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 

Belfast’s built heritage

This is Cromwell Road in the university district of Belfast.  Now a rather run down district inhabited mainly by students and now more recently by immigrants.  The architecture and style of this particular terrace demonstrates its grand past, a reflection of more prosperous times.  When I consulted a 1901 street directory I noted that the inhabitants were recorded as accountants, engineering chemist, agents and a RIC Sub Inspector.

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Many now converted into flats the interior of the houses will have been subdivided.  I hope that our city planners will have the good sense at least to preserve the facade of the terrace!

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A casual walk around the streets of south Belfast reveal a wealth of material to photograph.  I remember visiting one of these houses over thirty years when I was a social security visitor, good to see the terrace is still standing!

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 

Low light qualities of the X Pro 1

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A quick visit to Howth Pier gave me an opportunity to try out my Fujifilm X Pro 1 at night time.  The image above was taken at Howth when I photographed these fishermen landing their catch.  It was taken at 22.40 using only the available light from the fishing trawler and the lighting on the quayside.

I used a surprisingly low ISO setting, just 640, with my 35mm lens wide open at f1.4.  The 35mm Fujinon lens is a remarkable piece of glass, all the Fuji prime lenses are very fast! Shooting at 1/60 second the camera was handheld.  You cannot really judge the quality from the above photograph which is just 700pixels wide, so below I have selected a 100% crop from the above image so as you can judge for yourself.

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Even at 100% resolution the image is quite smooth with minimal digital noise, I have not used the sharpening tool in preparing these images, even the exposure and contrast settings have been left untouched.

What is there not to like about the X Pro 1?  It is providing a serious challenge to my Nikon gear; anyone what to buy a camera?

 

On the move!

Back to my street photography theme!  In a recent blog I said that unlike landscape photography were the photographer takes meticulous care to arrange the elements in the frame and to wait for the right light, street photography is very different in that your composition is often imperfect due to the constantly changing scene.

Today I used a technique to try and simplify the streetscape scene.  I found a backdrop that I wanted to appear in the photograph and waited for something or someone interesting to enter the frame.  Using this approach there was at least one constant that I could depend on.

The background I selected was a large advertising poster in the shop window announcing that they had moved.  It featured a coloured lady and what I was looking for was someone to enter the frame that would provide a contrast.  It was interesting that people entering the frame were obviously three dimensional, whereas the woman in the poster was two dimensional.  However I was conscious that whenever a photograph is exposed the entire image is two dimensional.

I waited in the one position for around 20 minutes (my wife was shopping!) and took several exposures, the image below is probably the best, I have entitled it …on the move!

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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 

 

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 

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 

The Somme Remembered

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Yesterday (1 July 2014) was the 98th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the usual civic remembrance was held within the grounds of Belfast City Hall.  In documenting the event I took 85 exposures and from these I have selected just 13.  In making the selection I took the deliberate decision to exclude politicians and other civic dignitaries because I wanted the Armed Forces on parade to be focus, after all it was their forefathers who paid the supreme price!

Her Majesty’s Forces on parade were drawn from the Royal Irish Regiment and the Irish Guards.  The series of images commences with army personnel assembling, the series continues with the parade to the cenotaph and it concludes with an establishing shot taken through a window from a second floor cafe adjacent to the City Hall.  

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  

Click on the link below.

http://ulsterphotography.co.uk/?page_id=5207

Red Barn Gallery

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Frankie Quinn pictured above runs and manages the Red Barn Gallery in Rosemary Street, Belfast and currently he is displaying his own photographic collection entitled “The Orange’.

On display are around forty images, all monochrome and 18 inches square, depicting various aspects of the Loyal Order as he recorded them in Belfast, Londonderry, Scarva and Rossnowlagh between 2011 to 2013.

Frankie is from the nationalist community which makes the treatment of his project all the more interesting.  A visit is definitely worth it and I understand the display will be available until the end of July.

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   

 

Rainy Belfast – what’s new?

Ins’t it odd that few people take photographs when it’s raining?  Some time ago I saw a photograph of a very wet Belfast street scene and it has always stuck in my mind and challenged me to go out and do the same.

Taking a walk around in the rain presents very different opportunities, such has people sheltering under cover, people taking cover in coffee shops which you can photograph through the window and people just going about their every day business with raised umbrellas.

Of course for the photographer rain produces marvellous lighting, reflections, deeper colours or if your shooting in monochrome a different dynamic range.  Capturing the rain as it falls allows you to play with shutter speeds and also adds to the mood the images. Here is a small selection of images shot yesterday.

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Next time it rains go out and give it a go!

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 patience of a street photographer!

My wife tells me that I don’t have any patience and she is never wrong!  But to be a street photographer you really do need patience to allow scenes to develop.  So while I have been wandering around Belfast I have tried slowing down or even taking a seat and allowing things to happen around me.

So I tried an experiment, I took a photograph and then waited to see what would change within the scene before taking another photograph, even pausing for ten minutes made a difference.  Here is the result:

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Ten minutes later:

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A bunch of American tourists showed up and gathered around the tourist information board, the girl never flinched and the two unrelated elements provided a contrast or tension within the frame. 

Try giving it a go!

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