Side of a building, beside an alleyway, at the bottom of Park Street in central Bristol; 8 Apr 2014.

If I can summon up the courage, I’m going to start approaching people on the street to ask if I can photograph them – portraits of strangers!  And thinking that Bristol’s Park Street might provide an eclectic mix of humanity – tourists, university students, Banksy fans – and maybe some Bristolians too! – I spent some time exploring alleyways off this great hill of a highway.  Why alleyways?  Because any successful portrait in this genre must have two facets – an interesting person to be the subject – and a well controlled background that enhances the subject, as opposed to detracting from it.

And so the plan is to smile and talk confidently, proffer a business card and, if the person agrees to be photographed, to whisk them off the pavement’s visual melange to a very nearby somewhere that will provide a good backdrop.  And so to this one-car wide alley off Park Street’s teeming thoroughfare – and to the side of the building, which will provide a nicely subdued and unintrusive backdrop.

I used the G11’s widest setting – 28mm – and tilted the camera upwards towards the towering mass of masonry, and so there are converging verticals – verticals lines on either side of the frame appear to bend towards the centre of the frame as they rise up, whereas the pale line right of centre rises vertically.  Such distortion can probably be fixed by software but I’m lazy as always – and I think that the slight incurving of these strong elements in the composition adds marginally to any visual allure that it has.

So what is this image about?  It records the side of a building but, aside from the facts that this edifice is tall and massive, we are given no further clues to its nature – save perhaps that its does not appear to be especially new or modern. Leaving aside what the image actually represents, we are left with an abstract collection of shapes and tones, which are mostly covered in strong, rough textures – their surfaces could be coated in very coarse sandpaper.

The shapes are mostly more or less thinly rectangular, and they extend between the frame’s top and bottom margins.  Whereas most of the building’s walls are in light shadow, these uprights are being touched by the sun – and so to a series of pale tones that divide the image vertically.

There are two other things to mention.  On the left margin, the painting over of graffiti has left a different kind of shape – rectangular with an offshoot (there is also a painted over graffiti splodge lower right).  And finally there is the sole element in the composition which is not a part of the building – a thin, vertical, metal pole, about a third of the way in from the lower right corner.

Canon G11 PowerShot at 28mm (35mm equivalent); 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Harsh preset, and adding a cyanotype tone.

About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

20 Responses to BRISTOL 71 – SIDE OF A BUILDING (MONO)

  1. krikitarts says:

    A worthy project, Adrian, and I’m sure you are up to it. It’s a great idea to have some specific backgrounds in mind before you accost strangers and ask permission to capture their digital personas (personae?), and this would be a good one. Definitely keep it on a front burner!


  2. Malin H says:

    I wish you the best of luck, my friend and I really look forward to see the result someday (if you find courage enough to do this, and I think you will).

    About the image; I like it, it’s simple (less is more) and it feels like if I can touch and feel the surface with my fingers… I also like the tone in this one – it goes well with the motif.


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you for the confidence you have in me! I think I will too, but it will not be without some fear and trepidation!

      And thank you too for your good thoughts about the image as well. A 🙂


  3. Meanderer says:

    All the best with it, Adrian. Looking forward to reading about how you get on!


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Haha!!! >>> will I manage it???????????????????????????????? 🙂 Perhaps I could have an intravenous Duvel drip strapped to my leg – or, a more balanced diet, one on each leg …. 🙂 …


  4. Sallyann says:

    Although my mother taught me not to talk to strangers, my dad taught me that if I wanted to do something badly enough I would find the ability to do it.
    It still amazes me how much my camera draws me out of my safety zone. 🙂
    Good luck


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Sallyann, thank you very much – your good wishes are very welcome!

      And re your safety zone, well it just reminds me how different each and every one of us is. Because I marvel at the problems you have with your camera – but then realise what problems I’d have if I were to try knitting or crochet!

      I have in fact tried knitting once – it was at one of those daft away days from work, which are supposed to build our team skills etc etc – oh what a lot of bilge they were!!! So we were all told to do a bit, but two moments into my needles and wool I was totally lost, I might as have been on the Moon – so I got the lady sitting next to me to do it for me, and passed it off as mine! What a fraud and charlatan I am!!! Adrian 🙂


      • Sallyann says:

        I’ve broken the back of the decorating monster at home for the moment so should be able to find a little camera time over the next few weeks.
        I’ve got a weekend in Cardiff planned with my sister and another in Llanberis with Hubby watching a triathlon in May,
        Lots of practice before a trip to Barcelona in June. 😀
        It’s a pity you can’t give me camera lessons, although I somehow doubt that you would enjoy knitting lessons in exchange.


  5. Great textures and tones! Good luck with the street photography, as you say, Park Street should be good hunting ground (makes my legs ache just remembering that walk home from work every day!!)


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thanks, Lisa, glad you like it! And of course you remember Park Street – I can still remember being dragged up it by my mother when I was 4 or 5 or so – it seemed so steep and endless to a little boy – but my reward on reaching the top was to visit every one of the (then) many antique and junk shops along Park Row and on down to Christmas Steps – do you remember Christmas Steps too? – to buy cheap little curios for my collection. Thanks for your thoughts, Lisa! Adrian


  6. icastel says:

    Love the nice and rich texture on this and the shard-like vertical lines/shapes 🙂 Great abstract! Very nicely processed, Adrian 🙂


  7. Helen Cherry says:

    Great light and texture.. good luck with asking strangers… it’s not easy as I discovered when I did the women photos for 1500 saturdays a few weeks back..


    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Glad you like this, Helen – thank you! No, its going to be difficult to start, I know, but I think I’m going to try – please send Adult Soc Care package + bandages soonest!!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. Robert says:

    Yes there is an abundance of characters, looks and examples of ‘beauty’ on the street. I don’t have the courage to ask either


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