I’m jumping back in time by a year or so for today’s photo. I’m on the cusp of scanning and uploading some recent images that will likely form tomorrow’s post, but until I get that done I’ll dip into the archive. Hopefully it’s not a shot I’ve published before (I don’t think it is).
It depicts the Eagle Stone, a large boulder that stands alone above Baslow Edge in the Peak District. A footpath passes closely by and it no doubt gets lots of attention, but on this day at the start of the year, the temperature was cold and the wind was blowing gustily – especially along the nearby crags – and there were not many folks about.
As I approached the stone I saw a small group of people near its base. Then, as I got closer, a man appeared on its top. He first lay on his back and took a selfie, before calling his girlfriend to talk about where he was. Then, after taking a drink and standing to survey his surroundings, he clambered back down the edge of the rock, jumping down the last six feet or so (my less supple physique gave an internal groan as I watched this happen, imagining the damage it might have done were it attempted by me!). The other people with him were, I believe, his parents and a sibling, and I passed a few comments before they moved on and I made some more photos of the rock sans human presence.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the main tolls the current lockdown is having on me personally is the loss of freedom to roam, and I look forward greatly to the day when I can visit places such as the Eagle Stone once again.
Above Baslow Edge A stone stands stark on the land A challenge is set
A couple of pictures of The Hub, home of Sheffield University’s Student’s Union. This was a museum – the National Centre for Popular Music – when it was originally opened in 1999. It closed a little over a year later due to lack of visitors (including myself).
In recent years there have been a significant number of cat cafes open in the UK. These are regular cafes, but home to several cats. The idea being that you get to enjoy a coffee and some cake while watching, stroking and (if they’ll let you) cuddling the cats. You usually have to book a place as they’re very popular and entry to the premises is controlled through an airlock-style double door system to prevent mass escapes.
As with so many other things however, the cat cafes have been hit by the pandemic and lockdown. While some may be starting to re-open now, when I passed this one a few weeks ago it was still closed for business and this little lady was looking forlornly from the window.
It’s extremely hot anf muggy here today. Despite having a fan blowing air all day, working hasn’t been much fun. As a result, I’m going to keep it short today so I can enjoy the bliss of a cool shower!
A couple of photographs of Trafalgar Warehouse near Sheffield city centre, a former warehouse building dating to the1930s which now serves as an events venue (presumably closed at present due to the pandemic).
There are 136 glass blocks visible in this next picture, in case anyone is remotely interested. 🙂
14 June was the day before the reopening of non-essential retail stores in the UK. Signs were apparent in windows, both those of retailers re-opening on the 15th, and also those who would remain closed for now. Debenhams, a UK department store, was one of those re-opening it’s doors and there was a sign in the window of it’s cafe area (although I don’t think that this part of the store will resume business just yet).
Elsewhere, there are still signs of the contruction project to renovate and re-develop part of the town centre into a new “retail quarter”. I wonder how the impact of the pandemic will affect the plan, particularly if retail is slow to return to previous levels (if it ever fully recovers)?
While walking around the eerily empty town centre a couple of weeks back, my route took me behing the town hall building. There I noticed a door which looked like it might make for an interesting photograph. The door itself is labled “Town Hall” via a plaque afixed to the wood, but carved into the masonery on the lintel above the entrance is the word “Disinfectants”. In all my years of living here in Sheffield, I’ve never noticed this before.
A quick bit of searching online reveals that this dates back to the Victorian period and formed part of a strategy to rid the city of the disease and vermin which would have been rife in some of the slum conditions that existed at the time in industrial cities. As the poorest members of society would not be able to afford the cost of purchasing disinfectants themselves, these would be given out by the local authority via this entrance to the town hall building.
I had wondered if I might have come to the end of this series of pandemic-related photographs given the relaxing of the lockdown here in the UK, but I’ve got a few new images of scenes in the new, post-lockdown world.
The weekend before last was the final one before non-essential retail was allowed to re-open on the 15 June, so I took a trip up town to see how things looked before the shops returned to life.
The town centre was largely empty, with the largest groups of people I noticed being construction workers and homeless folks. It was a little eerie and the weather – dank and grey – felt more akin to a winter’s morning than one approaching the summer solstice. There were pigeons in the Peace Gardens and I wondered if they’ve been forced to work harder for their dinners given the lack of humans feeding them or dropping scraps?
The city has been given new signage outside some shops (although it seemed somewhat hit and miss as to which shops did – it certainly wasn’t all of them), and benches and the like feature signs requesting they not be used, or to keep your distance from others.
I’ve made a couple more trips since this one (and still have more pandemic-related photos from this roll yet to upload), so I guess this series will continue for a while yet.
My favourite photographer’s quote originates from Garry Winogrand: “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed“.
This quote pretty much encompasses why I make many of my photographs. I’ll see something, be it a scene or an object, and I’ll be inspired to see how my camera will render it as an image. How will the lens make it look?; What if I use a different aperture or focal length?; What about the film I’m using – how will it render the contrast / grain / light / colour? etc.
I’ll still make pictures of more obvious, traditional compositions, but even then the impulse is still the same – how will it look as a photograph? It means that pretty much anything might be a suitable subject for a photograph to be made, whether a beautiful landscape, or a dirty, rainwater-filled plastic cup left on a window-ledge after someone’s night out. Anything can catch my eye. Given that all my photos are made with an audience-of-one in mind – namely myeself – everything is good. I’m sure that some people will wonder what the hell was I thinking when I raised the camera to my eye, but all that needs to be understood is that I saw a photograph that, to me, was worth creating.
Today’s photgraph falls firmly into this remit. The first shot on a roll of HP5+ I shot last weekend, depicting the box of “wonky veg” that was sat in the window of a ground-floor flat close to where I’d parked my car. The rising-sun motif, the grain of the wood, the Pepsi can, and the slightly dirty window all caught my attention.
This is the first roll of film I’ve pushed and then home-developed, and the Ilfotec DD-X has done a great job.
On the whole, I’ve been more than pleased with the results from this roll of HP5+ pushed to 1600asa. I was expecting a lot more grain and contrast than is apparent, and the images all look great. Definitely something I will repeat when the situation requires it.
This was the final shot on the roll – although I shot a few photos with the Pentax Espio that I also had with me. After that I resorted to some digital shots when back in the dimmer light of the Tube station.
Tower 42 – one more commonly known as the Natwest Tower – was once the tallest building in the UK (until One Canada Square opened in Canary Wharf in 1990). Now it is dwarfed by a cluster of more recent towers, as can be seen by the fact that it is fully reflected by the glass facade of one of its new neighbours in this photograph.