CCTV

Whilst reading about CCTV, I found lots of different statistics none of which I expect to be accurate. I guess there's no real way of working out if they are or not. For instance, in London there are supposedly 422,000 cameras and on average you are likely to be captured on CCTV 300 times a day. When I hear this it reminds me of George Orwell's classic book 1984, wherein we are told: 'Big Brother is watching you'. This is so true that this is now a well known TV show. People then somehow make careers from that - strange again.

cctv camera.jpg

The 'telescreen' system that is mentioned in 1984 is an announcement and surveillance system. It is used by the ruling party and continuously monitored by the Thought Police. The telescreens also provide party propaganda.  The current CCTV's we have don't really give out information just take instead. There are many other ways propaganda is fed to us now so no need to worry there! With all this in mind BBC Culture wrote a great article on the way 1984 could actually be now.

cctv - 2.jpg

Finally the 3 images in this post are cameras that I have designed in Adobe Illustrator. From looking at photos online I created the images and added my favourite coloured gradients.

cctv - 3..jpg

Brutal and Dark architectual street photography

Street Photography - The Dark Side

A part of street photography that I enjoy capturing is often the surrounding architecture. In the case of the images below they show the brutalism and have a simple feeling of darkness to them. Two of them were captured in London and the other in Oslo, Norway. All 3 pictures have been edited in Adobe Lightroom, I used a preset (that I made) as a starting point and then worked around to see what I liked the look of. A key part of the edits was adding radial filters, these made light pop out and in some cases darken specific areas. Apart from the filters all of the other adjustments were done within the 'Basic' edits section of Lightroom.

Looking at these images I could have done a before and after but I'll let you think about what they could have been before. 

Brighton - Street Photography

London to Brighton

The train departed London Bridge station at 10.12, Matt was hungover but I felt fine. We were on our way to Brighton for a day out and some street photography. As we watched South London pass by I ate a tuna and cucumber baguette from Pret whilst Matt tried to put himself back together. A little over an hour later we had arrived in Brighton, we were welcomed by a clear blue sky and sunbathing temperatures. These conditions whilst they're nice to walk around in are not good for photos. I prefer the overcast damp and dreary look and feel.

Brighton - West Pier

We headed straight for the beach. I'd only been to Brighton once before back in 2010 for a day trip (I got an impulsive tattoo that day - thankfully I don't regret it). We walked a long the stoney beach snapping away. With it being a Friday the streets were a good level of busy, meaning there was enough space to photograph.

chilling on the beach

We just had to find the subject, background and something of interest. 

Brighton's stoney beach

Walking on a stoney beach in 25 degree heat is actually pretty tiresome so we retired to sea facing cafe. Matt had fish and chips, I had a refreshing pint of cider. I tried to look at my photos but the sun was too harsh and bright - so I couldn't see the screen properly.

British Airways i360

We were both shooting digital - Sony and Ricoh. From the seafront we moved into the town centre, where we seemed to go from park to park. Taking photos on the way then resting on the grass. The parks were busy peeps just kicking back in the glorious sunshine. Somehow we got into talking to a few locals a few more random than others. Eddie who wanted to show us all of his floor tiling jobs for the whole of Brighton! 

chilling in the park

We continued to explore and get shots but by this stage I felt baked. Walking back to the train station I spotted a homeless guy that I had seen on a BBC3 documentary. I stopped and asked him about it, he said he hadn't even seen it.

As we were heading into the station Manchester United fans were arriving - they were playing Brighton. They were in good voice (not for long though). 

Matt and I got the train back to London and realised that we were both burnt to a crisp. That is the main learning of today.

must remember to wear a hat

The following day when I did a bit of post processing on the photos. I had to do quite a few spot removals on each image. This tells me there is dust either on the sensor and or the lens. To stop this happening I will need to investigate and clean both of parts of the camera.

Friday night Street Photography - central London

Shooting Street

I walked from my office in Clerkenwell to Broadwick Street. I passed through Russell Square and Soho Square. People were out drinking and enjoying the hot weather, a good way to start the weekend. At Broadwick Street I found the John Snow pub and met Cat and Matt. We had a few pints and chatted as good friends do.

self portrait

Light Refreshments

After 3 pints (£11.40 bargain), Matt and I headed off to make some photos. We made our way to Carnaby Street, where at the Puma store staff were getting ready for the first drop of the Shantell Martin collection. I asked whether Shantell was in town - they didn't know. After a tweet and a reply from Shantell, she wasn't. But I'll definitely check out the collection. I love her work and working with Puma should make cool results. 

With it being good weather and a Friday night the streets remained busy and that lent itself well to street photography, plenty to capture.

(a moving) London Taxi

After walking for a while we were now in need of food so we headed towards Chinatown. En route we found some cool backgrounds and waited for the right person to pass in front. My rule is to photograph 20 people max, as I don't want to spend too little or too much time in one place. I occasionally played with the shutter speed and, as the golden hours had now passed, it was more a case of working with the city lighting. 

Chinatown

Once we had arrived at Chinatown we went straight for Wong Kei, crispy duck and rice £6.20 each bargain. I love the fact that you kind of feel like your in a movie when eating upstairs. After munching the food we got back in search of a few more shots. I was shooting with my Sony, the biggest thing to get used to is having a zoom lens again. As I have been so used to shooting with Canon prime lenses. 

We continued to walk north via Centre Point and up to Warren Street where the night of photography in Central London ended. 

Processing black and white film

Shoot film not pixels (this time)

This week I finished a black and white film and got it developed. I had shot the film which was HP Ilford HP5 Plus, iso400 - through my Canon 1000fn, using the old kit lens and my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. I think I have had this film in the camera for a couple of months but this was the first roll of black and white film that I have shot. So I was trying to remember that when looking for possible shots, I didn’t remember each time but thats part of the fun.

Leigh on Sea, Essex

Getting the film developed

Once I had finished the roll I had thought where to get it developed and my options were Snappy Snaps in Angel London, where I had been before, or go to Bayeux - Tottenham Court Road London a professional printers, where I hadn’t been before! I had heard great reviews about Bayeux, mainly from the Negative Feedback guys. I thought seeing as I don’t get film developed that often to pay the extra and go to Bayeux. 

a motorway flyover in West London

I went there on Monday afternoon, where I gave over the film. Set up an account and made my order to have the film processed with images being emailed to me and prints 5x7 produced with a white border and a matt finish. It felt professional from the off the actual shop front is slick and the staff were helpful. So I paid my £43, yes this is expensive quite a bit more than the £15 or so that Snappy Snaps charge.

The Quarry, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK

Two days later, I got the email letting me know that the film had been processed. This was quickly followed by the email with a WeTransfer link that contained the images. I cycled from my office in Clerkenwell to Bayeux on Newman Street. Once home I looked at the prints and instantly could see and feel the quality, they are ready to go on the wall quality. It wasn’t until a few hours later looking at them again I noticed that 7 images were missing. I had all of them digitally but not all of the prints. I sent an email to Terry at Bayeux. He replied the next morning and said he would do a reprint for me. After a few emails going back and forth Terry said he would get the full reprint to me this afternoon. And yes I got the full (36 shots) reprint hand delivered to me at my office. What great service this was, totally redeemed themselves. It was a really nice touch and showing my friends and family the prints, all of who have been impressed.

the other side of the river, The Quarry, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK

Going back?

On reflection I can’t see myself going back to Snappy Snaps, I think if you shoot film and get prints or just the digital copies the quality from Bayeux is second to none. Now that I’ve experienced it I don’t think I will want to scrimp on quality again. I also don’t mind paying this much as I’m paying experts to do a job, and Bayeux are an independent professional lab. People / shops like these should be treasured and invested in, they allow film photography to continue to be great.

 

Finally I know I am not the only person that thinks this way, as I mentioned before. The guys at Negative Feedback use Bayeux and have made a video featuring them.

Street Photography - when its too cold

Brixton

Matt and I had agreed to meet in Brixton at 10am. I was on time, however Matt was running late. This normally wouldn't be a problem I would walk around scouting the area for good photo opportunities. But unfortunately it was one of the coldest days of the year, with snow drifts flying around and the lack of gloves it was pretty unforgiving! 

Once Matt arrived I wanted to move so we did. We had a quick walk around Brixton and checked out some of the street art, most of which I have already seen. I wanted to get out of Brixton as it is a bit of a hub for street photographers, especially those carrying expensive Leica's. 

Brixton street art

From Brixton we walked towards Stockwell, dealing with the snow storms and trying to keep our hands warm. I was shooting with my new Sony A7ii, I am still getting used to the camera and the 28-70mm lens. It feels quite different using a new camera and not using a prime lens is also quite a change. I guess the more I use the set up the more I will learn what makes a good photo. In time I will understand what colours work well and what focal lengths work best etc.

Stockwell

not much going on in Stockwell

As we walked through south London there wasn't much going on, I think everyone had thought to stay indoors as it was so cold. You can see the icicles in the picture above. The weather and the outdoor conditions are just one of the many things that you have to deal with when capturing street photography. The street is your studio!

empty skate park (one of London's oldest)

From Stockwell we continued to walk in an effort to keep warm. Having to remind myself that getting out walking with camera in any conditions is one of my favourite things! As we walked through Vauxhall there was the classic aftermath from the Club nights - such as Fire which I think was still open. We crossed over the river (Thames) via Vauxhall Bridge and headed to the Tate Britain. This was our chance to thaw out.

Tate Britain

green art at the Tate

The gallery was busy as you'd expect, Matt and I had a good look around checking out some of the immense work. There's so much of it on show, if you haven't been you really should. Its a shame when people don't go and appreciate what is on offer to see.

The images within this post show that we saw different types of art, Brixton street art to the Tate gallery art.

Street Photography - asking for a photo

Can I take your photo?

Up until a few weeks ago I had not crossed that boundary, “hi there can I take your photo?” I have been able to shoot street photography without having the need. On a few occasions  I have been caught taking people's pictures and I have had someone turn away hiding and covering their face. The large majority of people have never noticed and even if the they have nothing has been said, I just smile and move on. But there have been many occasions when I have spotted someone who I think would make an interesting photo but before you know, the person and the moment has gone. If only I'd have asked them. It's not the easiest thing to do though.

Street Photography in Leigh on Sea

However a few Mondays ago I was in Leigh on Sea a small seaside town in Essex, UK. I walking along the high street armed with my Canon 1000fn (film camera). When I spotted someone who I thought was Wilko Johnson, I looked again and I was now sure it was him. He was looking up and down the street, he was wearing all black carrying a small black case. The first thing that came to me was, I wanted to take his photo! I literally ran across the road and straight up to him. I simply asked him, “hi there I'm a big fan, is it okay to take your photo?” He said of course. I quickly prepared myself, the camera was on, in shutter priority mode, 100/1. I lined up the shot and I had to manually focus (as it doesn’t work on the kit lens that I have). Obviously with it being film I wasn’t able to tell if I had captured Wilko as I wanted. I thanked him telling him that he was an inspiration after what he has gone through. I shook his hand (a solid handshake) and I left him. 

It all happened so quickly, I was buzzing afterwards. I had managed to ask somebody I massively admire to take his photo, and he said yes! All I had to do now was look after the film and get it processed. Hoping that the film gods are looking down on me and the photo came out okay. I have never treated a film with such care.

So if you don’t know who Wilko Johnson is, his story is an amazing one. You should watch the interview of him on BBC’s Hardtalk, also check out his website.

A few days later I got the film processed at Bayeux in London and this is what I shot.

East London - street photography

Sunday street photography

I met Matt at Highbury and Islington station. From there we started our street photography walk heading south towards the canal. We passed by the Get Stuffed shop and also had a quick look at the Banksy on Essex Road - you can still see quite a bit of it. Matt was shooting with his Olympus Trip and I was shooting with my Leica C. It was good conditions for shooting relatively cloudy and dry.

Regents Canal

Once at the canal we headed east. The walk along the canal was cool apart from the having to move out of the way of all the runners and cyclists. We're a nation of runners you know! Along the way there was quite a lot to shoot. Lots of colour, mainly found within graffiti that was about. We continued to walk, chat and shoot. We made it to Victoria Park where we explored the Sunday Market there. The park was busy lots going on, we watched a bit of Sunday League football (brought back old memories). From there we walked towards Hackney Wick and made it to the Crate Brewery and Pizzeria. Crate is a micro brewery, its a cool place where cool people go. Its also right on the canal so it was a welcomed place to rest up for a bit. Over a beer and a cider (in my case) and a spicy pepporami pizza we reviewed our photos (well I did Matt was shooting film)! 

Olympic Stadium

From there we walked towards the Olympic Stadium in the area we found so much graffiti - probably the most I've seen in London. It was quite quiet as well so good for shooting as you can see in the photos. From there Matt got the train back to his. I then decided to walk back to my house in Leyton. (I walked over 25 thousand steps during this day!)

All in all I am happy with the shots I got, the conditions were ones that I favour. Looking through the shots their quite a mixture, but I didn't go out with any rules I just shot what I saw. Let me know what you think.

Photography Project 1 - everydayeveryday

This was the first monthly project that I set for myself. I posted what I captured online via Twitter using the hashtag #alseverydayeveryday

I was hoping this form of project would give my photography direction as I had a frame to work within.

The project itself should be easy, just take pictures of everyday things. But to be honest it was more difficult than I thought. I think I was worried whether the captures would be good enough to post. However thinking about it this isn't the point, the point is to capture the everyday! The pictures shown as a collection would be better than just one shot shown by itself.

The main learning from this project is that I need to think at the start of the month how I am going to get the shots. As in what camera do I need, when and what should I be shooting. With the everydayeveryday project I think I needed to be more disciplined in getting these shots. This reminds me of the Project365 I did back in 2012, I need to have the project at the front of mind at all times.

Each of my monthly projects will give me things I need to improve on, (that's kinda the idea!). I also need to understand why it wasn't a major success and try and improve on that within next months project. 

Trinity Boy Wharf - Sunday Street Photography

It was an early start and quite a journey to get to Canning Town for 9.30am. Once there I met Matt and we then walked toward Trinity Buoy Wharf. It was cold but not raining and slightly overcast which are some of my favourite conditions. I didn't want bright blue skies burning out my photos.

Trinity Buoy Wharf is a small peninsula on the Thames, its a cool place that I have visited a number of times. Each time I've been there I've seen something different, there have been a number of different art installations. It attracts creatives and different forms of art. From just walking around you will notice different sculptures. There are also music creators such as Daniel Avery in the area. There is also the only lighthouse in London (even though its not active you can go up inside) and a container city.

When shooting I had no agenda or planned way to photograph, it was just a shoot what you see kind of day. I was with my Leica C.

The Wharf was quieter than previous visits, but it was early on a Sunday morning. The cafe that I had been to before was closed and looked like it has shut down, shame it was cool and did a good breakfast.

Matt and I walked around and took some shots of what we saw, it felt quiet and empty, desolate even. From there we walked towards Canary Wharf again this area was quiet apart from groups of tourists. We continued to walk and shoot working our way to the river front where we got a few got shots. But time was getting on and I wanted to make sure I was back home to watch the football West Ham v Shrewsbury Town

In summary the day's photo walk was good and I always enjoy getting out, and even though I have been to Trinity Buoy Wharf a number of times I enjoyed it and would go back again. Its also a good form of exercise as I was actually walking for 5 hours. 

a walk around 'the city'

Street photography is always welcome on a walk.

Up until 4 years ago I had worked in 'the city' of London - the city is basically the financial district of London. Since not working there I have missed the architecture and the history which I only appreciated once I wasn't there. As a result I thought it was time to go back, a tip is to go on the weekend as most of the offices are closed so you can walk around and it's quiet. There are still a few places open such as the Crosse Keys, probably my favourite Wetherspoons pub.

Before we started out I did some research to see if there was some where I hadn't been in the city and there was. Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden.

We got the train to Liverpool Street and walked towards the Church Garden taking a few shots on the way.

We found Saint Dunstan, it is in between Monument and Tower Hill. I would recommend taking a look at the Monument if you can, its a great reminder of what happened in 1666. The small church garden provides an area of tranquility within the hustle and bustle of the city. You are transported to a parallel London.

We carried on walking down to the river Thames. Then headed back toward the Crosse Keys where we stopped for lunch and a few pints of cider. It is a great pub, at one stage it was HSBC's head quarters.

To sum up its great to get out and see places, even though I know the city, it is changing. New buildings are going up all the time and I found the hidden garden. Better than all this I was able to share and show others some interesting parts of London.

the last week - city version

Street photography - West London style.

It was 28th December and I was trying to get together the energy and enthusiasm to go out and make some photos. To aid this I watched a few YouTube videos one being by Evan Ranft who has a cool channel dedicated to photography mainly city landscapes. These videos definitely gave me a reminder that the only way to make photos is to get out there.

A place I wanted to photograph was a flyover in West London. I kind of knew where it was, so I headed out again with my Leica C and no phone so I didn't have GPS to work out exactly where I was heading.

I took the underground to White City and once there realised that it wasn't the right place but even so I got a few cool shots.

I then moved onto Shepherds Bush, where again I got a few shots. I tried not to capture people I was mainly attempting to shoot the urban area that was in-front of me. Following that I remembered there was some kind of flyover at Hammersmith, which was a bus journey away. So after getting a few more shots I treated myself to a McDonalds and brought two books from Pocket Shop. Work by Joseph Heller and Desire by Haruki Murakami. Both of these books are from the Penguin Vintage Mini collection. They feature excerpts from both of the authors work.

Back to the photography, the picture below shouts 'free party' to me. I bet there's been loads of that type of thing going on down there! If anyones planning one be sure to give me a shoutout!!

the last week - countryside version

With it being Christmas time my office has been closed, this has given me time to get out and make some photos. I travelled by train from London to my home town of Shrewsbury. I was up against a failed rail strike and snow! I had all my luggage but more importantly I had my Leica C in my pocket at all times. Its a habit I am trying to get into - each time I leave the house carry a camera (not including my iPhone).

The further I travelled north the more snow appeared, I attempted to capture this from sitting on the train. Looking out the train window and trying to get some good shots, I found myself looking at the sky, fields and trees - the passing scenery was so refreshing. I normally see 'city', but with the snow also on show it was all a powerful scene. I was also listening to Radiohead the In Rainbow album which I think is great. So that probably help set the mood.

Once I arrived in Shrewsbury I obviously had Christmas shopping to do, but after that I wanted to get out and capture the snow and how it looked. I took quite a few shots on black and white film but I haven't had that processed yet, so above and below are a few captures I made using my Leica point and shoot.

urban street photography in Leyton, East London

This street photography walk wasn't planned. It was just a simple short walk to Leyton, where I had a crepe and took some urban photo's along the way. I was shooting with my Cannon dslr through my 24mm lens. The object was just to capture what I saw and not give too much thought to it all. My camera mode was TV and my settings were iso800 and 1/100, which I kept throughout.

After finishing the crepe (which I enjoyed more than I thought I would) we stumbled upon a cool shop. The Laura Lea Design Boutique & Art Gallery. Helen and I had a good look around and really liked some of the pieces of work. I also had a chat to Laura about screen printing and how good the new Beck album is.

As we walked I don't think I really found any amazing street photography subjects, but I am starting to take my camera out with me every where I go. I think this slightly explains the randomness of these shots, but personally I like them. I am enjoying how using these settings can give a certain look, the pancake prime lens at iso800 captures light in a certain way. It does this whilst leaving the blacks alone which I like.

To sum up, it was only a short walk that I happened to take my camera on. As a result I had a number of shots that I was happy to post. I guess the moral of this is if you go for a walk you might stumble upon a cool shop and meet someone interesting. Added to this if you take your camera you'll get some shots and learn something about your photography.

never turn down a free camera

I expect that lots of people have many cameras tucked away in drawers and cupboards that haven't been used for ages. Lots of people buy a camera or are brought a camera with a view to taking an interest in photography. However for one reason or another the camera is sitting idle and isn't being used, whilst the interest wains. This is where we come in! 

All it takes is a conversation about photography with the right person and you could have yourself an old school film camera. Thats how I came to be with my current film camera, the Canon 1000fn. In synopsis this camera has been passed from auntie and uncle to me. The camera body itself is cheap but thats not the point. They used it back in the 80/90's and now I am using it in 2017 - there's something very cool about this.

Luckily my all of my other Canon lenses fit the 1000fn, so I have mainly shot with my 50mm 1.4. This is a prime lens with high quality glass. The next thing is to work out what film I really want to shoot with. Up until now I have put 5 or 6 rolls of film through the camera. These films have been from an expired batch I got off eBay. None of these will be my preferred choice. However the next 2 films I am will shoot are Portra400 and Cinestill 800 (see blog 5th September). I'll see how they come out and let you know the results. In the meantime within this entry are some of what I have shot with the aforementiond camera on expired films.

street photography walk - Clerkenwell to Finsbury Park

Thursday evening, rather than go the pub and drink overpriced pints and say things that I've already said I walked from Clerkenwell to Finsbury Park. The main aim of the walk was to take some pictures and this time I gave myself a challenge. An idea that I got from Vijce, a cool street photographer. My plan was to shoot patterns and or repetitions. 

With it being November the London streets aren't the most inviting for street photography, but the darkness and the misty rain hopefully would assist in getting a good shot. Once you see passed the conditions you should make them work for you. I was using my DSLR with the 50mm, 1.4 lens. I sorted out my settings, putting the ISO up to 1600 and selecting a shutter speed of 100/1 and set it to TV mode. 

Having a specific remit whilst looking for shots was something different to how I usually think. It was a new workflow and didn't take too much time to get in that mode. Usually when capturing street photography I just look for good shots but now my mind was focussing and looking around for anything that resembled a pattern.

However there are still things that I paid attention to, as night street photography is very different to that in the day. You might already be doing these subconsciously but if not be sure to:

  • look where the light sources are i.e. passing cars, lamppost
  • pay attention to contrasts and possible silhouettes
  • use the lights sources as leading lines
  • view colours and reflections

Above and below are a selection of the shots I took, I have converted a few to black and white. I like the way black and white images use the grain from the high 1600. I think this adds to the mood. 

when I shoot street photography in black and white

Black and white was the original street photography mode. The shots have a timelessness that can't be captured in the same way as when shooting in colour. They give off a certain type of feel. A strong nostalgic and simple feel.

I don't shoot in black and white as often as I do in colour. However when I do, I try and think in black and white. When looking for a good composition or subject it helps to think this way. It sounds a bit weird but with practice and if you go out with this at front of mind it will become easy. There are digital options to set your camera to a monochrome preset, but I quite like the challenge of seeing in colour and converting this to black and white. I think its a good skill to have. You will begin to see and realise what works in black and white and this will come forward within the shots you capture.

Nico Goodden and Erik Kim have both written great blogs on shooting street photography in black and white. Giving yourself the constraint of shooting in black and white can actually let you see the shots in a different way. The images become less cluttered, with this in mind it makes sense to concentrate the image on a single or less objects. This will create a powerful capture.

Below are some of the photos that I have made, half shot in London and the other half shot in Frinton.