Moving from 35mm to 50mm!

For the past while I have mostly been taking photographs with a 35mm lens, so much so that I feel very comfortable using this focal length, it seems to suit my documentary style and provides a wide frame within which to arrange the various elements.

Recently I was reminded that Henri Cartier-Bresson invariably photographed with a 50mm lens and that he never cropped photographs.  I decided to take a walk around Belfast’s historic entries with a 50mm Summilux lens and to rely on zone focusing at f8.  “F8 and be there” is attributed to the New York photojournalist Arthur Fellig, although I see that some attribute the quotation to the famous war photojournalist Robert Capa.  This aperture is wide enough to let in sufficient light and small enough to provide adequate depth of field. All I had to worry about was composition!  

As I continue to explore street photography and the rangefinder camera I am finding photography even more enjoyable by just working with one camera body and one prime lens with all the freedom this brings.  However I did find using a 50mm lens a little bit more challenging with its narrower angle of field forcing me to frame more carefully.  On the plus side I did like how the viewfinder on the rangefinder camera allowes you to observe what was entering the leaving the frame.  This added information is really useful.  Also zone focusing does not always produce pin sharp focus at full resolution, something which digital photographers are increasing becoming obsessed with.

Looking back at the famous street photographers who used expensive Leica cameras, they did not capture pixel peeking sharpness!  They instead concentrated on capturing emotion, which is really what photography is about, photographs that tell a story.  In HCB style here are the results of my Belfast entry explorations.

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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. 

An environmental portrait telling a story

Having now used both Fujifilm X type cameras and more recently a rangefinder camera for quite a while now I had forgotten just how heavy DSLR cameras are.  I recently covered an awards ceremony when I used my old D700 with its 24 – 70mm lens and it weighed a ton. Having a slight thumb injury the camera felt quite unwieldy so much so that my heavier D3 never left the camera bag.

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The next day I was in an office with my lighter rangefinder camera when I took this photograph.  It was so much more enjoyable to use.  I was intrigued by the office, there are so many clues here which tell a story.  The photograph was unposed and I took the opportunity to photograph while a phone call was being answered.  Building layout plans were pinned on the noticeboard, which indicates the nature of the work conducted here. Post-it notices on the wall and the untidy desk indicate the level of activity and perhaps the limited view through the window provides yet another clue.

I like the image because it is unposed and entirely unplanned, it was taken on the spare of the moment using just the ambient light in the room, but it does capture a moment in time, it describes an activity and indeed it now provides a social history in what has been a hectic period for this office worker.

This photograph shows Jonathan Mattison who is the curator of the new interpretative centres promoting the Orange Institution which will be formally known as the Museums of Orange Heritage.  The museums, currently undergoing construction at Schomberg House, Belfast, and at Sloan’s House, Co Armagh, are part of the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage), which received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

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. 

 

From this to this!

One of the joys for a photographer is to see how their images are used by others.  How will they interpret your images or will they change the message you intended when you made the photograph?  One of the pleasures of working with graphic designers is getting a brief of what they want and then going out to achieve the specific requirement, armed with the knowledge of what they are tasked to achieve.  The following image and location was the subject of a recent blog came about following a brief chat with a designer and now it has been used to promote walking tours featuring CS Lewis:

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This image was interpreted in the following way.  Note how the feel of the image is now projecting a much more dramatic and even sinister mood!  The skills of the photographer and the graphic designer coming together.

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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.

 

 

Robbie Burns in Belfast

Recently I was asked to take a photograph of a half scale statue of Robbie Burns which is currently on loan to the Linenhall Library.  As you will see from the photograph below cabinet lighting on an adjacent display cabinet made it rather difficult to capture, but the library staff were very helpful in finding ways to exclude the unwanted light.  The image here is was taken before blacking out the glass panel behind the statue.

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After doing a little on-line research I found some information about the origins of this statue as follows:

There’s nothing too good for the Irish ” not even a statue of Robert Burns ” and it is not to be wondered at that the only public memorial to the great poet in the Emerald Isle is to be found in the capital of Protestant Ulster, Belfast.

In September, 1893, a number of the leading Scotsmen in Belfast, ably led by Mr. James Dewar, determined to inaugurate a “Poets’ Corner” in the Art Gallery of the Public Library, by presenting to the Corporation of the city a half -life size statue of the Immortal Bard. The statue is a beautiful and inspiring representation of the poet, and is a replica of the grand statue of Burns which adorns his native town of Ayr, by George A. Lawson, Hon. R. S. A. The pedestal of Peterheadgranite on which the statue rests, bears the following inscription: “ROBERT BURNS 1750″1796.  

(Source: http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/The_Worlds_Memorials_of_Robert_Burns_1000271836/147)

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.

 

CS Lewis sculpture

bradley-5640A new year brings new opportunities and challenges and the possibilities in photography are endless.  I was recently asked if I had an image of the CS Lewis sculpture located in East Belfast, the well known author and Christian apologist and of course an Ulsterman!  I replied that I hadn’t but that I always intended to photograph it but have never got around to so.  I made my first visit on Christmas Eve, I returned on Christmas Day and then yet again on Boxing Day. 

You would be forgiven for asking why so many visits?  Each time I returned the light was different which changed the image.  I kept finding new angles to shoot from and using different lenses also changed the image I saw through the viewfinder.  This is the standard approach taken by any editorial photographer, cover all angles and points of view and you will get the image that the client wants.
 
Clive Staples Lewis
Novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist.
Born: November 29, 1898, Belfast
Died: November 22, 1963, Oxford
Spouse: Joy Davidman (m. 1956–1960)
Plays: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Movies and TV shows: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Books: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Voyage of the Dawn…
 
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.

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.  

Christmas markets again!

Over the past few days I have visited two Christmas markets, Belfast and Manchester.  Its been a while since I talked about what attracts me to make certain images and my recent visit to two city centre Christmas markets provide a perfect opportunity to do just this. Here are the two images I selected and my reasons for their selection.

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Belfast Christmas Market

Manchester Christmas Market

Manchester Christmas Market

I took just a few images at each location rather than shooting in all directions.  Both cities were hiving with people and in these situations I find it difficult to simplify what I see through the viewfinder.   In the case of the Belfast market it was the colour which drew my attention.  Red is a strong colour and the scene was naturally framed by the stall itself.

In the second image the couple in the lefthand side foreground drew my attention.  They were isolated in their own space and I was struck by how I could counter balance their vertical stance with the advertising cylinder on the opposite side of the frame.

The other feature common to both images is that ‘the decisive moment’ was captured, in the first image the exchange of money to complete a transaction and in the second the boy letting the girl take a bite from his beef burger.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer considered to be the father of photojournalism and the master of candid photography.  He coined the phrase ‘the decisive moment’ which he described as follows. “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative”.

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.

Escomb Saxon Church

A couple of weeks ago I paid a quick visit to Co Durham and got back to my photographic roots, photographing historical and heritage sites.  In this case Escomb Church near Bishop Auckland.

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Escomb Saxon Church is one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon churches in England, founded in c.670-675, much of the stone came from the nearby Roman Fort at Binchester. On the south wall is a 7th or early 8th Century sundial, and on the north wall is a reused Roman stone with the markings “LEG VI” (Sixth Legion) set upside down. The church was restored in 1875-1880 by RJ Johnson, and in 1965 by Sir Albert Richardson. It is a Grade I listed building.

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The church is one of only three complete Anglo-Saxon churches remaining in England and is well worth a visit, a key is available to gain access to the church.

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.