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. 

Finding those golden rays

Over the past few days I have been making repeat visits to Island Hill in Co Down, sometimes two or three times in the one day.  I often rephotograph locations that I have been to before and find that it always pays off by helping me to find the “right light”. 

As on my previous visits I left the camera bag behind and just carried the camera fitted with a 35mm prime lens.  On this visit I selected f11 as my chosen aperture and set the infinity symbol inline with f11 on the lens scale, remembering the quotation “f11 and hold her steady”!  The main benefit being that I didn’t have to worry about focusing thereby enabling me to concentrate on composition.

The other thing I have been doing is limiting my exposures to 36, just as if it was a film camera, a discipline I have been observing lately.  From my visit this afternoon I have chosen two images:

Following where the light falls!

Following where the light falls!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Chasing the sunbeams!

Fujifilm X Pro 1 and the Leica rangefinder cameras are just made for this style of 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. 

Travel light photography

For quite a some time now I have been using Fujifilm X system cameras and enjoying the experience, especially the lack of neck strain.  I now seldom use the big and bulky DSLR cameras, except when the occasion demands it.  However for the past couple of weeks I have been using a full frame rangefinder camera, a complete new experience for me. Manual focus and no bells and whistles have brought me back to what photography used to be like.

My recent monochrome images have been produced with this camera.  Being forced to slow down using manual focus might help to improve my photographic eye, I have also being trying out zone focusing and being surprised when my images were sharp!  But what has been most enjoyable is the experience of going out with just one camera and one prime lens.  There is a freedom with this which just lets you concentrate on making that image.

Earlier today I visited Island Hill and the three monochrome images are the result. Yesterday I visited the same location and captured the colour photograph.

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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. 

Photographic lines

This blog is more about composition, something I don’t talk enough about!  But in framing a photograph the lines of direction, or to put it another way, the direction of force within the image are important, among other things.  It is the leading lines that direct how you read the image, they direct your eyes into the image.  There are of course other visual influences such as colour and lightness and darkness.

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In the above image I used the line of the roof on the left to draw your eye towards the centre of the image and in this case it works.

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The use of lines in this image is quite different, perhaps more subtle.  I have used the line of the roof of a burial vault in the foreground with that of the line of the church gable end roof to frame the shadow of a branch from trees that were behind me.  The church tower at the other end of the building provide a depth of the image, which incidentally was taken at f2.8, not an aperture associated with deep depth of field.  This is where a wide angle lens comes into its own, in this case a 35mm lens.

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.

 

 

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 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

From light to darkness!

These images were taken at a band parade in Banbridge Co Down for the purpose of testing the Fujifilm X-T1 from conditions of early evening daylight through to late evening street light to see how it would perform.

Obviously as the evening continued I was forced to increase my ISO setting, from 400 to 1600 and then finally to 6400.  How would this effect digital noise in dim light?  I was using a 56mm f1.2 lens, so a fast lens should help considerably.

Later in the evening as it got darker I had to abandon auto focus and switch to manual, the focusing ring on the lens was a delight to use, very smooth!  The images are below together with camera settings.

ISO 400, f4, 1/160

ISO 400, f4, 1/160

ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/60

ISO 1600, f1.4, 1/60

ISO 6400, 32.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, 32.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/125

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/100

ISO 6400, f2.0, 1/100

My view: I enjoyed the shooting experience, the slowest shutter speed was 1/60 and good for hand holding the camera.  The only issue to be aware of is manual focusing in low light with a moving target and a wide aperture with shallow DoF!

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

Front Cover!

Taking a photograph for the front cover of a book was an enjoyable task to undertake, especially when it was in the heart of the beautiful Co Fermanagh countryside.  I learned a few things too!  Left to myself I would have taken a portrait layout for the front cover, but when the image is required to wrap around both front and back covers then obviously landscape is the appropriate format.  It is also good to know where to leave space for the text, with these parameters sussed out the final composure can be framed, as set out below:

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The old Crom Castle was the perfect spot, see The Actions of the Enniskillen Men.

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

Hungering after film photography

The last time I ran a role of film through a film camera was around 2002 and in recent months I have been threatening to try film photography again.  To date I still haven’t! However I took some nighttime images at a candlelight vigil at Belfast City Hall commemorating the outbreak of The Great War when a friend of mine commenting on the image said you should try black and white.

So I have created an image using Silver Efex Pro using a Kodak Tri X Pro filter to emulate film photography.  Tri X Pro was a 400ASA black and white film which was regarded as a fast film, so I suspect this is what I would have been using for this event.

In the darkroom you would have used dodging and burning to bring up the areas of the photograph that you wanted to enhance, this is what I did using Silver Efex Pro when I lightened the face of the man in uniform.  To enable you to compare I have the original image and the monochrome copy.  I will let you decide whether or not it looks like an image produced from a negative!

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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