Photographing Chiswick in the cold and grey

 Image: Lucinda MacPherson

Image: Lucinda MacPherson

A little over a week ago (where did that time go?) I was leading a lovely group of people around a surprisingly cold (compared to the prior week) and grey Chiswick for a photowalk.

It’s always difficult planning for events such as this, where the weather, as well as the interests, the cameras and the skill level of the participants is unknown beforehand. But, from a teaching point of view, it was perfect - we had the gamut from phone cameras to dSLRs and most in-between, and people who wanted to learn different things; but everyone was engaged and enthusiastic, and that is all I wanted!

Because it was grey, the light was beautifully diffuse but - let’s be honest - a little dull. And, being the middle of the day, even flatter and duller than it could have been. It also meant that our wide shots wouldn’t have the beautiful blue skies of previous days. So I suggested we use the opportunity to think about close-up and detail shots. If the sky is dull, but the light isn’t creating harsh shadows, then why not keep it out of the picture (literally)?

We started with Hogarth’s statue, which was a willing model (as was his dog) - and had the added (teaching) benefit of having a cluttered background from most angles. We discussed how to minimise this - from zooming in tight, to looking for angles that avoided the Sofa Workshop signs in the background - and also how focal length affects perspective (and, in particular, what is more flattering for portraits).

We moved on to a flower stall, with a very patient owner (I don’t think we scared away any customers, but her flowers were lovely and we did spend rather too long helping ourselves to photographs). This was a great opportunity to discuss depth of field, focus-recompose skills, and - again - cropping in close to hide the background.

 Image: Michelle Clarke

Image: Michelle Clarke

We finished off by heading towards Turnham Green (the green, not the tube station) to take advantage of the church (plus town hall and colourful buildings on Heathfield Terrace), stopping to discuss falling lines and architectural photography. By which point, it was time to head to the pub for a well-earned warming up!

 Image: Lucinda MacPherson

Image: Lucinda MacPherson

Despite the cold, I had great fun chatting with everyone - so much so that I only took four photographs (and on film, so not yet developed). So, the images here have been shared with me by the participants (more to follow, I hope…) - and none by me. I’m looking forward to doing something similar again soon.

By popular demand: business headshot mini-session

Slow photography (to get better, faster…)