Tonight's meeting spot for the Happy Camera High ISO workshop is Bar Italia, the sort of place that makes me wish I drank coffee. I feel I should have pootered up on my Piaggio scooter, tossing my long blonde hair out from under my helmet, greeting everyone in Italian and procuring the teeniest of espresso coffees with merely a raise of a perfectly manicured eyebrow. But I don't drive, nor drink coffee, speak Italian, and no, I'm not blond. Maybe in a parallel universe I could, but in this universe I drink a can of Limonata, and get ready to crank up my ISO and shoot 'street'.
It's raining and I love catching the vibrant reflections in the puddles but I don't really like getting wet. And frankly, neither does my camera. If I can be photographing the moment the rain has ceased, the sparkling raindrops are heavy and suspended from every protruding object, the streets slick, dotted with tiny reflective pools, that's always ideal. But we've been set some challenges, so rain or no rain, we set forth. We're looking for pools of light, flooding out of bars, under theatre awnings at interval time, back stage doors, and the lurid neon of the adult bookshops or rosy glows from the massage parlours.
We start by exploring Soho Square where the pigeon sculptures catch my eye. And the day-glo orange of workmen are a perfect counterpoint to the dark buildings.
SL then start lurking around the alleyways of Soho proper. We are encouraged to just keep going, taking photos as we go. I managed to get shouted at by an angry camera-shy stripper and the resultant photo isn't even a keeper!
As it gets darker the high ISOs turn the almost empty streets into film sets. I spot a lone boy leaving a pub/restaurant just before the rest of the party leave.
The red of the Windmill Nightclub sign reflects in the still damp road and created a perfect red carpet for someone to walk down. Now for the decisive moment!
I was hoping for a nice shot whilst lurking at the back stage door and really wishing someone would indeed turn off the sprinkler!
Before our Happy crew regroup, I am propositioned by an alcoholic cross-dressing, homeless and only mildly creepy ex-architect. He was telling me, amongst many other revelations, about his job at the Queen's grocers. It was indeed a kind offer, but I said "no thanks" and swiftly exited stage left!
Yet another fabulous Happy Camera workshop. The intrepid group of snapping Soho stalkers reconvene over wine and ginger beer in a quiet wine bar, so we can compare notes and photographs. I'm aways intrigued to view other interpretations of the same scenes I've also photographed. We all have different eyesm and are choose entirely different aspects to turn our camera lens towards. And despite me not being happy to be photographing in the rain again, I cannot deny the extra dimension it has added to many of our photographs.