Gaslights are a footstep into the past. A reminder that while modern is what we have, some aspects of the past cannot be forgotten. A winter’s night in London, exploring the remnants of the old city provided an insight into how things would have been.
I love landscapes and fluffies, wide open spaces and beautiful skies. This night could not have been further from my comfort zone if I had tried. Night time, in a city with buildings, cars and “gasp” people!! I love night photography, but it usually involves the Milky Way, aurora borealis and oceans. Usually my biggest concerns are where the cliff edge really is and whether it would be better to sit down than fight the wind.
However this night was a whole different bag of concerns and encounters. A bridge that was on the route home from restaurants and bars along the Southbank, wobbling with every footstep. Quiet streets with residents who were chasing us in their night clothes (all he needed was his Wee Willy Winky hat!). The prayers that the Morris Minor and Bedford truck would be on their usual streets and parked under lights.
Kicking out time at the pub with some very ‘interested’ happy drunks. Small alleyways that really weren’t made for photographers. However the highlight was the 5am conversation with three merry lads who we convinced we were waiting for David Beckham to emerge from the house we were outside for his morning jog. We left them waiting at 5.30am, who knows, maybe they are still there!
Photographing gaslights in confined spaces has its own challenges and I am not sure I really mastered the art. The scene is very dark. The lights are very bright. This messes with everything you have ever been taught. Histograms don’t make sense and are something to be ignored. Focussing was a nightmare. Some of the darker scenes were manually focussed but this was a challenge as it was so dark. It really was a matter of trial and error. The framing of each shot involved thought and planning. I wanted this to be a monochrome adventure. Thinking in mono while shooting was essential. I had to think about where the light fell. What was illuminated in the light and how the reflections would appear in mono had to be considered. All of these thoughts on top of being out in the dark and cold.
Places to See Gaslights
London is full of little corners that are still ‘old world’. I think my favourite had to be Ezra Street. Cobbled Street, old style shop fronts and once we had moved the bins, a perfect feel of the past. In daylight this location is best described as quaint with a friendly market and small cafe, but after dark and with a monochrome look it becomes a special little corner of London. Just on the corner of Ezra Street is the Royal Oak public house. A film location for The Krays and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Lots of reasons to like this corner of London.