These images come from an early-evening walk through Maidstone. There had been rain earlier in the day (and there was a shower while I was out on this exercise) so everything was wet and producing reflections.
All images were made with a Pentax K-1 and 24-70 f/2.8 standard zoom, apertures between f/4 and f/8, and mostly at the long end of the zoom range. Exposure was in aperture-priority mode with -1EV compensation. However, when processing the PEF raw files, I found that I was increasing the exposure by about 1 stop. White balance is set to ‘daylight’ (5500K) because that is what the eye/brain defines as white or neutral and it allows the true colour of the artificial light to be seen. Sensitivity is ISO12800.
I shot lot of images (318!) although, I would like to think, not indiscriminately. With the creativity criterion in mind, particularly experimentation, I was looking for as many ‘different’ ideas as possible in the hope of developing one into a series for assessment.
General views did not work for me. Maidstone is not particularly beautiful and most of its lighting is utilitarian, rather than for display. I had hoped for some floodlit night working in the road works, similar to some of Zachmann’s China Nights images, but no luck. There is a possibility of making some traffic-trail images if I revisit with a tripod.
Here are some more specific ideas. The railway stations are well-lit but, I suspect the resulting images would be short on creativity. The road markings in the car park have some appeal (and I spent time here) and have scope for a series. The public-art illuminated pylon and the light fitting with cobwebs are strictly one-offs.
Shop windows are tempting, particularly unlit windows reflecting the illuminated signs of the shop opposite. However, most displays and lighting have been ‘designed’, so photographing them is really riding on somebody else’s creativity.
This is an idea that I am seriously considering: examining the effect of street lighting on foliage, particularly where the tree has been allowed to engulf the light fitting. Some care is needed to find the right tree and the right viewpoint. I also found that, in a well-lit area, the effect is lost.
Finally, the type of image that I set out to shoot, artificial light sources reflected and showing off the various paving textures in the town. I am influenced by Rut Blees Luxemburg’s Liebeslied series of intimate cityscape details. Her images are very long exposures on large-format film, while mine are typically 1/25s on a digital full-frame sensor, but we do share a preference for showing the true colour of the light. I am not sure that using a tripod and long exposure would make much difference (other than allowing me to use a lower sensitivity and reduce noise levels) except where puddles are deep enough to have ripples.
In shooting this last set of images, I particularly enjoyed the details on the ironwork (gullies and manhole covers etc.) which also act as ‘symmetry breakers’ in the paving patterns.
My final choice will be between street-lit foliage and ironwork in reflective pavings. This will require a second expedition on another rainy night, but this time more focussed.
Campany, D. (1999) A conversation between Rut Blees Luxemburg and David Campany 1999 [online] at: http://www.union-gallery.com/content.php?page_id=653 [accessed 18/8/16]
Magnum (2104) China Nights 2005 – Patrick Zachmann [online] at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com [search string omitted for clarity]