Tonight sees the official opening of the Royal Ulster Academy of Art 138th Annual Exhibition and I am very pleases that two of my photographs were accepted by the selection panel and will be on display in the exhibition. The selected photographs were both taken in Germany, one in Berlin and the other in Munich. The exhibition, in the Ulster Museum, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, runs until 6 January 2020.
Roma. Klosterstrasse U-bahnhof, Berlin, August 2018
This image emerged by chance as the best photos always do. I was in Klosterstrasse U-bahn station attempting to do something creative with long exposure shots of the trains. It would be impossible to use a tripod so I was struggling with my camera on a gorillapod perched on the back of a bench when I heard a train coming into the station behind me. I turned and noticed the grafitti and thinking it might be interesting I turned and followed the carriage down the station as the train slowed. There would be no point using the long exposure I had set on the camera, that would blur the graffiti. So as I ran with the train I was resetting the camera which still had the gorillapod attached. The train stopped, not many people got on or off but when I got to the grafittied carriage the doors were open. I didn't think it was a great shot and stopped resetting the camera. Then the woman in the yellow and blue dress wafted in front of me. I had no time to do anything else but press the shutter. I took three individual shots. I had no time to activate the rapid sequence mode so of the three this was the one.
There are many things I like about this shot. I cropped it into a letterbox format reprising the shape of the train. It has my signature element of symmetry in the train with the open doors but the figure of the woman blurred as she races past about her day add a dynamic element. The blue and yellow/orange colour mixture works really well. The people waiting in the train for their journeys to continue add further to the typical story of big city commuters lost in their own worlds.
Not his train. Brudermühlstraße U-bahnhof, Munich, March 2019
I have made several trips to Munich in the last few years mainly to explore photo possibilities in the U-bahn stations. Brudermühlstraße station has this great blue and yellow colour scheme and an unusual seating layout. Again this image just came together. As the great Andre Kertesz put it " I just walk around, observing the subject from various angles until the picture elements arrange themselves into a composition that pleases my eye". I had lined up a symmetrical composition and was waiting for a train to appear when the young man walked from behind me into the frame. At first I was annoyed that he would spoil my planned composition but he noticed me and quite obviously was not happy that he might be photographed but rather than stay back he kept walking towards the lift shaft where he stood quite still. I was able to use a slowish shutter speed to blur the train but he remains sharp. His distance and therefore small size gives a better sense of the scale of the station than if he had stopped closer to me.
The behaviour of people towards photographers is interesting. The station was basically empty. He could see what I was doing. He could have stood anywhere. He could have stayed totally out of my shot behind me but chose to move further into my field of view. Frustratingly that happens frequently but in this instance greatly enhanced the resulting photograph.
So there you have it. You can view the framed prints at the RUA Exhibition in the Ulster Museum until 6 January 2020.
Also, Places & Spaces 2 an exhibition of 12 prints in the Wall Gallery at the Ulster Hospital continues until the end of the month. https://www.paulhanleyphotography.com/exhibition