Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved

Keeping things fresh



What you doing ere?
...Read More

Keeping things fresh

12 Jul 2020 5:35AM   Views : 587 Unique : 381

Febreeze doesnt really help. not really, it just masks the problems!

In regard to my self portraits, I recently thought it high time to really get those images done that I have wanted to do for some time now, but have not really found the right time to get the images done. During the lockdown i was keeping my photography up at home, but nothing beats being outdoors and doing photography out in the wild. Plus the fresh air is good. So as soon as this lockdown was lifted recently, i took to the roads around norfolk for a few days of socially distant self portraits.

My main goal for this outing was getting a lovely sunset image by the sea in a really stand out dress, and i actually got something on both occasions. I would arrive a few moments before sunset, this was the time of the heatwave and the beaches were heaving, around sunset they empty out and by twilight virtually empty. This happened the week during the lockdown restrictions lift, so everyone decided to go to the beach at the same time, the lemmings most folk seem to be these days. Probably the same tools as those causing traffic jams just to get a crapdonalds! I did really want to go to the beach, only because i wanted to do a shoot, so i left it as late as i dared, knowing that i had to arrive at sunset for the crowds to deplete and the glorious natural light show began.

I thought the images came out really well and was quite satisfied with them.

i have always wanted to do some photos in my home town, though as you can probably imagine, familiarity with a location often makes you oblivious to its true photogenic potential. You may look up and around now and then but you never really see anything. I had this, I had this right up until 2 nights ago, when it started to rain and i suddenly thought "wouldnt it be cool to go out at night for some gritty looking portraits?".

Previously i had done some self portraits in town, in good weather, when it was warm at night, not wet, not cold, not damp or gloomy looking. But...what is wrong with gloomy?

And the more and more i look around my hometown for locations, the more i noticed a familiar sight on my streets, those steel shutters! Ironically almost every time i type shutters, i mistype and hit "i" instead of "u", though rather apt.

Those shutters are not beautiful, their not pretty, and their not really that interesting either, function above form, and all that. But for now they are a feature of my town and as sad as it is, it still needs to be captured, albeit in some very conspicuous self portraits!

Yeah, about those conspicuous self portraits... In public when I am out shooting, I tend to stop if people want to walk by, though in all honestly, this is rarely the case due to the locations i have previously done portraits at. What I am trying to say is that I am quite shy really, very self aware when doing shoots sometimes, one half of my brain is being creative and the other half is on look out duty. One thing i learned very quickly is that folk will appear in town when your doing a shoot, no matter what time of say or night.

But I like the nighttime, i like the atmosphere it brings, the ambience, i think the night time brings out more of any towns character, specially on a damp night when there are puddles around and wet surfaces everywhere. My first few attempts at shooting at night were during the heatwave, no rain, dry as a nuns.... wotsits! Anyway, the night being as lovely as it is does bring its own challenges, the main being personal safety. I am well aware i stand out a bit when i am dressed up with a camera on tripod and a light on a stand, so the way i see it is this, i either act nervously, or act bold as brass.

The latter please, in buckets, thanks Smile

Seriously though, rather than shy away when anyone comes near, I own the area where I am working, with my camera i mean obviously, i dont mean i own that area like some lose woman who regularly hangs out on street corners, i really dont, not too much... but i act like i belong there, i carry on doing what i am doing, i no longer look up or look around in case anyone comes near, i am no longer in too much of a rush, though i am in a hurry because sunrise is nearing fast, it ruins the ambience. I have even engaged verbally with a couple of passers by who encroach my working space, which really isn't that big an area, but if they walk into my shot, knowing full well i am stood in front of a camera with a bloody great big LED light on a bloody great big light stand, then they are going to become part of my so called art.


I did go out with a few local locations in mind, a certain passage way in town has some character and charm, and on the first rainy night i found such a gritty looking yet very beautiful scene which involved a pretty red drainpipe right next to a pretty red painted door above a small step, and with the rain lashing down all around, i knew right away that i had to do a portrait right there. This was one of those locations i had on my list, but i had no idea it would look so gorgeous at night time, in the wet as it did that night. So i took a few portraits still wearing my leather shirt dress and boots, and i took some portraits at the 16mm end of a wide angle zoom, getting as low as i could.

The results were ok for what the images were, basically a dress rehearsal for a shoot i knew had to happen here properly, the next night... i actually think the image below is quite interesting, though for me the light sky really killed the mood, even though it wasnt sunrise, the cloudy sky had lightened up a lot since i ventured out that night.


I had no lighting with me, so i used ambient lighting. The lighting wasnt really the issue, it was the raindrops splashing into puddles and hitting my lens elements, well one of them at least, as i positioned the camera as low as i could on my joby gorillapod. Still, the splashes on the lens are fine in small doses, and i like the above image as it clearly shows the lens getting wet.

I knew there was a better image to be had here, so i returned the next night with a bright LED light on a stand, and chose a red and black outfit to match the scene. This time I had a drawstring plastic bag over my camera with the lens protected well from above and below but still exposed to raindrops coming from puddles in front of it. This was really rushed as i didnt want to be in the rain for too long, such a diva. That was the mistake though, i rushed it, and i look as uncomfortable as can be, all hunched up on the step, miserable looking and sullen. It didnt work. Others like it, but i do not.


I didnt like the angle much either, i felt the 16mm was too wide. Low angle photography with this lens creates untold distortion, and it looks terrible, though my composition did not help much. And i also didnt like the fact that you could not see the rain falling, which was one reason for doing the blooody shoot in the rain in the first place.

So on night three i took out my 35mm prime lens, and I also took out another LED light but no light stand, i could have really done with that light stand the next night, as i wanted to capture the raindrops falling down around me much much more than i actually did on the third night, with the same black n red outfit as before, but with black gloves too. Ok, one black glove, the other hand was operating my mobile phone with my fuji app open, because i was shooting tethered to my phone from the X-E2. The rain seemed to be coming down even harder that night, and it really shows in a couple of the images.

All in all, a rather splendid few nights out capturing my hometown, its flaws, its beauty, some of its inhabitants. I do intend to do more night photography, that goes without saying, and i also fully intend to exploit my hometown for locations, as I am sure there are dozens and dozens I am yet to discover, and it is a hell of a lot more fun than doing shoots indoors!

Tags: Photography Urban portraits Night time photography self portrait photography


saltireblue Plus
13 14.0k 85 Norway
12 Jul 2020 3:57PM

Quote: familiarity with a location often makes you oblivious to its true photogenic potential.

How very true that is!
I think you are brave going out alone at that time of the night - but perhaps your home town is one of the safer parts of Cambridgeshire.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.