Capturing the streets in the city early mornings excites me. The street cleaners have washed away the grime of the previous day. The tourists are still leisurely eating breakfast in the nearby boutique hotels. Perhaps it's that I like being present in the city but I don't like the crowds. I contemplate purposefully seeking solitude in the city.
This is Barcelona. The side streets. The first of a series exploring the side streets of cities.
A walk along the coast path is one of my favourite activities to de-stress. I like to settle myself onto a weather-beaten wooden bench and gaze out to sea. This is often my time to contemplate. Lately I've been thinking of those creative souls who dig deep and create from a place of distress. Often when I'm feeling under stress or off-colour I withdraw into myself and my creativity suffers. I'm gradually learning to create more from the heart in good times and bad. I'm a firm believer that photography can be very therapeutic. The coming months, I think, may be a test of this.
In the more immediate future I'm looking forward once again to participating in photographer Henry Lohmeyer's e-course "Heard' - the emphasis will be on listening to our photographs. The start date is 28th March - check it out on thehereco website. His courses are always thought-provoking and moving. I intend to post some of my work here.
I put together a selection of my favourite photos taken around Castlefield in Manchester displayed in a different format. It started as an experiment one lazy Saturday morning but I definitely see possibilities with Slate. I like it. I'm not so sure it always displays as you expect though - I need to fine tune this. Have you tried it too? Thoughts?
Simply click on the image to view and then scroll down!
It hasn't been a particularly snowy winter and fresh frosty mornings have been few. What little snow we've had has melted away quickly. I look back on this last winter with memories of mainly grey days with low light and patches of drizzle. As a photographer you are particularly aware, I think perhaps even extra sensitive, to light conditions. I'm also aware that the tone of my photography tends to be influenced by the seasons. This is not intentional -it just happens. My monochrome photos have been noticeably dominant over the last few months. This is most evident over on my Instagram stream. My world has lacked colour. I even began to question my ability to take colour photos... wondering whether I'd lost it. Perhaps it's simply hibernating and waiting to emerge alongside the new fresh growth of spring.
Much of my work is influenced greatly by the industrial backdrop of the north of England and the rich industrial heritage. I think industrial and monochrome go comfortably hand-in-hand. I've been working on this piece lately - it was inspired by a traction engine rally. I find that these events offer a rich source of creative inspiration with plenty of vintage objects and down-to-earth characters. The text is an excerpt from the work of Friedrich Engels "The Condition of the Working Class in England". I find his writing fascinating as it gives his insight into the harsh living conditions of working people in the north of England and especially around Manchester and the surrounding industrialised towns in the 1800s. You may recall my post Marx, Engels and Mrs Banks ?
Layered within are subtle elements from industrial heritage sites.
I appreciate the changing seasons and the value each one brings to my creative work. And the greyness of winter heightens the anticipation of the arrival of spring.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on winter!
We want to open our doors and for nobody to walk through them.
The Wellspring, Stockport.
By far one of my favourite places to photograph is the Castlefield area in the city of Manchester. A beautiful grungy tangle of historic waterways and railways - a reminder of Manchester's grand industrial past. This urban heritage site was perfect location to test out my Fuji x100t in an city setting. Although in recent months I've been using the camera in a wide variety of situations I always envisaged that urban settings would be where it would prove most productive.
Castlefield is a paradise for photographers. I like to visit early mornings on a Sunday when it feels like the city is still asleep and recovering from the revelry of the night before. The downside is that certain areas can leave you feeling vulnerable and especially more so as a female. At times I can be oblivious to danger as I'm absorbed in creating. Add expensive camera gear in to the mix and the chances of getting mugged can be perceived to be increased. There are dark hidden spaces and uninviting deep murky areas of water. A place where the imagination can run wild. Nevertheless, there is a certain thrill which makes a great capture all the more worthwhile.
I waited and waited for a lone figure to cross this bridge. When a bloke in a dark hoody crossed I knew as soon as I'd captured the scene that it would convey perfectly the sense of place.
Looking up from the dark shadows below and I'm fascinated by the different structures crammed together - styles, shapes and textures. I would imagine not very welcoming after dark though!
The criss cross of cast iron tructures add interesting shape and texture - and with beer barrels and graffiti thrown in the mix for added interest.
Looking up again as a train rumbled overhead. Home to the pigeons!
I battled with my conscience whether to post this or not. This is someone's child. To be so alone. But then, like it or not, this is reality in the city. There's no avoiding the rough sleepers. I can not imagine how difficult survival is for these people. Homelessness in Manchester has been a controversial topic in the news headlines in this winter. And whilst politicians and pressure groups and even those on the streets argue amongst themselves on how to ease the problem the desperation continues.
Finally I had to sneak in a colour shot. I love to shoot reflections. A perfect blue sky would've popped the colour but I'm in Manchester and, as the saying goes, "it's grim up north" and yes, it was a grim day but that adds to the drama of the location!
The Fuji x100t is now my camera of choice for urban photography. I won't go into the technical aspects of the camera here - there are plenty of reviews online for that - except to say that the quality met my expectations and it feels so very good in my hands. The big plus for me is that I feel safer shooting with a smaller and more discreet camera and don't have to compromise on quality. Having said that I must tell you that my one scary encounter came not from a human but from a butch looking pit bull type dog who almost cornered me and made my heart race by the water just behind the far barge in the top photo!
PS My charity of choice to support the homeless and disadvantaged local to my area is The Wellspring in Stockport. The link is here if you'd care to take a look.
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