Dancing in Kensington

As I continue to try to get back into the habit of publishing photos on this site, I realise I now have a decent backlog the likes of which I’ve not had in some time. I have continued to take photographs over the last year or so whilst this site has been relatively quiet, but then those images were left in various states – some edited, some not, and then we have this next batch of photos, which were edited and I got 300 words into this post before apparently getting distracted by something else and leaving it for a year. To make matters worse none of the originally written words now make sense in the context of it being a year later, and I’m not sure how many of the specifics I can actually remember, so apologies if there are any glaring continuity errors I’ve completely overlooked whilst editing and rewriting.

A few weeks after our visit to the London Wetlands Centre, I met up with the same friend for an organised photowalk to photograph some professional dancers in Kensington. The idea was simple: about a dozen of us, a couple of dancers, and whatever parts of the Borough of Kensington seemed suitable.

We all met up at South Kensington Station, and found a quiet residential street round the corner to start off with.

1/100sec, f/4, ISO 125, 50mm
1/200sec, f/4, ISO 125, 45mm

The dancers made a few moves to warm up, and we shot them to warm up ourselves.

1/640sec, f/4, ISO 125, 35mm

We stayed by this area for a little bit, but I wasn’t a fan of the background, so fortunately we soon moved further down the street to find it a dead end – which turned out to be perfect.

1/160sec, f/4, ISO 200, 105mm

I quite liked the result of this selective colour – something I’ve used in the past but not recently – so I used it again.

1/125sec, f/4, ISO 200, 105mm

I also decided the wall in the background would benefit from some increased contrast.

1/100sec, f/4, ISO 200, 88mm

The dancers – Eleesha Drennan and Mathieu Geffré – were great at adopting expressive poses.

1/80sec, f/4, ISO 200, 58mm

Some were easier to interpret than others.

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 200, 58mm
1/400sec, f/4, ISO 200, 50mm
1/320sec, f/4, ISO 200, 45mm

As professional as they were, they did eventually lose to gravity and fall over.

1/400sec, f/4, ISO 200, 50mm

You can see from the slightly less edited shot above that there was another little problem, which I guess is part and parcel of shooting down a back alley in London: the big green poison trap to the bottom right of frame. Debates about editing aside I elected to remove it from all of the other shots in order to make things look more symmetrical and less cluttered. I used the basic spot remover tool in Lightroom to quickly and easily remove it; luckily the brickwork pattern was relatively repetitive. Still, if you look closely I’m sure you can see some of the kinks in reality where it used to be.

We spent a good quarter of an hour at that wall trying out various angles and dealing with a little rain before we decided to move on. We soon came to a fancy-looking residential street that was perfect to capture some individual poses with a long vanishing perspective in the background. I switched to my 50mm lens to maximise the bokeh of the background.

1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

We soon switched to having the dancers run at us leaping in the air at a specific point to get some in-flight shots.

1/1250sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1250sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/800sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

It’s a shame about the skip in the background ruining the look of the street a bit. Luckily sometimes the dancers would happen to block it with their bodies.

1/1250sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm

After a bunch of solo runs, the dancers then started running together for a different look. I also switched to shooting at f/1.6 just to slightly widen the depth of field and ensure the subjects were sharp.

1/1250sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm
1/800sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1000sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm
1/800sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm

The street’s possibilities exhausted, we continued on, and soon found ourselves on the stairs of the Royal Albert Hall, where another different flurry of artistic poses followed.

1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

Being the Royal Albert Hall on a weekend inevitably there were tourists to clutter up the background. Sometimes we were lucky, others I just had to rely on them not being that obvious.

1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/640sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1600sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/2000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

Some shots just instinctively seemed to work better in black and white.

1/2000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

We got a small lull in tourists and I was able to centre myself on the steps for this next shot, which I love the symmetry of.

1/3200sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

We moved a bit further down the steps and the dancers started incorporating them more in their work.

1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/3200sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/2000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
A1/1250sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

Apparently, at some point whilst we were shooting in this spot, none other than Dustin Hoffman turned up to see what was going on. Being proper photographers we were all completely distracted by our subject and didn’t actually even notice him, although our event organiser was gushing about it afterwards. Looking back, it’s possible that Eleesha saw him in this shot, although of course she could just as easily have been looking at anything else.

1/2500sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1250sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

We moved on one final time, and headed over to Kensington Gardens just over the road to get out of the urban setting and into some more nature. Eleesah found a hollowed out tree stump meaning she could quite literally get into nature.

1/5000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

Which also led to this somewhat different shot.

1/2500sec, f/1.6, ISO 100, 50mm

With relatively long grass in the park I decided to stay a bit further back an incorporate it into the frame.

1/800sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/1000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

Presently it was time to call it a day. As we exchanged details and pleasantries I used my macro lens to grab a quick impromptu shot of Mattieu as he stretched down.

1/200sec, f/2.8, ISO 160, 100mm

Although I’ve been taking a share of photographs over the last year I’ve not been on any other organised walks since this one. At the moment life often seems too busy to find the time to devote to one, but I’m sure I will get myself signed up for one at some point again in the future.

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