All posts by Graham Miln

Lights of Manchester Town Hall

It was a trick I discovered in Sydney’s town hall. When faced with a dark building interior, take photos of the lights from below. The results are fantastic.

Manchester‘s town hall is a beautiful building and worth a visit. Taking decent photographs inside is tricky. The lights tend to dominate the shot – they do however accent the gilt edges nicely.

Great Hall in Manchester's town hall
Great Hall in Manchester’s town hall

Standing directly below and photographing different clusters of lights produced these strange and beautiful photos.

Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall
Lights within Manchester town hall

Capturing an Indescribable Quality

I love taking photographs and rarely leave home without my camera. I am frequently reminded that while I love pointing and clicking away, I often fall far short of capturing the view as I remember it.

Often my photos feel lacking depth and contrast. Over the years I have learnt to rein in my camera’s automatic settings and white balance adjustments but my methods are tricks rather than expertise based on real understanding.

Recently I have begun to work on changing that. I have started taking more photos on settings other than the comfortable, forgiving, automatic and program modes.

I have started messing around with one setting at a time; learning what it does, how it affects my photos, and what new types of photographs the setting opens up for me.

The result is many more photos but with few worth keeping. Those I do keep justify my efforts.

Evening in Lyon's large city park
Evening in Lyon’s large city park
Tiles on a dome in Vichy
Tiles on a dome in Vichy
A walkway alongside a spa in Vichy
A walkway alongside a spa in Vichy
A fountain in a Vichy spa
A fountain in a Vichy spa

Those few stand out for feeling better; they have an indescribable quality of being captivating. The moment more accurately evoked – both lighter and darker – less perfect in some ways, but much more interesting to look at.

Water droplets caught mid-air
Water droplets caught mid-air

Manchester

I had never visited Manchester before. Manchester is city to the north of England and one steeped in history. Even with such a rich past, I know the city more through its modern place in culture – a place of music and as a counter-point to an all too often London centric country.

Being able to visit Manchester with Megan, who grew up in Australia, was a linguistic treat. Megan knows bedding and linen collectively as Manchester. This term for linen is used in shops and in general conversation in Australia. You will find a Manchester department advertised within a store and there you will find the bedding.

Taking Megan to a city so associated with a product was always going to be fun. There was of course no mention of the Australian interpretation of the name to be found. We did try to learn more at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The accents further north in Great Britain are also a linguistic treat. A few conversations ended with Megan looking bemused, wondering what had been said.

The city centre felt alive with young people. Nearby university buildings ensured this; students were visible everywhere we went. We happened to visit at the time of graduation ceremonies and twice found ourselves within throngs of proud parents and garbed up graduates.

We only saw a few brief glimpses of the centre and the city during our visit. From the train, the suburbs told a different story, long rows of red brick houses stretched out into the distance. It would be interesting to see a bit more of that world.

Manchester Piccadilly Station
Manchester Piccadilly Station
Glazed red tiles adorn many buildings
Glazed red tiles adorn many buildings
Manchester town hall and surrounds
Manchester town hall and surrounds
Walkways join council buildings
Walkways join council buildings
Staircase within Manchester town hall
Staircase within Manchester town hall
Corridor within Manchester town hall
Corridor within Manchester town hall
Manchester town hall's clock tower
Manchester town hall’s clock tower
Formal entrance to Manchester's Chinese district
Formal entrance to Manchester’s Chinese district
Boat locks within Manchester's city centre
Boat locks within Manchester’s city centre
Tram lines
Tram lines
Horizon dominating Beetham Tower
Horizon dominating Beetham Tower
Old Manchester train station
Old Manchester train station
Signage hints to a different past
Signage hints to a different past
View from the train over the inner suburbs
View from the train over the inner suburbs

English Language

I stared at this metro poster for minutes before understanding the intended meaning. I only paid attention because the organisation teaches English and felt I should understand the text.

"how douille houx doux ?" An unhelpful poster.
“how douille houx doux ?” An unhelpful poster. The business details are obscured.

The poster robs any easy meaning from the primary sentence. It does not scan quickly in either the English or French language. Thankfully the small print provides an answer.

Clever maybe but an effective advert?

As an aside, is the French phonetic translation of “do” really “douille”, why not the shorter “doux” twice?

Insects and Manual Focus

I have started playing with manual focus on the Canon PowerShot SX700. It is not the first camera I have had with this control but it is a feature I rarely use.

Even with excessive zoom, I love focusing in on the small and intricate.

These insect photos were taken during an evening walk in the nearby park. Look closely enough at any cluster of plants and there will be insects to be found and photographed. These photos were all taken with manual focus and some careful moving of the camera lens as close as possible to the tiny creatures.

For some reason, cropping the photos to a square just looks right.

A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A tricky photo as the wind swayed the stalk
A dragonfly stares back
A dragonfly stares back
Not perfect but fun
Not perfect but fun
An almost alien like world
An almost alien like world

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