STILL LIFE 141 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 1

 

I enjoy looking at things, and seeing how light falls on them.  A lot of my photography these days consists of looking for beautiful light, and then thinking what to do with it.  I quite often photograph cars for just this reason: they can have beautiful lines, and their metal and glass bodies are eminently reflective; when stationary they are still life subjects sensu stricto – but they can also be rewarding when in motion.

To me, chairs can be rather like cars in some respects, beyond the bald fact that we use both of them for sitting on or in.  Chairs can be objects of beauty and, beyond being thrown around in bar room brawls, they mostly stay still while light flows over them, so that it is possible to really look at how they interact with it – and of course, unlike cars, it is often easy to move chairs around, to examine new light/shadow effects.

And so to a brief series of chair pictures, some from my archives, others from my propensity for peering around with a camera while I’m sitting in various eateries, waiting to immerse my snout in their delicious delights.  Many of the resulting images tend towards the Minimal, and some the abstract.

These may not be the most exciting series of images in creation. They will most probably have a distinctly calm and tranquil air, which may be a welcome distraction from today’s rushed and frenetic world.  I hope you will enjoy them.

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In Rosemarino, an Italian restaurant in Clifton, Bristol; 7 April 2017.

What I like about this picture: the massive, dark chair back, with a thin rim of backlighting around the top; the backlighting also catching the underside of the curved element; and the faint browns glowing on the left upright.  The background is diffuse, but with subtle variations that add to things.  This picture could be presented in black and white, but I value the subtle touches of colour.

There is another picture from Rosemarino here.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation.
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STILL LIFE 134 – CITY LIFE

 

 


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City life: the clean, soulless hospitality of a corporate foyer, with traffic lights outside and more corporate architecture across the road.

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 125mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Broad Quay, central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.
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STILL LIFE 90 – YELLOW CHAIR WITH BLUE LEGS

 

 


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Sitting in Browns after a lot of walking and photography, looking at the interplay of light, colours, shapes and textures.

There are other pictures of chairs, and thoughts, from Browns here and here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto this larger image once again.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 206mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom; rotated; Browns restaurant, central Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.
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STILL LIFE 85 – TABLE AND CHAIR

 

 

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Table and yellow chair, Browns restaurant, Bristol; 24 Feb 2017.

Another early start in the city; and another retreat, after hours of walking, to Browns.  Well I’d been here before and knew what I wanted visually.  And so despite a waiter’s rather fluttering directions to a particular table, I went over to a deserted part of the restaurant where, as before, light from large windows was streaming in across empty tables and chairs. What a pleasant experience – lounging back with Eggs Benedict, a china pot of good tea (complete with strainer!), beautiful natural light, and something like swing music permeating the room at not too great a volume – I was almost tempted to an aperitif – the menu kept suggesting a Bloody Mary, or perhaps even champagne …

Technique: the back light pouring in through the widows was lovely.  About 10 feet away, a table top was blazing but the yellow chair beside it was far more subtly illuminated.  Focus was on the table top and, even though the lens was stopped down a little, use of a x6 magnification telephoto that close in minimalized depth of field, so that the chair stayed soft.  Spot metering ensured that none of the highlights on the gleaming table were blown out.

Composition: this is how this image grabs me >>> but we are all visual individuals, and so it may not grab you in this way >>> and it may not grab you at all.  My eyes are drawn immediately to the bright and textured table top.  But then, having looked at this curved presence filling the top left of the picture, I’m aware that the frame holds other, more subdued, curving elements too – the side of the chair nearest to us, the lit edge of which curves down from top right to the central foreground, and its open back, which is an oval area of blackness with diffuse rim-lighting.  And then of course, getting away from all these curves, there is the great clash between the table’s sharp, steely, silver and grey hues, and all of the diffusely seen, far lower key shades of yellow.  So that although the picture’s most obvious and overbearing element is the table, it is complemented by far more subdued items elsewhere in the frame.  And did I see all this when I took the shot??? – most certainly not, I simply thought that it was an attractive scene.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window, and then click again onto that larger image.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom.
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STILL LIFE 79 – FOUR CHAIRS BELOW A TABLE (MONO)

 

 

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Browns restaurant, Queens Road, Bristol; 3 Feb 2017.

My day started early as they often do, and I got downtown at dawn and took a few photos.  But my heart wasn’t really in it because I know that yet another deep depression was steamrollering its way in from the Atlantic, and that it would be saturating Bristol with rain well before the morning was through.

And so to a stop in Browns up market (and certainly not down budget!) palace for Eggs Royale and a pot of very nice english tea.  I lounged there, looking around and feeling a bit out of things after the early start, and a table with four chairs that was catching the light from a window kept drawing my eye.

And so to opening my bag and getting out the camera, and looking through the viewfinder – but by then a couple had occupied the table next to the one I was looking at, and I had the uncomfortable feeling that they thought the camera was being pointed at them.  But at least this Fuji is not so large and intimidating, or so loud, as the Nikons, and I pressed quickly on and took two frames.

Technique: the table’s top was brightly lit and cluttered with many things, but I liked the look of the seats of the four chairs that were faintly glowing in the table’s shadow – and so to a composition in which the table’s bright and cluttered top is squeezed into the top fifth or so of the frame, while the seats of the chairs glow in the less brightly lit ‘underworld’ below.  There was a lot of contrast in the scene but the camera’s multi-zone metering (aided by the live histogram I’ve opted to have visible in the viewfinder) dealt with it well, and although the colour image is attractive – one of those instances where the near absence of colour really works – it really seemed to be a scene that would suit black and white, and so to SEP2.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 125mm (equiv); 12,800 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset and adding a tone.
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ARCHIVE 265 – CHAIRS BESIDE A TABLE (MONO)

 

 

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Chairs beside a table; outside the Hurtwood Inn Hotel, Peaslake, Surrey;  25 Mar 2012.

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

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono, and toned, in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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STILL LIFE 65 – STACKED CHAIRS (MONO)

 

 

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Metal chairs stacked up outside a city centre café; Truro, Cornwall; 12 Apr 2016.

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2.
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STILL LIFE 51 – TWO CHAIRS, SIDE BY SIDE (MONO)

 

 

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Two chairs outside The Hole in the Wall pub, at Bristol’s Harbourside; 5 August 2016.

The two curving and tapering shapes advancing out towards the camera – apparently for a closer look at it – are the exception here.  Almost everything else is either coated by hard, precise, rectilinear patterns, or in shadow. 

At last I’m starting to use the X-T1’s tilting LCD screen a little more.  Its already proved very useful in getting an extreme wide angle lens down to ground level, as in this shot.

And now, as I approached these chairs, it was much easier to get the camera down to their level by looking down into the screen – that is, much easier than it would be getting me down to their level to look at them horizontally though the viewfinder ->>> its an age thing 😦 !!!

And this pub’s strange name?  Its due to a spy hole in the pub’s wall, where centuries ago smugglers might keep a look out for customs and excise men – and any man might keep a look out for the press gangs that roved this busy port, snatching men for the harsh and dangerous life endured by sailors on the Royal Navy’s warships.

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

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 96mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro2.
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ARCHIVE 240 – SHADOW OF A CHAIR, ON A WINDBREAK

 

 

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Shadow of a chair on a windbreak; Penzance, Cornwall; 14 Sept 2011.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 210mm; 400 ISO.

UPDATE: I can still remember taking this picture.  We were on holiday in Cornwall and crossing a busy road on the seafront in Penzance, with traffic was coming from every which way.  It was only five years back, but maybe I was a little more spritely and alert then than I am now – and of course I was still working, not yet retired, and maybe retirement has slowed me down a bit – which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it means that I am in general more relaxed – which I am.

Anyway, whatever, we were crossing this road, through all this traffic, when this visual rose up before my eyes – and without giving it a second thought I stopped dead in the middle of the traffic, raised the camera, took a couple of frames, and carried on.  I must have been mad; at least, I hope I was.

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STILL LIFE 39 – CUSHION

 

 

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At the home of a lover of cats, in Thatcham, Berkshire; 1 June 2016.

A day of family duties, over far east of my usual stamping grounds, over far east of where I feel truly at home.

Not wanting to be weighed down by lots of gear, I chose to take only the 24-120 zoom, which is a really handy lens for all sorts of occasions.  I’ve even covered a christening with it.

This shot was taken with the D700.  But using this lens with the far higher pixel D800, which allows a meaningful 1.5x magnification of focal lengths in DX format, this lovely piece of glass can become 24-180, which is even more useful. 

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

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 78mm; 6,400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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