The photographer’s eye

bradley-5400

The photograph above was taken at Clough Co Down, one of the centres where the Orange Order were parading throughout Northern Ireland on the 12th July.  On the day I surprisingly took very few exposures but this image is one that stuck in my mind.  It’s not a particularly well composed image and it was taken early in the day before the parade started.  So why did I take?

There were several reasons, firstly I noticed the cowboy boots, the lyrics to ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra came to mind!  Another reason for seeing this picture was the fact that nearly everyone else in the scene is standing and the main subject is sitting, so there is a certain juxtaposition.  The fact that the heads of the people standing are cut off help the viewer to concentrate on the main figure.  I lowered my position when making the image so that I was almost at the same level, obviously the person saw me take the image which has not spoiled the photograph.

This image conveys a relaxed atmosphere in anticipation for the parade yet to commence. Probably the dominant feeling was …will it stay dry?  In actual fact it did stay dry until around 5pm!  There is nothing threatening or decisive conveyed by the image, unlike many images of Orange Order parades that you will find in the media.

Photographs are a powerful means for conveying messages and you are really depending on the honesty of the photographer.  In this case Clough was really about a family day out and meeting up with friends.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission 

Lanark Way Bonfire

I have found that I am increasingly drawn to more of a documentary or a street style of photography.  Unlike landscape photography where you arrange the elements of the image in a pleasing harmony to create the perfect image, street photography is quite different.

In street photography the compositions are imperfect as people move about and the scenes change extremely quickly.  You get what you can and make the best of what you observe.  What you are really trying to do is to make images that tell a story in that fleeting fraction of a second!

Yesterday I visited Lanark Way to see the bonfire that has been built for the coming Twelfth celebrations.  In photographing this scene I adopted a specific approach.  A distant shot to provide the viewer with the general context, known as the ‘establishment shot’, a medium distance shot showing some of the people involved and finally a close up shot.  Each image has its own role to play and viewed together they should tell a story.

In preparing the images I processed them as monochrome, removing the colour simplifies the image and encourages the viewer to observe the whole image by not be drawn to particular colours.  This is the result.

bradley-5337

bradley-5348

bradley-5363

This morning a story has appeared in the Belfast Telegraph newspaper about this bonfire for all the wrong reasons!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission 

The Somme Remembered

bradley-5119

Yesterday (1 July 2014) was the 98th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the usual civic remembrance was held within the grounds of Belfast City Hall.  In documenting the event I took 85 exposures and from these I have selected just 13.  In making the selection I took the deliberate decision to exclude politicians and other civic dignitaries because I wanted the Armed Forces on parade to be focus, after all it was their forefathers who paid the supreme price!

Her Majesty’s Forces on parade were drawn from the Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Guards.  The series of images commences with army personnel assembling, the series continues with the parade to the cenotaph and it concludes with an establishing shot taken through a window from a second floor cafe adjacent to the City Hall.  

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission  

Click on the link below.

http://ulsterphotography.co.uk/?page_id=5207

The patience of a street photographer!

My wife tells me that I don’t have any patience and she is never wrong!  But to be a street photographer you really do need patience to allow scenes to develop.  So while I have been wandering around Belfast I have tried slowing down or even taking a seat and allowing things to happen around me.

So I tried an experiment, I took a photograph and then waited to see what would change within the scene before taking another photograph, even pausing for ten minutes made a difference.  Here is the result:

bradley-4803mono-

Ten minutes later:

bradley-4806mono-

A bunch of American tourists showed up and gathered around the tourist information board, the girl never flinched and the two unrelated elements provided a contrast or tension within the frame. 

Try giving it a go!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission  

 

Brownlow House Classic Car Rally

There is nothing like a classic car rally to being back memories of the 1960s.  In my day I owned a succession of MGs, Midgets and MG Bs.  So I was naturally drawn to the MGs on display of which there were many.

It was unfortunate that the EU forced rubber bumpers as the earlier cars fitted with chrome bumpers looked much better.  Of course the real classic MG was the MG A, and a 1959 model was on display.

bradley-4672

bradley-4666

bradley-4674

There were of course some vintage models view, although I was particularly drawn to the MGs.

bradley-4678

I met one real character who was directing traffic, an RAF veteran who kindly allowed me to take his photograph.

bradley-2

All colour images taken with a Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera fitted with a 35mm 1.4 lens, all exposures were ISO 400, 1/250 second at f8.  The monochrome was taken at f2.8 and 1/1900 shutter speed.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission 

Ballintoy Harbour and Game of Thrones

This week I visited Ballintoy and the harbour that featured as Pyke Harbour in the movie film Game of Thrones.  It is a stunning place to visit, even on a dull overcast day.  

The following link, which will open a new page, shows an image of the harbour as how it appeared in the movie.

Ballintoy Harbour, Co Antrim

Ballintoy Harbour, Co Antrim

Ballintoy Harbour, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, BT54 6NBAll images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

What is it about sunsets?

bradley-4375

The faintest hint of a sunset brings all sorts of people out with their camera’s to record the spectacular colours and hues of late evening sunlight.  They then wait with baited breath to see how the image has been captured.

However few people properly process the images taken, either they take no action to correct or adjust brightness or contrast or worse still they over do the adjustments to create an image that bears little resemblance to what the scene actually looked like.

The two images featured here in Foca, Turkey were taken a couple of weeks ago during an evening walk after our evening meal and here I merely want to tell you how I processed them!

Both images were processed in Adobe Lightroom 5, which I find to be a just superb, no need to use Photoshop.  Upon importing the images the first thing I do after key wording the images and completing the metadata information is to apply my camera preset to the images.  The preprepared camera presets more accurately display the image colours, provided the camera presets was properly created in the first instance.

My next step is to apply the lens correction profile, we may as well see the image as the camera saw it!  Only then do I go to the basic settings to adjust exposure, contrast highlights and shadows.

In the case of these two images I left the exposure setting along, I could have lightened the dark areas of the image, but its a sunset so its meant to be dark.  I had no over exposed areas so no adjustment to highlights was necessary.  My only significant adjustments were to the clarity adjustment which brings out the texture of the image and to the vibrance setting, but only very slightly as this tool can make the image unrealistic.  The last control was saturation and this was left untouched – believe it or not!

My intention is to create an image and to render it as I remembered the scene.  Both images taken with a Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera, 14mm lens, 200ISO, 1/60 second and a wide aperture.

bradley-4380

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

To control or not to control!

bradley-7475This blog may appear as a rant, so I shall apologise in advance.  There are two aspects of digital photograph that concern me.  That most digital photographers don’t shoot in manual mode, instead allowing the camera to control the photographer rather the photographer controlling the camera.  Secondly most digital photographers seldom print the images they make, and I can be guilty of this.   As a consequence most of the images we make will be lost to future generations.  They will be lost when the PC dies!

Lets take each of my concerns in turn.  Recently I have been asked why I use my camera in full manual mode when there are various program modes that I could employ?  There are several excellent reasons to use full manual mode.  It is by far the best way to learn the qualities of your camera.  Isn’t it strange that the more photographs you take the better you get!  Using program mode removes the thought processes that are vital to good photography, so give full manual mode a try, you will enjoy experimenting with the camera.

It is far better that you control the camera rather than letting the camera’s internal computer decide the settings.  Why is this?  In certain situations you will want to control the shutter speed for motion images, or the aperture to get the depth of field that you want.  The third control, the ISO settings, is used in conjunction with shutter and aperture controls.  Your understanding of all three is vital to your taking control of the camera.

For these reasons some photographers still prefer to use film!  Those who remember film will know that you did not waste shots, but rather much care was taken to ensure that the camera settings were correct for the scene being taken.  In other words it forced you to think about what you were doing.  Today digital photographers shoot first and then look to check the back of their camera to view the result, called chimping in the trade.  No or little thought processes involved and it leads to poor photography.

My second concern is the failure of many photographers to print their work.  I think that future generations will not have a rich archive of images and while Facebook is great for sharing work, it leads to fewer images being printed which is a disaster!  You cannot really judge a photograph on FB or on the computer screen, it needs to be printed and the bigger the better.  I have just printed the image I took in Izmir of the beggar in a crowed bazaar and printed in up to 10 x 14 inches, see http://ulsterphotography.co.uk/?p=5006. It really make a huge difference.  Whats the point of taking photographs if they are not preserved for future generations?

This has not been my usual offering but I did warn at the outset that this was a personal rant!

 

Worlds apart

Today I was asked to take a photographs for a candidate running in the forthcoming local government elections.  The brief was to highlight huge areas in Belfast that are in bad need of urgent redevelopment.

The current Belfast City Councillor for the ward was discussing the needs of the area to a candidate who will be running for the new council to be elected in May.  While taking various angles of them chatting I noticed three Muslim women walking towards us and the thought occurred that the shot I was taking represented worlds apart.  The roadway through the flattened area that was formerly old town houses seemed to emphasise the divide, not only in our own society but also between immigrants who have come to our country to find a better life.  I wonder will they find it?

bradley-7392bw

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission

Considerations for a portrait shot

Many photographers specialise in portraiture photography, I am not one of these but recently I was asked to take a portrait for a candidate who will be standing in Northern Ireland’s local government elections in May this year.

In agreeing to do this I set out to achieve several objectives.  As the image will be used in election literature which will be designed by a graphic designer I decided that a plain white backdrop would be desirable, allowing the designer to manipulate the image more easily. This led to the second decision for the shot; what type of lighting to set up.  High key lighting was the only sensible choice and to avoid shadows creating a sinister element even lighting was created with one speedlite shot through an umbrella slightly left of the camera and a second speedlite to illuminate the backdrop.

With the backdrop and lighting sorted we moved on to the posed shots.  Out of a series of images I have selected the one below.  Taken from a lower view point and with arms folded it makes the candidate look thoughtful and serious.  We will see which images his campaign managers select!

bradley-6279

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.