A city break

With a few days of last years holiday left, I decided to revisit London for the first time in around 30 years.
It was about the time that I had started to become interested in photography, and had my first film camera, a Praktika LB2.
If I am being honest, my photos were woeful from this excursion but I knew that I would return in the future.

Thirty years later, I am armed with my X100f and a heap more knowledge about my hobby, so was looking forward to completing as much of my photographic bucket list as possible.
My coach had left Exeter at eight thirty, reaching the Victoria coach station just before 1pm, a 15 minute walk to find my hotel in the Pimlico area, where I was checked in and ready to take some shots just a few minutes later.

I had been very fortunate to pick a day of blue cloudless skies, the temperatures were the highest recorded in February for some years, spring had arrived early

While I had put together an itinerary of sorts, the first afternoon was always about strolling along the River Thames, taking in the iconic landscape and enjoying rediscovering the city.
I had an idea in my mind that I would walk the North side first, then the south the following day, I ended up meandering both sides like a drunk snail, walking one side to the other.

I had packed my large tripod, thinking I would need it for some low light shots later that evening but decided to leave it at the hotel, knowing that I had another full day on the Wednesday if I could not get away using the mini tripod I carried in my bag.
My decision was rewarded with several low height walls with pillars big enough to accommodate the small tripod.


Wednesday morning dawned with more blue skies and sunshine, my first point of call was a cafe just 5 minutes from the hotel which opened at 7am, where my full English breakfast  was cooked to order and served piping hot, along with a cuppa and toast.
This has to be the first time I had eaten breakfast to Copland’s fanfare for the common man but certainly very uplifting.

My route this morning was to keep to the north side, passing Buckingham palace and the national gallery, finding a few good shots along the way, especially by the national gallery where lines of people went about their day.

The sun was creating some wonderful shadows, between the pillars at Somerset house, the light and shadow created a celestial zebra crossing on the concrete, right at the end of the light one of the staff was opening the building.

Reaching St Paul’s cathedral for the second time in as many days, I carried on to London city where I had wanted to capture Leadenhall market and the LLoyd’s buildings.


The day was slipping by very quickly, I was happy with the shots I was getting but there was still the matter of one more iconic building to fulfil my personal goals, the Tate modern staircase.
It is just one of those photos that I have wanted to capture for myself, now was my chance.
The gallery was not overly busy, so I was able take some time to stand and stare at one or two of the exhibitions,  admiring most, while in my ignorance not ‘getting’ some of the others, then to that staircase …


I like the simplicity of the first image but it really does need the human interest, so I was happy to patiently for a few minutes to get some other shots.

My plan to walk everywhere enabled me to find parts of the city I may not have otherwise seen, perhaps another time, I will use the tube or buses more, either way, I still have so much more to see on future trips.
Yes, I will return, I came to London with a thousand ideas, I have returned with a million more, I went as a stranger, and returned having met some wonderful people that made me feel very welcome in their home city.

 

Black and white

Throughout my own photographic journey, I have always been inspired by black and white photos, from the early pioneers, to the masters of photojournalism and street photography.

It is not hard to be inspired by the work of Henri Cartier Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Vivian Maier and Jill Freedman to name just a few.

There is something about working in monochrome that seems to capture the essence of a moment in time, and while it is clear that one has to master the tools we use, being in the right place at the right time is an art in itsself.

I experimented with black and white film, in the very first few steps of my own photographic journey, but in all honestly lacked the knowledge in utilising it to its full potential.

It was once I had bought my first ‘proper’ DSLR that I began to take an interest in the masters of film, honing my photographic education from books or information gleaned from the internet.

There is something I still love about leafing through pages of photos from around the world, of so many different subjects, borrowing ideas or becoming inspired by so many talented photographers of a bygone era,

My own photographic philosophy is to attempt to capture the everyday, but to add my own touch if possible.

Any photographer will tell you that they look for textures, shapes or contrasts, all these become so much more relevant with black and white images.

The image of the cranes in the above sequence of images is such an example, through early morning cloud, there was something about the contrasts I liked and while the image looked good in colour, the monochrome was just so much better, especially with a slight vignette to focus on the centre.

The underside of the road bridge just had to be taken with a conversion to black and white in mind, the textures, light and shadow are all the things I love about photography.

Had anybody told me that I would take great enjoyment from street photography, I would have never believed them, I never felt confident about portrait or street photography, but as I have become more assured as both a person and a photographer, I have found that talking to a possible subject breaks the barriers, often the conversation turns to the cameras I use.

In Exeter, we have a plethora of very talented buskers, today, finally I had my camera with me to take the following shots

Today was just one of those days when I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and while I will always hope to be as good as those that have inspired me, I always come away from a photo walk with a sense of enjoyment and achievement.

 

 

 

 

Rainy days

I woke this morning to the usual grey insipid skies so common for this time of year, but instead of merely supping copious amounts of caffeine and staying in, decided to take a walk into town with the idea of capturing some monochrome images of my home city.

Exeter is blessed with so many side streets and alleyways, perfect for light and reflections to show upon the slabs or cobbles.

 

For a Saturday morning, the streets were bereft of the shoppers that are likely to appear later in the day, I actually like the feeling of having the city to myself while I move from place to place in a world of my own.