Essay: Beeston

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The 53RD COLLECTIVE: Iain Palmer

This series was conceived when having to take my youngest son for a walk very early on a Sunday morning. Initially my enthusiasm to leave my bed to walk around my local environment at 6am on a Sunday morning was none-existent but in hindsight I am very grateful for the experience. What turned my attitude was the amount of light available. It was glorious.

My local town was also deserted so taking photographs of local shop windows and the reflections they produced of their surrounding area was a breeze.

Being able to capture my local environment free from people was rare as it really is a thrivingly busy district when populated during normal hours of the day.

What I was able to concentrate on and not be intimidated by onlookers or shop owners was a more methodical approach to photographing the street environment. Thought was taken into colours and their relationships to each other and to surrounding buildings and fixtures. The light really did bring out the best in them.

I have a new found admiration for the Velvia film filter in my Fuji X-T1 and on a day like this one it was the only colour filter needed to produce the bright, vivid colours reminiscent of the colours I witnessed during my local photography walk.

Saul Leiter came to mind during the making of this photograph and in post processing, my work flow involved me attempting to bring out that vintaged, aged, slide film look to the Velvia enhanced images. 

The Classic-chrome film filter wouldn't have produced the intensity of the colours, rather would have bruised them so this is one reason this, my usual go-to-filter, wasn't used.

Trent Parke has always been a favourite photographer of mine and on who probably motivated me to reengage into the world of photography. His ethereal approach to his images is really inspiring and the reflections produced from this coffee shop's window produced that imagery and texture as well as tonal quality reminiscent in his work. On top of that, the lone figure moving across the scene gives that 'apparition' sense that the celestial nature of Parke's work alludes.

Here, the black and white worked better than continuing with Velvia, purely because the tonal elements of monochrome evoke emotion more so than colour and the range of light and darks and their mid tones work a lot better. The shimmery effect was more striking too upon editing the photographs away from the colour negatives.

Relationships was also a consideration to the composition of the photos I took. Naturally own a day such as this, colour was the obvious choice but on occasion, I was also mindful of shape and gesture. 

Here, I have tried to show the upward gesture relationship of the bar stool and tree reflected from the coffee shop window. Placing the tree in the middle of the stool also helps with the immediate recognition of the branching notion of both subjects. Being opposites in tone also was a bonus too and although this might not be for some an aesthetically pleasing image, for me it is a sketchbook photograph documenting my eye, my photographic intent and my exploration into my relational language in the images that I am taking.

Upon returning home and going full circle on my photography walk, I was met with this gem of a light spectacle. I am an abstract artist at heart and in my photography I attempt to fashion this interest in my work. The colour and the shadow work wonderfully here and it was easy to isolate both as well as exploit the relationship that they had in this instance. 

My intent was purely to showcase the shapes and the colours within them and how the deep shadows deconstructed their natural relationship to the visual world into mere gestures and textures and hues. I'm really impressed with it as I am of this my first series of related photographs.

Iain Palmer

Abundant Magazine