Boundaries Project. Part 5 by Neil Alexander

After I'd finished at the previous shoot, and warmed up a little, I decided to try and find somewhere on the other side of the runways that would have the setting sun in the background. I found a couple of possibles, one in particular that stood out.

So I headed back there about an hour before sunset, only to be confronted by another blanket of fog as the sun descended. I had hoped for some streaks of light from the landing planes in this, but alas there were 2 unsuccessful attempts at landing, and then it all went very quiet at this end. There was plenty activity up the other end with planes taking off, but down here it was eerily quiet.

I tried shooting with one light, camera right directed through the frame, with the subject about a metre or 2 back from the gate, and a much wider field of view. However when the fog descended, the water particles in it seemed to cause the light to reflect my strobe, and I could see visible lines of flash across the image. Add to that, the gate post that each gate was attached to was painted in fluorescent orange paint and catching any part of these with a strobe in the fog just looked horrid. So I decided to replicate a car's headlights. I initially thought why fart about setting up lights when I can just use the car lights themselves - no point re-inventing the wheel eh? Alas, that would have been just too easy - the car lights were way too bright and lit up the scene to the point of ridiculous. So it was 2 SB900s about 1 1/2 metres apart gridded, zoomed to 200mm, and directed straight at the gate from about 1/2 metre off the ground.

Again, I like the image, but it doesn't have the ambiguity I'm looking for - it's so dark, it just looks downright weird. I need to print it large, and canvas opinion.

Next I think I need to try this with a proper model! And a much better looking one....

Boundaries Project. Part 4 by Neil Alexander

For the next image in my Boundaries project, for which I have now I chosen the title "Crime?" I wanted to photograph someone photographing something that in the current climate, would quite likely warrant a stop & search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act or some other similarly preposterous grounds for infringing a photographer's fundamental rights. I figured I'd try and make an image of a "model" photographing planes at the airport around the perimeter fence of Manchester AIrport. So whilst researching, I stumbled across this location on Google Earth. Now I've lived in this area for over 30 years, and spent a not inconsiderable amount of time at this airport over the years. When I was a kid, we used to bike up to the service area of the airport and sit on a large grassy mound literally a stones throw from the main fuel terminal, probably about 1/4 mile in from the perimeter now. Manchester Airport has grown to a bit of a behemoth for us that live around it, it sprawls out in every direction, and there are planes overhead constantly. Anyway, I digress. When I found photographs taken by ordinary people of this area online, I figured that was where I was going to try this from first. I got out the OS maps, and worked out a route. I hauled my camera bag, lights bag, 2 lightstands, tripod & kitchen sink through waterlogged squelchy boggy fields for about 25 minutes. I negotiated a turnstile, rounded a corner and then suddenly the trees stopped and this view presented itself. I was right at the end of 05L in amongst the landing lights, just a few hundred yards from the end. I figured this was the perfect area to try for this shot.

It wasn't quite dawn when I first arrived, probably about 30 minutes to go, but bloody freezing! And I thought I'd go on my own this time and not risk taking a model as I didn't know what lay ahead. But if you've ever tried to photograph someone photographing something else, yet wanted to get both the photographer, and what he's trying to shoot in the frame, compositionally it's really rather tricky! This is kinda where I ended up. I set up an SB900 on a stand just to the front of the fence frame right, 3" gridded it and directed right at my, sorry "the model's" face. I'm zoomed out at about 80-90mm on the 70-200 F2.8, so it was quite a trek to and from the camera to check the frames, and the frost beneath my feet very quickly turned to mush. Eventually I was set up, and happy with my composition and lighting and then out of nowhere the fog descended. It go so dense in the space of about 15 minutes, that all I could see in the frame above was lights. Everything else disappeared! Then unbelievably as soon as it appeared, it went, replaced by the sun cresting the horizon. I am using a cheap eBay purchased remote to trigger the camera, which at the kind of range I was asking it work, was firing about every 7-8th button press. Which meant that co-ordinating a plane in the frame whilst fighting the now rapidly changing light, and checking the camera which meant a trudge through a now muddy trench, it all got a little testy!

So all in all as an image, it kinda works. I think the face is a little blown out, and the white balance may be off a little. However as the wife put it, "You just look like a weirdo plane spotter" - I think it kinda scuppers this from meeting the requirements of the project. Next.....

Chablis & early mornings don't mix! by Neil Alexander

I had planned on doing some more on my service stations project this morning , but after watching "american gangster " and downing most of a nice bottle of Chablis last night it was a somewhat later start than planned and dawn had already started to break by the time I got out the door. After a spot of indecision , I ended up at the far side of the second runway at the airport. Amazing spot to watch the aircraft as they take off right over your head here. Anyway, played with some multiple exposures and found some interesting landscapes , but unfortunately won't get to develop the films until tuesday probably. Developed 5 rolls from Old Trafford which I've left drying , but on initial inspection I reckon I should have enough quality images to finish the football project off now. Will get some online on tuesday .