“Calling out around the world....South America, Australia, France, Germany, UK, Africa”.....Bristol?! Remember that song? I'll be coming back to that in a moment.
Every time I travel to Bristol for photography purposes I'm disappointed, I never manage to capture anything interesting. Perhaps it's bad luck, more likely it's the photographer. So, I decided to skip Bath this week and ride roughly 12 miles further and arrive in Bristol City Centre. No idea why, perhaps I like a challenge. Of course I realise this isn't much of a motorcycle ride, but I'm concentrating on photography at the moment. You'd think that Bristol with its population of over 400,000 (4 times that of Bath) would offer some great photographic opportunities. It's never failed to disappoint, perhaps the lack of tourists compared to Bath has an effect. Bristol is diverse and there's always plenty going on so one of my Bristolian friends tells me, okay lets give it another go. I parked the bike in Queens Square and started walking. Here's what caught my eye as I headed to find a coffee shop, nothing special -
When I initially got off the bike and dug out my camera I almost dropped it, fumbling around to save it and unbeknown to me I must have inadvertently set my camera to Jpg, not my usual modus operandi which is purely RAW. Man what a mistake. I haven't shot jpg for 7 or 8 years. Transferring them to the computer when I arrived home all the dead pixels were revealed and there's a lot of them. Not dust spots on the sensor, I'm talking about those red or green hot spots, stuck pixels. I've tried to remove them as best I can, in the end I gave up and all these shots that you see here are what they are. Many were totally unusable. I hadn't realised (and do now) that when you transfer in RAW then rather cleverly Adobe Light Room sorts the mess of dead pixels automatically. If you always shoot RAW and here's yet another reason to do so, you'd never know there was a problem with the sensor because you'd never see it, the RAW converter is brilliant unlike the sensor on my Leica apparently. Anyway, moving on I walk up the Market Steps;
The usual stuff from me and I thought we were heading down or in this case up to that disappointed, disillusioned route once again. At the top of the steps I walked to Corn Street. It was the first of May and something strange happens on May Day. The Morris Dancers come out -
I'm not going to attempt an explanation as to why it is a group of men put hats with flowers on, bells on their legs, wave handkerchiefs or hit sticks whilst skipping about. It's traditional and besides, that's what Google is for! This group had begun dancing at 5.40 in the morning, they tell me that there's a pub that opens its doors in Bristol at 7:00AM. The dancing continues followed by another stop for a few more beers. This was their last dance, the time around midday, next it would be on to another pub for refreshment before getting home and hitting the sack I was told. A short discussion before the next dance "We ain't moving, the lads need to know where the next beer is coming from Guv" -
all agreed and we're off -
Fantastic. Okay, at ease men -
You can see that the sun was in and out like a fiddlers elbow, also difficult to miss; all these images are in colour. They are best suited that way and really don't work in Black & White in my opinion. A bit of sun and contrast, a man stepping out of the shade waving hello as he walked past our merry band and then mono is just the thing -
They were a great bunch of guys, happy to be out and about Bristol, as was I it turned out. Walking back I stopped for ten minutes to chat with a homeless guy. He was fed up with getting refused shelter and beaten up by drug addicts and alcoholics. Just needed somewhere to rest, the usual channels appeared to have let him down....the contrasts of life. I didn't photograph him (I've discussed my views on this before), although I'm sure he would have been willing for me to make a portrait, instead I just listened. So back down the steps I went -
A couple of clicks, find my motorbike and off to Clifton. This is an area of Bristol which is home to the University and Museums. I thought I'd have a quick look at a photographic exhibition about the British Empire entitled "Empire Through The Lens" and see if there was any interesting people to shoot. I was in and out pretty quickly, I didn't think the exhibition was that good, but that may have been down to me reaching the stage where I'd had enough for one day. So I took a few shots in the museum and outside before making my way home.
I took a lot of photos yesterday (many unusable due to the pixel issue), Bristol as it turned out was much more productive than I feared would be the case. I didn't dance in the street, but I may have skipped a couple of times! That brings me around to my original observation that the photographer (me) may have been to blame; It's all there to see, I just need to be looking.
As usual I would be delighted to read any comments and my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read my blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with a Summicron 35mm lens fitted.
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