RECENTLY I WROTE:
- Dungeness at twilight
- Before I die…
- Borough Market and my old iPhone 4S
- The things you see in London…
- Filming with Gok Wan for NAT
- A photographer’s journey: Niall McDiarmid’s Crossing Paths
- Summer 2013 in pics, part 1
- In pictures: Surviving a thunderstorm in Kazimierz
- Aerial photographs of Heathrow Airport
- Adobe Lightroom 5 – five favourite video tutorials
MY MOBILE EYE:
Category Archives: photography
I was doing a bit of location scouting last weekend and ended up in Dungeness just before sunset. (That’s an achievement for me as I’ve been planning the Dungeness trip for ages and ended up there almost by accident.)
It was freezing cold and almost empty, which made the normally bleak landscape even bleaker. But also so much easier to explore. The only other people I saw had cameras and tripods with them and were as determined as I was to capture the beauty of the landscape on a freezing afternoon.
The images below were all taken with the fabulous Fuji X100s, handheld, with no flash.
All were retouched using Lightroom 5, and only one of them is an HDR image (pretty easy to work out which one). This was the first time I took a multiple exposure image with the Fuji and the result surprised me. Particularly when you consider the fact I didn’t use a tripod for this.
But anyway, back to Dungeness itself, I’m already planning my next trip there and need your help: what else is worth photographing/filming in the area apart from the power station, Derek Jarman’s over-photographed cottage and the lighthouse?
I’m not sure whether that’s pure street art or something else. I’m not even sure who did this or how long it’s been there.
I found this on a hoarding in front of a dilapidated house in Union Street, Southwark. Just several unfinished “Before I die….” sentences and hundreds of replies from people from all over the world. Many of them illegible, but the remaining ones prove that we all share a bunch of common and very similar wishes.
Apart from the occasional cock- and crack-related wishes (someone also wanted to collect enough bonds before their death), most of the remaining ones can be put into two broad categories.
Be happy. And be free.
And what’s your wish?
I spoke to Niall well over a year ago about doing a short video about his work. We initially wanted to release different video which we shot over a couple of weekends in early 2012. But in the summer of 2012 Niall thought it would be better to focus on Crossing Paths first, an idea I really loved as I had been a huge fan of his street portraits.
We ended up taking an impromptu trip to Portsmouth and then on to the Isle of Wight.
No rigs, sliders or steadicams. And no (official) script. (Yes, you can call it guerrilla filmmaking if you wish.) We hoped to replicate Niall’s walks which had previously yielded some great pics and all we really wanted was to meet some colourful characters who would not only make a good video, but also end up being Niall’s subjects. And we did.
Niall’s ability to spot interesting characters, start a conversation with them and convince them to pose for camera is probably what makes his Crossing Paths project so unique. And while not all people we met that day made it into the film – or the upcoming book – they all were happy to pose for Niall. With one exception – a rather innocent looking middle-aged man who seemed to be harbouring a dark secret, and who gave us both the creeps.
It was a fantastic experience and if you haven’t seen Niall’s images yet – where have you been?!
It’s been a good summer for photography of all kinds. There has been no single theme or focus, but there have been a few pictures I’ll always associate with the summer of 2013. Here’s a small selection.
This has for some reason become my most popular image on Flickr ever: taken in Hackney Wick during Hackney Wicked, a celebration of local artists and their studios. In the first 24 hours since I uploaded it to Flickr, the image was viewed 7500 times and favourited 337 times. Who knew old tyres were so popular.
And the second most popular one was this one:
Taken at the beginning of the summer in Chinatown where I spotted a brightly-dressed man with a pipe. A brief conversation revealed he was a Polish writer enjoying a short stay in London. I asked him to pose for me – which he reluctantly did – and this is probably my favourite images from that impromptu session.
The Polish theme continues as the next two images were taken in Krakow, during a short weekend break in this lovely and welcoming city with my friends.
These stairs led to our apartment and will always remind me of the magic of that place:
And this is where we took shelter during a sudden and violent thunderstorm, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Check out that post for more images from the Alchemia Cafe:
And now back to London.
This is King’s Boulevard – a pedestrianised street that connects Kings Cross and St Pancras with Goods Way. Largely still a building site, hence the leafy fence.
But summer is not over yet. I’ll be reminiscing more soon. Part 2 is on its way.
P.S. What’s your favourite?
Kazimierz, also known as the old Jewish quarter in Krakow, Poland, is an atmospheric district that acts as a counterbalance to the postcard-perfect old city centre, full of lovely venues but also swarming with endless weekend stag parties.
Kazimierz is old and crumbling. Such statement, I guess, generates a slightly different reaction from its residents than it does from the tourist who flock to the area labelling everything as ‘amazing’. Some things are amazing though. The people, the quiet streets and the numerous bars, galleries, restaurants and street markets filled with seasonal veg and fruit – as well as random knicknacks no one would ever buy – make this a unique place to explore.
I was looking in amazement at the numerous venues which weren’t even there last time I visited the area briefly some five years ago. It was a hot day and we had just started our exploration (having just spent an hour in a tea room which also doubles as an art gallery, and which looks like somebody’s old living loom, complete with ancient furniture and lace table covers) when we heard the first rumble of thunder.
We were just walking past the cult Kazimierz venue, the Alchemia Cafe, when it began to rain. Within minutes it was bucketing it down.The thunderstorm turned violent. And Alchemia Cafe was the only place where we could find shelter. And that’s where I took these. Completely unplanned, totally random, but turned out to be my favourite images from this trip to Krakow.
So let’s start with the rain…
Meanwhile, those who – like us – managed to find shelter inside the cavernous cafe, were chatting, listening to some quiet music and simply watching the spectacle outside…
…others were thinking and writing….
…while their dog waited patiently, also clearly fascinated by the downpour outside:
And while some chose the dry, dark, but very welcoming interior of Alchemia Cafe…
…there were also those who preferred to stay outside under the leaky awning:
I do love Kazimierz. Always full of surprises. Always fascinating.
And not a single stag party in sight.
Despite the recent controversy regarding its move to Creative Cloud (and CC’s pricing model), Adobe still produces a fantastic, stand-alone piece of software for photographers, called Lightroom.
It’s also part of the Creative Cloud, which is subscription-based, but the standalone-product is more than sufficient for most photographers and also – unlike CC – comes with a perpetual licence.
Lightroom has been my software of choice from the day it was originally released. I use it for cataloguing, archiving, tagging, selecting, enhancing and publishing my RAW files. I use it for jpgs too, but its real power lies in how it handles the RAW files.
I’ve been using Lightroom 5 beta for the past few months as every time Adobe updates the software I’m a bit sceptical about the ‘new’ features. Sometimes they are genuinely new features, but often just enhancements of the existing ones, which did not always justify the price tag.
The past versions of Lightroom – as good as they were – always seemed to lack some key features that came as standard with Photoshop. When Lightroom 5 beta – or more recently the full version – was released, I got really excited when I saw that some of the missing features were finally added. Plus we got some really cool extras which this time make the £60 upgrade price tag worth it. (It’s around £100 if you’ve never owned a copy of Lightroom before).
My favourite features in the latest version of Lightroom include:
- The Upright Tool, which allows you to straighten wonky images.
- Smart Previews – now you can work with images that are not present on the same drive where Lightroom is installed, even if that drive gets disconnected.
- The Advanced Healing Brush, which sounds like re-discovering the wheel if you’ve used Photoshop in the past, but the addition of this tool to LR5 means you don’t need to switch to Photoshop if you want to make some minor adjustments.
Adobe produced quite a few video tutorials to go with the release, here are five of my favourites:
Top 10 hidden gems:
Working with offline images using smart previews:
Moving between Lightroom 5 and Photoshop:
The new Upright Tool:
Enhancing isolated areas of an image:
There are many more official short tutorials on Lightoom 5′s official YouTube channel (39 at the time of writing).
Oh, ok, shoot me. But I couldn’t resist. From the same session as my previous post. Have a great weekend.
Yes, I know. Photographing Big Ben is dull as hell, but being an (imaginary) tourist doesn’t necessarily mean taking pictures of the same five landmarks.
Last week and the week before I spent some time in and around some of London’s tourist hotspots – Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, the Southbank and Regent St – trying to find examples of what I really love about street photography in a big city: those rare (are they rare? not rare enough?) moments when we’re on our own, detached from the crowds around us and removed (albeit not necessarily physically) from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Using just a single 35mm lens, here’s what I’ve captured. Have I succeeded? You be the judge.