Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Day 120 : a not so secure facility

In the pale early morning sun I was suddenly struck by a building that I can honestly say I've never noticed before. Clearly it was a former bonded warehouse, a relic from the days when so many of the local buildings would store goods that had arrived by boat from the far and distant shores. The legacy remains in some of the location names in the surrounding streets, for example, Tobacco Dock, Ivory House, Commodity Quay and Spice Court.

This one has clearly seen better days; the glass in the windows has long since been smashed, the walls are pock-marked and the now open to the skies roof is harbouring a thriving roof garden of weeds. I did wonder why it had been allowed to remain but on further examination it seems part of the brick bridge that is supporting the DLR train tracks running behind the shell of the former stronghold.

This noticing lark is getting pretty interesting, it's encouraging me not just to look but to research some of the new things I discover. And that's got to be a good thing.


Monday, 29 April 2013

Day 119 : the sun with its hat on

The novelty of the sun hasn't worn off yet, we waited for a long time for it to turn up, put its hat on and it still seems a little shy most days. Stood on the platform waiting for the train this morning, reaching for my sunglasses, I'm struck by how the sun reminds me of a child's picture. Certainly when I was little I would paint a blue line at the top of the page to illustrate the sky followed by a yellow ball with lines radiating from the glowing core for the sun. Maybe my camera has the artistic aptitude of a child, except the trees should be green clouds perched on stop of brown sticks. These look a little too real!


Sunday, 28 April 2013

Day 118 : pink clouds at night

I'd been thinking about a photographic project which I’ll reveal later which kept me glancing at the sky and i saw promising scribbles of pink. And much to my delight the clouds got pinker, peachier, purpler and even more pink. I waited until they drifted closer, radiating their maximum pinkness and then shortly afterwards it was dark.



Saturday, 27 April 2013

Day 117 : the goose and the pussycat

I was looking at a pile of pistachio nut shells and thought they'd make a perfect little boat if two teeny, tiny animals went to sea. It made me think if the owl and the pussycat in their pea-green boat but I seem to be devoid of owls in my miniature mainly 1:87 ratio figures. I have several cats, larger birds, chickens, penguins and plenty of other animals but definitely not owls.

I opted for a goose, I think a goose might like to take to the high sea with a rather inquisitive looking cat. I’m not sure if they dined on mince, and slices of quince,Which they ate with a runcible spoon, but I hope they found land, Bong-tree or not.


Friday, 26 April 2013

Day 116 : assorted figures and a couple of zombies

On leaving my client I had a sudden urge to depart by the back door instead as it would be a shorter route to the main road. I always take an interest in my clients’ art, between them they have some amazing pieces, some famed for their beauty, others for the investment. But this one utterly stopped me in my tracks.

They have an entire wall dedicated to a map of the world made from model railway figures set in white plaster. Each figure represents their employees at that location. The model figures look exactly like some of mine (I have a much smaller woman in the pink dress, hat and bag striding off purposely in the middle of the image) but two to three times the size. I am guessing in model railway parlance, they are G scale.

They were really tricky to photograph due to the lights reflecting on the glass surface. I couldn't even attempt to capture the entire map due to its size so I worked on a couple of vignettes.

A fact that really intrigued me, several model figures were encrusted with a fine layer of flaky grey substance. I couldn't imagine the artist intended to include zombies in their artwork, or maybe they represent something else. An in joke? The artistic equivalence to an Easter Egg? Id love to know but suspect it’ll remain a mystery.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Day 115 : day 1461

It was so poignant today that the tightly furled lilies in reception opened their petals revealing their brown ’velvety’ stamens within. Deadly on your clothes if brushed against, but beautiful on the eye and heavenly smelling.

1,461 days ago, or 4 years ago today, the most important person in my life, the lover of lilies, the lover of life stopped living.

Ten days later I bought her the last beautiful bouquet of white lilies I ever would. This photograph is especially for you, M.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Day 114 : colour soaked streets

I'm picking my way through the puddles on route to Liverpool Street tube station after a photography social. Luckily the rain had more or less stayed away for our foray into dead presidents tonight (okay Berlusconi isn't dead, but many wish he was!). Now, however it was rain-slicking the pavements and reflecting the multitude of lights of the traffic and the street beyond. One of the skyscrapers has a strip of rainbow coloured lights illuminating one corner and I wondered if I find it reflected in a puddle.

I couldn't because the angle wasn't right but as I walked along more of the ground was splashed with colour. As the traffic light changed the scene at my feet altered. I preferred the effect of the red so waited for the white stripes of the oncoming traffic, the red of the stop light, the yellow of the now star-shaped street lights and blue of the station entrance sheltering a couple of umbrella toting people. The whole picture was reminiscent of an impressionist painting.


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Day 113 : it's all fun and games...

...until someone loses a head! When U visits us in London from her usual office in the leafy outskirts of Berlin she brings Haribo for our delectation. Sometimes it’s long coils of jelly snakes, sometimes tangy sour sugared cherries and also today a ’sleuth’ of gummy bears (yes, who knew the collective term for bears is sleuth or sloth). After U had left for the evening it did occur to me to ponder what would happen if the gummy bears (or Gummibaerchen) go bad. It's hard to guess what happened here but that looks quite a clean cut there. Not sure if I can figure who looks the guiltiest, the red Gummy Bear really didn't want to stand up, but that be grief or contrition!


Monday, 22 April 2013

Day 112 : it’s no use crying over...

I had a plan when I left the office today, I'd photograph the stacks of metal barriers waiting to be collected after all the enormous effort of the London Marathon yesterday. They had been regimentally lined up, slathered in red advertising banners and flanked the highway. But the idea really wasn't working, the abstract ones seemed too messy and the ones with a twinkly Tower Bridge in the background were just too noisy.

On entering the station thoughts of barriers were banished as I was rather struck by the milk catastrophe. There didn't seem to be a particular hurry to mop it all up so I had my chance. There was something very artistic and abandoned about it. I could imagine it curiously in the Tate Modern, surrounded by people stroking their collective chins and remarking on the wantonness impact of the piece.

It amused me that after taking my shots, I spotted a Nikon shooter furtively stowing his camera away and a French guy framing a photo on his iPhone.

Clearly we all had the same idea - it’s no use crying over spilt milk but it might be worth a photograph!


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Day 111 : re-budding

The reluctant Spring has returned again and the some of the hitherto shy plants are started to bud and blossom again. The blossom hasn't reached its full potential yet but some of the dormant buds are unfurling in the pale sunshine. I shot the same bushes much earlier in the year covered in a sugar dusting of frost. I'm guessing my inbuilt pink radar has drawn me back again.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Day 110 : overground, underground

We were due to catch some rays in St James’ Park as the much promised fine weather has turned up but my days tasks took longer than I'd expected so when unsurfaced at St James’ they'd already moved on to Battersea. I couldn't think of a sensible way to schlep over to Battersea via tube so I thought I'd walk to the main road and catch a taxi. As I approached I was struck my Westminster Abbey framed against the bluest of skies. The last vestiges of sun was turning the stonework honey coloured and you could just see the moon peering out from behind the gothic towers.

It occurred to me for the first time how the design of the Westminister underground station, where I was photographing last night on the way home, has such a synergy with the beautiful architecture above that coincidentally I was standing by the following day.


Friday, 19 April 2013

Day 109 : Venice in Richmond

I somehow managed to get to Richmond at a not too ridiculous time and standing on the bridge looking up at the tower and the blue, blue sky. The Richmond Riverside development is a somewhat controversial design by Quinlan Terry. I remember when I first moved to Richmond so long ago I lived on the hill and all this whole area was boarded up being redeveloped. The surprise was seeing what lay behind all the boards was first revealed in a model at the Design Museum. It gave me a curiously to explore over Richmond Bridge.

The development has been designed to be purposely eclectic with no two buildings the same. It’s nice but a tad chocolate-boxy as if Disney had designed a complex of classically styled villa buildings. There's a bit that could remind you of Venice, a bit Victorian, another bit Georgian, it’s all a bit clean and perfect but I haven't a clue how it all looked before it was developed. I seem to recall Prince Charles praised the design for the clear nod to the retrospective rather than acres of stark steel and glass.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Day 108 : cathedral to tube travel

As usual a visit to Westminster station has me reaching for my camera, my shutter finger twitching. This time I'm pointing up at the ceiling as I find the dark, smooth, curved concrete, the metal pipes and struts catching the light, in fact the entire industrial grandeur of the place very appealing to photograph. In the vast hall you get the interplay of the austere shiny, cross-bracing structures intersecting the open escalators all stacked on top of one another. The passengers travelling up and down briefly disappear as the criss-cross lines cast their shadows and I see it all in black & white. Compared to the vast majority of stations, Westminster is like a cathedral to tube travel.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Day 107 : reflections of the city

An American colleague was perplexed about “the British obsession with the weather” and wondering why it was generally our first enquiry and often the response to how we are. He lives in the mid west so perhaps was so accustomed to reliable seasonal weather it never occurs to him that our weather can best be described as schizophrenic.

For example today, we were leaving for an appointment at a client near London Bridge, quickly looked out of the window at the general gloom and spitting. By the time we were outside the rain was violent with blustery turn-your-umbrella-insideout wind. Because the umbrella was struggling so much to do its, job we got utterly soaked trying to hail a taxi. After our appointment in a building some call the Dark Star, bade our farewells and were greeted by the bluest of blue skies, no hint of the wind and rain and with just the odd wispy cotton wool cloud. The sun had definitely got his hat on!

Another appointment was awaiting in the city and when that was dispatched I was able to see if I could capture the “Erotic Gherkin” in all its sparkling glory. I do love a shiny glass building and the play of the reflections of the surrounding building and environment on the windows. Here I had all the wonderful facets of the Gherkin’s surface in addition to another favourite, the reflection of the sky in a mirrored surface. I was offered all that and more with this little gleaming cityscape.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Day 106 : Canary Blue!

I did an architecture workshop in Canary Wharf one Saturday a year or so ago. Before we hit the empty streets we were talking about some techniques and good spots for certain shots. One of the participants asked if we'd have any problems photographing here. Our tutor told us not to worry and as long as we weren't on private property we could take photographs. I mentioned that the entire wharf is private property so we could get challenged. And we did! Especially on a weekend, there aren't too many people strolling around, there are plenty milling around the shops but less buzzing around the tall buildings. This intrigued the large security force and seeing this bunch of surely what they perceive to be reprobates shiftily photographing their precious buildings they were convinced we were casing the joint. Once we'd promised not to photograph the cameras (surely the dullest picture ever) we were allowed to proceed.

That day was very dull, weather wise with a bland, white sky. I had hoped to capture a blue sky reflected in the shiny buildings but I was getting the desired look.

Today the sky was suddenly very blue and whilst exploring the sculptures in the little oasis by Jubilee Place I turned round and noticed one of the imposing building framed against a perfect sky with little white fluffies. With the dwarfed trees flanking the building, I was suddenly transported somewhere else far from Canary Wharf. Though sadly I was still there, and still had work to do. Camera away, back to the coalface!


Monday, 15 April 2013

Day 105 : the Shard in the pink!

Met some old friends that I haven't seen for too many years down by the River Thames on this balmy night. To be fair we have been on three different continents until tonight. Whilst we put the world to rights over some cold drinks it seemed very appropriate to dash out and grab a shot of the Shard on the opposite bank as the trickle of pinks in the sky bade farewell to the sun.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Day 104 : girl on bling!

The fabulous Swedish C has also acquired a collection of HO/OO figures to facilitate the creations of some miniature scenarios. In one shot her bathers were draped over various fruit and very curiously in another a German Stasi plus very scary looking dog (Doberman, maybe?) patrolled a dish of sliced tomatoes.

Her lovely pictures inspired me to lift the lid on my box of assorted mini people and various animals. Having such an abhorrence to tomatoes I thought I'd try something similar but on something considerably more up my boulevard, fabulous sparkly rings! I thought she looked rather demure perched daintily on one of my favourites. A glass of fizz would be more appropriate I think, but she's got a cup of tea or coffee instead!

Next I plan to do something with my pint-sized penguins, not sure what yet but all will be revealed soon.


Saturday, 13 April 2013

It's fashion darlings!

We've been looking forward to today for ages. I've never worked in anything resembling a studio before and I don't go out of my way to photograph people but this seemed such an opportunity. And we've chosen a model, a look - glamorous vintage Hollywood, a lighting scheme, polished up our lenses and are raring to go.

We have two talented stylists envisioning our desired looks who've amassed a fabulous collection of be-sequinned, satiny dresses, fur stoles, cloche hats, long gloves, cigarette holders, folding binoculars and oodles of sparkly jewellery bits.

Our model is coiffed and painted whilst our expert photographer tutors us on achieving the look we’re aiming for, using more traditional lights and the power of remote flash synching.

It certainly takes longer than I originally thought to get the perfect look and having so many eager photographers with itchy shutter fingers in our compact studio, it’s tricky to get your own personal time in front of the model, directing your shots and controlling the flash lights.

It was a great experience, I especially loved the ’Audrey’ look, we were very fortunate with our model and she knew how to work it. I didn't realise I’d learn so much, become so enraptured by the process and am now keen to try more.

Day 103 : a promising start

It's been a lovely sunny day, I didn't take advantage of it as I needed to catch up on things after all the creative fashion photography yesterday. I was able to catch the early morning rays, however, enhanced by the jet trails courtesy of living under the flight path to Heathrow.



Friday, 12 April 2013

Day 102 : welcome to the wall!

I have a plethora of classic Hollywood black and white photos adorning the walls of my flat, especially the hallway. When I first moved in I wanted a cheap and striking way to stamp my mark on my new abode and I formulated a plan. I had amassed some great images from an old falling apart book of film stills, pictures from previous year’s Paris calendars and quirky postcards, mainly from bars and restaurants hoping you'll stick them on your fridge and spread the word! A quick trip to Habitat (RIP!) to acquire a stack of clip frames in multiple sizes and I started filling all the wall space with these framed images. My two favourites are a large battered framed B&W image of Vivien Leigh in a huge full-skirted white dress that lives in my bedroom and a more minimalist Louise Brooks print with her striking bob and pearl necklace that has pride of place in my lounge.

When we had to decide which era to focus our fashion shoot on today, it was so easy, my inspiration was all around me. Luckily we all leapt on the Hollywood glamorous 40's style very quickly and the first look the fabulous stylists put together was inspired by iconic Audrey, long black dress, hair piled high with something sparkly at the front and the distinctive long gloves clutching a cigarette holder.

The plan was we’d design a lighting scheme and each photographer would take it in turns to slot the remote flash firing thingy in their hot shoe, tether their camera to the laptop and direct the model to pose in their desired way. I was the very last photographer to go before we chose a new look and had the model restyled. The whole process had taken a while with so many photographers so I figured I better be swift. Firstly so we could see the shots coming through on the laptop screen to make it easier to make some lighting and restyling decisions we tried to hook me up but we immediately realised the tethering cable connector was too chunky for my svelte little Leica, so I remained untethered. Then I had to remove my EVF for the remote flash hot shoe thingy but it didn't want to control our flashes (note to self have since researched, I need manual exposure and forced flash). It was a shame but I really don't like composing via the Live View anymore so was pleased to get my EVF back on and try a new approach. The decision was made to turn the lights on and hold them where they'd be the most effective. Very old school Hollywood appropriately. You can tell the difference, in the shots when I'm directly our fabulous and accommodating model, the shadows are much more dramatic than the designed subtle lighting scheme. Luckily, I rather liked the effect. B, one of the other photographers, had brought in the vintage folding binoculars and I was determined to work with them. This was my favourite shot, I love the inverted ’mask’ shadow framing the mouth. I toyed with colour and black & white especially as our model has such striking hair but as I think I've finally found one of my own photographs to add to my wall gallery, B&W wins!


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Day 101 : a century plus

I've actually managed to maintain a photo-a-day blog for a whole one hundred days. Okay, I admit the photos aren't always posted in the relevant 24 hours and I often have a catch up at the weekend but I'm just about there. However, despite really not knowing why I started this challenge, it's become very important to me. Some days, particularly the Monday to Friday ones, my sanity is stretched to its limit and pausing for a moment, several moments to look around and find an element of beauty, quirkiness, abstraction and just plain noticing things about me is utterly vital daily succour!

One day I may point my camera up at the sky, pink-streaked sunsets, golden sunrises and expressive clouds, the next day down towards the ground at some bold daffodil head, a pink bud unfurling its petals or sparkling raindrops. Many days I seem to train my camera on, ironically, tube trains, platforms and occasionally passengers...or at least their legs. I've loved my initial forays into photographing a miniature world but still struggle shooting real people's faces. If I needed any confirmation, I'm just not street enough to be a street photographer!

I'm excited as to what the next 100, and then the next 100 and the rest will bring. There's so many great photographs out there to capture, let's hope I can do a few of them justice!


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mysterious tulips

Spotted another opportunity to try out my new close up filter. Many of my clients adorn their reception desks with beautiful flowers. This afternoon’s clients had an abundance of tulips and luckily don't seem adverse to photography. In my enthusiasm I initially grabbed a polariser and couldn't figure why I was struggling so much get a crisp focus and then it all became clear...literally! No one tried to strong arm my camera off me or make veiled threats regarding the use of flash. When I realised my error I was able get a close up of the inside of one of the tulips. Using a tripod would help considerably however, but I suspect that would push the most amenable photography-friendly security guard to the edge. But it was still rather nice and I'm always a sucker for a pink flower.