In my last post I said I was taking my Panasonic GF1 to London when I dropped off the Royal Academy stuff. My artworks were safely delivered to the RA, so here are some images from that day.
Regarding the post title, the GF1 is not a really a “compact camera”, but with the 20mm pancake lens on it’s pretty small, so it’s compact in that sense. That makes it very pocketable, and inconspicuous to use. The 20mm lens is the equivalent of a 40mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Using a fixed focal length lens sounds as if it should be restricting, but it means you look very hard at composition, and adjust your position to get it just right, rather than just changing the focal length if you are using a zoom lens. It’s actually very liberating.
There are lots of pigeons in London! There were a few pecking round us at lunchtime whilst we were sat in Victoria Gardens. I held the camera with one hand, finger ready on the shutter button, and then waved my other hand to make the pigeons react.
I really like how different the two images are given it’s the same bit of ground, and the same bird(s). In one image there’s a sense of space and freedom, whereas in the other it’s all rather crowded, and there’s a problem with the neighbours.
The pigeon images used a short shutter speed to stop the action. For this image, of birch trees outside the Tate Modern art gallery, I’ve used a long shutter speed (1/6th of a second) and moved the camera down during the exposure. The white tree trunks and red/brown bricks combine to give an ethereal image with lovely twirling shapes.
Inside Tate Modern was Ai Weiwei’s installation “Sunflower seeds”. There are over 100 million (!) hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds in the turbine hall. You can read more about it on Tate Modern’s website. I dropped down nearly to floor level to give a different view, and used a wide aperture to give sharpness on one area of seeds, whilst letting the other seeds go softly out of focus. Concentrating on the corner of the mass of porcelain seeds gave a good idea of the scale of the work.
This final image, looking up towards the exit of the Tate’s turbine hall, was shot hand held with the lens wide open at f1.7. The fast maximum aperture on the 20mm pancake lens gives you the creative flexibility which makes this sort of image possible.
In a way the day in London was a personal Photo Trek. I was in an interesting place and looking for photographic opportunities. If you would like to do that yourself, and get “al fresco” photography training from me at the same time, then why not come along to one of my 2011 Photo Treks? You can get more information on the Photo Treks page of the website.
Derek Gale www.galephotography.co.uk