Tag: urban (page 1 of 4)

Talk Talk

I’m too eclectic of a photographer to have a style, but there are certain practices that I return to regularly. Probably the most common of these is to find an interesting backdrop and take up a position nearby where I can photograph people as they enter into the frame. This brightly painted complex of electricity distribution boxes, overlaid with graffiti and old posters, worked well with the vivid red wall in the background. I took a few shots and these two were the best of them, making a nice pair – one woman walking into the frame from the left, the other from the right, both on their phones. Perhaps a shade too much motion blur for the woman on the left, and too little for the one on the right, but both close enough.

I took these with my Panasonic Lumix LX5, my current representative of a camera range I’ve always liked ever since I picked up the earlier LX3 in 2009. Using it a lot over the last few days I have begun to wonder if I really need anything bigger. There are some constraints of course. Despite the little sensor performing well most of the time it is limited in difficult lighting situations (though Lightroom can compensate for a lot.) The biggest issue is speed – both the slow autofocus and shutter lag make it very challenging to take this kind of picture if the subject moving into the frame is moving at anything more than walking pace. I tried a few shots against this backdrop with cyclists, trams, and electric scooters moving into the frame but never got the timing right and ended up with the subject either too far into the frame or already leaving the frame.

It’s a shame Panasonic never consistently followed up the small sensor LX range. The LX10/15 looked like a potentially viable update at one point but it seems that Sony owns this market with the RX100. I did have one of the original RX100s but eventually sold it primarily because of the slow lens. I’m occasionally tempted by the RX100 Va but that near $1,000 price tag holds me back.

Avlabari

The Avlabari district of Tbilisi was the centre of the city’s sizable Armenian community though their numbers have fallen dramatically over the years. Just one street away from this building on Vakhtang VI Street is the Presidents Palace, built at considerable expense during the tenure of Mikheil Saakashvili. Aesthetically, this old sagging balcony propped up on its steel supports makes a great picture, particularly with the compression effect of a telephoto lens, but I wouldn’t like to live in it. It seems the President’s ambitions for the neighbourhood didn’t extend beyond the grounds of his palace.

On the Newtownards Road

I grew up in Belfast in the 1970’s and 1980’s — not the best of times. The city was divided with neighbourhoods demarcated by natural barriers like the River Lagan or artificial ones like the many peace walls, over 100 of which still stand.

Neighbourhoods were also marked out by flags, painted kerbstones and murals painted on gable end walls. Most of these murals ‘celebrated’ the alphabet soup of competing paramilitary organisations of the time. Later, with the end of the conflict in Northern Ireland, these murals designed to intimidate and threaten became an unlikely tourist attraction for curious visitors.

While many of the paramilitary murals remain there have been attempts to persuade our resident artists to move away from depictions of masked men with guns and create a less divisive and less militant style of mural. On a recent trip back to the city I took a walk along the Newtownards Road which runs from the city centre to the eastern suburbs.

The lower part of the Newtownards Road in particular is a strongly Loyalist neighbourhood and has an abundance of murals both old and new. Here are a few of them photographed on a typically grey and wet Belfast day.

Tbilisi – Me and My Shadow

This shot was taken in the back streets of Tbilisi near the Central Railway Station. I didn’t make a note of the location at the time and I’ve never been able to find it on a map again. I was initially drawn to the wall with the gate, both for the colours and the textures, but after framing a few shots from across the street I noticed this older man walking down the street in my direction. I was behind a line of cars so he didn’t see me or perhaps he did and didn’t care. I took a few shots as he walked through the frame and this was the best. I think this picture achieves a good balance between the background and foreground. The colours, textures and patterns of the wall retain their interest despite the presence of the walking man who, though relatively small in the frame, retains a strong visual presence. I like the way the tip of his right foot is just separated from the long shadow cast by the afternoon sun. I also like the way his dark clothes make him stand out against the light colour of the wall. And why is he wearing those clothes, apparently dressed for cold weather while the sun is shining?