This was a long planned College Trip to Camden and, refreshingly, was a photography location shoot rather than a gallery or exhibition visit. Apart from the 45 minutes late departure it was much more successful trip logistically compared to recent London visits. A comfortable coach, compared to a bus and drop off and pick up in the same convenient location all made for an enjoyable day.
Once we arrived in Camden had an early pub lunch with Mica, Grace and Megan to discuss plans for the day. The girls wanted to include some non-photography shopping in their day whereas I was quite happy to simply wander the area to look for interesting photographic opportunities so we went off separately, meeting up again serendipitously for an end of day drink in the Earl of Camden pub opposite the pick up point.
The market was relatively quiet being post Christmas and thus fewer tourists than normal, in some ways this meant there was more time / space for photography but also a slight lack of the exotic street life usually to be found in Camden. Nonetheless photographic opportunities abound and I concentrated on more urban landscape type scenes.
Firstly utilising some of the pseudo HDR techniques we had recently covered with Martyn i.e. to expose for the sky (or brightest part of the image) and then bring the shadows in camera raw to rapidly create a well exposed and balanced image. Some examples below :
I had also seen a technique of photographing an inverted image as seen through a clear glass or acrylic ball as part of my research. I had thought Camden would be an ideal place to acquire such an object. They are readily available on auction sites but I wanted to check the optical quality. Although harder to find than I first imagined I did comes across “Oddballs” which supplies every conceivable juggling accessory. I had my camera packed away but when I asked to see a ball and immediately looked through it,the sales assistant asked if it was for photography and recommended the most popular sizes that photographers purchased. He then showed me a new ball as opposed to their slightly scuffed demo items. Excellent customer awareness, topped off by a safety reminder that whilst these balls can indeed act as lenses, left unattended on a sunny day they can also create fires !
Using the ball is simple enough, simply position it to get a pleasing image, the image in the ball will of course be upside down due to refraction, and focus on the reflection rather than the subject. I was slightly hindered by only having a 50mm lenses with me and additionally no tripod so was restricted to the minimum focus distance and exposure times to achieve sharp images. I deliberately used a wide aperture so that the background is blurred although in some images still recognisable. I also improvised a stand for the ball by using the lens cap to stop my new acquisition rolling away. For some shots where no street furniture was available to place it, the ball was hand held creating a sort of “reverse selfie” effect.
For future shoots I will try a macro lens to enable more of the ball to fill the frame and have a better stand to place the ball on – in fact when I got home I found a chrome tubing fitting in the garage which shows future promise as a stand.
Post processing of the images was straight forward primarily consisting of cropping and straightening, some tweaks to exposure, contrast and clarity in Camera Raw. I Inverted some images so that the ball image is the correct way up and this also give an interesting effect. Examples below, including inverted and non-inverted images for comparison :
Lastly I went into the Proud Camden music venue which contains a photographic gallery, current exhibition as described on their website is “Proud Camden presents Assassinated Beauty; a collection of iconic photographs of the most iconoclastic band of the late twentieth century, Manic Street Preachers. The exhibition will mark the launch of Kevin Cummins latest book of the same name and captures the essence of a band that understood and manipulated androgynous and decadent imagery.”
Prints are available on line at https://www.proudonline.co.uk/exhibitions or direct from the venue at £600 each if you are interested.
In the same venue there was a deserted bar area which had an interesting backdrop with lot of textual context and I was able to capture an image that will be a strong contender for inclusion as a final image for Brett’s visual language brief.
Update: Inspired by a series of B&W images posted by Megan on her blog I tried one further technique which was to desaturate the image except for the globe, easy and effective by selecting elliptical marquee tool and then inverting selection before applying B&W filter.
All in all an interesting and photographically stimulating day.
Steve Edwards, Jan 16 2015