The Covert Exercise That Failed

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Having looked at Walker Evans’ subway series (here) and Hans Eijkelboom’s People of the Twenty First Century (here) I wanted to try working with a concealed camera. Using a small mirror less DSLR hanging from my neck and a remote release hidden in my pocket I spent an hour in a local town. The end result was disappointing at several levels.

  • It was very difficult to keep the camera straight both vertically and horizontally. Evans worked sitting down and probably could hold his camera under his coat and Eijkelboom has manufactured a mounting plate that holds his camera level in both planes. One or other strategy would have at least allowed undistorted and level pictures.
  • Perhaps I selected a poor location and was too early in the morning but the available subject matter was very limited. If I had not been experimenting I doubt I would have taken any photographs at all.
  • At a technical level this type of photography probably works better on a bright day to enable a fast shutter speed and small aperture which are really the idea combination when you cannot focus the camera and have people moving nearby.
  • The shopping centre of this particular town is remarkably uninteresting, a archetypical non-place (see here) if ever there was one so it should be possible to develop a series that explored people’s relationship with the area but nothing inspired me.

I will probably try this again but in a busier and more inspiring location, perhaps Brighton or Portsmouth but I first need to engage in some DIY to create a stable platform for the camera.

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This entry was posted in 1 - The Unaware, Exercises and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Covert Exercise That Failed

  1. emmapocock says:

    I’m not sure it did fail Steve, although as a series there’s not much here, to me there are several of the individual images that could form the basis of further exploration. I really like the man looking at the bins through the “trees” for some reason – the attempt to cover the urban with a pitiful version of nature.

    • I don’t disagree about the strange countryside mural, it was the most interesting setting for exactly the reason you suggest – a fake country-side view being used to hide the non-place of a pedestrian shopping area. I did take a few shots in that location – the man in question was a mini-study in is own right so I might publish that series.

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