Roundabouts are normally somewhere between dull and dangerous … either seeking to break up a predominant flow of traffic or simply so overgrown that drivers just can’t see what might be hurtling around from behind the bushes and trees. So when you come across one that’s truly different, it deserves to be celebrated.

Thoughts On The Day

With Mrs H. away all morning at the local iaido class, I didn’t want to be left in the house by myself for several hours. Grabbing my camera gear, I decided to head out to try and track down a rather unusual roundabout Bernie at work had told me about a couple of weeks ago.

Created nearly 20 years ago now, the Magic Roundabout is an art sculpture (installation?) created by Pierre Vivant for the Arts and Regeneration Agency. Built from classic (and some downright unusual too) British road signs, it sits in Ocean Park not far from one of the old Cardiff Bay docks. Ever since I was told about it, I’ve been looking at it on Google Maps, and decided it would make for a short but enjoyable shoot this morning. Besides, I could drive right up to it, which my injured knee appreciated.

It’s a real roundabout intersecting two busy roads, making initial photography a bit of a challenge. Although I took some shots from the footpaths by the road, the best shots were definitely to be had by crossing onto the roundabout itself and getting up close and personal with the sculptures. I can’t say that I was disappointed; it gave me a great excuse to mess about with the depth of field offered by the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D. It’s a lens that I’m still learning how to use effectively.

The Photos

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout

Post Production

I’m deliberately trying to re-invent my photography style this year. It’s partly a reaction to the kind of photography I found myself doing towards the middle of 2009 before the car crash, and it’s partly a need for a bit of a change.

I’m trying to achieve two specific things:

  1. Stronger photos that stand on their own, instead of simply accompanying the photo journalism I’ve been doing since starting the Merthyr Road project
  2. More natural photos … which means getting away from HDR once again

To do this, I’m experimenting with different lenses (the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D in this shoot, and soon a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX), and different settings in camera. I’ve stopped shooting in RAW, and gone back to JPEG. Instead of bracketing 5 shots for HDR, I’m now bracketing just 3 shots. The processing I’m doing in Aperture is still about definition and colour management, but I’m spending more time on highlights and shadows instead of just resorting to HDR.

Most of all, I’m trying to follow some kindly advice given to me by a pro photographer after my shoot at the Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall event. During post-production, I’m trying to be ruthless with the photos, seeking out the least number of photos possible to upload, and only uploading those that add something different to the set they belong to. That’s going to be the hardest bit of all for me – on any one day, I tend to be very consistent in the quality of what I shoot.

But what the heck. I can’t get better unless I try 🙂

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March 2010
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