OUTER SUBURBS 41 – SITTING IN DEB’S CAFE AND TAKEAWAY, ON A DULL FRIDAY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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

A dull Friday morning.  But, of course, to those working a five day week, Friday morning is never dull.  It is enriched with the promises of both edible treats to celebrate the working week’s end and, equally, to celebrate the start of the weekend, when all good things in life appear – for a day or two –  eminently possible.  But, weatherwise, this was a dull morning, with low, dark overcast and no sign at all of the rising sun’s glow.  In just over a week’s time we’d be in winter and, meteorologically, this Friday morning was getting all set up for it.

And also, for those into consumerism, materialism and our incessant manipulation by the mass media – and also, of course, those who know it as just plain, simple, good old shopping – this was indeed a dark day.  Indeed (there’s that word again!), no day could be darker, for this was Black Friday, when many hope to grab bargains (why does the word “grab” seem particularly appropriate here … ? …) and so accumulate yet more, “happiness inducing stuff”.  The more of it we have, the happier we are, right?

Anyway, oblivious to all this mass hysteria, I’d had a first breakfast before dawn, and then set off on foot into the dark streets with the little camera in my pocket.  And after an hour or so – and seeing that it was a Friday – I dropped gratefully into Deb’s Café & Takeaway and ordered a second breakfast – a thick, “doorstop” bacon sandwich, and a mug of hot, strong, sweet tea – ah, Life’s Simple Pleasures!

I’d been into Deb’s before.  Indeed I’d been into Deb’s when it was packed out, with no room to sit down, and so been forced to look elsewhere for what the more cultured gourmets of my social circle term “a good plateful”.  What’s Deb’s like?  Well, its a little street café  staffed by women whom I take to be three generations of the same family, it opens at 7am and closes after lunch, and it specialises in good, solid, simple English food, much of it in the full English breakfast vein.

And I like this place for three reasons.  First, obviously, the food is good, and not expensive.  Then, the women are natural and friendly – there are no airs and graces here – and since many of the early morning clientele are builders, scaffolders and other workmen, the atmosphere can be humorous, irreverent, ribald and earthy – in a word, three words actually, real and human: this is not the place to go if you like pretence, café au lait and croissants.  And that’s the third reason I like this place: there is a complete absence of the usual marketing, hype and bullsh*t that is so often a feature of the modern commercial/retail world – these women simply produce good, enjoyable, basic food and, as you eat it, likely as not there’ll be some convivial chat, gossip and banter around ……

So, as I sat there, taken aback somewhat by just how much of a doorstop I’d contracted to get outside of, I looked out at the grey morning and the grey urban landscape.  In that moment, what could I see?  A woman, head down, trudges through the parked cars towards the at best uninspiring (except for Deb’s!!!) row of shops.  Down left of her there is a litter (trash) bin, while the shining metallic semicircles immediately outside of Deb’s are the backs of chairs set around tables, for those who like to smoke while eating.  And further away, the suburban landscape: houses, a single decker bus, and bare, pollarded trees.  Rather a bleak scene, but one which was amply compensated for by the warmth and conviviality of the café.

And, grey and bleak though that view may have been, it was immeasurably enhanced by the absence of any hint of the burgeoning greed and materialism of Black Friday.

I downed the doorstop with lashings of ketchup, drank the delicious tea, struggled to my feet, made it to the door, and lurched off, heavily and uncertainly, into the gloom.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique:  TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1,000 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Spectrum Inverse preset and selectively restoring some of the colour; south Bristol; 23 Nov 2018.

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ARCHIVE 386 – WOMAN IN A CAFE (MONO)

 

 


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Woman in a café, in Camborne, Cornwall; 9 Oct 2013.

My wife was in the shops, and I was doing what I like to do – wandering around with a camera and an open, receptive mind, looking at anything and everything.  I was slowly meandering up Camborne’s main street when I saw this woman in a café on the other side of the road, chatting with a friend.

It took several paces to register fully what I’d seen, and then I slowly turned and doubled back on my tracks, adjusting the camera as I went, and turned to photograph her – only to find her looking straight at me, probably wondering what this strange and rather bulky old man was doing, cutting back on himself.

The autofocus locked on (boy, do I love autofocus!), two shots (and do I love automated wind-on too!), and I walked on, expecting every moment to feel the heavy hand of the Image Police on my shoulder – but that’s untrue of course, as in the UK, in a public place like Camborne’s main street, you can photograph as you please.

I’d thought about presenting this photo in vertical letterbox format, showing just the door, the woman and the OPEN sign.  But I’ve doubled the image’s width by including the net curtains and some other details, and I think this adds balance and context to the shot – but what do you think?

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s High Contrast Smooth preset.

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ARCHIVE 385 – FAST FOOD OUTLET (MONO)

 

 


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Table and seats outside a fast food café in Newquay, Cornwall; 11 Sept 2013.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 135mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s High Contrast Smooth preset.

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ARCHIVE 384 – SITTING IN THE BACK OF THE THREE RIVERS CAFE

 

 


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Sitting in the back of the Three Rivers Cafe, Truro, Cornwall; 26 Sept 2012.

Sitting in the back, eating food that included a really not bad steak and kidney pie, a nice piece of gammon, lots of chips and two mugs of hot tea, this view opened up in front of us and, as always, the G11 went for it!

My eyes were first caught by the rows of black seats with their backlit, horizontal tops and the intervening white-topped tables.  There’s probably potential for mono and/or re-coloured image(s) here.

But, looking at it all more generally, here are the trappings of a basic but good English cafe (definitely pronounced “caff”!) – rows of clean tables and seats (all bolted to the floor), tall menus and sugar pourers, salt and pepper couples – and backlit shakers of gloriously dark amber vinegar.

Some degree of privacy is afforded by the curtains and, above this, a hanging basket brings floral colour.  This rectangular area of window looks strange and disconnected – it could be a picture hanging on the wall.

All this and chips too?  Wonderful!!!

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

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (35mm equivalent); 400 ISO.

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STILL LIFE 197 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 13

 

 


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Upstairs in The Victoria Tea Room, Penzance, Cornwall; 25 Apr 2012.

We returned yesterday from a few days in the far southwest of Cornwall, based between Penzance and St Ives.  And in a week of awful weather all over England we were far enough southwest to miss it all – it only rained at night, and the days were dry and even sunny!

Whenever we’re in Penzance we always visit this tearoom.  Amongst many other tasty goodies it serves up 11 item English breakfasts – which I hold a profound reverence for – and we like to sit beside the windows upstairs, looking out over Penzance’s main street.

In this cafe there are many bentwood chairs in a beautiful green, and the place has an over all low key, Minimalist, green and grey decor that I like very much.  This cup and saucer provided a good foil for its low key surroundings, and the chairbacks on the right resemble the curving stems of some exotic plant.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  10  11 12Each will open in a new window.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot; 400 ISO.

UPDATE: this excellent eatery has closed down – a great loss.  And while I’m talking about this image – I can say that its a great favourite of mine.  I have always loved its vast simplicity.

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STILL LIFE 193 – TABLE IN A CAFE (MONO)

 

 


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A little while back, we went up to the café at the Priddy Good Farm Shop, on the top of the Mendip Hills, for a first rate Full English Breakfast.  I’d taken along the Fujifilm X-T1 camera and 10-24 wide angle lens specifically to photograph the food – and the resulting picture is here.

This café is a little extension with large windows on two sides that has been built onto the farm and, while waiting for the food to arrive, I walked around with the camera looking at anything and everything.  Next to us was a long wooden table with chairs along both sides and, set beside both sets of windows, it was well lit.  Long and slim, it receded from me.  I put the zoom onto its widest setting (15mm full-frame equivalent), looked down at the table, and raised the camera.  The farmer came in and said “You’re photographing the table.”, which put everything neatly into context, and I started gently squeezing the trigger.

I don’t often think about such things, but I suppose it was always going to be a black and white shot, with the receding lines of the table and the wonderful grain, knots and plate/glass marks on its polished top – and also the little group of condiments and sauces in their various containers, just in front of the bright reflection at the table’s end.

But the thing about pointing such a wide angle lens downwards is the distortion it brings, which makes all of the chairs appear to be “relaxing” outwards, which in turn channels more attention down onto the table top.  It could almost be a coffin, flanked by laid back, contemplative mourners and set with some small (and saucy??? – ohhhh! 😉 ) tributes to the deceased.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Push Process N+3 preset, and adding a light coffee tone; Priddy, on the top of the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 19 Jan 2018.
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STILL LIFE 160 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 5

 

I’ve sampled the excellent food in Rosemarino’s Italian restaurant several times now, and taken some pictures while waiting for my meal to arrive.  Two photos (including a chair) are already posted here and here.

Now, looking at chairs some more, here are more Minimalist views of this restaurant’s simple but completely adequate seating.  My favourite amongst them?  Probably the second image down, for its simple silhouettes and pale, pastel colours – and also, looking at this image naively, the question: which are in the foreground, the colours or the silhouettes?

Which (if any!) of these images do you prefer?

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: all of these images are jpegs straight out of the X-T2; aside from application of the X-T2’s in-camera film simulations, there has been no post-capture processing whatsoever.  All were taken with the 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; spot metering.

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STILL LIFE 135 – RESTAURANT WITH FLAG

 

 


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Looking into a restaurant, through the reflection of a flag.

There are other glimpses into Bristol restaurants here, here, here and here.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Capture NX2; Bristol’s Harbourside; 19 July 2016.
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ARCHIVE 302 – BOOKLET ON WHITE TABLE, BESIDE GREEN SEATING

 

 


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View through the sunlit window of a restaurant in Park Street, Bristol; 6 Apr 2013.

The gloriously blasting sunlight is striking the white side of the table and the green seats around the table.  The top of the table is in shadow but, being white, is not quite as dark as I’ve rendered it – to me the pure white rectangle made by the table’s edge is very strong graphically.  And I wanted the booklet to be almost floating in the blackness.

There is also the unfocused shadow of a plant – looking like some large predatory insect, a mantis perhaps –  which is off left of the table.

Technique: Canon G11 PowerShot at 140mm (35mm equivalent); 200 ISO.

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STILL LIFE 127 – A DISTINCTLY CIVILISED FULL ENGLISH

 

 

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I’m quite a fan of Full English Breakfasts.  They are of course eminently unhealthy food, full of fat and calories, and they can also be very bland – the ingredients can all be there, but they’re cheap, pallid affairs, and really not worth the effort.  Sausages can be the worst culprits, cheap, bland, with not a trace of texture and with almost no taste – might as well be eating cardboard, really; probably just as nutritious too.

But in other instances Full English Breakfasts are rich explosions of taste, and one pointer that I’ve discovered to this greatness is their colour – the more colourful (but not garish) ones have better ingredients and tend to taste better.  And so it was with the distinctly classy repast pictured here.  It has been another long morning of walking and photography in the city, and so into Browns eminently civilised restaurant, and a breakfast to warm the spirit.

So, what is here?  Well, the usual suspects – taking it clockwise from the top, fried eggs hiding just right of the sourdough toast, tasty sausages, thick smoked bacon, mushrooms, tomato (real, not canned) – and then that dubious black chunk trying to hide under the toast is black pudding, a pudding made with blood – truly repulsive, unhealthy … and tasty!    And then some baked beans and those thin strips of greenery – which were tasty too!  All in all, probably 1600 calories or so …

This food was indeed delicious, but the icing on the cake for me was in the semicircle of supporting accoutrements   Butter of course, and tomato sauce not in the ubiquitous plastic bottle.  And then a teapot and  small jug of milk >>> and because actual tea leaves were used instead of the ubiquitous teabags, sitting on top of the cup is a tea strainer and a little round metal cup the strainer sits in after use, so that it doesn’t drip onto the table.  I am not any great connoisseur of food nor do I have any great eye for style, but for me that tea strainer and its little receptacle were just the icing on the cake.  In a world where money rules, quality is often forsaken and there is a general race to the bottom, this tea strainer and its little holder turned a good meal into a really quite restful, elegant and special experience.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 26mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Browns restaurant, central Bristol; 28 Apr 2017.  Use of a wide angle lens pointed down at the subject appears to lift the plate of food slightly so that the objects to either side appear to be tilting outwards slightly.  This effect may be correctable with software but I’m content to leave it as it is.

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