TAKE 2 – Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

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STREET ART (and how to shoot a photo series)

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In this weeks newsletter of Australian Photography.com  (which I subscribe to), there’s an article on how to shoot a photo series.

I think I do a photo series every time I step out my front door.  I started this blog off with the intention of only uploading one Black & White image for every post (with no words or explanation of my intent) except the post Title.

I quickly ran out of steam because many/most of my online photo sharing in the past has been about A walk with my Camera.

I love Black & White, but simply could not do enough that I was satisfied with, to (post regularly).  I also found it too hard on my limited energy to keep up 2 blogs with regular posts.  Actually, I was running 3 blogs at one stage last year – one on Health subjects, treatments and Alternative Therapies (of which I have had much experience and formal certification).

But as to Photo Series……..

My afternoon excursions with my camera have usually involved a series of images, (close-up & distant), of whatever location I visit.

In the first part of the Australian Photography article they stress Planning Ahead – Plan, Plan, Plan.

I don’t.

I just make a series of images reflecting what I see on my walk and chose a number to upload in a post.  Now that I don’t restrict this blog to Black & White, there will be more colour series in the future.

Case in point is today’s post from my Street Art archives.  They’re old images, but  on the day I shot them in Hosier Lane in Melbourne’s CBD, they would have made a good “photo series”.  Actually, they’re bright and vibrant and maybe a little too much to share for the nature lovers.  But now that this blog is about varied subjects, not just B & W, it’s relevant to post them.

I’ve made hundreds of photos of Street Art from the city over the years, as the lanes and wall surfaces keep getting painted over by various artists (and some non-artists who just want to make graffiti or spoil artist’s work).

If you went to Hosier Lane today, you may well see a completely different series to the above.

(Both people in the above series consented to my taking their photo and using it on my blog.  I don’t usually ask Buskers or Street Artists unless I’m right up close.  I figure if they’re performing in public hoping to get noticed (and make money), then my followers or random viewers can publicly see the results).

STREET ART – Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Apart from Melbourne’s lane ways, there are an extraordinary number of gifted and highly creative Street Artists who display their craft in the inner suburbs.

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Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, dates back to the early 1840s.  Originally a working-class area of low rent and cheap shops, it is now home to many students, artists and bohemians.

I walked partway down one small section on the way to the supermarket in that area and made a few images of the Street Art (to share online) on the way.

(I must be the only person who carries a camera and lenses on the back of their shopping trolley to do food shopping 🙂 ).

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Shop facades in Brunswick Street and surrounding side streets are usually unkempt and un-restored.  Those buildings/shops that are painted, are often  done with a ‘distressed‘ effect – I suppose there must be some kind of chemical which makes paint peel as it dries?  Some of the shop signs are works of art in themselves and Street Art adorns almost every corner or main building.  Even the 1st floor above the shops, which are residential, have the occasional window covered with a painted piece of art.

Even though I’m a Nature Lover at heart, I can’t help but be awed by these outdoor art galleries.  Since I moved to the north-eastern side of inner Melbourne 12 months ago, my main  bus route to the city centre leads me straight past many of these areas.  One of these days, I’ll walk down the main road from the city through Carlton, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood (which are inner suburbs along the bus route) and photograph some more of this extraordinary Street Art.

Ehrrrrrr……..not all in one day though 🙂

MORE BUSKERS (from my Archives)

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It may have been a chilly day in Winter 2012, but Buskers in Melbourne’s CBD still seem to draw a crowd. Whether watching, or just talking among themselves, (as in the third image), music (of all kinds) makes for an uplifting gathering together of kindred spirits.

I just love the Artists, Musicians, Acrobats, Mine Artists and everyone else who roam Melbourne’s shopping precinct (hoping to make a dollar or two).

SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE (Melbourne)

Photo made 23rd April 2014
Photo made 23rd April 2014

The Shrine of Remembrance commemorates those men and women who gave their lives in war and more can be read about it here.  It underwent a major multi-million dollar upgrade with a new underground education facility recently.

I’ve made dozens of ‘picture post-card‘ colour images like every other tourist/visitor, so when I had an ‘hour to kill‘ before an appointment last week, I spent some time trying to think of how I really see it.  There are so many stairs and not easy to walk up and down with heavy camera gear and shopping as I had last week and in the end, I just sat on the bottom of the eastern steps in the shade while eating my lunch and photographed the stairs beside me.

IMG_9844In one of the new sunken forecourts which lead to the visitor centre, the solemn stone structure and stark architecture is broken with a highly creative new ‘sculpture’ of red shade cloth and with my limited lenses, quite impossible to photograph, so I decided to just make an image of some of the flowing lines that greet you as you enter through an archway.  While you can’t see the shapes in the image below, I thought they looked like the petals of a red poppy and wondered if that was the intention of the designer, (as we wear red poppies on Remembrance Day in Australia).

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And some more images from my archives…

7th September 2010
7th September 2010

Personally, I think the building looks more majestic in the winter, especially with storm clouds in the background.  The image above and below were shot in September 2010 with my little point and shoot Canon Powershot A3000 IS. This tiny camera may be small, but the image below is still my favourite image of the building.

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Photography and the Art of Seeing

I’m in the middle of reading Freeman Patterson’s book Photography and the Art of Seeing.

Freeman Patterson writes about Thinking Sideways and Breaking the Rules AND “Chance”.  “Give many happy accidents a chance to happen”.   So I did!

But it wasn’t until towards the end of this afternoon, just before I left Union Lane in the city centre to go home, that this image suddenly appeared before me and I had to share it with you.    I must admit I hit the shutter button pretty quickly and didn’t bother to check the camera settings (or where the focal points were aiming).

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I wondered who the legs belonged to and why this young female was standing behind a half-closed roller door in a dark dingy freight loading bay with her teddy bear, baring a generous length of slim shapely legs.

And to give you an idea of where she was standing, here’s an image I made on Monday of the same freight delivery entrance and roller door – this time  the roller door was completely open and there were NO legs anywhere to be seen 😀

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My theory………..she was making an illicit transaction………. as I could hear a faint male voice nearby.  After a few minutes the roller door went right down to the ground and I decided to head for home, none the wiser as to whom the legs belonged to.

I have a few other interesting images to share, but I’d better check them tomorrow morning in the light of day to check their exposure and contrast, as I was shooting with my 50mm f1.4 lens most of the afternoon and “broke a few rules” (as Freeman Patterson puts it).

MORETON BAY FIG (Ficus macrophylla) – Treasury Gardens, Melbourne

I’ve never pretended to be a landscape photographer.

Partly because I say I rarely get to a location where I can take Landscape photos.  I seem to associate the word ‘Landscapes‘ with countryside or mountains.  The truth is that there are some landscape scenes within my inner city surroundings – I just don’t seem to see them.  I’m always looking at the small details around me (and rarely at the big picture).

When I walked through the long avenue of Moreton Bay Fig trees to my medical appointment yesterday, I was determined to try to capture the height of these enormous trees and the long avenue in these gardens.  Finally, after many attempts, I feel as though I got the composition right.  You really need people walking down the pathway to put the tree height in perspective.  These trees are massive and their root structure above the ground is often long like the tentacles of an octopus.  The Moreton Bay Fig trees are grown along the east coast of Australia….mainly in the northern states. These trees in the Treasury Gardens (just below the Treasure Buildings on the eastern edge of Melbourne’s CBD) were probably planted in the early 1860s to get to this height.

I wonder how tall they are in the wild?

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Since I took up Photography as a hobby, I’ve made dozens of images of the Buskers in Melbourne’s CBD (central business district).

From musicians, jugglers, illusionists, circus acts , gifted creators of amazing street art and mime artists, but my favourites have always been the Latin American or Flamenco Guitarists.  Some of them are World Class and I’ve even bought some of their CDs (on sale next to their street performance site).

They probably tour Australia (or Europe and the rest of the World), but when I don’t see them for a while, I often wonder – where are they now?

The Trio below (two of whom seem to interchange with a couple of different guitarists), I first photographed in 2012, then in September 2013 and more recently in February this year.  Their music is sublime – lively, uplifting and full  of amazing guitar finger work.  True performers and entertainers…….and really great vocals.

I hope they come back this summer to Melbourne’s main shopping precinct.

I’ve missed them.

 

 

THE WINDOW CLEANER – in front of Melbourne Town Hall florist stall

There’s nothing like the extraordinary light and deep shade when sunlight reflects off winter rain clouds.  Yesterday in Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District), I made quite a number of photos showing this.

The image below, (shot from across the street facing Melbourne Town Hall), is an excellent example.

This is the last image from yesterday’s walk in the city.

I wished I’d made more images with this light, but with peak hour fast approaching, I didn’t want to miss finding a seat on Melbourne’s public transport system, so headed for the tram stop after this photo.

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COFFEE, TEA or MACAROONS – Royal Arcade, Melbourne

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I debated whether to erase the scratches and marks on the glass case (holding the old teacups), but then decided it added another layer of interest to the image.

The Royal Arcade has all the architectural details painted in Black, with black and white tiles on the floor in a checkerboard design.  I’ve taken many photos but never been able to capture the atmosphere of this heritage listed arcade, but you can read about it here.  Or check out some photos on Google images.  In the meantime, the bright sunlight was shining through the upper windows in the arched roof and highlighting some of the shoppers and cafe patrons.  Definitely no need to increase the contrast or definition in most of these photos.

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MID-WINTER WALK AROUND MELBOURNE’S CBD

Despite the mid-winter chill in Melbourne yesterday, I made time for a very quick walk ‘around the block’ (after finishing my errands).

The sun came out and in some areas made strong contrast for Black & White photo opportunities.  I tend to photograph the same areas each time I go in to the city these days because……quite simply……. that’s what I have the energy for.  Hopefully Spring and low wind conditions will make it worth venturing further afield, but for the time being, the inner city buildings makes a good job of cutting the wind chill factor and keeping me warm.

I certainly admire the Buskers and Street Musicians who sit and/or stand for hours on end in the cold (hoping for an audience and a few gold coins in their upturned hats on the ground).  Audiences are few and far between on a cold day.

SEAGULL FEEDING FRENZY AT THE FISH MARKET (Queen Victoria Market, North Melbourne)

I was up the north end of Melbourne yesterday and despite a couple of heavy packages to carry,  decided to drop in to the rear of the Fish Market to make some photos of the daily feeding frenzy.  This is the 3rd time I’ve walked around this small back alley at market closing time.  I’ve always had a fascination with the Seagulls down at the local beach and pier, but the Queen Victoria Market is rapidly becoming a fun way to spend half an hour watching the seagulls, (and a few pigeons), waiting for the titbits that are washed out of the plastic fish crates behind the market.

With black rain clouds hovering overhead and to the north-east of the sky, it was a little dark, so had to lighten nearly every image, but not too much, as I prefer to capture the wintry atmosphere of the day.

 

CHINATOWN ON A WINTERY DAY – Melbourne CBD

Having been stuck at home with a winter virus all week, I was feeling a little desperate for some exercise and fresh air yesterday, so I rugged up with woolly scarf, gloves and coat and ventured into the city centre for a walk around Chinatown and the surrounding streets for an hour or so.   (It was a little too windy and cold for Beach or Botanic Gardens for me, especially as I haven’t got rid of this lingering cough).  The city centre was crowded as usual, but Chinatown in Little Burke Street was quiet and relatively pedestrian-free (in comparison).

Can’t say there was anything spectacular to photograph, so this series could be classed in the Mundane & Ordinary category, perhaps.

This afternoon’s rain will herald the start of a week of very chilly days and inclement weather, so I might have to scour the archives for some images to share.

Melbourne’s winter is relatively mild – even on a rainy day. But the ferocious winds can make the rain in my inner city location downright unpleasant.  I always used to say that the street next to my local corner shops (opposite the Botanic Gardens south-eastern entrance), is like a wind tunnel and HAS to be the most blustery in Melbourne.   This means ordinary rain can fly under even the sturdiest of umbrellas and soak you through (that is if the wind doesn’t blow you over and turn your umbrella inside out).  I really don’t remember these vicious winds being present in my childhood.

The weather forecast also predicts snow in Victoria’s Alps in the coming week, so at least the skiers will be happy.

SATURDAY IN THE CITY (of Melbourne)

I spent most of yesterday afternoon wiping rain drops off my camera and lens.

The sun did appear from behind the dark grey clouds a few times, but it was generally lacklustre light conditions for photography.

The result………………some shots in focus, but many blurred as I hurriedly aimed and then tried to get out of the spattering of rain drops.

But maybe that’s the way it should be on a Dark, Gloomy Saturday afternoon in Melbourne’s winter.

 

 

SCULPTURE – northern end of MELBOURNE CBD

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Located in an inner city lane, is this enormous, remarkable sculpture above a doorway.  I’ve seen it before and can’t help but be impressed by the building owner’s creative touch to an otherwise dark uninteresting bluestone cobbled lane near the northern end of Melbourne’s CBD.  Highly creative with beautiful flowing lines, it shines like a beacon outside a restored old warehouse style of building.  I don’t know whether the building is a residence or an office as there was no sign and the windows were made of mirrored glass so one couldn’t see inside.

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PROTEST RALLY

I went up to the north end of Melbourne’s CBD to photograph some new Street Art during the week and came to a standstill outside the State Library of Victoria.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried to photograph this type of crowd scene before.  I was a little unsure how much to zoom in (or out) to capture the atmosphere.  Of course, I had to find a gap in the crowd where there weren’t too many heads in the way too.

University Students, (and other interested parties), were staging a protest against the newly released Federal Budget’s changes to higher education fees.  The Government has made this an especially difficult Budget Forecast and drawn some hard lines for Pensioners and Medical service co-payments too.  As a person with chronic and somewhat serious health problems, (two of which are genetic), I just hope the new Budget does not affect my own health care – I can’t afford it (mentally, physically or financially).

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To be honest, I was more than a little dismayed to hear that our Government is making changes which will affect those who can ill afford the cost (of extra fees).

OK, I know I am lucky in that I can go out for 2-3 afternoons  a week following my Photography hobby which I love so much, but there are also times when chronic pain keeps me at home too.  I choose not to take medically prescribed analgesics regularly these days.   I am also very fortunate in that slow walking for a few hours usually dissipates my chronic pain………… and mindful living and a relatively stress-free daily routine gives me choices in how I deal with my health.  I also have the benefit in being educated and trained in Alternative Therapies, which is a saving on some prescription meds.

But………..why don’t they, (the current Government), increase the taxes on the Wealthy to pad out the Government Coffers?  We Health Pensioners didn’t choose to get sick, and the elderly didn’t necessarily choose to be living on the Government Old Age Pension (instead of being self-funded retirees).  Many of the poorer class have worked hard all their lives and just can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, especially health care and education, let alone saving for old age (when they should be enjoying more in life).

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In Australia, current trends show the middle class is diminishing and there is an even greater gap between the Rich and the Poor.  Many more middle class people are ‘feeling the pinch’ in their living expenses and starting to fall into the Poorer class, or below the Poverty line.  The number of Homeless and People with mental illness, or stress-related health problems, is rapidly increasing.

Ok, I’ve had my little rant now.

Back to Photography.

(note the hoof guards in the background of the last photo – something I’ve never seen before.  I didn’t notice them at the time of making the photo, so didn’t change the Aperture to bring them into sharp focus.  It was just a random shot of the horse leg protectors).

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LOW LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY in the City at Dusk

It was just after 5.00pm when I arrived in Melbourne’s CBD yesterday and with several urgent errands already completed near my home, I must admit my feet were sore and I was tired.

I had been planning to go to a friend’s Art Exhibition opening, but by the time I walked around a couple of blocks to fill in time until the 6.00pm opening, my feet, (always a pain problem with too much walking), just couldn’t carry me any longer and I was forced to go home, having missed the exhibition completely.

I hope it went well.

I did manage to make quite a few images in the low light of the lane up that end of the city before I left though.  I probably missed the best photo opportunity in the dark lane when I asked 2 chefs leaning against a wall if I could take a photo of them in the low light.  Their white aprons and chef’s hats stood out really well in the dark.  But they declined, so I kept walking.

There was little, or no light, in some spots and hand holding the camera down to 1/15, 1/20 & 1/30 shutter speeds meant I ended up with a lot of soft focus.  I managed to sharpen the focus on most of them in post processing, so if you are aware of poor focus, they’re probably the 1/15 shutter speed images I couldn’t sharpen.

Normally I can’t hold the DSLR perfectly still below a shutter speed of about 1/40.  Despite this, I’m still keen to share the images.  I couldn’t decide on any one particular photo.

I love low light photography and while I had to ‘tweak’ the definition, contrast & light a little,  I’m sure you will get the atmosphere that I was trying to achieve.

I think this is about the first time, I’ve really had a chance to make many low light photos (in the city at night) with my DSLR – I’m keen to have another try in the future, but next time, I won’t be walking around doing errands beforehand.  I’ll ensure I am not breathing heavily with exertion, so I can hold the DSLR still.  Perhaps next time will be better with my 50mm f1/4 lens.  These images were made using my general 18-200mm telephoto ‘walk about‘ lens which I use when I can only carry one camera body & lens.  My previous city photography at night was using my small Canon A3000 IS ‘point & shoot’ camera just over 3 1/2 years ago.

 

 

BUSKERS (street musicians) and the CROWD – Melbourne CBD

Lunchtime in the city centre amidst the Easter School Holiday period is not the best time to be in the city.

It’s crowded.

It’s busy……………. and not so easy to get served by shop assistants (if you’re in a hurry).

But at least I feel more comfortable taking crowd scenes which include children.

Yesterday, all my favourite Latin American Buskers were absent, but the lively beat of Youth really drew the onlookers.

 

CANDID SHOTS FROM MY ARCHIVES THAT REALLY GOT ME INTERESTED IN STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

Once again, apologies to the long term followers that have seen these images before, but I thought new followers might like to see these candid images that sparked my interest in Street Photography.

As always, if you see yourself in one of my images and object to it’s public viewing, just drop me a line and I’ll remove it.

(But I really hope you don’t, as it’s these Candid Shots that record our Culture and Urban Environment for Future generations to come).