The Good, The Bad, and The Not So Ugly (Enna I)

It’s shortly after lunchtime in a Sicilian hill town when the predators begin to gather in the otherwise empty streets.

A stiff breeze blows eddies of dust and detritus into neat circular deposits.  A soundtrack by Morricone is required.

The common lizard that hurries in and out of the cracks in the pock-marked wall of the cathedral need have no fear however, even though many of the hunters will be focusing their intention here.  For now though the man with no name rests before the action begins.  Van Cleef strolls nonchalantly.

A smaller group breaks off, largely unnoticed by the majority and makes for richer pickings.  I am one of them, and find myself with serious company.  Some hunt in packs, whilst others operate alone but with more fearsome weaponry than I might muster.  Hired guns among them.

Some adopt a sniper’s eyrie, effective but inflexible for moving prey; others shoot from the hip.

They have come from far and wide in search of rare quarry, but what would bring so many together here?  On a Friday in March?  Though it was my birthday, this wasn’t a photographer’s party.

It was a very different celebration, but one whose nature I won’t reveal.

At least not just yet.

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“‘Til I saw the light”*

A busy and stressful week for me and some of those I care about has been accompanied by overcast skies and copious precipitation APW_6692so it was so much nicer to wake to blue skies and dry streets.  Cold and windy but very pleasant all the same.APW_6701

With a pretty busy weekend ahead there wasn’t much time for photography, and to be honest I didn’t even have a plan in mind for either words or images which is unusual after a week with so much driving that the radio which normally provides inspiration hadn’t done the trick.  I needed some ingredients for the meal I’m making for my daughter so a stroll into Durham seemed the answer.

Perhaps the usual suspects would provide me with opportunities?

I wasn’t too hopeful, but actually as I shot the equestrian statue that dominates the Market Place I was taken by the way in which the sculpture was being given further definition by the conditions.  Not enough to really work on though.

Next idea was to shoot some candids of the varied hats and other accoutrements being worn against the cold wind, however I was pretty sure I’d done this before.  (In hindsight it seems I haven’t, so be warned millinery fans!).

It was as I was doing so that my eye was captured by someone who had no need of a hat, and as I followed this Seb Rochford lookalike up Saddler Street I realised where I would find something to work with.

The same light that had so defined the contours of the Marquess‘s steed was providing a combination of back and rim lighting that suddenly transformed that hair to halo.  What’s more every mote of dust in the air was similarly lit, as were steaming coffees, and warm exhalations.  Still wasn’t sure what I wanted to get exactly, but I continued to shoot candids in monochrome, my preferred method for street photography.

It took something as innocuous as a luminous carrier bag to make me reconsider the possibilities of colour, for against the cool winter light, the creamy facade of Bell’s fish and chip restaurant brought some warmth that together with the backlighting gave a more continental feel.  (Ironic given the nature of the establishment!).APW_6836With a change of angle, and an anonymous model whose legs made the most of the sculpting rim light I got closer to producing something more pleasing though she was a little to shaded by the exposure resulting from that change of angle.APW_6736  Back to where I began and suddenly a result that has a nice fashion photography feel.  Shame about the person in the background, but that’s street photography for you.APW_6769-Edit* Title from I Saw The Light – Todd Rundgren
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Northern Man

If you google “Northern Man” you will find amongst the suggested images a fair selection of that favourite stereotype “Man in Flat Cap”.  Though it has provided a seam of comic gold for many; Andy Capp, Python’s Four Yorkshiremen, The Goodies’ Ecky Thump and Bill Tidy‘s Fosdyke Saga for example, it’s an image as irrelevant today as the Londoner with rolled umbrella and bowler had striding across Westminster Bridge.

As I was in Newcastle today for an abortive attempt to have my camera sensor cleaned, I spent 15 minutes at the foot of Grey’s Monument capturing some candids of passers-by and by and large they put the stereotype to bed.

There were plenty who wore nothing on their heads;

but those who did adopt headgear eschewed the flat cap, unless you count the hat worn by the other photographer present…

The one guy with a flat cap probably wasn’t typical L S Lowry material!

Of course for a portrait I wanted someone who was deliberately interacting with the camera.  David was wearing a Nike baseball cap, but underneath it I could see some great eyes despite his otherwise dishevelled appearance.  When I asked for his picture he said nothing, but simply opened his mouth to add his unique dental arrangement into the mix.  Thanks David, I love this picture.  I just hope it isn’t stereotypical!