A drop of golden sun

London is full of surprises.

Two very old friends came down from the south east, bringing the sunshine along with them, for what turned out to be an absolutely wonderful day.

The Roof Gardens in Kensington are almost too good to be true. I tried to go with another friend around a year and a half ago, only to turn up and find someone had booked out the entire place for a wedding. To be honest, who could blame them, it’s downright magical!

The secluded entrance gives way to a silent lobby manned by a stern looking security guard and an Italian receptionist. Stepping into this first class entrance, I almost find myself searching for your bow tie as I realised how under dressed I was. A few tentative questions later and we established this is the right place, after which she motions to a lift in the corner. This took us up to a vast open plan bar, so quiet you could hear a pin drop; how could this be free?  And then we saw the garden. Wow.

The most amazing thing, in fact, was the sheer tranquility six stories grants this place. It’s hard to imagine that mere moments ago we were brushing through tourists on High Street Kensington. Furthermore, we were, for a good while, the only people in this area except the gardeners. I would have been happy to just sit here and soak up the sun for the rest of the day.

As we pushed further into the gardens, they kept blowing my mind. Ancient looking vines climbed wrought trellises, stone archways and ivy clad doors which lent this place a real secret garden feel. The foliage then gave way to a marquee, which cements this place as top of anyone’s reception venue lists.

It was vast, there was a huge dance floor under the transparent ceiling (shame you don’t really see stars within a hundred miles of Central London!) and curtains invited you further into what we called the “VIP lounge”

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But wait, there’s more.

A small trail wound around to the east side of the building and we could finally see a skyline …through a few windows in a wall, which was a shame, but I guess such views are the preserve of patrons in the bar upstairs. We did, however, get to see flamingoes in a little stream that appeared by our feet. Flamingoes!

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It was mindblowing, flamingoes! Having been on several safari parks and never seen them from kilometres away, now to be close enough to touch them, was almost like a dream come true. Suffice to say, a lot of photographing, messaging and snapchatting took place.

As if I needed more reasons to love you, London.

B

 

WPC – Converge

The curious appeal of alleyways

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Photoshoot – E&C

I don’t really know what I was thinking of when I wrote down “shoot a wedding” on my bucket list: faded images of parents weddings? Romantic exposures by the likes of Hildreth? Perhaps even The privilege of being trusted with capturing the memories of one of the most important days in the life of a couple perhaps. One thing I definitely didn’t consider, is how insanely difficult it is to get there! That is something I was forced to consider a few days ago, when I went on my first couples shoot.

I met E&C at Liverpool St. Train station, after calling the person that got me the gig to try and find out exactly what I was meant to be doing. It turns out the couple I was meant to be shooting was my potential boss and his wife, a fact that C casually slipped in to conversation, turning the already terrifying prospect of being a paid third wheel into a job interview! In fairness, I did know that the results of this would determine whether I would be taken up on the program, this just cranked it up to eleven.

They were lovely, walking me through the entire process. Having them know that this was my first time did make things slightly easier. We chatted through everything whilst walking towards Spitalfield Market.

Having spent the morning and more of the night before trawling through articles and youtube videos on how to shoot couples and pose people, I was feeling more than prepared completely overwhelmed by the amount you have to process whilst this is happening.

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The couple themselves have chemistry, and you have to get them to bring it across in a photo. I don’t think I made enough of an opportunity of posed shots, principally because I couldn’t remember many and thought it’d be rude to check the cheat sheet on my phone! It worked quite well in the wide space of the square, but trying to stop amidst hordes of tourists and hipsters to create a moment is harder than I thought!

It helped that they were willing to make a bit of an idiot of themselves for my benefit!

I do get the feeling that this became more of a tour than a shoot, at least on my part. I was showing them around our favourite bits of London (but who doesn’t love East?!). It came in handy that they were big chocolate fans, as one of the stops on the Bryan tourbus was Dark Sugars. It’s a big shop where they hand make delicious chocolate in all shapes and sizes. They have bars weighing several tens of kilograms stacked up on trees inside the store! Carl & Elicia_-12

As we were walking down, E was loving the fact that we were on Brick Lane, and so on our way back, we grabbed the opportunity on a quiet part of the street to get this, my favourite picture of the day.

As to my feelings regarding the interview – I’m not sure. I approached it with pretty high hopes and visions of what I would get but most of them didn’t materialise. The choice of location was probably too heavily based on what I thought would be good over what might actually have worked better (perhaps Regent’s Park, Camden Passage, Primrose Hill or Hampstead Health). The new lens also contributes to my general feeling of trepidation, focusing is truly an issue, a lot of pictures taken with the 85mm, maybe 30% miss. I thank the Lord for Lightroom, Black and White covers a multitude of sins. However, it was fun, I got some free chocolate and potentially a new job!

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Autumn

Autumn

It’s been a while

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Dust

We never really spoke much as kids, Kevin and I. I have a feeling our parents knew each other quite well, as african families do, but we led quite separate lives. Our relationship thereafter was quite facebook, you know the sort, you get to know them through the updates that filter onto your wall, maybe exchange the occasional ‘like’ or witty comment. I talked to him quite recently actually, his interest in graphic design led him to app creation, and his illustrations were great. He asked to feature some of my work and we chatted for a while. And now he’s gone.

A double arrest in ICU is all it took to take him from feeling under the weather to pushing up daisies. Twenty four hours. It’s staggering how fast it all took place, and really made me think hard about how transient our lives are, like flowers, here for now and gone in an instant.

Another friend of mine, Richard, died recently, but that didn’t help me escape the deep uneasiness of Kevin’s departure; he was my age, people that young aren’t supposed to die, but they do. I guess it just hit really close to home. We do live life thinking we’re invincible, at least implicitly, and if you don’t believe this, just ask, what would you do if this was your last day? Why isn’t every day like that? We all live assuming we’ll get to see tomorrow, all the while, God may have very different plans.

Rest in peace, brother.

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WEC Film test

A local (not really sure I can use that term in central London) camera store had some new film in stock and was looking for people to test it out, making a little scavenger hunt! The premise was you enter the film store, pick your roll from a dark box and shoot everything on the list before 4:30. I tested the Revolog Volvox.

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It was a really interesting film, with random acid like green dots distributed randomly within each shot

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The film itself was brilliant, but the sheer randomness of the dots did catch me unawares! They are more visible in the darker areas of the picture

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Some worked out quite nicely! I do think shot in the dark, the volvox would really come to life. There were 36 exposures, and I’m used to being sparing with 24, so I was definitely more frugal than I should have been with shooting. This left several unexposed frames, which, arguably, look better than all the rest!

It was quite a fun overall, it’s rare that you get let loose with free developing costs! However, due to the sheer oddness of the film, I doubt I’ll be much of a contender for first place in the hunt!

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The best camera is the one you have with you

I felt, and still do, that despite the many lovely benefits iOS7 afforded my ageing phone, it destroyed the camera. Something about the subtle pressures to conform to constantly taking square pictures, really dealt a blow to the form factor and overall experience. That, coupled with the whole new world of SLR photography that opened up to me a few years ago, meant that I pretty much never used my iPhone to take pictures. Recently, however, inspired by my friend Erin’s blog, and the removal of a horrendously scratched screen protector, I’ve rekindled my old love.

The best camera is the one you have with you. It might not be able to do everything that my SLR can do; it’s slow, simple and eats battery like nothing else, but camera equipment is also large and cumbersome, Its never with me all the time, but opportunities never cease! Wonderful little apps like vsco really make the iPhone’s camera a powerful little thing. Filters to make instagram cry and a simple but extensive range of editing features, at a great price of £0.00, what’s not to love?!

@the_lifeofbry 

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WPC – Signs

Stop

As seen on – Brick Lane

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Too much of a good thing!

Ok, maybe not quite, had a lot of hot chocolate recently!

I decided to try and get more involved in photography society stuff, as I have a bit more time, and today they had a fantastic alternative to the alcohol-sodden classic, the caffeine crawl. One of the stops was Fork, a beautiful little deli on Tavistock. Sadly, despite its amazing selection of breads, pastries and all things wonderful, their hot chocolate was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted.

At £2.6, you would expect at least a good quality powdered chocolate with milk, I mean, even McDonalds gets that much right and it’s a fraction of the price. No, whatever it was they served in the bespoke recycled cup was the result of two pumps of syrup and probably some milk. It was thin, weak, and unappetising in every possible way. All in all, I highly doubt I will ever return

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How could something so beautiful create something so vile?!

Another stop was on the Store street espresso. I’m learning to love Bloomsbury in a whole different way, behind the clean cut exterior found north of the Central Line, there are some fun little corners!

After the fork debacle, this was a welcome delight; real chocolate! I do feel like it’s (more of a) waste of money buying to go, as a big part of this is having somewhere to hang out and abuse WiFi privileges, but it was rather lovely.

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Earlier this week, I did find my favourite coffee shop so far; La Gourmandina. This year, I’m studying around Russell Square, and have lectures in Great Ormond St. Hospital. Next to it, is a fantastic little road called Lamb’s Conduit St, where I found this gem during lunch. The service was amazing, the store itself is like a small tardis, and the chocolate was divine. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing more than dark chocolate and double cream, but they found a way of making it a drink and not just molten goo. It was absolutely fantastic.

I guess I’m not sleeping tonight!

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Successes, disasters and my favourite photograph, ever

A big part of this summer, for me, was trying out film photography for the first time. I have a polaroid, which is really fun, but there’s something really cool about holding an old SLR that I just had to try out.

It’s not been easy, nor cheap. Being new to the whole thing, I’ve bought lots of film from all the wrong shops, and had absolute nightmares loading and snapping film. In fact, last week, I sent my first roll off to be processed to find it was completely blank. Great.

I was feeling pretty sour about the whole thing, and half-heartedly sent the second roll, knowing full well it was ruined as I impatiently opened the back when it wouldn’t roll back. That came back today, and it’s amazing!

By amazing, I do not, by any means, mean all the pictures were great. In fact, a large proportion were a mess. A well exposed mess, mind, but a mess nonetheless. Some were super blurry, frames mixed in with each other, some were missing and others suffered the wrath of the few seconds of sun I exposed them to. However, amongst these, are some of my favourite pictures.

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Practika

This, I have to admit, is the picture that brings me most joy. My face literally lit up when I saw it in the pack. It’s a mixture of knowing you took the photo blind, not expecting a single thing, and the sheer incredulity at how lucky you were for that thousandth of a second.

 

This is going to be an expensive habit.

 

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