Friday was overcast so I cycled down to Thamesmead. A place of limited colour (other than grey) on the sunniest day, it has an atmosphere of its own: remote from London, poor, famed for bad social housing and (more recently) remarkable levels of fraud.
From a photographic viewpoint, Thamesmead has things to offer. The architecture is predominantly stark and colourless but full of texture. Run-down shops, evangelical churches, forlorn paths and numerous water features abound. For the first time visitor, Thamesmead can be an edgy, dispiriting experience. I’d advise photographers to be as inconspicuous as possible: dress down and don’t linger, especially in and around the estates.
To the shoot, then. I focused on compositional lines and texture and on using the sky to complement the bleak forms of the buildings. Add a dash of documentary to the mix, given the history and notoriety of the place.
Gordon and I met on Grain recently to take advantage of some excellent skies and to take the delightful air of north Kent. If you’ve been following this blog, you already know I’ve spent a lot of time there recently.
I brought the Yashicamat, my tripod and a few rolls of Provia 100F for the trip. Determined to improve my metering skills after mistakes last time out, we visited some familiar spots before heading to Grain beach for dusk.
Determining the right exposure for slide film is a skill I’m working on – it’s alien coming from digital photography, and I think experience and ‘feel’ is going to be as important as reading numbers off the meter. Looking at the tiff scans and processed films from this trip, the exposure is variable: sometimes over, sometimes under, sometimes about right. I’m hoping consistency will come with practice.
In the gallery below, I’ve used Lightroom’s ‘B&W Creative – Creamtone’ preset on three images as an experiment. Lightroom 3 has several new presets which I’ll be trying out in due course. Next time out, I’ll be using Provia 400 for the first time.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the summer cycling on the Isle of Grain in north Kent. Last weekend, I packed the Yashicamat and tripod to shoot film and shake off the rust – this was my first trip for a while. It’s been very, very dry this year and the landscape is yellow turning white in places. The wheat and onion fields are being harvested, everything’s pale and waiting for rain.
Schoolboy error no.1 – after finishing the film, I realised that I’d been using my meter on reflective, not incidental, mode all day. Damn, that meant everything was likely to be over-exposed. There was nothing to do but send the film for processing and pray something useful would return. I used the Darkroom in Cheltenham for the first time – the website’s a bit creaky but their service is speedy: I had the film and scans back within 3 days. As I feared, the photos were overexposed by about 2 stops but I let Lightroom work its magic and they came out tolerably (N.B. I got medium-res jpegs from the lab this time, not tiffs, so exposure recovery was limited). In an odd way, the overexposure suits the parched landscape well.
Here are a few examples, with a link to the full gallery below: