Christmas Party Time

bradley-5465To end the year a photograph from a senior’s Christmas party which just proves that even older people can enjoy a visit from Santa!

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.  

Armistice Day 2014 – Belfast City Hall

Several hundred city centre workers paused for a few minutes to remember the armistice at Belfast City Hall in heavy rain.  This more informal and impromptu event is in contrast to the formal and elaborate proceedings held on Remembrance Sunday.

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A wider angle view show the crowd waiting in silence.

The quotation on the cenotaph reads:

“Throughout the long years of struggle which have now so gloriously ended, the men of Ulster have proved how nobly they fight and die.”  George V

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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

November brings remembrance!

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November 1st, All Saints Day, seems to be an appropriate day for my first blog of the month which features the memorial garden of remembrance situated at the city end of the Newtownards Road, Belfast.

During the second world war Belfast was the twelfth most heavily bombed British city with a tonnage of 440 high explosive bombs dropped over two raids.  Originally Belfast was believed to be out of range from German bombers, but the ship building and aircraft factories were the key attraction.

Reconnaissance flights had given the Luftwaffe very detailed photographs of what factories were where within the city. They also showed where the 22 anti-aircraft guns were and analysis showed that 16 were heavy AA guns while 6 were classed as light. As a comparison, 100 AA guns defended Liverpool. The Luftwaffe concluded that Belfast “was the most poorly defended city in the UK”.

My late father was on duty on both night raids and I am glad that I took the trouble to record his memories of that time.

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.

All Saints’ Eve

While visiting Hillsborough in Co Down I came across this florist shop at the bottom of the main street and thought it provided a colourful display in the lead up to halloween, sometimes referred to as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve.  A colleague went in to the shop and asked the shop assistant to pose for me as I dodged traffic in the middle of the road.

Bradley-5012This got me thinking about Halloween!  The feast of All Saints was a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 1 November, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead and all the faithful departed believers.

The camera settings were simple, Fujifilm X-T1 in manual mode, 400iso, f5.6, 1/125 second.  The camera was fitted with a 23mm f1.4 lens, equivalent to 35mm.

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.

 

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 

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.

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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 

Should amateur photographers do wedding photography?

Occasionally friends will ask me to take their wedding photographs.  My standard response on these occasions is to say that I am not a wedding photographer and they might want to investigate what a specialist wedding photographer has to offer as they will provide a more specialised service than I would be able to offer.
 
Having make this point clearly I am sometimes still asked.  The question is should I? Obviously wedding photographers will say that I shouldn’t!  However I take the view that if you explain carefully the approach you will take on the basis of what the couple want then you can safely proceed provided both the couple and the photographer have a clear understanding.
 
Every couple will have their own particular idea of what they want.  The couples I have undertaken wedding photography for seem to prefer a low key approach with emphasis on informality.  It is a pleasure to participate in these occasions on what is an important landmark day for the couple and I suspect that if you provided wedding photography as a business service you would lose this level of intimacy.  
 bradley-6834All 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 for that little detail!

I have been spending a little time in Belfast Cathedral compiling a body of work and on my last visit my attention was drawn to a small detail.  So often when you work to a brief you tend to overlook that little detail.  The lesson therefore is to slow down and take the time to look around properly, in so doing you can be richly rewarded.

Here is one example, the silver cross that sits on the communion table was photographed from behind showing the reflection of the stained glass window on the east wall.  I used a shallow depth of field to throw the background out of focus, but not too much as to render two of the three ‘great lights’ unrecognisable, the third ‘great light’ being hidden by the silver cross.  To emphasise the key subject the background was kept dark.

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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

Event photography at City Hall

Recently I was asked to cover an event in Belfast City Hall, it was a evening function held for the east Belfast McMordie Memorial Orange Lodge on the occasion of their centenary anniversary. James McMordie, a former member, was Lord Mayor of Belfast around 1910.

In covering such an event you really want to pre visualise the shots that you want to make and a brief conversation with the organiser in advance can give you the information you need.  Requirements were quite straightforward, a group photograph on the stairs from the central lobby is a somewhat standard image, another photograph beside the portrait of their former member provides a more direct link or association with the lodge and the occasion being celebrated.  Later that evening the lodge was to hold a meeting in one of the main committee rooms so a photograph here was also appropriate.

In trying to find settings that are in keeping with a Belfast Orange Lodge the stairway and adjacent war memorial to the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (Young Citizen Volunteers of Belfast) Pioneer Battalion memorial was another photo opportunity.  But perhaps the most interesting shot was unplanned, this involved getting the members to stand in a circle around the rotunda on the first floor of the City Hall.  The selected images are shown below.

McMordie Memorial LOL 1214

McMordie Memorial LOL 1214

McMordie Memorial LOL 1214

McMordie Memorial LOL 1214McMordie Memorial LOL 1214

Some other issues!  I was using on-camera flash which is the least flattering form of lighting, but you work within the constraints.  In a public building and with limited time I wasn’t going to carry around off camera lighting.

The second issue involves people management.  In some respects event photography, like wedding photography, is more about “people management”, giving clear directions and getting people to do what you want them to do without making them feel overly directed or worse still bored stiff with the whole process.  I think the series of images above capture the spirit of the event and that after all is the purpose of event 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

 

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