Saturday, 28 January 2017

Spy vs. Spy on the dark side



So we've gone all stealthy today. This is my 50th London Street Photography Meetup and a welcome revisit to the imposing, brutalist architecture of the Barbican Estate. This time we were playing spy games. We are all disguised in black like sneaky photography ninjas, wearing hats and dark glasses, though a distinct lack of false beards, sadly.





We were set a series of challenges in various classified zones. Lots of classic looking up from below, looking down to those below, but coupled with surveillance, espionage, lurking, stalking and shooting from the shadows. Our themes today included looking for those leading lines framing little silhouetted people, negative space, and a Polly favourite - the odd random limb.




One of the joys of the Barbican is the multitude of textures. Around each corner there's rough and smooth concrete, long lines of bricks, tiles and the lighting can really emphasise those details. I'm particularly drawn to reflections off the shiny floor tiles, and the art deco style ceiling lights throwing intriguing pale pools to the lower levels.

The illumination beneath the handrails flanking the ramp leading up from the Barbican Centre makes me think of a runway or spaceship gantry, and I have to linger there for a whole hoping someone would walk up. Typically, there's no one for ages and then a little huddle of people make their way up the slope, and you sigh hopefully one would linger behind and make your image. I was fortunate that after being thwarted for ages, a passersby was happy to saunter down and up the slope. It transpired that he's an accomplished photographer as he showed me a couple of wonderful lit leading lines images taken at an airport. Obviously this wasn't very covert of me but I guess I'd been made by then!

For the second week in a row I grabbed a selfie. Good grief, what is happening to me? As I arrived at Barbican tube station I noticed the 'kids' were posing in front of the shiny panels alongside the platform with their smartphones. So figuring I was pretty anonymous in my ninja photography garb I thrust my Leica in the general direction of the big X and clicked!



We were seeking a film noir look for all our photographs today. So in post, I've emphasised the low key murky blackness especially for those shots inside the complex, where you're engulfed in all that towering concrete. I was hoping to evoke a spooky, mysterious feel, upping up the vignette and letting the inkiness creep into all the corners. Welcome to the dark side!


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