The Shard to Kings X in 50 steps

This is my first post in my new journey series.

I have taken my 9 colours ‘a day’ onto a new level after a discussion with Les Bicknell.

Having said that the palettes in my diary become much more interesting when I am ‘out and about’ and that I was running out of colours after 2 years (that is, not much in my world changes around me and therefore the colours are becoming all the same), Les and I talked about the days when I had been out.

I talked about how I had started to just take photos for my diary. Les and I also talked about the Sampling Views photos I took in April and how these were ripe for developing into a body of work. So here I am!

In these images I take the 9 colours by ‘reading’ the image as you would a double page spread in a magazine. I note the colours in the order that the eye skits around the page. This means that the colours chosen are not the ones that are most dominant, but the ones that attract the eye. These are often colours that punctuate the larger areas. When looking at an image, you tend not to see the large swathes of areas with no interest. You only really see the things that stand out. I believe this is another reason that specific items of interest appear far smaller in the camera frame than they do to your eye – I guess your brain is ignoring the areas that surround it and appearing to ‘see’ the item of interest far closer than it really is.

This means that the colours I have chosen in my palettes are sometimes the ‘highlight’ colours only (as they count more than 9) but at other times include colours that cover larger areas.

These palettes are no longer purely ’emotional barcodes’ – they are barcodes of place, time AND emotion as all of these influence the colours I note.

The images I take are not planned – they are taken quickly, finding something of interest at the ‘timed’ point and photographing it. It must be in near proximity and comply with the rules set for each journey. When I am in a location for a period of time (e.g. on the tube) the colours are very similar for a period of time, unless there is a large turnover of passengers – and since I got a good staring from people who would have been in some shots I took, I tried to avoid including the faces of the passengers.

Many of the images were taken on the move too – this meant some were blurred. But this does not matter, as the images are not about the subject matter, they are about the colours within – generated by that view, in that time and place, whether it is in focus or not.

Each journey was given a set of rules. How many images were taken at each ‘rest’, if there was a direction to look at – any criteria – and at what time interval.

This journey was on the way home from a day in London. I don’t know why I have sorted the images and palettes for this one first – as it wasn’t the first or the last of the day – but order on my blog doesn’t matter.

The journey starts on leaving the Shard (at London Bridge) and ends with me about to get on an overground train home from Kings Cross (I often shorthand this as Kings X). The rules were for me to take a photo every 50 steps (or approx 50 secs if I was stationary – for example on the tube, but was still ‘moving’). I would take one photo per ‘rest’ (there are a few of the Shard to start off with as I was stood around looking up). This shot could be in any direction – above, below, left, right, forward, behind – just something that was interesting in the ‘snap-moment’. The good thing about this being timed, is it really focuses what you do – take a pic NOW, and start counting again. It means you can’t spend time looking for something worthy or good to take a photo of – just something of interest, that catches your eye NOW. There is no messing about with choices of subject or composition – stop, find, frame, take and move on. Sometimes I didn’t even stop walking…

I actually love the whole experience of this. It’s quick on the journey, but fiddly back in the studio. Picking the colours and making the palettes takes ages, but it is a great way to find colours – particularly in places that you think are banal and boring.

I go back to my Ferris Bueller quote: “Life moves pretty fast – if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” This is particularly pertinent for my work and even more so for London.

Below shows the original photographs from the journey and the palettes created from that scene.

Here is the journey as a whole

The Shard to Kings X LONG 1PP LR


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