Loneliness of a Cyclist

General

We all know about the glories of our Olympic Cyclists over the past year and ‘our’ Bradley Wiggins’ massive success in the greatest cycling event on the planet, The Tour De France but what does it take to get there?

In this small series of photographs we tried to capture one keen cyclist’s efforts during the depths of a cold and miserable winter, not competing in anything but simply training. I guess millions of us will never have the abilities of the Hoy’s, Pendleton’s and Cavendish’s however, we ride, we train either for clubs or merely for pleasure and to keep the old waistline from expanding.

David Bike w:m tn

 

Well, it is to you hardy folk that these images are posted for. Those that will never see any glory, those unlikely to claim any victory that will ever be seen outside of your own household, that these apply to. Those of you who, despite the weather, the season, the conditions, continue to eat up the miles for your own aims and aspirations. We salute you and hope you enjoy and identify with these photographs. We hope they portray the odd days when perhaps you wish you had stayed in bed and hopefully we have grabbed that sense of loneliness you sometimes feel when pounding away around Britain’s more bleak roads!

This shoot was completed at dusk in the wilds of the countryside at a temperature of        -4°C, it was cold!

David Bike1 w:m tn David Bike2 w:m tn

Advertisements

Sick of Snow Images?

General

Snow everywhere and tricky to photograph. I think I have posted before on the difficulties of taking images of snow covered landscapes and suchlike. It has something to do with being there and enjoying the whole vista and the calm that seems to come with a full on dumping of the white stuff. 

I am usually totally at ease with the fact that people generally use photography to suit their own needs. Be that for social networking, personal enjoyment or for other, more professional purposes, each individual can get enjoyment from this wonderful world we call photography. However, I have realised I have a caveat to my tolerance! Snow pics…for some reason they drive me mad. 

The local news with their “how you have coped with the freezing winter” pictures, the local newspaper with the “your snow” section, the copious amounts of facebook/twitter uploads, all showing snow as it actually isn’t. ‘ITS WHITE FOLKS, SNOW IS WHITE’ I find myself yelling at the TV/Newspaper/Computer. Now I should be just as tolerant of this photographic faux-pas as I am any other. But for some reason I am not. It gets under my skin and itches away like some bad case of the fleas. 

The technical reason is easy to explain, a digital camera sensor deals with extremes and treats them as gray. Hence if you take a photo of a simple white card or paper, the camera will record this as mid gray. If you equally take a picture of something totally black, it will also ‘adjust’ this to gray. Normally, this works well with 95% of everyday scenes, however an all white scene will digitally be recorded as a dull gray scene unless corrected either in camera or in post production. However, virtually no-one does it! Are the general public all disappointed with their snow pictures? Do they not see the dullness? Do they not care? 

My grumpiness is not limited to just the general unaware public, I find myself scowling at my laptop when surfing for images amongst those that should know better as well. Views and scenes that look amazing when you are there, very rarely translate to good images. A beautiful tree lined park covered in snow somehow just looks lifeless and dull no matter how it is processed and dealt with afterwards. I am not sure I know why this is? It might be because I too always struggle in this area. It might be because I just dont generally like snowy pics. 

Those that ‘stand-out’ seem to be able to grab a detail or something different from an otherwise bland landscape. Maybe an icicle reflecting a gorgeous sunset or such like. Don’t get me wrong, in the right weather in the right climate, (generally not the UK) snow, sunsets and blue skies can look amazing. But generally, they don’t. Great images that are well taken that have the snow as incidental rather than the subject itself can also work well. Think snow sports, fashion in the snow etc etc. 

Having grumped all post about awful images, here are some of mine that similarly fail to excite too much (see, this isn’t just aimed at others). The Chapel in Draycott Cerne attempted to grab the bleakness of the day. The post box was processed in a slightly gritty way to add something slightly different and the others are just record shots of ‘how it was’. 

Anyway, I am happy really, just felt I would add in my grouchy views on the subject!

Image

Cold Post Office

Image

Bleak Chapel, Draycott Cerne, Wiltshire

Image

Children in the Cold

Image

Icy Post

 

Portraits & People Imagery

General

Having spent many years working with people and the psychology of what makes them tick, it comes as second nature and really helps to capture that essence in photographic form. Yet it occurred to me the other day that there aren’t that many ‘good’ portrait photographers around compared with say, Landscapers. 

It took me a while to come up with the reasons why and all I could summon up were a few loosely based and untested theories.

The first is a generalisation but I wonder how true it is in the modern digital era. It is that photography at any serious level is a relatively technical business. It is all about f stops, shutter speeds, iso’s, depth of field, bokeh, focal points and post production. And all this before you start to get involved with any artificial lighting in studio’s etc. This means that very often, (here is the untested, generalised bit!) people with a technical ‘bent’ will gravitate towards photography as a hobby while more ‘artistic’ individuals get lost in all the technical waffle.  

In turn (more generalised theoretical stuff), as these people are generally more technically minded, they are less likely to be ‘people people’ and therefore are more likely to gravitate towards landscaping and wildlife work rather than people work. This is more likely to apply to the general public rather than professionals for the obvious reasons. What are they I hear you shout! Well, there is little money to be made these days from stock libraries and general sale of images in the wildlife and landscaping business. This means that those photographers who grow on to become pro’s will usually have to be good with people for several reasons.

The first is, that to run any successful photography business well, you will need to have a certain minimum level of people skills. Whilst we would all love to be shooting for 5-7 days a week, the reality is very different and sales and marketing will employ a new business for well over 50% of any photographers time! The second reason will be that the more lucrative work in the industry (generalising hugely again but please bear with me) involves taking photographs of people in some shape of form. If it doesn’t – say high-end product work for example, then it will still involve a great deal of work with people in the client company, art director field in order to come up with the correct approach to shooting the product in the first place. 

Now, going back to my discussion with myself about people imagery. Those that have mastered the craft will very often treat the technical side of their work as incidental to the image creation process. Yes it will all be taken into account but the style, the look, the location will all have been considered to be more important than the f stop and the shutter speed. It isn’t of course, it will just seem and feel that way. The most important consideration in any portrait will be the connection the photographer manages (or fails) to achieve with the sitter. That word ‘rapport’. I learned very early on that sometimes negative rapport can achieve the look you are after and I have been guilty of employing this method myself once or twice. 

A fellow pro said to me just the other day that he always felt that he had a ‘special’ connection with his models/sitters after a shoot. I would agree entirely. You have both ‘gone through’ something special together. Something that even an assistant won’t be a party to. You have a ‘special’ relationship that is impossible to describe but both know exists. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a closeness, although it can be, more an understanding. 

Now, is it really unfair of me to then take this to the next step and suggest the following?

It is generally unlikely that those of us that have a strong technical approach to photography and indeed probably, life, are too willing to engage in this way with people that they hardly know and are often unlikely to ever meet or converse with again. Thus, I have now managed to convince myself of the reason why few photographers gravitate their way towards people imagery and stick to more solitary subjects such as landscapes and wildlife. 

I thank-you!

Image