Brick Lane, Sunday – Cultural Contrasts

london, Thoughts on Life

I had a plan to take some street portraits last weekend.

Plan vs. reality…    Friday late night – no camera, saw lot’s of cool people. Saturday – camera, got soaked in the rain. Sunday – camera, saw no cool people…

But I do have a couple of interesting images to share from Sunday.

The first is a hackney carriage mobile coffee shop. Isn’t it a perfectly cute package of a traditional London icon and modern city culture?

Sometimes I regret the dilution of traditional culture. I remember visiting London when I was really young. The vibe that Camden used to have. The greasy spoon cafe’s. The old vans and cars. The time when London really had it’s own style. Nowadays, huge swathes of London are ‘generic international city’ zones with international chains like Pret etc.

On my last trip to Tokyo I was so annoyed to see a Fernandez & Wells store open in Omotesando. A coffee / light food etc. chain from London. I desperately don’t want to see my favourite parts of my favourite cities diluted to the same look, feel, behaviour, culture.

Development and change is good, but we desperately need to support individual style, culture, small businesses etc. and stop proliferation of generic, bland chains everywhere. There is a place for these in demand businesses, but surely they don’t need to take over every corner of our cities.

Rant over…  :)

As usual around East London I also saw some of the ever changing street art. I saw a load of people taking selfie’s in front of some art below one of the rail bridges near Shoreditch High Street.

I was thinking it’s another interesting contrast. Street art must be at least in part about making an individual statement, customising an otherwise regular wall into something unique.

Are selfie’s not the opposite?

Self portraits that by the nature of the phone camera / angle tend to look similar and are usually taken from a shallow perspective of showing off.

Are selfie’s so unartistic that maybe they become a valid candidate for contemporary art!

OCD photography tip – it’s so important for me to get the bridge line starting from the corner :)

 

 

Portrait Shoot with Andrew and Rosie, London

london, Photography Technique

If you’ve read my blog or looked around my website you might hazard a guess that I’m in love with photography.

That’s kind of true, but I’d rather say I love is the way the world looks. By that I mean people, places, objects, colours, light etc. There is nothing more magical than a stroll through an area with interesting sights and scenes – at home or abroad.

It’s not just the stereotypically beautiful scenes, it’s also the abstract and even conventionally ugly. Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find some people and places beautiful in the traditional sense.

But it’s often more than. It might be that a scene and a moment tells an interesting story about a person, place, or culture. The possibilities are endless.

If you look at my photographs you will find it’s a mix of mostly candid shots of either street scenes, travel destinations or architecture. This fits my interest in simply looking at the world and trying to capture interesting moments.

I’ve done less in the way of traditional portrait photography. In part because I am extremely shy about attempting to direct a model / subject.

However lately I find that I want to work on some projects with people to try and document something about their life, personality, interests, passions, skills etc.

As a stepping stone towards that I decided to spend a few hours with a portrait expert and model to learn some basics of working with models.

I was lucky enough to meet with Andrew from 36exp photography and Rosie; a London based dancer / model.

The session with Andrew was just what I needed. As I hoped, the focus wasn’t on the camera, gear etc. but it was on working with a subject, I got lot’s of great insight and tips from someone who lives and breathes portrait photography.

In this post I am going to share the top 15 or so photographs. However I have 100 or so (from 500) that came out not bad on flickr.

I’ve also been studying photoshop re-touching and I thought it might be interesting to highlight the difference from ‘in camera’ to ‘post photoshop’.

In Camera

Here is one of my favourite shots as it came straight out of the camera in RAW format (i.e. not processed at all by camera / laptop)

Post Lightroom (basic developing)

Here is the photograph after basic processing in lightroom. Note I normally process the highlights, shadows, clarity etc. a bit more aggressively in lightroom, but as I didn’t want to affect Rosie’s skin much I kept it to minor adjustments:

  • tiny adjustment of exposure, whites, shadows
  • tiny bit of contrast and vibrancy
  • I also cropped in to 4:3 dimensions

Here we go ‘lightroom edit’:

Post Photoshop (editing / re-touching)

Now for the photoshop edit. The photoshop work is based on a study of re-touching techniques. I’ve kept it relatively subtle, however keeping in mind I am new to this, it may still be a bit off in certain ways. I changed

  • A bit more volume to hair (to capitalise on Rosie’s already amazing hair)
  • Smoothing skin texture under eyes and colour
  • Removing minor blemish and some of the stand out hair strands
  • Adding a bit of light and colour to the iris of the eyes
  • Adding a bit of colour to the highlights in the hair
  • Slight teeth whitening

Here we go ‘photoshop edit’:

For a beginner it takes quite a bit of time to make even small adjustments, do you think it’s worthwhile from picture 1 to 3? Hopefully it’s subtle so that it is still clearly Rosie, but just a tiny bit polished.

Other than the re-touching topic, here some of the other images that came out well. Note these only have minor lightroom adjustments – no re-touching.














I don’t like to focus on equipment; but for any reader that’s interested, I use a simple combination of a Nikon D610 and a 50mm prime lens.

What do you think, how did my first real portrait shoot come out?

Chelsea, London

london

Time for another Sunday photowalk. This week I went to Chelsea in West London. Chelsea has the reputation of being a wealthy area. I was expecting rich ladies in 4×4 cars (known as Chelsea tractors), plastic surgery, Lamborghini’s with Qatar plates etc.

But, it was more like churches, cute houses, old buildings and classic cars.

We did see one guy in a large new Rolls Royce / Bentley and he actually asked us if we wanted a photo.. haha.. I was like, “eh, no”

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Chiltern Street

london

Today I went for a walk around Chiltern Street in Marylebone. I think it’s quite a famous spot with it’s beautiful red brick town houses.

I also spotted a couple of nice cars.

I normally take candid street photos, but I’ve been wanting to work on my confidence to ask people if I can take their photo. I saw some friendly looking people outside of ‘Trunk’ store, it was a lovely scene, so I asked if I could photograph them. They kindly agreed.













Barbican, London – The Japanese House

japan

This year the Barbican centre ran an exhibition; ‘The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945’.

I was impressed by the creative layout, a large gallery was used, in the centre a life sized house and garden were installed. This was surrounded by individual galleries telling the story of evolving design in the post war decades.

What better way to celebrate the economical use of space and thoughtful design present in Japanese homes than to make it a central theme of your exhibition. 

Upon entering – the first gallery features a set of movies showing Japanese life in the 40s and 50s; a good intro to the sights and sounds, it gives you a sense of how the space at home was used.

Part of the focus of the exhibition is the identity challenge japan faced after the war. Post war – American design and culture was popular, however as confidence returned there was an increasing desire to return to Japanese values. Designers were experimenting with various aspects of traditional Japanese design and trying to figure out the best way to combine these with western design.

The videos highlight the strange mix of American hairstyles and clothing with the Japanese way of living – eating, drinking tea etc.

The central space with mock up houses surrounded by individual galleries.

The first set of photographs are from Yasuhiro Ishimoto and feature traditional Japanese architecture. I could really connect with Ishimoto’s style, his focus is on the clean geometric lines and this emphasises the beauty and simplicity of traditional palaces and temples in Japan.

These are followed further on with a couple of nice prints of a house designed by Kiyoshi Seike. In post war Japan there was a preference for western style housing, however Seike was designing modern modular homes using traditional Japanese design theory.

The exhibition featured a number of interesting books that go into detail about the different traditional styles in Japan.

One of the things you will see in Japan is extremely creative use of small plots of land. The exhibition features prints of original concrete designs built cheaply by people that held small plots.

A quick web search of Japanese architecture will show the huge volume and variety of styles of these houses. I think the exhibition could have included more variety of the modern houses, however I think the focus was more on the post war evolution.

There was one stunning print of Junzo Yoshimura’s mountain lodge.

And there is Kazunari Sakamoto’s ‘closed box’ house, where the focus is on efficient use of space. At the time I could imagine this felt ground breaking and exciting, however I personally found the concrete narrow rooms to look too cold.

Kazuo Shinoharo’s ‘House Under High Voltage Lines’ addressed a key challenge in Japanese cities; the regulations and restrictions that have to be dealt with surrounding the power lines – one of the things that make Japanese cities so recognisable.

The exhibition also featured some interesting small models.

And some sketches.

A trip to the Barbican isn’t complete without a enjoying a bit of sun in the courtyard and appreciating the rare occasions where concrete architecture works :)

 

 

 

 

Tate Modern & East London Canalside

london

I had a couple of nice days out recently that I thought I might share with you.

Last year Tate Modern; a famous modern art gallery, expanded with the new ‘Switch House’ wing.

One of the lovely things about Tate Modern is the location; a former power station. It provides a massive space for art and preserves a beautiful and iconic building.

The architecture of the new Switch House wing is quite striking and impressive both inside and out.

London is so full of interesting architecture that I think it’s difficult to create something which stands out, is different, yet is not ugly. I personally like this design, what do you think?

No trip to the Tate is complete without a walk along the Southbank. If you’ve never been the former power station is on the river side in central London.

Some shots of one of my other architecture favourites – The National Gallery and riverside scenes.

I also had a couple of lovely days out in East London recently. I’m in love with the canal walk from Kingsland Road (near Shoreditch); a fashionable bar, gallery, coffee shop area, which goes along past another cool area; Broadway, then alongside the huge and beautiful Victoria Park before arriving at the Olympic Park which has a couple of unique brewery bars in former industrial buildings.

It’s so beautiful there, the next time it’s sunny I’ll go out and take more photos. It’s especially nice to see the spring blossoms and check out the people living in houseboats on the canal.

 

 

Happy Christmas 2016 from London – XMAS Day Photowalk

london

Happy Christmas to everyone here on WordPress and any others that have found their way to my blog.

Today I want to share a handful of pictures from my Christmas Day photowalk around London. Without further ado:

The area around Seven Dials (between Covent Garden and Soho)

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Trafalgar Square

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Around Piccadilly

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Regent Street

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Carnaby Street

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As usual a huge variety of decorations around London and still some more to be seen. I plan to visit the Southbank and St. Pauls.

I would say that this years Regent Street decorations are much nicer than last years. The same goes for Seven Dials. I like the messages on the signs on Carnaby Street, but I think last years spectacular decorations were nicer.

Last Year

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/22/christmas-in-london/

http://hakkanotogame.com/2015/12/27/christmas-in-london-part-ii/