Dashing into Newcastle today for an errand, I wasn’t sure what I’d find. Many businesses would be closed for Good Friday, yet the major stores were all open. Would the city be thronged with shoppers? As it happened it wasn’t, which was strange given the slight rise in temperatures which was accompanied by blue skies and sunshine.
No matter if I don’t find people, perhaps today I’d focus on architecture? From the roof of the car park it was impossible to ignore the magnificent curves of Gateshead’s Sage music and arts centre, and this inspired me to shoot some bracketed images for HDR processing later. My hall has long been adorned with a moody photograph of the multiple towers of San Gimignano, and as this will be going elsewhere in my impending separation I decided to process the Sage in similar manner by way of a parting tribute!
Even the car park itself had possibilities for an abstract shot, but as it happened the architectural theme was not to be.
Passing by Grey’s Monument it was impossible to ignore the number of evangelists carrying large yellow, numberplate-like signs bearing the message “John 3:7”.
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
Well it is nearly Easter after all. I began to shoot some candids here, not sure what I would do with the images but certain I’d know it if I saw it!
It was as I photographed the last of the sign-wielders that I spotted another symbol of the season, albeit one corrupted to advertise a clothing store by riding a diminutive penny-farthing. I wonder how effective this is as a marketing ploy?
Making my way back to the car park I was presented with an image that is always tempting. People standing in doorways make great subjects, because the doorway creates a natural frame. When the subject is photogenic in their own right it is all the more tempting.
Yet it was none of these that was my favourite image of the day. A quickly snatched shot of an incongruous juxtaposition was my favourite. I’d like to have framed it better, but I had to act quickly because one of the players was on the move, though the other was clearly settling down for a while. Nevertheless a sharp stone corner provides a demarcation line between the subjects almost like a mirror, or the binding of two facing pages in a book.
A homeless woman sits or crouches with a thin blanket over her knees, and as many layers as she can muster to protect her against the coming night’s cold. She is small and almost certainly hungry.
As I spot her she is joined on the corner by a well fed young woman taking a smoking break, presumably from a nearby Italian restaurant. In contrast she is wearing little, and the clothes that she does have are stretched and pulled by a body that refuses to conform to some remembered size label. She has no need to protect herself from the cold, she will shortly be back indoors and earning a living, but in the meantime she enjoys the extravagance of a cigarette. It is an extravagance that her neighbour cannot replicate. On seeing the other woman she turns her head away, and shortly afterwards moved to a new smoking spot, seeming offended by the person at her feet, and yet the real look of contempt is on the face of the woman she scorns. She may be down, but she can still feel superior.
*Quote from leading cinematographer Conrad Hall