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Posts tagged: photography

A photo a day

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I’ve been working on a photoblog in my spare time over the past couple of weeks. This is part of my New Year’s Resolution to revive my interest in photography, and take at least one photo a day worth posting on it. I’m hoping that this will (a) force me to get out from behind the computer and find some other activities worth photographing, and (b) help me to improve my technique.

I only got started in mid-January, thanks to the flu, but my photoblog finally went live at the weekend, and the results are now up there for you all to enjoy.

Taking a photo that’s worth posting every single day can be really, really difficult at times. Sometimes an inertia sets in, or I don’t do anything worth photographing, or I’m just too busy, or the weather’s excruciatingly naff and I just haven’t got the hang of taking photos of excruciatingly naff weather yet. On days like that, it’s easy to end up posting something a bit banal. But there are other days that present the opposite problem: I end up with several that I like, and have to pick one.

This is one of the advantages of working for the Houses of Parliament. You are right on the doorstep of a wealth of photo-opportunities, and because that part of Westminster is the mother of all tourist attractions, everyone else is taking pictures left, right and centre too, so you can go for a walk at lunchtime and snap away to your heart’s content without feeling self-conscious about it.

On Friday, for instance, I did just that, and ended up with no less than four candidates for photo of the day. The first was this one from the Lambeth Bridge, looking towards Vauxhall. The lighting conditions were interesting enough to have some fun with, and I managed to get a particularly moody feel by underexposing it by one stop:

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Then a few minutes later, in the subway underneath the east end of Lambeth Bridge, I caught this silhouette of a jogger running out into the light. It stands out because it’s the kind of place where most people never think of taking photos, but it’s also a bit of a “decisive moment” picture:

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Over on Westminster Bridge, I was particularly struck by the sunlit London Eye against a backdrop of cloudy skies:

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But in the end of the day, the one I liked the most from my half hour photowalk was this one of the protest camp in Parliament Square. Whatever you think of the politics or the aesthetics of their campaign, there’s no denying that their Tardis is a work of art:

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I wonder if it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside?

Experimental photography

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to revive my (admittedly somewhat dormant) interest in photography. I’ve set myself a goal of taking at least one photo a day worth posting on a photoblog (currently under development). At this time of the year, dull weather and dark mornings and evenings make that a little bit difficult, especially if it’s natural light photos that you’re after, but it does give me rather more scope for experimental photography — the kind of thing that you might see in the Tate Modern alongside cows in formaldehyde, piles of bricks, and Globus Cassus. Experimental photography is particularly good fun because it’s…well, experimental.

When I first took up photography in the mid-1990s I occasionally came in for a bit of a ribbing from my family about some of the more experimental photos that I would take. To them, photography meant just quick snaps of family and friends, to preserve memories, and anything else was a waste of film. They had a point there — the cost of film was an issue, so there were obviously budgetary restraints on just how much experimenting I could do.

These days, of course, since it’s all digital, the cost of film and processing is no longer an issue, so you can experiment to your heart’s content. The other night on the way home from the station I strapped my point-and-shoot digital camera to the handlebars of my bike and pressed the shutter every time I was overtaken by a car — just to see what the result would look like. Out of the dozen or so pictures that I took, most of them didn’t show anything worth reproducing, but sure enough, there were one or two rather interesting specimens:

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I’ve called this one “Light scribbles” and it’s now my new Windows desktop wallpaper.

What no night?

It’s been about thirteen years now since I was last this far north at this time of year. Dad always used to tell us that it never gets properly dark at midsummer in the north of Scotland, but since I’ve spent nearly all my life in England, and we normally only head this way in August, I’d never realised just how not properly dark it doesn’t get, even though it is nine degrees south of the Arctic Circle.

This photograph, taken in Alford, Aberdeenshire just after 1am this morning, should give you some idea though. It was the point in the night when it gets darkest, and as you can see there is still quite a bit of light in the northern sky:

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Technical details for the photo-geeks among you: f/2.8, two second exposure, ISO 80 film speed on a Canon PowerShot A720 IS digital camera. This is the same scene taken just over an hour earlier with the same settings:

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