On Thursday, I had a few morning hours in Bath before my train back to London was due, so I decided to head out with just my camera and stretch a different set of brain muscles. I rarely practice with my camera; although I do try to take a lot of photos, I don’t often sit down and criticise them, or try to get better. But that’s something I do want to do.
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It was interesting, for me, to walk around a town I’ve known most of my life, with nothing else to do than to take photographs. I thought for a bit that I might get bored, but actually the time flew by. I barely made it to the real tourist traps like the Abbey and the Roman Baths. Knowing the town as well as I did meant that I could prepare my shot before I even arrived at the scene. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage of course – but I tried not to let my preconceptions about what was “interesting” about Bath get the better of me, and I went down roads & alleys I didn’t even know existed just to see.
One thing which I have discovered which I don’t do well is taking big scene shots. I already knew that I prefer not to take the big shots – I’m all about details – but I didn’t realise that I was bad at it! When I looked back over my full street photos, I couldn’t find anything particularly eye-catching about them. In one, I had framed the climb of the hill to be interesting, but there were people bumbling around and the scene just wasn’t captivating.
With this busy fruit stall in Kingsmead Square, I wanted to capture some of the bustle, as well as the quaintness of it, but you can see the bustle is all in shadow. I do like the composition of this one. I get the feeling that street photography with people in is a lot trickier than taking photos of buildings and signs, because it’s difficult to predict where people will go, or what their faces will do.
If I had more time in a place, I might cultivate the patience to get a really great street shot with people in it. As it is, I do have some luck with accidental people pictures – when I have a still life shot framed and people happen to be in it, in the background.
It’s also pretty easy to get people shots when they are staying in the same place for a long period of time. Something I used to do to get people shots was find a street performers (they’re everywhere) and then take photos of the crowd watching them. As just another person with a camera, nobody stares or avoids you.
This was a fun shot to capture – as I stood on a traffic island in the middle of the road. This is Pultney Bridge, one of only three bridges in the world to have functioning shops and buildings as a part of it. As I stood in the middle of the road, it struck me that I was actually a lot less self-conscious than I usually am when taking photos alone. A part of that was because Bath is a tourist town, so there are loads of people with cameras pointed in all directions and the other part was because I know Bath – it feels like my town – so I felt completely comfortable doing whatever, there. I also appreciated that most people seeing me would think I was a tourist, when I most adamantly am not (in Bath) and I found that quite funny. I think that I’ll work to feel this nonchalant about taking photos in other places too.
Despite having cycled past this building on several occasions, it had always been in the opposite direction to this sign. I love seeing these old painted signs on buildings – a glimpse of what-has-been.
It looks like this photo has a bad and an uneven vignette, but actually those railing stretch all the way around and I am stood by the haha, at a level with the bottom of the railings and that is what is causing the ‘shadow’. I wanted to capture the opposing semi-circles of the railings compared to the Royal Crescent, and I do like the way they cross over.
Here is the haha in all its glory. Apparently, the lower part of the field was once used for grazing cows, but obviously the nobs living in the Crescent couldn’t possibly have cows up to their front doors, so they put in a haha. Even today the plebs taking photos stay on the lower part of the field…
A LOT of the advertising in Bath is done on bikes. If you look back up to the piano player, you’ll see a Bizarre Bath comedy tour advertised in pink on a bike. I would really like that rocking horse though.
Here is a bog standard photo of some Bath architecture, a signpost to everywhere and a Bath open-top tour bus. I was planning to get photos of the buses all over, as a little challenge to myself, but they don’t come as often as I got to places.
I’ll leave you for now with my photo of Bath Abbey…
I want to talk later about my editing process – if you click on any of the photos to make them larger, you’ll see their names end in ‘satch’ and ‘rgb’ and ‘light’ and that’s how I catalogue how I’ve edited them. I have started editing the same photo in a few different ways, and I’m starting to see how different photos – portrait, architectural – can benefit from a variety of editing procedures. So maybe I’ll thrill you with all that another time.
Have a good weekend! You can check out what I’m up to on Instagram to the right there, or by actually following me @that_amelia.