I love painterly colour and also see strength in form and composition via black and white. If I have a vision, it is about a sense of place or personality - what, where, when - in my best work.
I have used Nikon for ever, and have been digital almost from the beginning. That said, I have rediscovered my Leica, especially for street and black & white. I also love the creative versatility and freedom of the iPhone, and some images here are Olympus 4/3 rds.
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Category Archives: London
Wandering around Hampstead yesterday, on a very pleasant and chilled Saturday, I came across this stylish lady collecting for the Children’s Hope Foundation.
She talked to everyone, catching some unawares, but always with a smile.
She had a canny way of talking to passers by, with an infectious personality and a positive word to say about everything.
And she had a style completely her own.
Leica M9 and Noctilux F/1.0 50mm, post processed in Color Efex Pro.
I wrote this in 1970:
The gang and me
we get along fine.
We drink together
and wander the roads
of our town
with youthful haste.
my home town
would have no meaning.
Which makes me think about the streets. It makes me wonder what it is we see when we take photographs on the street.
Are we seeing the people, or are we seeing the image of the people?
Surely, we don’t see the “gang”?
Does Gilden’s flash work for the viewer, or the subject?
On the Leica Akademie day, I took many pictures in London’s Chinatown. The gentleman above seemed to be chilling. Reading. Smoking. Smiling.
He could see I was taking his picture, and didn’t seem to care. Perhaps that is the price we pay when we hang out in a 21st century venue full of cameras.
In any event, my first look at the images of the day lead to the one above. Lots of detail, softly processed. I published the sequence on my main photo site, and got some pleasing feedback on various forums.
Then I looked again.
He might not be a member of my “gang”, but he is connected to me via the image.
Let’s try another process.
Is that more “him”?
Does that make him more a member of my “gang”?
A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first Leica Akademie event – and it won’t be the last. A small group of us were in Soho and Chinatown, London, practising street photography.
I decided to use a single lens on the Leica M9-P – the Noctilux 50mm F/1.0. A classic lens – and somewhat scary to use as it is so sharp at point of focus! Of course, it also has beautiful bokeh. A gem.
In Berwick Street, I saw this English Gentleman. Others told me afterwards that he is often seen in that area.
I first saw him buying water in a store. He disappeared from view, and then walked along the road. So I ran back to take a series of images. He was apparently in his own world, oblivious to my camera – until this moment.
I would like to know his real story, and plan to go back.
You can see more of the sequence here
At the same time, Flickr released a massively improved mobile app, which has now made it onto my home screen. So it’s been a great couple of weeks for my photography.
Posting the English Gentleman got quite a positive response online, for which I am extremely grateful.
To me, the image is more than “in your face voyeurism”. It is a story about a man and his environment. The eccentric, classic English Gentleman against a background of urban (and young) London.
Seems to me that is the one thing street photography should be about.
The real story.
M9-P and Noctilux 50mm F/1.0, processed in Silver Efex Pro
talking without words
an instant impression
the constant value
in the depths
of our hearts
It was a week of variety. There was a collection of toilet pods, pink for ladies, blue for men. Fun and funky, and who would have thought that images of toilets could ever look like an alien space ship, recently arrived in the Capital City at Sketch, a Mayfair restaurant..
The image pops out, telling us something new. Communication without words, just like the verse said all of those years ago. Photography is morphing into constant sharing, like a diary of everything we do. No words needed, just the image.
Before that, an intriguing new hotel called 21C in Cincinnati, a museum concept where business meets art. When the image is of an image, there is a double impact. There are so many things to ponder, and images to share. The artist created the sculpture, and proudly set them in place. The hotel created an ambiance, and a mood, to show them at their best. And the photographer took a view that was unique. Images on images on images. It’s a visual world after all.
On the way home, the plane’s technology worked just fine, and you never will need that life jacket. The transfer from Cincinnati to Boston was easy. Delta’s seats had space and comfort, and the in-flight Wi-Fi helped us all to stay connected. The crew tried hard and smiled throughout.
Images in flight.
It was pretty on the ground, and the air was clear allowing a few quick pictures. But inside the cabin, subtle things defeated a perfect trip. On a night flight, airlines sometimes offer their business customers a “quick meal”, to cut down eating time and to let them get more sleep. After all, the flight from Boston to London is only around 6 hours, and you loose 4 or 5 hours on the time zone shift overnight. It’s not called a “Red Eye” for nothing.
“Yes sir, I will bring you a quick soup and not the full meal, so then you can sleep”.
Nice promise, but pity it arrives at the same time as everyone’s meal. Just too hard to organise things I assume. But then, why say that it was possible? Words become promises, and promises that aren’t delivered lead to reactions and pain. So which will I remember most about that flight? The fleeting glimpse of the ground 35,000 feet below, which could have been on any flight, almost anywhere. Or the specific disappointment of insufficient sleep?
We’d all accepted a delayed flight, as we couldn’t do much about it, and the airline carefully explained what had happened – so we were all sympathetic. The words worked. Eventually the plane landed smoothly in London, and the pilot was pleased that we offered him our business. Rain welcomed us and an image beckoned of the airport around us.
Unfortunately the dock wasn’t ready, as though Heathrow had never had a plane arrive before. We all paid intent attention to those essential messages on our smartphones, and even took a picture or two. We all managed to avoid the outside world. Still, a little annoyance about the dock overshadowed things. It wasn’t the words or images. It was the lack of words. Of warning and sympathy. No words could reassure.
Whatever images inspire, if the simple words of communication disappoint, it all falls apart.
Sketch was a very cool restaurant, designed to be a visual treat. Art meets food. The staff was immaculately turned out, and everything was very professional.
Did they need a little too much “push” to change us to a better table? “I won’t comment on that, madam”. So we all moved on.
The food was excellent, served quickly and with a little panache. Looked and tasted good, too.
The sommelier asked
“Would you like a drink, madam? Certainly, madam”.
[Not that I approve of the way you are drinking my wine … but I will try not to let that show on my face].
Of course when he forgot to bring the drink the whole effect was spoilt. Words of apology become words of reaction.
The negative words overtook the positive, if only for a few moments.
Images are so diverse, so strong, and so creative. And there are an infinite number of them. What is this do you think?
It’s a light at Sketch – abstracted. To the artist, it doesn’t really matter, as the shape and colour is all. But to others, knowing what it is needs words. And if the words disappoint, so does the image.
Great intentions let down with small mistakes. Beautiful images lost because of simple words.
Images can’t cover for words or deeds.
“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” Peter Drucker