So, here we are at day 3 of our trip to Aix en Provence. Today proves to be rather wet. A good opportunity for us photographers however to get some photographs with reflections.
A few days in Provence. Day 1
Day 1 Friday
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 Liz panicked us by looking at the out of date information which had us departing at 14:19 which only gave us a couple of minutes.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!
A day in Elsecar and another film camera purchase.
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.
London City, Rooftop Garden and City Hall photography walk.
MAY. 10, 2019
This was a walk planned to visit the recently opened rooftop garden at No 120 Fenchurch Street, London with members of Bishops Stortford Camera Club.
I had been notified of this new venue by a blog called ‘Look up London’ back in February but thought I’d wait until the weather improved. The day before the planned outing almost proved me wrong with storms and torrential rain However, I’m not put off easily by a bit of good old British inclement weather so went ahead with the trip anyway.
Just as we arrived at No 120 it started to rain but we did manage to get some lunch at Pret in Fen Court. Under cover and with everyone walking through with umbrellas up it proved to be a good opportunity for some street photography. I’d set a couple of assignments for the group, one of them being ‘Gestures in Street Photography’ so this proved to be an ideal time to get some shots.
After a while we did manage to get to the 15th floor and take some photographs before another black cloud came over and it rained again.
After around 20 minutes we decided to get some refreshment in the pub across the road and wait for the rain to stop.
One drink later we continued on down to London Bridge. Along the way we went into St Olave’s Church, founded in the 11th century it is one of the few medieval churches that survived the Great Fire of London.
Walking down Old Billingsgate Walk we went along the footpath on the north shore of the Thames and just before London Bridge there is a very good spot to photograph the Shard across the river with a triangular piece of art work in the foreground.
Crossing London Bridge we went for coffee before proceeding along the Southbank to the area surrounding City Hall. There are great views across the river and back to the Shard as well as City Hall itself.
On past Tower Bridge is an area known as Shad Thames, one of the Victorian era’s largest warehouse complexes. Here were tea, coffee, dried fruit and spice warehouses which are now apartments. It was known as the ‘larder of London’ and you can still see the overhead gantries which connected the warehouses today.
Turning back on ourselves we then went over Tower Bridge to end our walk at The Minories pub which is built in one of the old railway tunnels. You can sit having a drink whilst listening to the rumble of the trains going overhead.
Some night photography in Victorian London.
The collection of streets known as Roupell Street, Theed Street, Whittlesley Street, Cornwall Road and Windmill Walk are all situated in the north east corner of the London Borough of Lambeth. They constitute the Roupell Street Conservation Area and are a collection of Victorian terraces just south of the River Thames.
These streets have survived the march of time and the efforts of developers to be one of London’s time capsules of architecture in a modern city.
They have been used for TV for some episodes of Mr Selfridge and Call the Midwife to name a few.
I wanted to do some photography round this area to capture the character of these streets with the lamps lit at night. It is quite a good area for photography as there doesn’t seem to be too many cars parked around some of the streets, unlike some other areas
It certainly makes a nice change from the ultra modern architecture of The City and Canary Wharf and the Brutalist style of architecture around the Barbican.
A Reflection on Street Photography
JUNE. 21, 2019
So, what is street photography? To the novice photographer trying out this genre it may seem just being in the street and taking photos. The more you get into this fascinating area of photography though, the more you realise how difficult it can be to take photos that elevate your work above just a street view.
Street Photography doesn’t even need to be in the street but can be in other locations such as industrial sites and things such as a ferry as shown in the photo below taken on the car deck of a ferry.
People in the street
One of the first questions one has is, should there be people in the shot? There are differing opinions on this but I think just taking the street is more of a ‘street scene’ rather than ‘Street Photography’ and to be street photography requires a person, or people to be in the shot. This adds another element to the shot and often requires you to arrive at a suitable location but then have to wait for a suitable person to walk into the shot.
One of the difficult aspects of Street Photography with people is getting over photographing people candidly which can often get some negative response from the subject. You can, of course, ask permission but I feel you’ve lost the spontaneity of the moment as soon as someone knows they are being photographed and then start to pose.
But is photographing people just walking along the street enough? I think not if you want to take your photography to another level. You can improve by looking for people doing something special or out of the ordinary. By catching a gesture, whether it’s a hand gesture, a turn of the head, or maybe just a look out of the frame that makes you wonder, what is going on?. It can also mean the position of the legs which indicate movement or that people are running at full stride to indicate some urgency in their journey.
Figure to Ground
In art classes they teach something called ‘Figure to Ground’. Its how to make your main subject or figure stand out by putting a light subject against a dark background, or vice versa. In photography it’s more difficult to achieve as we don’t have the option of creating our own backgrounds. We have to go out and find a suitable background to work with.
The best way of achieving this impact of contrast is to find a suitable spot where the sunlight is shining across a building with a shadow in the background. The shaft of sunlight illuminates the subject which is in contrast against the dark shadow background.
To get good results though means having to fool the camera’s light meter into seeing only that part of the photo that is important to you, being the area of the highlight. The camera’s light meter will try to just expose the whole view as varying shades of grey and the image will lack punch. You can achieve a good exposure by setting the camera to spot metering or using the exposure compensation adjustment on your camera. It can, in some cases, mean underexposing for up to 3 stops. You should then end up with a well exposed highlight area with dense dramatic shadow areas.
Areas of contrasting colour can also be used to emphasise the main subject. Sometimes just pushing up the saturation and clarity of the photo can make a photo pop.
How much should we blur the background using a larger aperture? I think it’s important to set the subject in the environment. If you completely blur the background then there is no indication of where it is.
The most important thing though is to get out there and practice. Be patient, learn from your mistakes and don’t expect to come home with lots of perfect shots.
Chasing shadows in Saffron Walden.
DECEMBER. 03, 2019
Monday 2nd Dec 2019 – A cold start to today with temperatures just above freezing. A nice clear blue sky though which bode well for some high contrast photography. I decided to take a drive up to Saffron Walden in Essex, a nice town just north of where I live.
I thought I’d try capturing some street photography with people walking through shafts of light which should be achievable with the low sun at this time of year.
Just to make it a bit different I also thought I’d use one of my old film camera lenses on my Lumix GX8 so I would be using manual focus. The lens I used was a 35mm which gives an equivalent on 35mm of 70mm, f2.8 Olympus OM series.
A suitable shaft of light.
One of my Olympus film cameras was still loaded with Ilford HP5 rated to 800 ASA so I thought I’d take that with me too.
After taking a few shots on the digital around the Cross keys pub where I found some suitable lighting I ventured on up to the Old Sun Inn and St Marys church.
Some great light inside the church.
After taking a few shots my battery gave out on the GX8 and annoyingly, the battery that should have been charged wasn’t.
I thought that was a good opportunity to use the film camera so started shooting with that. After some shots the normal click – clunk of the mirror and shutter just went click. That meant that the mirror was stuck up, normally caused by not enough battery power. So, I thought ‘time for a coffee break’ whilst I changed the batteries in the OM40.
The Old Sun Inn.
With me and the camera refreshed I then went over to the older streets of Saffron Walden to finish off the film before returning home.
35mm Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ASA.
35 mm Ilford HP5 rated at 800 ASA.
Royal Victoria Docks , London
Friday 13th December 2019
My target photography subject was the Millennium Mills situated on the south side of the Royal Victoria Docks in London.
I had seen this vaste, derelict building before when on a photography club outing to photograph Canary Wharf and wondered if there would be any possibility to get any closer. This was constructed as a flour mill in 1905 in Silvertown in East London.
Starting off on the 10:13 train to Stratford we change at Harlow Town for the fast train into London Liverpool Street. Liz exits the train at Tottenham Hale to go for lunch with some friends whilst I continue on to Liverpool street.
Not sure where I’m going to end up for the whole day but but have it in mind to go on the DLR to Royal Victoria Docks for some photography then proceed along the Southbank.
The plan is to walk over the elevated walkway to the south side. I want to attempt to get some photos of the dilapidated Millennium Mills building.
Moving across the elvated walkway I took some photos of the Millennium Mills and then continued across to see if I could access the area any closer.
The mill converted imported grain into flour for the domestic market. The mills were named after their most famous product; Millennium Flour which won the Miller Challenge Cup in 1899 at the International Bakers Exhibition.
In 1917 a nearby munitions factory exploded and devastated the factory. 73 people died.
In 1920 the company, Spillers took over the factory to produce dog biscuits. In 1933 they had the building rebuilt in the current art deco style. The building suffered during the blitz and has since had various projects proposed but remains empty.
It would make a great dereliction subject but as always, it’s virtually impossible to get close enough. I have seen various photographs of the inside on some Urbex sites but they were taken a few years ago. I’m guessing that they have since upgraded the fencing around the site as the only thing I managed to do was to poke the camera through the fence to get some photos.
Giving up trying to get any closer to the old mill building I carried on round the southern side of the dock planning to return to the tube at Canning Town. I then had the bright idea of crossing the dock on the Emirates Airline cable car.
What I didn’t consider was that the wind was blowing very hard and gusting quite wildly. It turned out to be more like a fairground ride!
From Greenwich I caught the tube to Southwark where I found a nice little pub called The Ring, with a boxing theme, for some lunch.
At this point Liz rang my mobile to say she had finished her luncheon with her friends so we agreed to meet up at Green Park tube station.
We finished off the day by a walk round to Carnaby Street for some Christmas lights.