It’s been a long time since this photo assignment was released, and so by now I am far behind. For those of you that don’t know, when I had just started this blog I began following along with the YouTube channel Art of Photography, where Ted Forbes was running a series of photo assignments.
I don’t want to get too far behind, so while I have hardly any images for this assignment, I’m going to release them anyway. The theme of the assignment was low-angle shooting, and so I decided to walk around the streets of York, and see what interesting shots I could find.
Man on the Shambles
These two are by far my favourites of this photo assignment. The first shot features a man chewing absent-mindedly on his pastry as the warm glow of the shop window illuminates his face. I really like the way the lines of the street around him, as well as the triplet of baskets hanging over his head, frame this character and draw the viewer’s eye to him.
The second image is of the Shambles Market, the stall’s canopy looming over us, exaggerated by the low shooting angle. The towering buildings frame this shot, rising high above the top of the stall. The one criticism I have of this image is that the stall and the sign above the market don’t line up, ruining what would otherwise be a symmetrical frame.
Of these three, the second one is my favourite, using the low angle to make these children the focus of the image, as they watch this strange man and his magical orbs.
I’ve got lots of catching up to do with these photo assignments, as #6 has just been released, so I’m going to try and work through these as quickly as possible.
One of the things I have always loved about York is the atmosphere of the streets. I’ve been in town today doing photography for a band that were busking, and it reminded me how much I love standing on the streets and watching people perform. Here we see a street performer smile at his crowd as he prepares his next act.
I very rarely do street photography (unless you count my work with Ghosts), and while I do enjoy it, I don’t feel that it is my art in the same way that landscapes are. Landscape photography allows me to express myself through an interpretation of the scene in front of me, and I find that to be a long, almost meditative process. That meditation is what drew me into landscape photography, and is what keeps me there, and it just isn’t the same when I’m shooting people.
I’ve been in a weird mood today. I got up late, and spent the early afternoon reading One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest with a cup of coffee, but even that got a bit tedious after a while. I decided to try some more street photography, and see what I could find in the city.
This image of a bus conductor (or at least, a man dressed as one) has a playful air to it, with the man bouncing down the street, his hands full of leaflets for a tour bus around York.
Here four friends walk down an almost empty street in York, their figures dwarfed by the buildings around them. The difference in size and the composition of the image makes it slightly jarring.
A man waits on a street corner, next to a sign reading ‘Businesses open as usual’. This accurately describes today for me. Nothing exciting, just ‘business as usual’.
It’s been a busy week. I’ve had two exams, and as such haven’t had much time for photography. I did, however, manage to get a shot for my 52-week project!
Here, a woman sits with her dog in a busy shopping centre in York, England. Coming from a quiet rural town, York feels far livelier, despite being seen as a quiet, quaint medieval city. There is always something going on, and while I love this city, I sometimes long for the slower pace of life back home. I imagine this lady feels much like I do when I visit Skipton for a weekend. It’s an empty seat in an otherwise hectic shopping centre.
This shot was planned far less than the last one. In fact, I wasn’t even planning to take a shot for my project when I went into town! I left the tripod at home today because I wanted to really capture the character of this city, and I didn’t want to be tied down by three aluminium legs. Once home I debated between colour and monochrome, but decided it would be an injustice to relegate that lovely dog’s red coat to a shade of grey.
Over the course of this project (which I will admit is not very long) I have found myself looking in more depth at the things I’m shooting. I take far fewer images than I used to, and even then I throw most of them out when I open Lightroom, but I feel like the shots I do keep are all interesting, at least to me.
I’ve always been fascinated by street photography. The ability to capture emotion and narrative in images of complete strangers is an incredible skill, and one I have always wanted to possess. I’ve always felt a bit nervous taking pictures of strangers on the street though. I know I’d feel slightly uncomfortable being the subject of someone else’s shot.
Today I forced myself to do it anyway. I went into the city center and started looking for subjects.
Walking into Shadow
Man with Bike
York is an amazing city, full of people from all over the country visiting for the markets and the historic sights, and they are well worth seeing. I prefer shooting a different side of York. I am an observer, trying to find interest in everyday life here. I love living here. This city, with its myriad of characters, provides me with no end of subjects.
This image makes me feel uncomfortable. Not the kind of uncomfortable you feel when somebody makes a joke at your expense, or your uncle brings up politics at the dinner table. It’s a more subtle kind of discomfort.
The image doesn’t quite ‘work’. It has no clear focal point, just the skewed angles of medieval buildings and this black form, barely visible, on the pavement. I like it, and yet I don’t. It doesn’t feel real, and I think that allows the viewer to bring their imagination to the image. Is this dark shape one of the many ghosts that are rumoured to roam York? Or is it just a sinister figure lurking in the shadows?
The point of this image is not to look at it and give an answer to those questions. As soon as you try to find something ‘concrete’ in the frame, the whole thing falls apart. To me this image represents the feeling of walking down a dark street, uncertain at what lurks in the shadows, but then in making that judgement I am bringing my own feelings and anxieties into the frame. I would be curious to know what others think.
It is the first week of 2017, and so here is the first of my 52 images for the 52 weeks of this year!
This image of the Craven Court shopping centre in my home town of Skipton was taken this morning, at about 7:30 am. The sleepy Yorkshire town is known for its markets, and on a market day the town comes alive with people from all over the county. This shopping centre would normally be full of people visiting the many cafes and shops inside, yet only an hour before the shops will start to open, it is almost empty, and all that can be heard are the sounds of shopkeepers chatting and opening their shops. To me this picture describes what it is like to live in a place like Skipton, rather than simply visit it for the shops and cafes. It is a scene which none of the tourists visiting the market today will see.
The shot itself was fairly simple, using only a tripod to allow for a slightly longer exposure to capture the image in the dark. Once home there was very little work to do in Lightroom, as the shot in-camera was fairly close to how I had envisioned it. First I cropped it to fit a square format, then change the colour temperature slightly (3.2k) to give it a slightly ‘colder’ look. Then I reduced saturation slightly, to really accentuate the ‘flat’ look of the scene.
Overall, I am very happy with this as the first shot of my 52-week project, and I look forward to finishing exams next week when I get back to York so I can start work on the second!
This morning I got up at 5:30am, which is an impressive feat in itself, to take a look around Skipton before the sun rose. This normally lively market town is vastly different at 6:30am.
Wandering through the bus station I came to this coach to London, waiting all by itself. With the harsh light of the streetlamps and the 30-second exposure that this picture was taken at, the ground has an ethereal glow. After this shot I walked through the bus station and down the canal, where a group of swans took a great interest in me, presumably because they thought my camera bag had food in it – as much as I would have liked it to, it did not.
I came to Belmont Bridge, one of many bridges in Skipton crossing the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Graffiti covered the underside of the bridge, and the light reflecting off the canal danced across the concrete structure above me.
After the bridge, I wandered towards town, hoping to get a shot of the church as the sun rose. On the way there I got this shot of Canal Street, with the road stretching away into the night.
Unfortunately the sunrise was nothing special, and I didn’t really get any shots of the church that were worth keeping. Seeing as I’m back in York on Saturday, I probably won’t get another chance until Easter.