Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What I See. Part 1 - The Streets of Oslo.

Street Sights 2I didn't set out to do street photography. I just wanted to shoot, but I was in the middle of a city. No landscapes to be hand, just streetscapes.

I had flown to Amsterdam from Canada and I woke up in the middle of the night, bug-eyed with jet lag. Rather than watch TV for a couple of hours, in a language that seems to involve doing unnatural things with the back of your throat, I decided to go out and see what I could photograph. On the way out the door, camera and tripod in hand, I passed a very surprised hotel night manager.

Happy with the images I made that night, I continued to shoot the streets, even when I didn't travel. While out on the street I have seen many unusual sights, met many wonderful people, and heard many interesting stories. That I even managed to remember to take the occasional photograph along the way is a bonus.

Nowadays, most of my street shooting is done during "normal" hours. But no matter if it is night or day, the process is the same: I go with camera in hand and try to open my mind to my surroundings. If I am lucky, the world pours through my soul and The Voices pick out the interesting bits, which I then try to photograph in a way that lets you see what I see.

You would think that Palaces would be a great place to shoot, what with their attendant crowds of people and colourful guards. But it is hard to avoid the cliche shots at Palaces; The Voices can be annoyingly silent when I am there.

Sometimes, though, what I see is a curious guard who just has to have a look at something over there!

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Other times, when there are no tourists around to pose for, what I see is a lonely guard with nothing to do but bide his time marching back and forth on his small, empty parade ground.

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In the grand tradition of street photography, many of my images are shot in black in white. The tradition may come from the fact that the fathers of the style only had B&W film to work with, but I like it because of how it emphasizes geometries, textures, and relationships. Colour sometimes gets in the way of all of this.

So when I see something, I sometimes see things in black and white, such as these flowers growing out of a car*.

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Sometimes I will see things in colour, such as when I am pondering the question "Why anyone would put orange flowers in a blue car?*"

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I usually carry a camera around with me. My little Fuji X10 can do a wonderful job. It is small and unobtrusive. As long as it is already on (it is very slow to start up), then I can grab images that I couldn't with a larger camera, which often calls attention to me and can therefore kill an opportunity before it unfolds. A case in point is when I was waiting in a crowded lobby to get in to see a Baroque concert and I saw an oblivious man and a flirty woman.

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Of course with a smaller camera you can make your own luck, just by having it with you when fortune deals you special moment. One such time was when I was lucky enough to see one of nature's wonders: a double rainbow.

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If you have ever walked with me while I have a camera in my hand (and even when I don't), you will know that I am often fully absorbed in my surroundings. I try to be fully aware of my environment, because I never know where I will see my next image. Sometimes I hear The Voices say, "In the words of The Friendly Giant, Look up. Look waaaaay up!"

And sometimes when I look up, I see a bicycle hanging from a lamp post.

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While out walking, I saw a single house with sixteen numbers on a fence, almost hidden by bushes, trying to tell me where the other 15 houses were hidden.

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While watching the May 17th parade wrap up, I saw a guy selling balloons who looked quite worried that he was not going to be able to unload all of his stock.


One day I noticed that there were heavy storm clouds rolling in. I love shooting in the rain, so I headed downtown to see what I could see.

I tried to stay dry by walking down a tree-lined street. A street hawker selling tourist brochures was also taking shelter under the same trees. What I saw was how well she had matched her shoe colour to the flowers where she was working.

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Further along, I saw an overly protective dog owner who thought nothing of wrapping a poor dog up in a rain coat, even though it was quite warm out**. But then, I also saw she was the type of person who doesn't understand the futility of tucking her rain pants into her rain boots. What? You have wet feet? Duh!

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Speaking of futility, that's also what I thought when I saw this guy watering plants in the rain! Or maybe it was another word I thought of!

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At the end of the street, I saw how nicely this newsstand was tucked under the trees, giving a natural protection from the weather to both the newspapers and the customers.

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By then the rain was coming down so hard I had to take refuge in a bandstand. I was joined by a little bird. Together we watched the rain come pouring down.

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Other posts about Norway are here. Use the "Older Posts" and "Newer Posts" buttons and the bottom to scroll through the list.

Other posts in the "What I See" series are here:
What I See. Part 1 - The Streets of Oslo.
What I See, Part 2 - Snap!
What I See, Part 3 - A Short Walk Through Paris
What I See, Part 4 - The Streets Of Paris Redux

My photographs are for sale as fine art prints and fine art greeting cards on my web gallery.

* This car is a Simca 1000, I believe.
** Dogs don't sweat, they have to pant to keep cool. This little guy might actually have benefited from the rain.

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