Summerlee Industrial Museum

Located near Coatbridge Central train station this place is great on a nice day. Lots of old chunky pieces of heavy metal machinery and plenty of fresh air. Also some nice interactive stuff indoors if the weather turns on you.

I took the Big Boy RB67 with me and a couple of posers for something to point at 😀

As is often the case these were shot on HP5 and cooked in Rodinal for 11 minutes at 1+50

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New toys

Nikon FM/FE, Fuji X, Leica M, Minolta TLR… all my cameras have had something in common; they’re relatively small within their corner of the photography world. Then this happened…

It was just sitting there in the shop window – giving me that sexy little smile. I entered the shop expecting to find this old beast a little unwieldy to handle but no, it felt good but I summoned the strength to leave it there. Then I spend the next three days browsing the web and youtube vids trying to find something that would put me off but I failed. Now it’s mine. All mine.

I only took the one lens, a 90mm f/3.8. I went straight from the camera store to the Botanic Gardens in the west end of Glasgow and shot a roll of Ilford Delta 400. I expected a quality jump from the Minolta Autocord but the improvement surprised me.

Lockdown Diaries #4

So that was May. I’m a little late I know but what does that matter.

May was good. The weather improved, we had a family birthday and the sunshine came back.

Patience is definitely being tested and we’ve stopped asking why when somebody disappears to another room for an hour.

Facetime has become a pastime and with so little to talk about we’d be as well just sending photos.

Allora, see you soon.

Lockdown Diaries #1

Well, it’s been a while. How is everyone? Apart from the world ending and all that stuff.

I read a lot of photographers grumbling online about their limited shooting options whilst being stuck indoors. I have found this to be a problem yet.

If you’re a regular reader (one of the four) you’ll know I get a lot of pleasure shooting the little details around the home.

These were all shot a few days ago using HP5+ pushed 2 stops in Xtol. The lens used was my Super Takumar 55mm f/2

Working a scene in street photography (and waiting for Humphrey Bogart)

“You have to milk the cow a lot to get a little cheese.” Henri Cartier Bresson

Spoiler alert: the only image I’m happy with is at the very bottom, but bare with me.

You see that shot above? I took that about two weeks ago and it’s not that I don’t like it but the more I saw it the more I thought there was a better composition there. With that in mind I went back to ‘work the scene’.

What does that mean in street photography? It’s about not just taking one image and moving on. It’s not even firing off a few shots in burst mode and moving on. It means moving about, take a shot, move forward a little, move back, shimmy to the side. Don’t stop to check your LCD – just keep moving and shooting. As Henri said “…milk the cow a lot…” (how many time is that I’ve name dropped him on this blog?). It means when you think you’re done, take 25% more shots.

Magnums Contact Sheet books are great examples of this – for some of the most iconic images of our times the masters often shot an entire roll of film just to get one shot. Eric Kim has also written extensively on the subject.

The lane I shot that first image in is pretty unremarkable; running from Sauchiehall Street to Bath Street in Glasgow it’s only memorable to most because of the pungent smell of urine but when the path tops out on Bath Street it doubles back on itself and ascends into the multi-storey car park above. It’s lines that cast the great triangular shadows and create leading lines and shafts of light. It’s also backlit which helps those moody silhouette shots. All of that and then the texture on the pavement and walls… if you told me a year ago, before I went on this street photography adventure, that I’d have fond feelings for an alleyway that doubles as a homeless people’s toilet, well…

As soon as I got there I saw this guy with his trolley and dog but unfortunately he’s not in the brightest part so the shadow is week and the shot was a little hurried.

I moved around into the light to try and shoot silhouettes over the horizon, and as much as I enjoy that texture and leading line of the brick walls, I don’t think this one works either.

I decided to go vertical composition. I think this makes more powerful use of the leading lines but the background is a little messy.

This is a better shot from much the same vantage point – I even tried removing the distraction of traffic lights etc from the horizon but still, I don’t think this ones a keeper either.

I decided the I was best back to the left and removing the sky from the shot but I honestly don’t know what I was thinking with this one – it’s just rubbish. I love this location because of its dynamic lines and shadows and this shot makes the best of neither. Then I nailed it.

Back in the spot where the first image was taken, but with a vertical composition. This guy clearly likes the sun on his back as he walked through that beam of light the whole way. What makes this shot work? Leading lines are always a winner – the line of shadow around the left frames him and the line where wall meets ground on the right, and the row of darker bricks at head height lead us to the subject and the framing shape of the wall above his head. A subtle, but important point in a shot like this is getting all the shadow. If I chopped the head off the shadow it would still be a decent shot but it’s improved greatly by the whole shadow being visible.

After all that I’m still not 100% happy with the image. I would love some guy in a trench coat and fedora, as Humphrey Bogart character, to amble down there towards my lens, so I’ll be back there soon – but at least I’ve worked the scene and know what works. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try some new angle I’ll just be taking this shot if the right character comes along.

I know that was a long one, thanks for reading.

Gary

Street photography without people (and channelling Daido Moriyama)

Some of the best photography advice I’ve ever read is stop chasing gear and buy more books. Regular readers will know I haven’t been doing this very long and so far I only have a handful of photo books but I try to buy one high quality piece per month. This month I picked up Tokyo by Daido Moriyama.

Famed for his gritty close-ups of the minutiae of urban life in Japan, his work couldn’t be more different from mine. Where I take time to set my composition and pre-focus, Daido shoots fast and loose, giving little thought to composition, instead relying on instinct. Some of his shots are even out of focus but still compelling. He has more shots without people than with and focus on tight, intimate scenes whilst I prefer to shoot people as part of the environment.

This is where the true value of investing in a photographic educati9n lies – I’m easily influenced. I bought a Saul Leiter book and started shooting more colour and looking for frames within my frame. I bought a Joel Meyerowitz book and start looking for layers in my scenes (and failed miserably) but each time I’ve tried to imitate another photographer I have learned something.

Tonight I had an hour to kill and I used this time to shoot the ugly and the gritty aspects of the Duke Street area in Glasgow’s east end. Rather than take my usual approach ‘working the scene’ trying different angles and waiting for the right person to pass through it, I let composition be determined by where I was standing when something caught my eye – or if you will, channelling my inner Daido.

I have included every image I captured – some better than others but I’ll leave that to you to decide.

Shot on Fuji X-T2 with Neewer 35mm f1.7

Acros film sim with red filter

Shadows +4 Highlights +4 Sharpness +2

ISO 12800 – Aperture adjusted per image and shutter on Auto

Most shots over exposed by 1/3 or 2/3

All images jpegs SOOC

 

 

 

 

 

Switching to black and white for a while

I just realised it’s been over two weeks since I posted and for some reason I feel guilty about that – I never promised any frequency – I don’t earn anything from this so being lax with a posting schedule costs me nothing – but upon starting the blog I told myself I’d find something to do weekly – mostly as means of challenging myself to keep my street photography fresh – so gripe over, here goes.

Something that always lacks in my street photography is texture and pattern so last time out I decided to shoot only black and white as this is a great way to highlight lines, patterns and textures. Okay, I cheated a little whilst shooting some silhouettes down by the Clyde – only because I love what Fujifilm Classic Chrome film simulation does to skies: you can see some of those shots here

And that’s it, I made you wait all this time just to come back and say I’ve decided to shoot all my street photos in monochrome for the foreseeable future. There’s a few shots below, some I like more than others but other than that I’ve nothing much to say for now but I’ll be back next week and hopefully by then I’ll have landed something about shooting black and white and if so, I’ll share it with you.

I won’t pass comment on which shots I like best as I’d rather hear your thoughts on that.

All images shot on the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF23mm f2

Acros film sim and red filter SOOC jpegs – highlights and shadows set to +3 in camera, sharpness set to +2