Photowalk – Manchester [B&W] – Part 2

This post is a continuation from the previous post about my black and white photos from my short trip to Manchester [Part 1 here].

The previous part showcased the images that I had taken with a telephoto lens with a focal length of 85mm. For lenses with longer focal lengths, I can take similar photos from farther away or capture details of my subjects without having to get uncomfortably close. As I was still not very familiar with the city and its people, the 85mm lens was a better choice for my shooting style. However, I needed to get out of my comfort zone in order to improve in street photography.

I had used a “nifty fifty” lens, referring to the 50mm focal length, for the majority of the following photos. The 50mm lens is my preferred lens when I am starting out in a location due to its ability to shoot close-up and wider angle shots. With a shorter focal length than the 85mm lens, this lens required me to get closer to my subjects. However, the advantage of the wider lens is that I am able to capture more of a scene than if I am to shoot with a longer lens from the same distance.

Although the autofocus had been very useful in both the 50mm and 85mm lenses, I did not want to rely on the autofocus to shoot from the hip. One small issue with the 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens is the lack of a zone focus indicator so it is difficult to judge the exact distance to which the lens is focused. This is a minor inconvenience as the autofocus has provided me with more shots than I could have gotten had I been using the manual focus FD lenses with my 1979 Canon A-1. When the autofocus wasn’t working with my vision for a scene, I was able to adjust the focus quickly with the muscle memory I had gained through shooting with the Canon A-1.

Man in the Park [Ilford FP4+, 1/125 s , EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

This first photo was taken in one of the parks near the University of Manchester. While walking through the park, I noticed a man on a bench who was feeding a large group of birds. I got close enough to capture some detail of the man but not too close to startle the birds. I had also wanted to photograph some of the birds flying in and out of the larger group, but I decided that I still wanted the man to be the main focus of the scene and the movement of birds would have drawn interest away from the man.

I adjusted for a slower shutter speed so that the camera would choose a narrower aperture to keep more of the scene in focus. I didn’t want to have a shallow depth of field as I knew that I could use the negative space in the grass to draw more attention to the man. I’m not too happy with the location of the tree being in the center of the frame, but I believe that this was the best angle at the time.

The man and the bench fuse together to form a single object, and this is complemented by the large group of birds in the center of the frame. I decided against a tighter crop in order to provide more context for the man. While the man is the only human in the frame, he is not alone as he is surrounded by a large group of birds. By including more of the surrounding park area, there is a sense of isolationism that is juxtaposed with the crowdedness in the center of the scene.

Life Moves On [Ilford FP4+, 1 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

I wanted to capture the busyness of the city and I knew that a long exposure would be the perfect way to achieve this goal. Here, I saw a pavement area with a lot of pedestrian movement. I had held up my camera to pretend to shoot some shots and observed that many people just ignored me and kept on moving. This was a welcome change from the touristy city of Edinburgh where the inhabitants and visitors are sometimes a bit too considerate of people with cameras.

For a one-second shot, I propped my arm up against a pole in order to stabilise the camera. Thankfully, the slower shutter speed was compensated by a narrower aperture and this allowed me to keep more of the scene in relative focus. I decided set my focus point to a distance which was approximately 1/3rd of the way into the scene.

The results from long exposures are difficult to predict, but they are very satisfying when they work. There is a diverse selection of people in this scene, and the differing amounts of motion blur reveal the uniqueness of each individual. Some people are moving quickly and busily to their destinations, while others are slower and enjoying their walks.

Between the Frames [Ilford FP4+, 1/250 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

Sometimes mistakes can occur in the photographic process, either in the development and printing of the film, operation of the camera, or otherwise. I believe that it is important to embrace these mistakes as they are an important aspect of shooting with film. In this case, there are light leaks in the frame and these led to two overexposed rectangles at the top and bottom of the frame. The light leaks are likely the result of a mistake I had made when I had respooled the film from a larger spool into the film canister.

The original scene itself is not particularly interesting. There is a woman talking on her phone and standing beside a traffic sign. I have included the out-of-frame person with the umbrella in order to indicate that it is raining in this scene. The reflections on the road also contribute to the rainy scene.

The light leaks help to remove distractions from the scene and increase the emphasis that is placed on the woman. While not forming a conventional frame around the subject, I feel that the light leaks around the woman also achieve a sub-framing effect. Interestingly, the top and bottom light leaks stop right above and below the woman respectively, leading me to wonder if there is something special to the woman.

The Disappearing Man [Ilford FP4+, 1/180 s, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II]

Similar to the previous image, the things that you fail to account for sometimes produce the most interesting effects. In this photo, the man on the right’s upper body appears to be transparent while his lower half remains opaque. This is contrasted with the other people in the frame who are quite nontransparent (with the exception of the reflection of a person with an umbrella and a stroller).

The photo was shot in the rain while I was waiting under a bus shelter. I looked behind me and through the glass to see pedestrians walking past the stores. I decided that the man on the right would be my point of interest and placed him in the lower right corner of the frame using the rule of thirds. A mixture of the reflections caused by the rain and the reflections in the glass resulted in this peculiar effect.

The disappearing effect is caused by the reflection of the bright bricked building being reflected in the glass. The surrounding buildings around this bricked building are not as brilliant, and as a result are not displayed as prominently in the reflections.


I hope you enjoyed the images as much as I had enjoyed taking and editing them. I may continue the series in the future with more black and white images or move onto the colour images that I had taken on this trip.


The images have been shot on a Canon EOS Elan 7e (EOS 30) film camera using either a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM II lens. The expired Ilford FP4+ film stock (expired in 1996) was shot and developed at 125 ISO. The majority of the photos have been taken using shutter priority with an adjustment of EV +0. I have only listed the shutter speeds for the images as I do not recall any of the corresponding apertures.

The film was developed using Ilford Ilfosol 3 for 5:30 minutes at 20C. Ilford Ilfostop was used to halt development for 0:30 minutes at 20C. The film was fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer for 3:00 minutes at 20C, followed by a water rinse for 3:00 minutes at 25C. The resulting negatives were scanned using the Epson V550 and edited in Photoshop.

Photography

Alex View All →

Amateur photographer and sometimes traditional artist

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