PEOPLE 344 – GOING TO WORK 74

 

 


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An old and very dear friend of mine is a professional psychologist and avid people-watcher.  Her insights into everyday human behaviour never cease to fascinate and amaze me.  I had the idea sometime back of giving her a photobook of the Going To Work images (produced via Blurb) for her birthday, and that project is moving ahead.  In the course of assembling these pictures for use in her book, I have found six images that have not been posted in the Going To Work series but which really belong there, and so I am going to start incorporating them into this series here.  This is the first of the six.

ORIGINAL TEXT

Morning rush hour, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.

Early morning sunlight blasts down Baldwin Street, bringing out the textures on a dented and dirty car (for which, in my world, read eminently characterful car).

And the driver, who is late and who does not have any time at all to waste, bites his nails and stares anxiously ahead at the stacked up, stationary traffic.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom.

UPDATE

This picture was taken on the first of my early morning bus trips into Bristol city centre which, on the 19th of this month, will have been two years ago – how Time rushes by!  This was the morning when I took the first of the Going To Work images, although the concept of such a photo series hadn’t then occurred to me.

Two things get to me about this picture. First of course, is the man’s body language – he’s in a hurry and in a traffic jam – bad news!

The second thing is that, for quite sometime now, when out photographing I look for good light and then try to decide what to do with it.  As I’m writing this post, its a warm summer’s day, but the total overcast has made the light flat and featureless – there are no shadows, except those below the parked cars.  This sort of lighting is fine for taking shots of detail, and for some portraits and abstracts, but I like chiaroscuro, a term that started off being used with regard to paintings, and which describes the effects on contrasting light and shadow in an image.  And in this picture I’m looking at the early morning light glancing along the dirty and dented bodywork of the car.  I really like the textures and shadows that this warm, glancing light reveals, and there is something else  – this is Reality, this is not some auto magazine’s shot of a spotless, pristine and shining car >>> car porn! >>>  this is what Life is really like, warts and all.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 Each will open in a separate window.

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PEOPLE 343 – GOING TO WORK 73

 

 


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Walking to work across Bristol Bridge, around sunrise in early December – and three things to talk about here.

First, I’m on her radar.  Although I was quite far back with a big telephoto, she looked up from her phone, the autofocus was already locked on (more on that below) and I fired a single frame. Awhile back, I’d planned to approach people in the street and ask their permission to photograph them.  But, although that may be something for the future, I’ve only actually done that once so far, and the resulting image was really not very good.  On the other hand, as those familiar with this Going To Work series will know, I’ve taken many more or less candid portraits on Bristol’s streets – and I like these better.

With this kind of photography, there’s often the fear/worry that people will object to having their photograph taken but, so far, the only comments that I’ve received have been apologies for getting in the way and obstructing my shots!  This may of course be due to the fact that I’m photographing early in the morning rush hour: the vast majority of people appear totally focused on getting to work, walking head down and with fixed expressions.  However, if someone were to say something, I would smile and say something simple like “Hello, I’m Adrian Lewis, and I’m here photographing the morning rush hour.”, and then await their response – putting the ball in their court in a way.  I’ve read a lot about this sort of photography, and the key strategies seem to be openness, an air of confidence, a smile and a readiness to explain further about what I’m doing.  I always carry some FATman Photos business cards to give out if necessary – although up to now these have been given to people who see me photographing anything and everything, and are just interested to see the sorts of photographs I take.

Secondly, the early morning was not bright, and the (now 10 years old!) D700 was working at its highest ISO – 25,600!  And so this picture, even though its not cropped, is extremely grainy – lol! >>> click onto it to see what I mean!!!  But I’m quite happy to have the grain and, in any case, I think that its ALWAYS better to have a go at a photo, no matter how poor the light conditions >>> its ALWAYS better to have a technically imperfect image than no image at all.  I strongly believe a photo’s subject matter / content is what matters, with technical aspects of the images coming quite some way second.

Third, I started digital photography as a full-frame Nikon user (D700, D800), but in the last couple of years have started using Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, including the excellent X-T2.  Most of the Going To Work pictures have been taken with my X-T2 or, indeed, my X-T1, and they have done a very good job.  But, if pressed, I would have to say that the Nikons are better for very rapid autofocus in poor lighting conditions.  But, you pays your money and you takes your choice!!!  The Nikons are bigger, bulkier, heavier, and their optical viewfinders – in most situations – are not as useful as the big, electronic viewfinders on the Fuji cameras.  And the Fuji cameras take beautiful pictures, and are smaller, lighter and very easy to handle.  For the moment, at least, I’m using the Fuji cameras a lot, but also holding onto my Nikon gear.  And, finally, Nikon (or Canon) is likely to produce a mirrorless replacement for their DSLRs soon: I’m looking forward to seeing this.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window >>> and if you have a thing for grain, click onto this enlarged image to enlarge it yet again!

Technique: D700 with 70-330 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 25,600 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 2 preset and adding a light coffee tone; Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 2 Dec 2016.
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PEOPLE 342 – GOING TO WORK 72

 

 


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On the way to work:  walking up towards Bristol Bridge, early on a summer’s morning.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom, using tilting and the Provia/Standard film simulation; near Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.
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PEOPLE 341 – GOING TO WORK 71

 

 


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The walk to work: cold sunrise, Bristol Bridge, mid November.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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PEOPLE 340 – GOING TO WORK 70

 

 


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The walk to work: cold sunrise, Bristol Bridge, mid November.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Color Efex Pro 4; Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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PEOPLE 339 – GOING TO WORK 69 (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it. 

Then get in amongst these people as they walk to work across Bristol Bridge on this November morning.  Their breath rises in clouds on the cold air, their gaze is lowered and introspective, and the low autumn sun, just rising above the rooftops, is flooding the scene with hard, cheerless light.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Smooth preset and adding a light coffee tone; Bristol Bridge, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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PEOPLE 338 – WRITING A BOOK

 

 


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I used to be an highly enthusiastic birder.  School friends had awoken this interest in me in 1967, and 10 years later I left the UK for Kenya – to lecture on geology and to grab eyeful after eyefull of African birdlife.  And not just African birdlife, but Afrotropical birdlife, the Afrotropical Region being Africa to the south of the Sahara, one of the great biological regions of the world, with many unique or highly distinctive flora and fauna.

And the plan – ah, the plans of mice and men! – was to stay in Kenya for two or three years, do a lot of birdwatching, and then move on elsewhere.  Sure enough, I met up with other birders there, and went birding in many national parks and areas further off the beaten track.  But then, in 1981, a chance remark informed me that there was a project in hand to map the distributions of Kenya’s 1,000+ bird species – and from that moment on there was for simply nothing else worth doing in Life.

In a nutshell, I worked on A Bird Atlas of Kenya for over eight years – it really was a vast amount of hard but very often enthralling work, funded by the World Wildlife Fund and many others, and relying on hundreds of volunteers – and the book was published in 1989.  It was never going to be a best seller, it was not an identification guide (fieldguide), it was a fairly academic explanation of the distributions and seasonalities of Kenya’s (then) 1,065 bird species. My co-author was a zoology professor at Makerere University, in neighbouring Uganda.

And here I am, probably about 1983 or so, writing it.  The photo is an indifferent scan of a small print but it conveys the overall idea, that I was awash in a sea of paper.  For in the 1980s the developed world was developing IT technology apace, but here in the Third World it was a far rarer commodity, and especially so for those outside the world of business.  We had no email and no computers.  All correspondence was carried out by snail mail – and air letters, thousands of them, were the preferred thing because, since they could not contain anything, they were less prone to theft.  We did enquire re the cost of producing the book by word processing but, in those days, in Kenya, it was completely prohibitive.  In the end, an absolutely wonderful typist produced the whole thing, 600+ pages, on an electric golfball typewriter, ready to be photographed by our Dutch publishers.

So, here is the leafy Spring Valley suburb of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, around a mile or so above sea level.  The equatorial sun is beating down, the large window beside me is open to admit fresh, warm air, and the great mass of greenery seen vaguely through  the window are the tops of banana trees.  Also, local roads were some distance away, and there was nothing but the sounds of birds, the rustling, swaying trees and the breeze  – what better place to write a book?  And although I do seem to be awash in a sea of paper, there was a very simple design to it all – all the most useful texts, maps and notes were arranged in a circle  around me, all within instant, easy reach – it was a simple design that worked very well.

And as well as being enthralling, the bird atlas project had its exciting moments too.  Flights in small aircraft to record the birds of very poorly known areas of the country were exciting, yes, they held a real sense of exploration.  But my co-author was working in Uganda at just the time when the dictator Idi Amin was being ousted from Uganda by the present president, Yoweri Museveni.  As the fighting moved up towards Kampala, Uganda’s capital, I strongly urged my co-author to flee – and I can recall his comment that it was only “a bit of bush warfare”, and that there was nothing to worry about.  But, the fighting swept on through Kampala, he spent a long time on his floor of his house, sheltering from small arms fire, and a soldier was killed in his garden.  How writing a book on birds stacks up against all that (and other) violence, I have always been unsure.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.
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PEOPLE 337 – GOING TO WORK 68

 

 


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Morning crowds, heading for work, with tall, double-decker buses in the background.

Another take on this scene, in mono, has already been posted: click onto link 47 below here.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Broad Quay, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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PEOPLE 336 – GOING TO WORK 67 (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Composition: morning rush hour, Victoria Street, and perhaps there are two subjects here.  The backlit and near silhouetted man on the left – walking across the road while looking at his phone and carrying his briefcase – first drew my attention.  Using him as the image’s sole subject would magnify his size in the frame and draw attention to him.  But I couldn’t resist the silhouette of the cyclist on the right too, with the light catching his billowing, steamy breath and shiny helmet – he is balancing on his wheels, rather than put a foot to the ground while waiting for the lights to change.  Maybe our gaze will be drawn back and fore from one to the other of these two people, I don’t know, but, in any case, here they are.  To me, although the man on the left could be the image’s sole subject, this is not true of the cyclist – he’s further away, amidst a fairly cluttered background.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 2 preset, giving the image the look of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 black and white film, and adding a strong selenium tone; Victoria Street, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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PEOPLE 335 – GOING TO WORK 66 (MONO)

 

 


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The walk to work: small, alone and in a fleeting, uneasy world of light and shadow.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset and adding a light coffee tone; Victoria Street, central Bristol; 11 Nov 2016.
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