I haven’t quite managed to keep up with posting every Monday. In my defence, I’ve been afflicted by something that had many of the hallmarks of either a mild flu or a bad cold and didn’t manage to complete anything over the weekend, and I’m currently sitting here as I type this with my body apparently trying to cough up my own lungs. Hey ho, nothing like a day off of work to give me a chance to complete some writing and hack up my internal organs in peace.
Whilst wandering around London one night waiting for a movie to begin, my wife and I happened across a small area designated for skating that exists on the South Bank. It’s been there for quite a while, but I’ve never stopped there to photograph; I’ve passed it a few times when armed with my camera, but there’s often a significant imbalance between spectators and skaters leaving me feeling too self conscious to photograph them.
Funnily enough, the skatepark seems brighter at night than during the day; at night, the place is well lit, but these lights are off when the sun is up. As reasonably well lit at this is, it made for an interesting challenge, as there was precious little light for shooting action.
The practical upshot of the poor lighting is I had no choice in taking long exposure shots. It make for some interesting images, as I ended up taking far longer exposures than I normally would, and initially intended.
Normally, I wouldn’t deliberately shoot at lower than 1/30th of a second if I’m shooting handheld; anything less than that and the shot usually ends up a bit of a blurred mess. The shot above is close to being a blurred mess, but somehow emerges cohesive, and perhaps a better image than had I noticed how low a shutter speed the camera was using.
I’m normally quite reluctant to push the ISO too high especially in dark conditions where more noise will tend to be present. I know that sounds quite silly, of course you’d use a higher ISO in lower light, but what I mean by that is that the less light there is, the more noise you’ll see at any given ISO.
Aperture isn’t great at noise reduction, especially compared to Photoshop, but it isn’t bad, and fortunately my camera is not bad in low light.
As I continued to follow this skater, I pushed the ISO right up in order to get some sharper shots. Even at the maximum setting capturing movement was impossible.
I guess this section of the park was darker than the other bits. I like the way his hand is the only bit of him sharp.
After watching this guy for a bit, I moved along to another part of the park, which I continue to call a park despite the fact it wasn’t really one, more a bit of concrete suitable for skateboarding.
I really love the colours and detail in the graffiti at this site, and the lighting is pretty interesting too. Some of the graffiti was obviously pretty modern, with images of some of Britain’s gold medal winners.
Near this other part of the park, there was a different set of people, without skateboards or bicycles, practicing parkour.
Much like earlier, I aimed to get some interesting, blurred action shots – having long given up on getting anything even remotely resembling a frozen-in-time action shot with the light available.
Parkour, if you’ve not heard of it, is otherwise known as freerunning. It showed up in an action sequence in the Casino Royale Bond reboot and before that, a Channel 4 show called Jump London. I love it, I think it looks so graceful. There’s something like gymnastics about it; you need such strength to look so weightless. There are a few freerunners that practise very close to where I normally work near Waterloo Bridge; one day I’ll have my camera on me when they’re there (and won’t be afraid to approach them to take photos). In the photos above, the guy in the white trousers is taking a run up and doing an acrobatic flip over his friend.
All of this was enough to amass a bit of an audience, which helped me feel less self-conscious whilst taking photos.
As well as the skateboarders and the parkour kids, there was a guy on his BMX…
There was also a few younger kids on their scooters, looking like they wanted to be keeping up with the older kids – and doing a pretty decent job of it.
I think I may have gone a bit far on the tilting of the frame in that shot. In this next shot – back with the parkour people – it looks a little more natural.
After I grew bored – and having shot quite a few frames, although most of them were a blurry mess – we continued on our way. I took one last shot of the perspective of the pillars, just as a kid on his scooter went past.
You know, I like it, especially the purple in the background. And at 1/25th, that frame contains the shortest exposure of any of the others in this set.
I can’t guarantee when I’ll be posting next; I really want to shake the last vestiges of this cold before the next one gets me, and it’s my wife’s birthday before the month is out. I still have a backlog of processed images for posting and unsorted images for processing, so I’m not running out of material yet – hopefully that backlog will be looking a bit smaller by the turn of the new year. I’d still like to get November’s roundup post out as close as possible to the turn of the month, however, so hopefully that will drive me to work through the lung hacking.