Saturday, 5 February 2011

Manchester 01-02-2011

It turned out to be what felt like a successful day.  Trying to follow the advice from my reading the night before, I stared and listened; I think I remained largely invisible; I tried to work with patience and persistence; and I have subsequently edited quite severely.  I shot around 80 images in a 3-4 hour period, rapidly reduced to 60 in a first ‘on-screen’ edit, and I would say there are perhaps 6-8 that are ‘OK’ – nothing outstanding but one or two that I do quite like.  I suspect those proportions are about right for a ‘street shoot’.
I was definitely right to go into a big city – the opportunities are so much better – and I ended up working with a couple of ‘themes’ in mind.  The first was the one I had planned – people eating in public – and the second was a response to one of the photos that I took early on, of two men, arm-in-arm, one with a walking stick.  It set me off looking for other ‘couples’, with the idea that one could explore the way they walk together and interact as they go down the street. The other good thing to emerge from the day was that Sunday 6th Feb is the Chinese New Year celebrations day in Manchester.  Weather permitting, it could be ideal for ‘Comfortable Situation’ and indeed other possibilities.
This was the shot that started me off on the ‘couples’ theme.  I really like the pose that they have struck, perfectly naturally, without any knowledge that I am taking their photograph – the elegance and angle of the head in the elderly gentleman with the stick, the gentle tolerance and support of the man on the right.  As someone commented when I put this image of Flickr, it is a quirky shot, but one about which you could imagine all sorts of stories.  They had just been sitting with a drink outside the coffee house on the right and I saw them starting to get up ready to resume their day, so I loitered, sensing an opportunity.  Luck, of course, plays its part in getting just the right pose!  I can see this as a good image in the context of Project 10, Moment and Gesture.
I had barely left this particular scene when I saw these two about to cross the street towards me, and the opportunity for a comparative shot was too good to miss.  I needed to be quick because there was never going to be too much opportunity to photograph them, without them being aware, which would defeat the object in that they would either look at me or avoid me (or confront me, of course).  For that reason, I took the shot ‘from the hip’, of which more later.  It isn’t  a great shot, and it suffers from some distortion as a result of being close in with a wide angle, but it works as a comparison with the previous shot; it captures a moment, especially as he chose to light his cigarette whilst his colleague chose to look back over his shoulder; and it is ‘Close and Involved’.
There were others around the ‘couples’ theme, but I also, as I said earlier, took shots of people eating in public, ideally aiming to capture ‘the moment’ when they were taking a bite.  I worked close in, with the compact camera set at a wide angle, operating surreptitiously so as to get a true ‘unaware’ image.  These are a couple of examples.
The composition works quite well in the first, with the framing of the building behind and the reflection in the glass panels.
Here are two others that work well in terms of composition and, in the case of the first, ‘moment and gesture’.

So, I felt happier with what emerged from this session, and I think that it was partly down to the fact that more was happening, but also to my having the time to wander, looking for images, generally taking my time to size up what I wanted to try and shoot.  There are no pictures that will become street ‘icons’, of course!!  But I feel that I made progress, and have the prospect of doing more work there on Sunday.
There was on issue that left me feeling a bit uncertain though, and it will be the subject of my next post.

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