Friday, November 26, 2010

Assignment 5: U3 and U6 South

Last weekend I managed to spend a day exploring the southern reaches of the U3 and U6, both relatively recent line extensions and so containing some very colorful and creative architecture.  This was my first trip to take photographs for the assignment and so unlike other times that I have shot in the underground I had a very distinct goal in mind.  The target for this expedition was colour and architecture.  As a result many of the shots have a distinctive look, that of a strong vanishing point, but that is the dominant feature of a tunnel and something that I hope to be able to illustrate as creatively as possible.

Equipment for this assignment is much simpler than used previously.  The light level in the subway system is not bad, but equally it is not daylight, and coupled with the fact that I would not be able to use any static support, meant that lens choice was rather limited.  This basically came down to either using a very fast lens or one that supports image stabilization.  I also would have to contend with the fact that I need some depth of field for these shots, and so the ideal choice was my 24-105mm f/4 IS.  At ISO-800 and wide open at f/4 this still meant a best shutter speed of around 1/30s, hence the need for IS.  I could have used an f/2.8 zoom, but no IS, or even my f/1.2 50mm prime, which would have provided the shutter speed I needed but at the expense of wafer thin DoF.

This is the big difference between doing this assignment as a student versus doing it on a real commission from the UBahn company, with permission I could have used a tripod.  In that case my 24mm tilt shift at f/11 or f16 would have been ideal for this activity.  A key element of this particular assignment is going to be careful choice and use of equipment to shoot in low light conditions and also to work quickly, given the risk of challenge.

In all I am planning for 3 key photographic elements for this assignment:

  1. The Colour and Architecture of the system - using a wide angle zoom with IS
  2. The interaction of people with the system, in this case IS will be of little value and so the f/2.8 zoom becomes a better candidate.  
  3. The juxtaposition of the above ground subway architecture with the city landscape.  Freed of the constraints of the underground passageways my tripod should become quite handy, especially as I envisage some night time shooting in and around the Christmas markets that opened yesterday.
I am going to present a large number of images in this blog entry, with just a little text to accompany them, so want to make a few comments first about the shooting process.  In each case I rode the system to the very southern limit, checking out the window how each station looked as I passed through.  I then rode back and stepped off at each station.  The trains are on a ten minute interval and I found this was enough time to look around, understand the structure of the station and capture some good shots.  During this time there would be a train arriving in the opposite direction, presenting a chance to take some images with people exiting the train. In essence this is a street photography approach, I have a short time to look at and capture the essence of the area, as surreptitiously as possible, before moving to my next stop.

One technical note!  The stations are all lit by strong overhead strip lighting, in some cases the lights form an integral part of the architecture.  As this created a very high contrast in the shots, I have deliberately overexposed most by 1-2 stops.  There is no detail in the lights themselves, so this worked as a strategy to bring out more detail in the shadows. 

U6 Klinikum Groshadern

U3 - Grosshadern

U3 - Haderner Stern

U3 - Holzapfelkreuth

U3 - Westpark

U3/6 - Implerstrasse 

U6 - Fuerstenried West

U6 - Machtlfinger Strasse

U6 - Aldenbachstrasse

U3 - Thalkirchen

Differing Entrances and Exits from the System

Other Interesting Stuff!


The trains

So far so good, plenty of colour, but what I think is a very modernist approach, emphasizing form at the expense of usage, well at least in most images

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