Disappearing Act

We went to Tate Britain recently to see the L S Lowry exhibition.  Lowry painted the industrial landscapes of Lancashire in the first half of the 20th Century. Lowry became, justifiably, an immensely popular and much loved painter. His painting style is instantly recognizable through his depiction of the population of these urban landscapes. The Exhibition runs to 20th October. It’s a brilliantly curated exhibition. Don’t miss it. Click the links in this paragraph to find out more.

I don’t recall the last time I visited Tate Britain but it’s a long time ago.  The staircase is jaw dropping.

IMG_5039Astonishing geometric blocks of overlapping colour surround you. For a photographer it’s a gift. We went round Lowry but there was a small part of me itching to get back to that staircase.

How do you photograph something like this when all you have with you is a Canon G10? I really needed my ultra-wide zoom lens. Well, I got a half-decent image. Photographing on the stairs was not easy. Too many people and attempts to include them proved impossible or plain awkward.

We went back down to the Foyer, my wife went off to browse the Gallery shop and I looked up the staircase.  I could see there was a potential image of people on the staircase that was segmented by the architecture. But to get a decent shot I had to hold the G10 above my head to shoot, and the area below my centre of interest (on the ground floor) was a small café with a collection of tables at which people were sitting. I felt rather uncomfortable shooting in that very obvious way – the people in front of me had no idea whether they were in the shot or not. Thankfully no-one seemed bothered.

Framing was not easy, and I had to stand there and wait for a likely placement of figures on the stairs, raise the camera quickly and shoot a shot with the inevitable fractional delay on the G10. Of about 10 shots taken, back home there was only one I felt had potential.IMG_5054

And here is the original un-edited RAW image. Five figures, four of them blurred! Nothing for it but to see if the ‘four’ could be exterminated – photographically speaking. Thankfully I managed it and here is the final result with which I am rather pleased. It helps so much that the one person who was sharp is the one looking across the image up the staircase.

IMG_5054_finalcropSometimes the impossible can be possible. And one final point. No matter how clever you become at cloning out the unwanted and rebuilding the image you leave tiny traces of your activities. In these situations Topaz Clean is the rescue package. Using that plug-in just to clean up the final image a little bit removes any trace that some people have…. simply disappeared, leaving no trace! Click the image to see a higher quality enlargement.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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12 Responses to Disappearing Act

  1. Looks like a fantastic exhibit. Well done on the processing Andy.


    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Edith. I have another image to post of the Tate Britain which is totally different – will probably post that next week. Processing is so often a voyage of discovery. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. This trip was good!


  2. oneowner says:

    Your editing skills are fantastic, Andy. The final image is certainly worth the effort put forth. I may have to look into Topaz Clean, too.


    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. Topaz Clean is quirky. Some of the effects available can really mess up an image with twirly lines, but if used with a soft touch it can really clean up some of the minor detail and have a smoothing effect. Well worth trying, but as with all plug-ins it’s a case of ‘horses for courses’ and a bit of time experimenting is time well spent.


  3. ehpem says:

    Very nicely done Andy.

    To my eye it is a bit of a shame you lost the people descending the stairs. But they would detract from the flat graphic quality you have achieved, and had I not seen the original would not be wanting something in that triangle. The first image is pretty striking too.


    • LensScaper says:

      The problem with the people descending – to my eye – was that they were too blurred to be satisfactory. If anything they detracted from the quality of the rest of the image. But from the point of view of balance and/or tension someone descending would have been useful. Sadly it just didn’t happen.


  4. Very nice! I especially like how the staircase railings point to the figure. And I agree with oneowner.


  5. ShimonZ says:

    I think you did a splendid job with the staircase. And it doesn’t seem to me that the people did anything but add to the picture. I woud guess that the G10 had the ability to do panorama shots, which might be the answer to the problem of not having the wide lens. I really enjoyed these shots.


  6. Phillip says:

    very interesting Andy. It look like a great place to visit.


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