Lytham is one half of a a charming pair of Fylde resort towns, the other is St. Annes, on the Lancashire coast a little to the south of Blackpool . It’s about an hour’s drive away from where I live so it’s an easy destination to make for with my camera. It’s a bustling place with plenty of life and a busy centre, which means there are many opportunities for the candid image. Sunday is a favourite day, when people ease back a little and take time over the small pleasures, like reading your newspaper in the sun.
A few weeks ago a friend invited me along to his graduation ceremony for his Masters degree which was being held in Manchester. I think it now makes him some sort of Jedi.
The event was being held in the starkly elegant Bridgewater Hall across from the Victorian splendour of the Midland hotel, the hotel was acting as the dressing room for the students cap and gownery. So needless to say there was a certain amount of hustle and bustle between the two but in amongst all the celebrations and mortar board throwing etc. there was a small oasis of calm.
Carefully, diligently a gentleman was sketching away at recreating the Manchester skyline in a panorama of watercolours and pen strokes. From time to time small knots of the celebrating crowds would break off to admire his craftsmanship but never once did he break his concentration or step out of his zone.
I wonder what the finished image looks like and where it’s now hanging?
A few days ago I took a train journey up to one of my favourite destinations, Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Scotland’s a place I have been travelling to for many years, my connection being my late father who was a Scot from the Lanarkshire area. The reason, or excuse for this latest trip was that fact that the Edinburgh Festival which always adds an extra dimension to the attractions of the city.
It was to be a day trip, something which is easily managed from where I live in Lancashire, the journey time is about two and a half hours also on this trip I travelled by first class which made it even more of a pleasure than usual. So after an excellent breakfast on the train and a lot of window gazing I landed up at Edinburgh’s Waverley station, nestling in it’s narrow valley between the castle on it’s rock and the well tended greenery of Princes Street Gardens. The station is always a busy, bustling place and some aspects of it’s layout can confuse the traveller unused to it’s ways.
I left the station by the Waverley Steps, a brisk way to leave the station and get myself onto Princes Street. The festival had started the previous week so it was now into it’s stride. I took a walk up to St. Andrew’s Square to get a flavour of the atmosphere, Festival time the square is a popular venue site with pop up arenas and bars.
After an hour or so of people watching I was making my way back towards Princes Street and I decide to stop off at Jenner’s, an Edinburgh department store of some repute. There is a cafe on the top floor which gives and excellent view over the gardens and across to the castle. So I took in this marvellous view while I enjoyed my sandwich and coffee.
I like exploring places on foot and Edinburgh is a great city to do this in. I made my way along Princes Street and then up Lothian Road to the district of Morningside, Passing by one of Edinburgh’s great open spaces, Bruntsfield Links. This area is a hive of independent shops and cafes and is one I like to visit with my camera and people watch.
It was now time to make my way back to the city centre and the Royal Mile to take in the atmosphere of the Fringe performers on the preview stages. The route I chose took me across The Meadows and along the George IV Bridge. Built in the late 1820’s to span one of the many valleys that cut into the city centre this doesn’t look very bridge like as you walk along it, as over the years Edinburgh has crept up on it and absorbed it. It leads you past Greyfriars Kirkyard, the cafe where Harry Potter came into being and onto the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral.
This is the hub of the previews for the shows and is always a must see destination as the performers do their best to drum up and cajole and audience for their own particular show.
So that is a flavour of my Edinburgh trip, it’s a brilliant city to visit in it’s own right and when the festival is on even more so.
I had a journey to make and part of that journey took my into Liverpool, not far from where I live. I was using the train to get from A to B and after I arrived at Liverpool’s Lime Street station I took the short walk through the streets to the central station. This is the hub of Liverpool’s Merseyrail network, an extensive set of routes running as far as Chester, up the Lancashire coast to Southport and under the River Mersey to destinations on the Wirral such as West Kirkby and New Brighton.
It was still quite early in the day so the single island platform was relatively quiet. The station at Liverpool Central is an underground one so there is a certain cavern ambience to be enjoyed while you are waiting.
Like all photographer/bloggers I always have a camera of some sort with me, so I was able to capture this shot. The guy was sat very quietly, there was what I took to be an instrument case by his side, a slim-ish, oblong affair, guitar? Keyboard? Don’t know. I’m guessing that he had been out to a gig the night before and this was his journey back the morning after. There was an individuality in his style. The sheepskin coat, black jeans, cowboy boots, together with whatever instrument he played. I quietly took a couple of candid shots, partly because I didn’t want to intrude also there was a completeness about the scene that I didn’t want to risk spoiling.
There was something of an album cover about the whole set up so that decided me to square up the framing and opt for a black and white desaturation with Photoshop elements. The black and white option was made a little easier because as I said, being a underground station the light levels aren’t overly generous and using flash on a live railway setting is highly stupid and unsafe, quite apart from a sudden bright burst of light making a subtle candid shot very much less so.
I still wonder if it would have been worth taking the brave pills and asking for a front shot, I don’t know, it wouldn’t have been spontaneous then, it would have risked a certain artificiality. Who knows I might bump into him again if I’m travelling through Liverpool
early one morning.
Just a quick post to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a busy month getting a couple of projects off the ground, on in particular has been adding to and organising the ebooks I produce. With a little bit of head scratching and midnight oil burning I’ve managed to produce twelve titles, not in one month obviously but reaching number twelve feels like a bit of a personal milestone.
I’m now starting to feel comfortable with the format and more importantly confident in the style and content of the books.though as always, at the back of my mind is the thought that I don’t want to get over confident and just bang out books in a production line with no thought as to the idea behind them. if I expect people to look at them they have to have a decent theme and a degree of style and continuity.
I don’t intend to step back from book production, I really enjoy the challenge of putting them together, print on demand will be the next step, which means more head scratching and midnight oil burning over a different set of production techniques.
All of the above though has meant that the blogging has become a whole lot more sporadic than it was before so a bit more personal organizing will have to be brought into play.
Right, blog entry over for now, the next one is beginning to come together out of a pile of scribbled notes.
Watch carefully, is it here, or is it there? The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. This is Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral and the Festival is at it’s height. This event is in my top five of locations for candid street photography. You just have to pick a spot and it all unfurls before you like a tapestry of a carnival. Here a magician was working the crowd with an assistant picked from the crowd. Time and again the young lad carefully followed the action but at each reveal that darned magician had done it again.
For candid images I always think that monochrome is the only way, colours can distract from the action, plus for me the black & white tones always add a timeless quality.
I like to get in at least one visit to Edinburgh each year and timetables are being consulted as I type this.
A small follow on from a previous post on Southport and it’s pier. I took this image on a bright, crisp day which really made the colours of the original sing out but there was something about the shapes and shadows that lead me in the direction of trying it out as a black & white image and I’m quite happy with the result, though any feedback or comments are always welcome, if I’m not in just leave a note under the rock by the front door.
The ‘train’ in this shot is the latest one to run along the pier, sadly the purpose built battery tram was found to be too heavy for the pier structure, the vibration caused by it passing up and down was beginning to weaken the Victorian girders holding the pier together. Such is progress.
Speaking of progress I should be making some with an ebook I have working it’s way through to a publishing date. Time to leave the seaside behind for today.