Freedom Centre Christmas Lights

Last night I went with the KCFM Street Team to photograph them supporting the Christmas light switch on event at the Freedom Centre in Hull for my Documentary Assignment.

The Freedom Centre is a small shopping centre that had set up a small stage outside with stalls and children’s activities around it. The Freedom Centre had been running an X Factors style music competition and the winners were all due to perform at the event which was to be hosted by Paul Woodford, one of the weekend presenters at KCFM.

I didn’t want to use a flash so I began by turning up the ISO on my camera. I didn’t really want too much grain so I tried both ISO3200 and ISO6400. I changed both the Aperture and the Shutter Speed depending on where I was pointing the camera.

I began by photographing the street team giving out flags to children and trying to capture some photos of the children waving flags. It was very difficult because of the darkness and the speed at which children move!

The area in front of the stage was very dark and the stage was lit mainly by some coloured lights but also from behind by some strip lighting from a room at the back of the stage. I needed to keep moving in order to get into a position where I could photograph what was going on on the stage without being caught in the glaring lights.

These are some of the photos that I took last night.

There were fewer people at the Freedom Centre than I would have expected but the acts that performed were very good. I stayed for a couple of hours and left just before the lights were actually switched on in order to get over to Hessle and capture some of the activities that KCFM were involved with over there. KCFM were also at  Hedon and Goole for their light switch on events but I was unable to get around them all in one evening.

The Americans by Robert Frank

One of the things that I am really poor at is filtering down my photos. I end up with hundreds of photos, most of which, I am never going to use for anything. It was suggested that I look at an iconic book called The Americans by Robert Frank that is particularly noted for the way that it has been edited and presented. Of the 500 rolls of film that were used to shoot the photographs, only 83 images made it to the final book.

Rooming House – Bunker Hill, Los Angeles

The photos were taken on three road trips around America that Frank took in the 1950s with his two children and his wife at the time. Many of the photos include shots that are out of focus or had some blur in them which was a bit shocking at the time and upset many traditional photographers. The fact that he has crossed class and race boundaries to take these photos would have been appalling to many.

I also notice that several of the images have people in them but their faces are obscured, again that would have been a new concept at the time. I particularly like this example called Rooming House – Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.

Frank studied with Alexey Brodovitch, a Russian photographer that revolutionised the images used in Harpers Bazaar magazine. Perhaps it was this influence that encouraged Frank to be so experimental in his images.

Movie Premier – Hollywood

Frank used strong shapes and patterns in his images and there is lots of grain in them. It all helps to show the emotion in a scene rather than the facts of the scene. For example in the image called Movie Premier – Hollywood, instead of the star being in focus he has chosen to focus on the background. At first glance this looks like Frank has been a bit sloppy but actually it highlights what is going on with the onlookers and how they are feeling.

As I look through the book I see lots of photos that don’t tell a conventional story, yet somehow all of them work together to form a larger picture of what life was like across America in the mid fifties. Frank was born in Switzerland and perhaps it is because he was born outside of America, that these sights were new to him, and that he was able to capture the spirit of the age.

After the initial introduction, the photos are laid out with one photo on each right hand page. This enables you to focus on each photo and not be distracted by anything else.

The left hand pages are all blank except for a small page number and the captions for the photos are listed at the back of the book.

This video by the Smithsonian gives a good overview of the book and highlights some of the editing choices made by Frank.

I like the way the book has been put together and will try to do something similar for my documentary assignment.

KCFM Firework Extravaganza

To prepare for this event I practised taking pictures of fireworks at an event a few days beforehand. Then I made sure that I packed my tripod for this event too. I didn’t want to use a flash as I don’t really like the effect a flash gun gives so knew that I would need to use the tripod for photos other than just the fireworks.

It is early days in my work with KCFM and the message hadn’t gotten through to the team on site that I would be attending. A quick check of their emails though and I was greeted very warmly.

I planned to take photographs not only of the fireworks but of the KCFM street team and presenter Darren Letham too. The lighting was very poor and despite turning up my ISO I wasn’t happy with many of the photos that I took.

These are a few of the better photos that I took at the KCFM Firework Extravaganza.

It was a much busier event than I anticipated, with only about 30 or 40 minutes to take photos before the fireworks. The fireworks themselves were excellent, set to music and lasted a good 20 minutes or so.

I think I managed to capture the atmosphere of the event, but would have liked to have taken more photographs of the staff and presenter at work had the crowds allowed.

The photos were emailed to the KCFM team the following morning.