Friday, 27 July 2007

A roll of film: 36 bicycles

A while back I discussed the idea of entering into a 1 day project involving a roll of film I wanted to expose. The result is "36 bicycles", some of which illustrate this entry.

What was the project? I took the camera (my old SLR) with a 50mm lens and set at f/4.0 out onto the streets. The aim was, in the course of a morning, to shoot 36 individual images of different bicycles around town. I picked the subject as I knew there would be plenty of opportunity and it's static: a little more helpful in the change of working method.

There is the crux of it - the change in working. Normally I shoot a lot of landscape stuff, tuned exposure, small aperture, wide angle, careful composition. This was about being more spontaneous (see the thing, shoot the thing), not worrying as much about the technical bits (I did use auto-exposure) and not taking multiples. I was looking to sharpen up my ability to capture a moment as I saw it.

The whole exercise had me on an up-and-down feeling, even for the 3 hours it lasted. I started out optimistic that I could do it in no time, then had a bit where I wondered where the next shot would come from, finishing on a flurry and subjects to spare. With a small, old camera people paid me little heed and I learnt to ignore the few whose heads would turn my way. Losing self-consciousness is important in doing this kind of work, I think, which is probably why I'll never be a decent documentary photog.
I've posted the entire collection in a folder on my portfolio site. Overall, there are about 3 that don't work technically, a few that didn't quite show what I thought I saw but on the whole I'm quite encouraged by the results. Hope you like some of the results, too.


  1. A nice little project for not too much overhead in terms of effort. You've captured a good variety of subjects, and the colours work well on some of them. I assume you didn't do much in the way of post-processing?

  2. Indeed, post-processing was kept to a minimum: some contrast & sharpening, that was about it. The scanner was doing a pretty good job of colour balance and I wanted to stick as close to the out of camera results as possible, reflecting the nature of the working method. No point have a spontaneous shooting style then spending hours post-processing.


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