west into the Bosphorous, was a great place for people and Street Photography.
The other area was a walk down from Taksim Square along Istikal Cadessi in an area known as Beyoglu which is a pedestrianised street of modern shops and embassy buildings along where the funicular runs. It is a great place for close-up photography as it’s so busy you hardly get noticed.
Istanbul is a great place for Street Photography and a place I would like to return to. The people are very friendly and don’t mind being photographed and there are some great characters in the bazaars, maybe a subject of another blog!
Born in the 1930s Saul Leiter began by training as a Rabbi. He then followed this with a career as a Painter to be followed by a career as a Photographer.
His main body of work was in black and white which was the norm in those days. He was a very humble character who never sought fame but carried out his career in fashion and journalism whilst later on, in the early sixties, doing a personal body of work in colour.
He experimented with using out-of-date film and even film that had been damaged by being stored at too high temperature. The idea being to see how it would alter the colour balance of the results. He never sought fame and it is only in recent years that his early colour work has been recognised for what it is.
My own experience in following the Street Photography genre has been to follow the early photographers like Henri cartier Bresson and Brassai and their ilke and using black and white.
Having seen Leiter’s work with colour though it’s got me to appreciate how the extra dimension of colour can be used to enhance the results. I particulary like Leiter’s photographs where he uses windows, often dripping with condensation, to frame his photos and enhance with reflections and colour to give a layered effect.
I’ve recently been doing a series called ‘Through a window’ trying emulate the style of Saul Leiter. Not always easy to get the condensation effect without being somewhere where it is very cold. However the layered effect can still be achieved with the glass of the window to give the reflections of inside/outside.
Most of my attempts at emulating this style have been using the digital camera which is handy when photographing late afternoon with the dying light. I did though try to get really retro and use colour film. Very difficult to do with only 200 asa film in dying light. It certainly makes you appreciate the skill Leiter used.
One of the problems is that I live in a small town so subject matter is a bit scarce. I’ll have to get myself into London late afternoon for a wander round.
Look out for part II as I’m going to persevere with this. I’ve even got some 400 asa film on the way and will try that with my SLR with its f1.4 prime lens.
I need help! I know, I know, a good friend said to me “don’t start getting interested in those little gem of cameras manufactured by the West German company Voigtlander. But did I listen?, NO!
Anyway, I thought I was fighting it but didn’t realise how fast the addiction takes hold of you. I just clicked on the ebay app and ‘Damn’ it was still set for the search for the ‘V’ word, and there they were, a pair of Voigtlander Bs.
As we all know, it’s better to get a pair of something, right! think of a pair of Purdey shotguns, or a pair of shoes, well maybe that’s not a good example. Anyway there they were on the page staring back at me and they didn’t need bidding on as they were ‘Buy now’. That dreaded term ‘Buy now’ as if you can’t resist. But, I did resist for a couple of days, I think in the hope that someone else would ‘Buy now’ and leave me free to a normal life without the ‘V’ (see I can’t even say the full word, in case the affliction takes hold). So, eventually I did buy the pair of Vito Bs which I didn’t think were overpriced as the seller said they both worked and one had a very nice brown leather case with it.
The next stage is to put film through them so we’re all set to go for a photography outing which has been put on hold for the stormy weather to pass as I don’t think these little jobies will stand getting a soaking.
At age 20 I had a healthy interest in photography but not a very healthy bank balance. I had been shooting for a while with a 35mm SLR, a Russian made Zenith fitted with an f2 Helios lens. I did however have a desire to obtain a twin lens reflex camera to try out the bigger negative size.
I can’t remember exactly how or where I got it from but I did acquire a Yashica-24, probably because that camera was somewhat cheaper than the more desirable Rolleiflex. After around 20 years and 4 house moves later the camera resurfaced in the loft during some buidling work to convert the loft. I decided I wasn’t going to use the camera anymore as we were all digital now and no one is going to use film again, right? So, I gave it to a friend of mine who had a bit of a camera museum at home and he could display it on one of his shelves.
Jumping forward another 28 years and the present time and after retirement saw me rekindle my interest in some serious photography, I also started to get interested once again in the old film cameras. In the present climate of interest once again in film I thought it would be good to see if my friend still had the old Yashica, and there it was, still sitting on his shelf. As he had two examples of the same camera I asked if I could reclaim it, which he was happy to do.
Imagine my surprise though at finding it still had a film in it. My friend hadn’t used it so it must be one of mine from at least 25 years ago. I had started to develop my own film again and imagine the excitement of processing this old film to see what the images contained?
Some of the film had deteriorated around the edges but it still had some of the images which showed a steam train which had visited our location station those years ago. It’s amazing that there is anything still there at all.
I must soon get to take it out to see how it is still working.
Up at 5 this morning. Taxi booked for 06:30. A chilly morning. Caught the 06.49 from Bishops Stortford to Tottenham Hale.
Bloody silly ticket doesn’t work. This happens so much these days with the automatic barriers. I got told off by a rail man for just using my body weight to force through one of the barriers.
07:40 and sitting in St Pancras station at a Pret having coffee. Still got nearly 2 hours before we depart.
12:40 and just arriving in Paris. Reading the news it seems the French rail workers are on strike in some areas. Just hoping it doesn’t affect our journey through Paris to Gare de Lyon for our onward journey.
Disembarked Eurostar and found our way to line D metro in the direction of Melun. It would seem that the strikes have hit this line as there is a 44 minute wait for the next train.
We eventually get to gare du Lyon after a 7 minute metro ride. Our tickets still don’t let us out through the barriers. I’m wondering if we should have validated them somewhere. Haven’t seen a machine though. Liz panicked us by looking at the out of date information which had us departing at 14:19 which only gave us a couple of minutes. Panic over though when we looked at the actual tickets which show we still have an hour and half before we depart.
It turns out that was the wrong location. We had to go upstairs to Hall 2 for the departure.
19:30 and we’ve arrived at the Best Western Galice. We tried looking for the bus stop at the station but could only see a bus to the airport and not one for the Aix old town in the dark. It had been a long day and we decided to splash out €40 on a cab to the hotel.
That’s it. Were settled in. Time for a beer or two!
Elsecar Heritage Centre is a collection of buildings in Barnsley which are now of listed building status of historical architectural heritage. Now a collection of shops and craft workshops, they were originally built to support the adjacent mine workings, ironworks and railway. Built in 1850, they were reopened in 1987 in their present guise.
The mine workings in this area were some of the deepest in the area. To access the deep workings required the installation of this beam engine to extract the water. It ran from 1795 to 1923 and is now the oldest example of a beam engine in the country that is still situated in it’s original position. It can now only be operated with the assistance of a hydraulic pump due to the dilapidated state of its steam powered engine.
Day 5. Today we are leaving Karatu and heading to the Serengeti National Park.
We started to drive down from the high ground around the crater and descended to the flat lands of the Serengeti plains. On the way we passed some more Maasai villages.
We arrived at our next accommodation which is a tent on the Serengeti plains. A very luxurious tent though with an en-suite toilet and shower. The shower though was a bag hoisted up a pole behind the tent. You had to ask for the water to be delivered as it had to be heated over the fire first. We also had to have a shower whilst it was still light as no one was allowed to wander through the camp after dark as there were many wild animals around.
Day 6. Start of our early morning game drives.
We stopped at this point to watch a pride of lions. They had a wildebeest kill and they were guarding it from the prowling hyenas in the background that wanted to steal it from them.
The lions would get up and move around but always leave two lions guarding their kill.
Our next sighting was these two cheetahs which had obviously just fed.
The cheetah fare very well in these large open plains which suits their high speed hunting style.
We came upon a rather shallow pond and was amazed to see a hippo had taken up residence. He was even so obliging that he gave us a yawn.
Blakenham Woodland Garden is situated in Suffolk near Ipswich. We went on a visit with our U3A Garden Group yesterday. A great time of year for flowers.
The morning started with coffee and tea with home made cakes in the barn followed by a walk round the woodland then on to the kitchen garden.
After the visit to the house a few of us went off to the Butt and Oyster pub in Pin Mill for a very nice lunch which was followed by a walk along the river Orwell foreshore.
John Hare, MP for Sudbury and Woodbridge bought the wooded hill next to his house in 1951. Unusually for the area, which is surrounded by old chalk pits, the soil in the wood is green sand which allowed him to plant all kinds of acid loving plants like azaleas,rhododendrons and magnolias.
When he left politics in 1982 John Hare became Viscount Blakenham and Treasurer of the R.H.S.
When John Blakenham died in 1982 the garden was made into a charitable trust in order to ensure the survival of his remarkable collection.