Pride Portrait

One of the advantages of being around in the couple of hours before the Pride parade actually starts is that you have time to talk to people and take their pictures. One of the drivers of the various buses that take part in the parade looked rather interesting sitting in the driving seat, and I took a picture of him looking at me out of the driver’s window.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

It wasn’t bad, but I thought it was a shame that it didn’t really show his left arm which was rather more interesting than his right. Also, in front of him but out of view were some flowers decorating the front of the bus at the bottom of the windscreen.

So I asked him to lean forwards and tried to photograph through the windscreen. Unfortunately almost all I could see was reflections, with him almost invisible. If I were writing a how-to book, this would be the point where I showed the difference a polarising filter would make, but I haven’t carried one of these since lenses changed to plate-sized filters and prices became astronomical.   The lens I now mainly use  – the Nikon 16-35 f4 – takes 77mm filters and the largest polariser I own is a 49mm. Since I moved from Olympus M film cameras to Nikon digital I don’t think I’ve ever owned two lenses with the same filter size either; back then almost everything in the bag was 49mm.

Polarisers always worked better in the text books than in reality, where somehow it was always the wrong kind of reflections or the wrong kind of light you needed to control. But I didn’t have one anyway to try.  Here’s the picture I managed, not perfect but much improved by a simple trick.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I must have looked a rather odd sight taking this image, camera to my eye in my right hand, and in my left holding my camera bag up above my head to get an area of shadow on the windscreen so that I could see the driver clearly. It did require quite a bit of work in Lightroom afterwards to get a picture more or less as I would have liked – perhaps stopping down or more careful focu would have made the foreground flowers just a little sharper.

I said thanks and was walking away when I had another idea of how to do it, and went back, got on the bus and told the driver what I wanted.  I could get rid of reflections by working from inside the bus, using the 10.5mm semi-fisheye held close to the flowers to take the picture. The only small problem was that the camera had to be right up on the glass and I both had to guess what I was getting – and check after shooting – and keep myself out of the image, which covers 180 degrees corner to corner.

© 2011, Peter Marshall

I rather like the result, though it really needed some extra lighting. I had to underexpose the driver quite a bit to keep detail I could burn in on Lightroom in the street outside. Like most of the pictures here, I worked on this fairly quickly and it could be improved with a little more work in Photoshop.  One minor worry is the patch of green light close to his left wrist. It really was there, but it annoys me. Would it be ethical to remove it?

More pictures on My London Diary from this year’s Pride Parade.

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