Sunday, 23 January 2011

Oslo Postcards

Oslo 15Oslo is a nice place to shoot; everyone speaks English and Canadians are welcomed (as you can see from this hoodie in the local H&M). I was back in Oslo in the fall and of course I went out to shoot. It felt good to get out of the studio and back to my "home turf" of street shooting.

It's not that I do not like the studio. Unlike the street, it is a safe, controlled environment, but you have to think every shot out ahead of time. In the studio, you are usually shooting portraits or fashion so you also have to pay very close attention to colour and hues. It is pretty much the opposite of the "run and gun" that I do on the street. Differences aside, I think the studio has had a positive influence on my street shooting and I will explain as I go through this Oslo Postcards post.

I was out on the street again and loving the return of that feeling I get when I wander around with a camera in hand. There is something intoxicating about the anticipation of seeing photos set themselves up and then capturing the moment.

There was a street musician panhandling in front of the Lindex store on Karl Johans Gate and I grabbed this frame.

Oslo 16

I am always amazed how a scene can change so much and produce totally different images with a few changes in the environment. A couple of years ago, I took a shot at this same location. The above shot was composed in the afternoon on a dry day and the one below was composed in the very early morning in the pouring rain. With only those differences, I was able to make compositions that are worlds apart.

Oslo Lights (2)

Speaking of street musicians, I came across another panhandler singing "What a Wonderful World". Now you might know this song as a Louis Armstrong standard. Indeed, the song has quite a history. The composer offered it to Tony Bennett who turned it down (he did later record it). He then offered it to Satchmo, who recorded it in 1968 and it became a hit. Imagine having a chart topper when you are 66 years old!

Anyway, this is not why I love this song. I love this song because when Anne was a little girl, she was ALWAYS smiling and laughing. Her world was truly wonderful and I used to play this song for her all the time, so it became a "daddy/daughter" song.

So when I heard this song performed by two panhandlers (who I assumed to be father and daughter), I had to stop and make a short recording for Anne, which I then posted from my Blackberry straight to Facebook for her.

It's too bad my clip is so short. You really don't get the optimistic mood of the song from it. To make up for that, here is a video of Satchmo himself singing it.

After listening to the panhandlers for a bit, I went back out on the streets prowling around for shots. I came across this amazing "sculpture".

Oslo 1

Not only did it defy definition as to what it was, it gave me fits trying to figure out how to shoot it. I never really did come up with anything too impressive.

I took a short walk over to the Akershus Fortress to look at the setting sun and spied a person on a bench looking at that very sunset. He was up on the rim of the earthen wall and I was below at the base, shooting up for a simple composition.

Oslo 5

Curious to see what the sunset looked like, I ran up the berm to the tree that you see on the right of the frame. I then used the branches of that tree to frame the setting sun.

Oslo 14

When out street shooting, your head needs to be on a swivel. There are often very different, but just as compelling, compositions behind you. In this case, the sun was still quite bright. It was bright enough that I was able to capture these two people up on the castle wall behind me, as they made their own sunset postcard. I was amazed at how the warm sun complemented the yellow of the leaves on the tree. The second person might be hard to see, so look closely for the dark coat that almost looks like another tree trunk.

Oslo 9

By now I was feeling pretty comfortable and back "in the zone", so it was over to the Opera House to see what could be had there.

As I approached it, I was drawn to the geometric lines created by the glass facade and the stone supports. I was thinking that it would be a wonderful place to get some abstract shots. Here is one of my approach shots so you get a feeling for the structure.

Oslo 13

In the shot above, the dark dots on top of the building are people looking out over the harbour. The sun was setting and it was quite a popular place. The public can get to the roof by walking up long ramps on either side of the building. It was while shooting the ramps (below) that I realized that my eye has changed following my studio time.

Oslo 4

Previously, I would have waited for the people to leave the frame before taking the photo, but I realized I was quite enamored with the formal structure afforded by the geometry of the building and the random "organic-ness" brought to the image by the people.

Another change was my approach to colour. Previously, I would see shots only in tones, which is why the above shot is in black and white - that's how I saw it. However, I noticed I was now more struck with how colour worked in what I was seeing. For example, I loved how the setting sun painted red and yellow hues in a light tone in one part of the sky, while the darker blueness of the glass of the Opera House anchored the other side of the sky.

Oslo 7

The above is my favourite shot of the series, although I also quite liked this composition that I made as I walked around the building.

Oslo 3

The setting sun gave just the right amount of light for the glass facade to act as a mirror. Walking up the ramps on either side of the building gave me a chance to play with the reflections, such as this shot of a couple looking in the Opera House. Rather, he is looking in while she is fixing her hair!

Oslo 8

There was a performance on that night and people walking the red carpet gave me another composition using reflections from the glass curtain wall.

When I was half-way up the ramp, I turned around and made this image using Radhusgata (the street opposite) as an anchor and the reflection for the right 1/3 of the frame.

Oslo 6

From the roof, I was still seeing lots of images with the structure of the building providing a framework for some random placement of people. I like how even the rectangles have a random element.

Oslo 2

I will close with an image of the setting sun bouncing warm light off of a jet's contrail, as seen from the top of the Opera House.

Oslo 11

I am now caught up with my backlog of shots that dates back to last spring! Over the next couple of months I am going to focus on print making, but hope to also get in the occasional shoot.


JayM said...

Yeah. After seeing Akershus Fortress my camera is going on hiatus for a while.


Some great shots of the Opera House, too. Looks like I'll have to get my Toronto street stuff from today up quicker than I planned. ;-)

Jørgen said...

Great shoots fro Oslo! Hope you had a great time in Norway! You should be here next week, the World Championship Nordic Skiing is in town!