Saturday, 19 February 2011

London Street Photography exhibition at the London Museum

It's nice when a photo exhibition is a long runner as it not only gives us plenty of time to visit but also plenty of time to tell everyone else about it. The exhibition consists of more than 200 photos of London street life from 59 photographers dating from the beginning of photography to the present day. On the way in, as well as the usual board giving an overview of the exhibition, there's also an enjoyable 20-minute documentary featuring some of the modern street photographers whose work is on display, talking about their approach and their philosophy. And on the way out there's a screen showing a rolling display of the photos with seating for those who don't want to walk all the way round. I went on the first day and was rubbing shoulders with other street photographers all the way round, and I expect it to be a major attraction to even more of us for the entire 28-week run.

The photos are, as you might expect, very interesting. But there is a slight drawback if you're not as young and fit as you used to be: the vast majority of the captions are much too low to be read comfortably; even if you are young and fit you're going to have to bend to read them. I left feedback about this on the way out and it would be interesting to find out if they follow up on this. There is plenty of seating space if you need to take periodic rests, though the benches are made of something like MDF so you probably won't be sitting for very long. You could always pop next door for a half-time cup of tea and a cake.

Something new that I discovered in this exhibition is the name "Still life street photography". Not a new idea as people have been taking photos of streetlamps, lost umbrellas and sleeping street dwellers for ever, but it's the first time I've heard the name and realised that some people specialise in this particular art form.

There's a display case in the centre showing some old books of street photography, the earliest of which is Street Life in London, dating from 1877, and there are a couple of ancient-looking cameras: a Kodak no. 1 Automatic Pocket Camera from 1921, and a Franke & Heidecke Rolleiflex T (Type 1) from 1960 - which seems ancient even to me, though I still see this type of camera on the streets from time to time. Oh, and there's also an Apple iPhone 2G dating from 2007 which, with its 2.0 megapixel sensor, only seems ancient compared to current technology.

There is free wifi (TheCloud) in the Benugo cafe by the museum entrance, though the signal isn't all that strong, plus Benugo's own AP, but I didn't test to see if that's free or not. There are several cafes and restaurants throughout the building and, it seems, a full set of toilets on each floor, though the disabled one near the Street Photography exhibition was closed for refurbishment on the exhibition's opening day.

Featuring a range of pictures from people in horse-drawn carriages to the present day, the London Street Photography exhibition is well worth a visit.

18 February - 4 September, 10 am - 6 pm; last entrance 5:30 pm; Free.
Fully accessible (apart from the points noted above) with escalators and a wheelchair-sized lift.

While you're there why not visit the London Futures exhibition (open to 6th March, also free), a series of 14 postcard-style photos depicting what London's future could look like once global warming really gets going. On the same floor and right next door to London Street Photography.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Tractor Vignette

I've been playing with the Android Vignette app recently and was lucky enough to stumble across a tractor that some workmen had left in Hyde Park.

Vignette is an alternative to the built-in Android camera app and it's five main strengths are: 1) it gives you more control over the basic settings; 2) it gives you a large number of preset effects, each of which can be tweaked; 3) you can add one of a fairly wide range of frames to your pictures; 4) you can add effects and frames to existing photos; 5) it's great for creating those old-fashioned looks like the Holga style or the Hipstamatic kind of look that seems to be becoming ubiquitous.

I used the basic camera settings with the Action Movie effect and the Filed Carrier frame for this photo.

And now Google have released Blogger for Android so now is a good time to test it out. I'll be posting more examples taken using Vignette and also Camera360 and RetroCam in this blog and on my Posterous blog.

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