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.

Belfast Christmas Market

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

The photographer’s eye

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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 

A perspective on General Lundy!

Welcome to the first blog of 2014!  Last year was a busy year for Ulster Photography with ninety-nine blogs published detailing my photographic musings.  I will not promise to repeat that number in 2014.  One way to pursue photography is by undertaking personal projects and this blog details one such project I undertook which detailed the making of the Lundy effigy in the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Londonderry.  I made several visits to the Memorial Hall for this purpose.

There were a few objectives I wanted to cover.  Most photographs of Lundy portray its burning, after all that is why it is made in the first place, but I wanted to cover the construction process as I have never seen images of this aspect.  In total I made four visits and took hundreds of images.  The second objective was to demonstrate its size and scale, photographic perspective was used to do this.

Below are two photographs that I have selected that do precisely this:

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Using height, comparative sized of the the effigy to the man on the ladder and the ladder itself conveying height all transmit information that enable the viewer to judge the size of the effigy, even through all of it is not shown in the frame.

Preparations for the burning of Lundy at the closing of the gates ceremony in Londonderry

A close up of the finished head and torso also give evidence of the scale and it is immediately recognisable as being the Lundy effigy. 

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

Not close enough!

It was the war photographer Robert Capa who famously said, ‘…if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough’!  One of the constraints of the Fujifilm X Pro 1 fitted with a 35mm lens forces you to get in close and of course this is what you should do. The following image taken a few days ago illustrates the point.

ISO 200, 35mm @ f4, 1/500th second

ISO 200, 35mm @ f4, 1/500th second

Experimenting with shallow depth of field (DoF) can be a useful way to improve the image. In this photograph I used a single focus point and with the lens at f4 a shallow DoF is assured, the area that is focus sharp is only a few inches wide! In this case the closest brass clasp is sharp as is the profile of the man’s face, both edges of the drum shell are slightly soft and of course the background is out of focus forcing your eye to the parts of the image that is in focus.

So getting in close and making use of a shallow DoF work well together to produce a stronger image; the image has not been cropped, so the full size of the frame was used. Now time to go out and practice these techniques!

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Warriors of Xi’an

The Warriors of Xi’an China have been standing guard in the grounds of Belfast City Hall as part of the One World Creative programme, thereby providing another photo opportunity.

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For this excursion close up and narrow depth of field settings were the order of the day. All camera settings were 200iso, f5.5 and 1/250th second, using the 35mm lens on the Fujifilm X Pro 1.

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.

 

A country Orange parade

This is the first Orange parade that I have photographed this year.  The annual Mini Twelfth in the small town of Saintfield in Count Down provides a very different setting compared to that found in Belfast.  Signs of protest, aggravation and alcohol abuse are totally absent and a family atmosphere prevails.  Instead of using my usual DSLR gear I used the simple Fujifilm X Pro 1 which is light and easy to carry, its also not as obvious enabling me to move freely around and be relatively unnoticed.

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In moving around I am looking for scenes that are typical of such events, people standing chatting waiting for the parade to get under way, children holding the banner strings and Lambeg Drums which are a particular feature of country parades, notice the man standing studying the drum beat and rhythm.

None of the images are cropped, they are as they came out of the camera and hopefully they are a faithful documentary record of the events at the assembly field.

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.

 

Analysing the Image!

Here I want to discuss just one photograph taken from my shoot in Dromore, which was the subject of the previous blog. It is worth taking time to review images taken and to work out what you did wrong, as well as what worked! I took more photographs of the Scottish country dancers than I did of anything else, this was simply because they were dynamic and quick moving. Here is the photograph:

Camera settings: 200iso, 98mm (70 - 200 mm 2.8) lens, f7.1, 1/200 shutter speed

Camera settings: 200iso, 98mm (70 – 200 mm 2.8) lens, f7.1, 1/200 shutter speed

Because the action was fast moving many images were made to be sure to get better compositions. So what is it about this image? A telephoto lens does have the pleasing effect of compressing the image, so the street houses in the background seem closer. The three girls are well placed in the frame and the girl in the tartan dress is pointing into the frame which is much better. The girl in the middle looking down invites us to question what she is doing. Is she watching the foot work of the other girl or thinking when she comes in to the dance? A photograph which invites us to ask questions is more interesting.

A bit about focus; it is a little bit soft even though the point of focus falls on the middle girl. Yet the shutter speed is more than adequate. A smaller aperture would have been better, say f11. To use f11 I would have needed to increase the ISO, which is what I should have done! Having said this I am still pleased with the image which is uncropped.

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.

 

Reenactment and Orange Arch opening in Dromore Co Down

In the small Co Down town of Dromore I covered the anniversary reenactment of Sir Edward Carson’s visit to the town one hundred years ago.  Photographing such events are always fun but the main task is to simplify the scenes as you see them through the viewfinder, either by careful cropping or selected use of focus and when there are Scottish dancers performing you really do need to take lots of exposures to be sure to capture the right moments.  The following are a few examples of what I mean:

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It is always useful to show a couple of context shots showing a wider view of proceedings, so here they are:

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All images shown are full frame and have not been cropped in post production.  There is a huge debate among documentary photographers as to whether or not images should be cropped.  For myself I don’t see a problem provided cropping does not mislead the viewer as to what happened.

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.