DPP: Part 2 ? Digital Image Qualities: Assignment 2 ? Seeing like your camera: Research and Planning

With the theme set for assignment 2 of “Manchester: Metrolink” I’ve been performing some research to help generate ideas on what images I could possibly do for the 12 images I need to create for the 4 scene types.

Related Sites/Publications Research

As I’m thinking in terms of a kind of promotional magazine I searched for sites that might be relevant to the subject.

International Railway Journal (Metrolink Page)

This is very much an industry-focused site and the images included seem very static and stale – there’s nothing especially creative about the images – and they seem to almost be an afterthought – basically fulfilling an editorial requirement to include an image with each story, without any further thought on the process.

Momentum: Transport for Greater Manchester Stakeholder Publication

The images here serve a variety of purposes.  They tend to be prominent and fulfil the functions of illustration as well as a fundamental part of the publication’s design.  Images, while often including elements of the Metrolink and Manchester Transport, aren’t limited to that.  Manchester landmarks and locations are included throughout, e.g. on page 5 of issue 4.  There are a couple examples that immediately leap out as appropriate images for the “different reflectivity” shots – the Media City shots on page 6 of issue 4, and again on pages 6 and 7 of issue 2.

Close-up detail like the image on page 8 “Boarding Point” could be the kind of image that would suit a backlit scene – minimising the elements that could potential clip or affect eh balance of the image, which is a risk with backlit scenes.

Manchester Evening News: “Shaw and Crompton Metrolink trams start this Sunday

The first image in the gallery is a good morning/evening landscape shot.  The image has some dark areas, necessarily so I think, to capture the golden hue of the sky, but the composition is such that those extremes don’t dominate the image.

Other Photographer Work

I did a bit of browsing of Flickr and other sites and took some ideas away, but didn’t think to note the images so I can’t reference them.  I’m currently reading “Behind the Image: Research in Photography” by Anne Fox and Natasha Caruana and I came across the following…

John Davies: New Street, Birmingham 2000

I took a look through his online portfolio.  In this image, and others, Davies makes use of the lines of the road (and landscape, outside of urban areas), combined with perspective to lead the eye through the image as well as to create sub-frames within them.

In the New Street, Birmingham image there are a range of tones – dark to light – but once more composition limits the prominence of each.  The dark shadows beneath the bridges are used effectively to emphasise the lines of the road/bridge without dominating.  A lower elevation would have meant the darker tones overwhelmed the image and upset the balance of the final image.

Features of the Metrolink

I also thought about the key characteristics of the Metrolink as a source for other ideas for images.

It moves!

It’s transport, so getting a sense of motion should be something I consider.  I’ve done a bit with panning shots in the past at the Isle of Man TT, such as this of Ryan Farquhar:

Ryan Farquha - IOM TT, 2012

Ryan Farquhar – IOM TT, 2012

There was a bit of sun on Saturday so I was in Manchester to try some shots and this was a reasonable, but not “submittable”, take on this for a tram:

Speedy Metrolink

Speedy Metrolink

One thing I’m not sure of is what type of scene it would satisfy at this point…

It transports people

It carries passenges, so some shots of people boarding or travelling on it is something to look at including.

It’s in Greater Manchester

As I mentioned, the stakeholder publication “Momentum” showed that images don’t need to be restricted to “pictures with the Metrolink in them”.  Some images showing the “field of operation” can be included.  I think that might be a handy get-out-clause if I struggle to complete each category with images I’m satisfied with.  Some memorabilia from Manchester might come in handy too if I struggle with location shoots and want to do some images for “indoor scene, single light”. Likewise some of the entertainment in Manchester could fit in too – e.g. spotlight on performers at Matt & Phred’s, though that might be especially challenging with no post-processing allowed.  This one took quite a bit to get something acceptable (albeit with my less-capable 500D, but still – the difference to the 5D isn’t that massive):

Matt & Phred's, 2011

Matt & Phred’s, 2011

It’s modern

…and being modernised and developed further.  Old rolling stock is being replaced.  Lines are being extended and it passes by buildings old and new – so some juxtaposition of “new Metrolink” and “old Manchester” could make for interesting shots.  Similarly, it’s part of Manchester’s revival/redevelopment so renewal versus decay offers another opportunity for contrasting images.

Finally, Manchester had trams in the past.  Heaton Park runs three trams as a tourist attraction.  Works on the final part of the Rochdale expansion has also uncovered rails of the town’s old service.  It also passes over the Rochdale Canal near Kingsway.

Shot Ideas

This summarises my ideas so far.  I think I’ve got plenty to work with so far, and will spend a bit more time looking at potential locations.  Of a far greater impact will be weather; practically all the scenes depend upon bright, clear days outdoors – so limits when I can take pictures.  However, Saturday and Sunday may offer an opportunity to shoot – and by including Rochdale in some ideas  I can head out at short notice if the sun makes an appearance in the evening.

I’ve had a lot more ideas than I need (several for all 8, but I only need 4 scenes), but I think that will allow me to be more selective in what I submit and adapt to conditions – e.g. if I realise the weather isn’t good enough, for long enough, to complete all the images that require sunlight.

Street scene

  • Piccadilly Gardens (tall hotel, buildings, metrolink station) 
  • Shude Hill to Victoria (the Metro passes through a narrow street on the hill)
  • Mosley Street (a narrow street, lots of tall buildings and quite busy with pedestrian traffic and busses)
  • Market Street (again, narrow, tall buildings and also “landmark” stores).

Indoor space

  • Café/restaurant next to Metro, so view looking outwards.  
  • The above, but Metro passing by in motion (so long exposure to get motion blur)
  • The view from inside a Metro tram – again long exposure for motion could be interesting.

Shade and background sun

  • Boarding/waiting at a Metrolink stop.
  • People sat outside a café or bar under shade on a sunny day.
  • People walking along the streets in shade.

Early morning/late evening landscape

  • View of Victoria from the bridge above the railway (toward the Greenquarter)
  • Rochdale stations (Metro and train) from the bridge/rise nearby.
  • Metrolink and Canal at Rochdale.  Ideally with both vehicles in (but unlikely, given canal traffic is pretty light).
  • Metrolink and old industrial revolution-style buildings.
  • The view across Manchester from a distance (e.g. from Heaton Park, or other raised location).

Backlit scene

  • Metrolink signage
  • Tram, panning shot (can be done while backlit, but close-up to the tram – so longer exposure would help)
  • Silhouette of a station/people waiting at a station.

Different reflectivity

  • Media City shot 1 – Metro stop and glass buildings in background.
  • Media City shot 2 – across the water and glass buildings in a landscape shot.
  • Metro passing glass building (another potential opportunity for a long exposure, with metro blurring as it passes).

Indoor scene, single light

  • Model/toy Metrolink tram (if they exist?  The rail set ones are expensive, so not an option!)
  • Manchester souvenirs and memorabilia – records (e.g. Smiths), “I Love Manchester” merchandise, etc.  Still life with spotlight on them.  Possibly in-situ at the pulp shop on Portland Street?

Incident dappled light

  • Metrolink through threes
  • Metrolink through fence
  • Somebody in “Manchester fashion” lit and shadowed by fence/gate.
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