I had scoured Oxford Street up and down one day; looking in particular for street sign holders but in actual fact keeping my eye out for anything still, which contrasted with the hordes of shoppers and tourists populating the pavements here. Having found nothing noteworthy (in my eyes) of photographing as subject matter; definitely not a street sign holder as I had envisaged from my experience in the past of there being quite a few along Oxford Street, I had almost given up on this particular subject matter.
However, as I was coming away from photographing the tourist guide another day, I spied a rare street sign holder in the Seven Dials area; just North West of Covent Garden. I had all my photographic equipment with me (from photographing the tourist guide) and I knew this was a fantastic opportunity to get this shot, so I set up my tripod quickly, on the other side of the street conveniently, while he remained motionless. I knew now that photographing the still element of the photograph; in this case the street sign holder, was my main priority. This was because I could still keep the tripod in the same place, if he left and then I could continue shooting the rush of passer’s by afterwards for the ghostly figures effect.
Pretty much everything went to plan: firstly I used faster shutter speeds of 1/10s for the street sign holder, for example and then once I was satisfied with one of these exposures, I started experimenting with longer shutter speeds, ranging from 4 – 10 seconds for the ghostly figures of the tourists passing by. I tried to keep the tripod in the same place for each of the shots as with the other photographs for the assignment so minimal alignment was necessary for these layers in Adobe Photoshop afterwards. One aspect of this shot I didn’t see coming (because they never ventured there!), was that hardly any tourists travelled down the middle of the road. I found this a bit unfortunate as it would have made the contrast between these tourists and the street sign holder more visible, I felt. I ascertained this was the case, because they could see my camera pointing in that general direction and didn’t want to be a part of the shot! Nevertheless, I was fairly content with the number of distinguishable passers by, in comparison to Photographs 3 and 4.
I was pleased with the amount of information evident on the street sign itself: the ’20 metres’ and arrow pointing, provided the viewer with some sort of spatial orientation as to where the ‘Rokit’ shop itself was. Meanwhile, the sign and its holder stood out very well from the rest of the photograph but not too much in my opinion; they still seemed to ‘belong’ there.
Camera settings for Photograph 6 were:
Because I took multiple exposures and combined them (one for the street sign holder and a handful for the long exposures of the tourists passing by), I have written down the settings separately for firstly the photograph to ‘freeze’ the street sign holder and then a setting representative for one of the long exposures.
Street sign holder exposure:
f/2.8, 1/10s, ISO 1600, focal length 35mm and no neutral density filter. A tripod and cable release were used.
f/10, 5 seconds, ISO 200, focal length 35mm and no neutral density filter. A tripod and cable release were used.
Paterson, M. (2011). February | 2011 | London Historians’ Blog. [online] Londonhistorians.wordpress.com. Available at: https://londonhistorians.wordpress.com/2011/02/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015].
Sevendials.com. (n.d.). The Seven Dials Trust (formerly the Seven Dials Monument Charity). [online] Available at: http://www.sevendials.com/seven_dials.htm [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015].