Driven to Abstraction

The-Third-Man
Yesterday I attended a local (in Lincoln) LCE-Olympus organised event titled “Driven to Abstraction” which was an Urban Street Photography event, you can read more about this here. However I have copied the synopsis of the event from the Olympus ImageSpace website below:

Professional photographer Steve Gosling invites you to get creative with the urban environment and seek abstracts in architecture for an exciting event Olympus is hosting in association with the Lincoln branch of the London Camera Exchange (LCE) in Silver Street. The date for your diary is 20th June for the ‘Urban Abstracts’ workshop, but be quick if this sounds of interest, as only 10 places are available to the lucky applicants

As well as Steve I had the pleasure to meet up with Aiden from Olympus too and although I took my Nikon D810 with me I only used the Olympus supplied OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. What follows are my favourite photographs that I took during the on event.

Start:
We met up at the Silver Street Store of London Camera Exchange, there were 6 participants as well as Steve and Aiden; my friend Richard was among them. As planned, we left the store together and went to a local coffee shop to go through some introductions and talk about what we all hoped to achieve for the day. The coffee shop was “The Angel” which is just a few doors down from where I work and this was my first experience there. Olympus kindly footed the bill for the drinks we all had – I had to settle for a black coffee as they don’t serve skimmed milk😦.

As we were sitting down we were joined by another photographer to take the total up to 7. Both Richard and I were the only non-Olympus shooters in the group, some of the group use Olympus exclusively whilst others use Olympus in tandem with another DSLR.

Steve asked us one by one what we hoped to achieve during the course and my response was to take something beyond the mundane snapshot type of photograph that I always end up taking during urban type street photography. After a short slide show from Steve of some of his work and ideas behind the shots we all could choose Olympus gear to shoot with from Aiden bag of goodies. Most just wanted to try out difference lenses or different bodies wheres both Richard and I needed a body and lens. Richard wanted to try out the OM-D E-M10 whilst I wanted a go with the OM-D E-M5 Mark-II. I also went with the M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens initially as this would give me the field of view of a 34mm lens (I have a 35mm f1.8 Nikkor lens on my wish list at the moment).

Here is Aiden with his bag of Olympus goodness allowing one of the participants to choose their gear for the day:
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The plan was to walk to the top of Steep Hill and meet up in the grounds of the Cathedral and then walk around taking pictures. After talking to Steve (far right in picture below) I should look for “pictures” before I took the shot:
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My Cathedral Pictures:
I was looking ahead, up and below an noticed these tire tracks, after a little contrast increase ion Lightroom I have picture I very much like:
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There is a sculpture around one side of the cathedral and I got closer to get this shot which I call “3 fingers”:
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The contrast between the shiny new brass knocker versus the rusty ironware on this door was very interesting:
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Richard stands very straight and the parallel between him and the stone pillar was the point of this photo:
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I was shooting the cathedral through a hole in a wooden and iron bench when this girl walked across the frame, a piece of serendipity. I had many photos of her as she walked across the frame and her juxtaposition at then far left to the aperture in the bench side works nicely:
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Steve also suggested looking at reflections too, I noticed that the building to my right was clearley reflecting on the bonnet of this burgundy car. At first glance it looks like the white balance is off but you can see that this is not the case as the range at the top-right shows the colour of the brown road:
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We were also asked to look at patterns like this metal warning plate:
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Red and Blue doors:
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On the way down Steep Hill:
For anyone who does not know Lincoln, the Cathedral and castle are located at the top of a hill. The main street down towards the town centre at the bottom of the hill is called Steep Hill- it as aptly named i.e. it is very steep – walking up the hill needs good legs and some stamina.

I personally wanted to show a lot of texture in my photos and this is a close up of some of the black woodwork on this Tudor style building:
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These stairs could be located anywhere, where do they go and what’s behind the doors:
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I was intersted in the various different patterns in relatively small piece of road:
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Opposite this piece of road was very badly corroded brickwork:
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Towards the bottom of the hill was this piece of tarmac road with other stone pieces embedded, I love the contrast:
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After another chat with Steve and Aiden they suggested that I go for a different lens and I was given the 60mm f2.8 Macro lens to try, this stayed on the camera for the rest of the day.

Brayford Wharf:
After walking through town and going down the Glory Hole (yes that’s a real location name in Lincoln) we arrived on the North part of Brayford Wharf, I haven’t been here for a while an it seems different now that I no longer work here.

On the side of the Royal William IV pub was this face in the stone. I was initially interested in the texture of the stone work but after taking a few picture I saw this face:
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I noticed this solitary buoy on the water of the Brayford Pool and like the composition:
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My last two shots are of the fencing around the exposed part of the jetty mid-way down on the Brayford Pool. Firstly one of the fence posts:
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And one of my favourite shots, a close up of the metal wire part:
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After taking the last shots we had a Q and A session with Steven and then ventured back to the LCE shop where we gave Aiden back his Olympus gear.

Thought on the Driven to Abstraction Olympus event:
I had a great day even though I was on feet for almost the whole day, I’m pretty sure Richard had a great time too. Steve has taught me to open my eyes a lot more particularly in a place where I have lived for over 16 years now. I have to say that I came away with a few shots that I am really proud of, I did try a lot more and although I do have some mundane snapshots I also tried lots of different things; some worked as evidence by these photos and some that did not. Steve also suggested that some photos on their own may have lesser impact tan if there were part of a set of photos printed on the same page in a 4, 6 or 8 set grid for example. I really think I learned something during the day so it was well worth it. I certainly would like to go on another course with Steve as he is really great teacher and all round nice guy – thanks Steve!

I would also like to thank Aiden from Olympus, I have met Aiden a number of times now and he always remembers me – he’s another nice guy and I hope to see him again. The Olympus OM-D E-M5II operated in a very similarr manner to the OMM-D E-M1 that I used to own, but the real icing on the cake was the fully vari-angle LCD screen on the rear of the camera and I hope that the markII of the E-M1 has this too.

I enjoyed using the Olympus OM-D for the day, it felt like an old friend (maybe one I should not have left behind so soon). However, I don’t miss the terrible battery life which is the Achilles heals of all Mirrorless cameras (not just Olympus); one thing I noticed is that we all had to change batteries during the day. My Nikon batteries last a lot longer – many shoots per charge.

3 thoughts on “Driven to Abstraction

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