I’ve been quite fascinated with the old Farmers Carpark across the road from my work place in the city ever since I serendipitously discovered the photographic opportunities it provides earlier in July this year. This carpark was built in the 1950s and served as the carpark for what could be the most prestigious store in New Zealand at that time, Farmers. The carpark consists of two buildings connected by multiple bridges on each level, linking one building to another.
The highlight for me is the stairwell that rises from the middle of the roof top level, the corresponding stairwell on the other side and the industrial look of the building. As a bonus, the Art Deco Farmers store which is now the Heritage Hotel and a wall of interesting buildings serve as backdrop to two sides of the carpark.
Most of the time, I visit the carpark at lunchtime as it is generally when I do my photo walks. Given I don’t have much of choice of what time I can visit the carpark, I make do with the angle of the sun and try and find my shots. However, what has always been a little disappointing to me is the large number of cars that park at this busy carpark. In my mind, I see two shots, both of the industrial stairwell. The first shot is a clean view of the stairwell without any cars and the second, the stairwell with a single classic car by the side.
I thought I break the cycle of workweek afternoon shots by cycling over this Saturday morning in the hope of a empty carpark before 8am. These are the result of my morning’s effort. I did not get the shots I was after but they are a record of what could be. I enjoyed being the only person in the carpark. Like a pencil holding rebel, I cycled up and down the bridges, going the opposite way, up and down the bridges connecting the two buildings. That hour of solitude composing the shots the way I want with no fear of my subjects looking up was very peaceful and nice. Great way to end a tough week.
Back when I was a student in Singapore, it was very trendy to study with friends at any place but home, school or the library. The usual suspects are Mcdonalds, Starbucks and even more surprising, the Airport. I’ve never tried studying at these venues and I never saw the appeal of it. It’s noisy at McDonalds and Starbucks and I did not have the money to patronise them. I wonder how many Big Macs and Coffee Grandes are required to pay for the privilege of occupying a table. However, I’ve seen many students of different ages with their books spread across one or two tables, some of them barely attempting to make an effort to study, preferring to spend time chatting with friends.
It was a refreshing change to find this young boy at the old grandstand of the Auckland Domain completely immersed in his studies. He sat by himself, pencil in hand, flipping through the pages of this textbook and his notebook. I was keen to take a few more shots but I felt even more conscious that normal, fearing to interrupt this studious activity with noisy clicking of my shutter.
The above shots come straight out of the camera with slight tweaks with levels and cropping. This was my favourite shot. I did another edit using the raw file which was brighter but somehow the grungier and dark version seems more apt.
We came out of our second round of Covid lockdown a few days earlier on Wednesday night. Tomorrow is the start of a full week back work at level 1 in Auckland, New Zealand. In preparation, I cycled into work to drop off a week’s supply of breakfast food and snacks. While at work, I saw the skylight capturing beautiful Sunday afternoon light. I’m glad I brought my camera along. Such a Boy Scout. Prepared for photography.
I was googling to read more about Saul Leiter when I found an article written by Jacqui Palumbo. This paragraph from her article struck me.
Leiter wasn’t interested in the human condition, like Frank or Diane Arbus; instead he understood the simple poetry of a stranger’s silhouette, or raindrops on a window pane. “I may be old-fashioned, but I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty—a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologize for it,” he said in In No Great Hurry.
Why Saul Leiter Kept His Colorful Street Photography Secret for Decades – Jacqui Palumbo
My photography is not documentary in nature nor does it usually tell a story. I’m still trying to find out what my photography style is or what it seeks to convey. But what I know is that it gives me joy. That’s a start.
Following a week of beautiful weather, I was crossing my fingers for sun to light my photograph walk on Saturday morning. Alas, it was not to be. The light was subdued at 9am from a sky covered with cloud. On a positive note, it was not as cold and it did not look like it was going to rain. Decision made. I’m going out to continue my exploration of Eden Terrace from Thursday’s burger run. Eden Terrace is only 3km away. I could cycle. But who am I kidding? I jumped into my car and off I went.
Like the analyst that I am, I drew a 3 x 3 grid pitting lighting conditions with colour temperature. Essentially, I was trying to understand which custom setting should I use in different conditions. Based on my grid, today’s conditions is Flat Light and Neutral/Cold colour temperature. Based on my grid, I should either be using Ritchie Roesch’s Kodachrome II custom setting or Luis Costa’s Classic Negative setting. However, I decided to work with my Classic Chrome custom setting. Let’s see how it works today.
Eden Terrace is small suburb around 3km wide and 1km deep. There is a mix of residential, social and commercial properties with varying levels of modernity and grunge. Eden Terrace is gentrifying like all city fringe suburbs forced to move with the times. Here are the shots from today.
This is my favourite shot of the day.
The gem of my Saturday morning would have to be the chance encounter with a foraging uncle. In Singapore, we call anyone about 10 years old than us “uncle” even though there isn’t any blood relationship. Earlier in the morning, I had taken some photos of the urban graffiti on the empty plot of land sandwiched between buildings on three sides.
As I got into my car to leave, I saw an uncle in the same spot foraging. Going against, all my instincts, I went up to him to strike a conversation. Apparently, he is foraging for herbs that go into Chinese baos (buns). I can’t remember what the herb was as I was more focused on trying to hold a conversation in Chinese. All I remember is that it is something 香(fragrant). It looked like the fine thread like leaves of an giant bush of fennel.
Last thought, I think my custom setting managed to capture a true reflection of the scene. There was no unnatural warmth that can come from a Classic Negative based simulation or a Kodachrome II film simulation. This custom setting for my Fujifilm Xpro3 is a good base for Auckland’s winter/spring scene.
Today’s lunch has been planned since Monday. I’m catching up with Philip for burgers at his favourite burger place, a short distance away from where he lives. As with life in general, I find it easier to motivate myself when I have something good to look forward to. That promise of something nice could range from a meal or the potential for photography in a new place. This spring day promises both.
Eden Terrace is no more than 10 mins drive from where I live. Even though it is only a short drive away, I’ve not had much opportunity to explore the area. It is just a place I travel through. not to. What I know of the area is that it is a mix of residential and industrial developments. Overtime, new buildings squeeze between old buildings, meshing modern clean architecture with visible evidence of the passage of time.
Beautiful light and a delicious fried chicken burger. What more could I ask for? I was short of time and these were the photos from a short snap before and after my burger. I think another trip to take “photos” is necessary.
I shot these using my personal classic chrome custom setting. I’m learning to understand how well it plays and more importantly, how I should work with my camera to handle different situations.
Oh, Burger Geek has the best burgers in New Zealand. That Fried Chicken Burger? Oh my…. The next burger of theirs I’m going to try is the Sombra – Black Bean and Brown Rice Pattie with Fried Egg. Yup. That’ exactly what I will be trying.
This week I’m using my 23mm with my xpro3 and I’ll be using my Classic Chrome based custom setting. Somehow, the entire setup feels quite foreign today. It is strange given 23mm is one of my favourites. Maybe what I feel is guilt.
Guilt that comes from admitting I ran away from my responsibilities in Singapore.
Auckland moved to lockdown level 2.5 this morning, down from level 3. The main difference is that shops are open at this level but social distancing needs to be observed.
At the start of the second round of lockdown and work from home routine, I decided that the path to positivity lay in taking a break each day and stepping out for a walk. I decided to head down old faithful, Ponsonby Road. Light was dull but it gave me a chance to test my custom setting
The following two shots need a boost in exposure. I was toying with using auto iso and buggered up the shots.
Nothing fancy. Just slowly working out my photography approach and documenting my work in progress.