Capturing that special event

The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War was remembered at Belfast City Hall on the evening of 4 August in line with the national commemorations held throughout the United Kingdom.  It was an occasion that I wanted to capture but the question was how?

It would be dark, so a fast prime lens seemed a good idea.  There would be large numbers of people present so I decided to travel light, using just one lens, a 35mm equivalent f1.4 that would be good for capturing the wide view yet also good for closer shots within the crowd.  Shooting between 10pm and 11pm a higher ISO setting was also a good choice, so I set it camera to auto ISO with a maximum of 3200iso.  I also decided not to use flash, which is useless for distance shots and blasts out closeup shots.

So much for preplanning, the aim was to capture the mood and significance of the evening, the following were the results.  The following images hopefully convey something of the mood.

A lucky shot, I caught someone else's flash!

A lucky shot, I caught someone else’s flash!

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All images taken with a Fujifilm X Pro 1, 23mm f1.4 lens, taken at 1/60 second, a couple at 1/30 second.  Apertures ranged from f1.4 to f2.5.

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 

Snapping photographs or making images?

A friend of mine said a few days ago that he was just a snapper and liked taking snaps. This got me thinking about what photographic challenges I would like to set for 2014. Photography should be more than taking snaps because we want our images to say something meaningful, whether that be to express a feeling or to promote an issue we feel strongly about.

In this regard we don’t take photographs but rather we make images.  My last blog contained twelve images, one taken in each month during 2013.  I now question whether some of them were snaps or images which I made!  From those twelve images I have selected just one which I want to talk through.  By doing this we learn from our decisions. How did I make the image, what choices did I make and why?  Lastly what was I wanting the image to portray?  Here is the selected image:

Dundonald Banner Parade

The image was taken at a banner parade in Dundonald last August, I used a Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera fitted with a 35mm lens.  To make the image I moved in quite close and my objective was to use a narrow depth of field, in this case f4.  I wanted the background to be out of focus, yet to be sufficiently discernible to show the context of the image.  The near rim of the drum is in focus, while the far rim is out of focus.  I actually focused on the side of the man’s face.  The light of the drum shell is reflecting light on the man’s face making the image stronger.  These factors were all considered in just a few seconds before dialling in the camera settings and releasing the camera shutter.

Could I have taken it better?  Probably, the second drummer is too much in focus relatively speaking.  I don’t like the lamp post in the background and I could easily take it out in Lightroom or Photoshop, but I have left it in.  The image is a documentary image and it is un-cropped, it is exactly how I framed it even to the point of chopping off the top of the man’s head.  As a documentary image it works very well as a monochrome, better than in colour as colour can be distracting.  For comparison a monochrome version is below.  The composition is tight and stops the eye wandering out of the frame.

Dundonald Banner Parade

Lastly what was I trying to achieve?  The lambeg drum is a potent symbol of Ulster unionist culture, the man’s stern expression complements the message portrayed by the image and for these reasons I think it works.  I took many images of the banner parade that day and most of them did not work in the way this one does!

The challenge for 2014 is therefore to make more powerful images that convey something meaningful.

 

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

 

Looking back on 2013

So far this month I have not done very much photographically speaking, mostly due to a flu bug and then a persistent cough, which I still have!  However the close of the year is usually when most photographers look back over the year to take stock and assess the images they have made during the year.  I have tried to pick just one image for each of the year and have found it to be a difficult task.  After some deliberations this is my selection:

A cost wet January night

January: a wet night at the Titanic Signature Building

 

February flag protestor at City Hall

February flag protestor at City Hall

 

March - uniforms not in sync!

March – uniforms not in sync!

 

April snow at Spelga Dam

April snow at Spelga Dam

 

May and looking like Spring has arrived

May and looking like Spring has arrived

 

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

June exhibition for G8, its the shadow that does it!

 

July at Craigavon House

July at Craigavon House

 

August, Lambeg Drum at Dundonald

August, Lambeg Drum at Dundonald

 

September: autumn on the horizon

September: autumn on the horizon

 

October mist at Spelga Dam

October mist at Spelga Dam

 

November at Ballintoy, but not looking like November!

November at Ballintoy, but not looking like November!

 

December with Brunswick Accordion Band

December with Brunswick Accordion Band

 Now looking forward to see what 2014 will bring!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grabbing that colour!

This afternoon I covered a banner parade organised by the local Orange Lodge in Dundonald, formerly a village on the outskirts of east Belfast, but these days now regarded as an extension of east Belfast.  I went armed with just one fixed focal length lens, a 35mm. My set objective was to take as wide a variety of images with this one lens.  I only took one posed image and in total I took 199 exposures and have edited these down to just twelve images.  From this I have selected just one!

ISO 200, f5.6, 1/500th second, 35mm lens

ISO 200, f5.6, 1/500th second, 35mm lens

This image is different from all the others on several counts.  I sought permission to enter the ranks and took the image in between the ranks of marchers, their backs where towards me and I took the image low down kneeling on the road.  I used the white line road marking to lead into the centre of the image and looking up at the banners flying in the wind which provided that splash of colour.  Most people take photographs from the front, I was shooting from the back.  All these factors make the image different from the others.

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Motor sport photography

I recently attended the Lurgan Park Rally and even though I am not really interested in rallying it was an enjoyable day out.  My intention was just to bring a camera and have a bit of fun and to work out the best way to make images in these circumstances, i.e. very fast moving motorcars!  The best tool for the job would have been a DSLR with a fast zoom lens, however I was armed with the Fujifilm X Pro 1 fitted with a prime 60mm lens.  So how would I fare with a slower focusing camera?  Here are some findings.

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f2.8 at 1/2000th second does make the car look as if it were parked! So how should we demonstrate speed?


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f4.0 at 1/2000th but this time showing a dust trail does convey that the car is fas moving.

One other way to demonstrate speed would be to reduce the shutter speed as the following image shows, notice the effect on the wheels.  It is also necessary to pan the camera in order to avoid motion blur of the vehicle, as a result the spectators in the background are blurred, this combined with the effect on the wheels convey speed.

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f5.6 at 1/250th second, enough to show wheels spinning!

But with a slow focusing camera how did I manage to focus fast moving cars on the rally circuit?  Simply focus on a particular spot and wait for the car to reach that point.  However while I enjoyed the lightness of the camera bag next time I think I would take the DSLR despite its bulk and weight!

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 Fujifilm X Pro1 and Night Photography

The Eleventh July in Northern Ireland is bonfire night so what better opportunity to take the X Pro 1 out for a test run.  The photographs in this blog were taken in the Clonduff estate in east Belfast.  The camera settings were set to manual, with the exception of the ISO which was set to auto 6400 – so the camera would decide which ISO to use up to a maximum of 6400.  Here are a couple of examples.bradley-1345 bradley-1353

The above images were taken at 11.30pm and that that stage the main bonfire had not been ignited.  The first image was taken at 4000iso, f1.8 nearly wide open, the lens opens to f1.4 and the shutter speed 1/125th, enough to freeze movement.  The debris burning is enough to illuminate the crowd at the bottom of the street, however the flames are burnt out, if you forgive the pun!  I like the couple conversing in the foreground and the smoke adds to the drama of the scene.

In the second image, which was taken at just 400iso, f2 and 1/125th second, this enabled part of the flames to be properly exposed, but the heart of the fire is still burnt out.  The main bonfire is in the background awaiting for midnight lighting and I do like the sign on the right – No more dumpling, bonfire closed!

At full resolution noise is visible in both images, especially the first one, 4000iso does not help.  But having said this I think the level is very acceptable, so I think further night photography will be planned for the Fujifilm X Pro1.

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.

Flag Waving – Dutch Style!

We are well used to flag waving in Northern Ireland and so when I visited Amsterdam I was intrigued to see how they staged public parades.  In this case a trade guilds parade which interrupted the flow of traffic in downtown Amsterdam.

Taken in September it was unfortunately a dull grey damp day.  I remember being rather disappointed with my photographic results, the images lacked the clarity I was after, however I kept taking images with my best walk around lens, a 24-70mm f2.8.   The image below was one taken from this series.

24mm, f13, 1/60, 400iso

24mm, f13, 1/60, 400iso

The relatively slow shutter speed provides the sense of movement in the flag waving.  I had considered making a monochrome version of this but instead opted for colour.  In Lightroom the red, orange and blue filters were tweaked to bring the colour out more strongly and this was about the only manipulation required.

What appeals to me about the image are the diagonal forces produced by the zebra crossing, the marchers, the tram and the overhead cables which are all parallel to one another.  This produces a forceful diagonal line through the photograph.  In general diagonal lines make for stronger images.  By contrast the sole pedestrian standing at the zebra crossing provides an important element to the image and the image would not be as interesting without her.

Despite the technical faults I think this image works to make a powerful piece of street photography.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the G8 Summit

With President Obama visiting Belfast today prior to attending the G8 Summit I thought I would wait until he had gone before driving in to the city to see what there was to photograph.  I was surprised to see the city so quiet, usually G8 summits are associated with mayhem!

However at Belfast City Hall I did notice one sole protestor lobbying for a free Tibet.  I was attracted by how colourful his flag was and not recognising it I approached to ask.  The following photograph was the result.  During my visit to the city centre he was the only subject I photographed.

Fujifilm X Pro 1: 640iso, 35mm, f8, 1/60

Fujifilm X Pro 1: 640iso, 35mm, f8, 1/60

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Bill Clinton: Photographic Exhibition

Today saw us complete the installation of the Bill Clinton Photographic Exhibition well in advance for the opening of the G8 Summit on Monday 17 June.  Every exhibition space is different and a certain degree of skill is required to make the best use of the available space.

It is always pleasing to leave a fresh installation knowing that a job is well done.  A special thank you is due to the staff of The Clinton Centre who made us feel so welcome.  With the job complete to quote my colleague, there are no problems only solutions!

If you are in Enniskillen over the next few months do call into The Clinton Centre to take a wee look!

The Clinton Photographic Exhibition - completed The Clinton Photographic Exhibition - completed

The exhibition was opened by Nancy Soldenberg, who was was a key adviser to President Clinton in negotiating the peace process in Northern Ireland.

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.

Hanging the Presidential photographic exhibition

Recently I was asked to curate a photographic exhibition in The Clinton Centre in Enniskillen. The exhibition covers the visits of former President Clinton to Enniskillen and it will open to the public to coincide with the G8 Summit.  I had the honour of being asked to oversee its installation an experience which was most enjoyable and is still ongoing.

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

Liaising with the editor of the Impartial Reporter and a representative from the Clinton Foundation made the task so much easier, leaving us to do the measuring and hanging. Of course there was room for a little bit of fun as the following images will demonstrate.

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

There was some series work undertaken!  Images, which were nicely mounted, need to flow in sequence to tell a story, they need to be straight, appropriately spaced and complement their neighbouring image and not jar the viewer as they move around the space.

Attention to detail is vital to make optimum use of the available space in order to determine the number of images to be used and the size they will be printed to.  How the lighting falls on the displayed mounts needs to be adjusted.

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

Installing the Clinton Exhibition in advance of the G8 Sumitt

As a photographer it is good to be involved in curating and installing a photographic exhibition.  Instead of seeing the images through the viewfinder you are looking at the work of others from the other side of the camera and deciding how best to present them for viewing.   It was an honour to be entrusted to install such a prestigious exhibition that is associated with the G8 Summit.  The photographic exhibit will be finished in the next two days when I will run a followup blog. 

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.