ARCHIVE 396 – PEOPLE DRINKING TEA (MONO)

 

 

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A couple having a hot drink beside the beach in the harbour at St Ives, Cornwall; 10 Oct 2013.

The man is hunched over towards the right, sipping his cuppa, while the woman is inclined towards the left, intent on screwing shut her bottle of milk.  Their two shapes tend to come together somewhat, in the shape of an arch or dome, an effect heightened by her inclined hair bun.  I’ve tried to enhance this impression of togetherness by adding a slight, pale, circular vignette.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Full Dynamic Smooth preset; mild copper toning.

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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 387 – MORNING RUSH HOUR, BROAD QUAY (MONO)

 

 


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Morning rush hour, Broad Quay, Bristol; 9 Dec 2016.

This is an early image from the Going to Work series: a recent image in this series can be found here .

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); 1600 ISO;  Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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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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PEOPLE 361 – GOING TO WORK 85 (MONO)

 

 


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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 incorporating them into this series here.  This is the fifth of the six.  You can find the other images here: 1 2 3 4 : each will open in a separate window.

Caught in traffic.

Taking her chance amongst the traffic surging along Queens Road, on the edge of Bristol’s up market Clifton suburb.

The converging cars remind me of a wolf or shark pack closing in upon her – especially the sharp and down-curved “snout” of the car at upper right.

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 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 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 – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 6400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset; 2 Dec 2016.

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PEOPLE 354 – SARA

 

 


We all have some money,

but no matter how rich or poor,

 we all think we should have more.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 223mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom; Welsh Back, central Bristol; 2 Feb 2018.
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PEOPLE 346 – HURRYING ON PAST DECAY

 

 


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Smart and classy,

washed, brushed and neat,

hearts and minds set on a good day out.

And hurrying on past anything else,

hurrying on past any unwelcome reality,

hurrying on past decay.

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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 yet further.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film preset; Triangle South, central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.
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PEOPLE 345 – GOING TO WORK 75 (MONO)

 

 


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Going to work, standing alone at the bus stop.  In a world of traffic noise, exhaust fumes and the stop’s prosaic lists of routes, destinations and (hoped for) times. 

But, as always, the phone provides an alternative reality, an escape from it all. 

The cars crawl slowly past, edging forwards at less than walking pace towards Bristol Bridge.  The bus may be sometime.

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 74 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 – recommended.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 3 preset and adding a tone; Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.
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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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ARCHIVE 365 – “HEAR THAT, FATman? – YOU’RE NOT BEAUTIFUL UNLESS YOU’RE SLIM!”

 

 


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Someone of maybe my own years (and bulk?) gazes at a beauty stereotype in a slimming emporium’s window, in Penzance, Cornwall; 25 Sept 2012.

Here’s something that can get me reaching urgently for my dictionary of Anglo-Saxon profanity!  We think we’re free but we’re certainly not.  We want to fit in, we want respect and admiration – envy even – from our friends and neighbours, and so we are prey to all the latest fashions, role models, celebrity recipes, gimmicks, cars, buzzwords and facile stereotypes.

Well, OK, this lady and I would very probably be healthier if we were  slimmer – but as to fulfilling an envied role model ->>> this blog’s called FATman Photos isn’t it??? …  not SLIMman Snapshots!!!

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO.

UPDATE: this was first posted five years ago and, since then, I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and, as a result (and also quite astonishingly) I lost a lot of weight – 50 pounds or more – to get myself out of the “danger zone”.  I certainly enjoy what I eat and drink and, now, I’ve put some of that weight back on, but I’m also completely into a routine of 5-6 mile daily walks that Sue, my wonderful doctor, is all in favour of.  I’m not aspiring to “The Body Beautiful” (which is just as well really … 🙂 ) but its a continual fight against the flab >>> that’s inescapable fact, that’s how it is!

BUT, I do, even more so, stick by my words in paragraph 2 of this post: we are certainly NOT free, and we are prey to a vast number of body image-related pressures and taboos, which we are plainly incapable of shrugging off.  In the years since I put out this post, two things have happened, two things to mention.

First that, with the luxury of retirement, I’ve had more time to sit back and look at what’s happening around me and, never having been that much of a conformer, I eschew a lot of it.  For better or worse, I am what I am, I am what I am happy with, and others’ opinions matter less.  This is partly an age thing too of course.

But then, re all the pressures etc that I touched upon in the second paragraph of this post, there is the burgeoning trend, especially amongst young people, for selfies – self-portraits in which they have become trapped into trying to show their peers and the world at large not so much how they look, but rather how they WANT TO LOOK, how they want to be seen, how wonderful they would like others to think their lives are.  I can only see this as an ultimately sad process, and one which must bring much anxiety, fear and pressure.  Here in the UK, young people are under increasing pressures from daily life, their mental health problems are rising and – not least here in Bristol – university students are committing suicide.  It is always easy to see the past through rose-coloured glasses, to think that everything was wonderful back then.  I try not to think along these lines: some things were good back then, some things were not.  But, equally, I do not think that the modern world, with its incessant emphasis on body image, fame, celebrity culture, mobile communication devices and The Great God Cash is a healthy environment for young people.  This is not a Natural (note the capital) state of affairs, and it is certainly a very sad state of affairs.

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