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Exhibition of photographs shot by David Bailey

How good are David Bailey's photos taken on a Nokia N86? Martin Jordan finds out.

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Seph David Bailey
Nokia N86 & Orange ‘Alive At Night’ exhibition, shot by David Bailey.
Seph - "the dark romantic with goth and vampire leanings."
A young and trendy crowd gathered at the Old Dairy, Russell Square to celebrate the Launch of "Alive at night" an exhibition of photographs shot by David Bailey on the new Nokia N86.

To show how this 8Mp camera phone performed in low light Bailey was asked to capture a series of night time portraits. The result is a collection of photographs taken of Londoners who go about their business while the rest of us are sleeping.

There was also a selection of photos taken by ordinary people who work at night such as a nurse, a cabbie and a Smithfield market porter. They were also given a camera phone to take pictures of their working environment.

For the technical, the camera has 8Mp (that’s the same as my first digital SLR!) a 28mm f/2.4 Carl Zeiss lens, and a dual led flash.

The pictures by David Bailey were taken of people who work at night in a diverse range of occupations from Doctor to Burlesque Dancer. They were printed at about 24in by 18in and displayed in a black room with each photo individually lit, adding to the night time atmosphere.

The quality of the pictures at this size, considering they were from a phone, was excellent. There was a bit of colour noise evident, but the overall feel of the pictures was very good. David Bailey hasn’t lost his touch and managed to produce a great set of environmental portraits.

Baker David Bailey
Nokia N86 & Orange ‘Alive At Night’ exhibition, shot by David Bailey.
Spence Bakery shot.
I spoke to a couple of people who had their pictures taken, Alex Ross a baker, and Seph a ‘dark romantic with goth and vampire leanings’ (his description).

One thing they had in common was that neither had heard of David Bailey, I had to impress on them how lucky they were! The young just don’t know David Bailey. It made me wonder what photographer they would know, I couldn’t think of a name a non photographer would be familiar with, that’s a shame.

I was interested to know how it was being shot by David Bailey. Did he work alone? Oh no ‘he had about ten assistants’. I’m sure they all did something useful.

David and Catherine Bailey
Nokia N86 & Orange ‘Alive At Night’ exhibition, shot by David Bailey.
David and Catherine Bailey.
Did he use any other lighting apart from the camera flash? Both said that another light source was used, an assistant holding another camera phone. I guess that would boost the low light capability...

Alex was impressed how Bailey worked and how he quickly made him feel relaxed; important when there’s ten people milling around. He spent about half an hour and took about 50 shots.

Seph was less impressed with the Bailey, "put your subject at ease" technique, Bailey’s conversation opener was ‘are you gay?’ Maybe he wanted a more edgy shot. He’s not by the way.

Half way through the evening David Bailey came in with his wife and daughter. He is 71 and I have to say is looking it. Well he did say he’d slept with 350 models and has had 4 wives, so I guess he’s entitled to look tired.

The quality of this camera phone is amazing. Ok the quality is not as good as a DSLR but you can take great spontaneous photos, capturing that moment. I’m quite tempted.

Martin Jordan.

Alive At Night
The Old Dairy,
6 wakefield Street,
26th to 28th August 2009.

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