Peter M Howard ::

The City In Lockdown

08Sep2007 [photography]

In which I walk the long way around protesters, police lines, and labyrinthine wire fences, snapping images as I go

Sydney's been in lockdown all week with the APEC leaders in town. Went out for dinner in The Rocks on Monday night; it was amazing — cops everywhere with nothing to do. It looked as though many had just been bussed in for the occasion too — they're all hanging around carrying hand luggage. Waiting, bleary-eyed, for a bus to take them somewhere they can sleep.

This weekend the shut down really took effect, with public transport running at a minimum. Saturday was also the scheduled day for protests. The police and some ministers have been (rather cynically) preparing people for obscene violence, and after that, the protest was rather underwhelming. Hundreds and hundreds of cops standing around while a (small) few thousand protesters walk obediently down the path set out for them.

Police I

By the time I got up to Hyde Park there were a few hundred protesters milling about, still surrounded and probably outnumbered by police. The protest itself had some delicious ironies — most of the people, of course, had no idea what it was they were protesting, so the place was full of generic slogans. Saw a couple of placards labelled "Save the planet" lying discarded and forgotten beside some path. But still, it was terribly boring, and there were people everywhere taking photos. I was reluctant to take my camera out at all — I felt that unoriginal. After a couple snaps I moved on from the protest proper — there was nothing to see anyway. Police discouraged people from entering the city, but weren't trying particularly hard, so I walked around the long way and wandered down to Circular Quay. It was even more remarkable, the great fences forming some dystopian labyrinth.

The Fence IV

Walking back out of there I was fortunate to catch a glimpse of the state's latest dubious acquisition (ie, much expense, no justification), the water cannon, complete with a posse of shiny black cars. I guess it's fortunate they didn't have to use it, but it rankles that they made people believe they would.

For more photos, check the City in Lockdown album.

On Aperture

Unlike last weekend's set, this lot of photos hasn't had the colour post-processed in Aperture. I did, however, crop one or two images ('cause I couldn't get in close enough to shoot that tight), and love how they turned out.

And differently, this time around, I set the camera to the manual aperture mode (Av), in which I adjust aperture and the camera adjusts shutter speed to suit. I mainly did this because I want to start playing with depth-of-field stuff (and I've done so inside, but not much with real pictures). I got a couple good ones but for most of the images in this set I needed wide depths-of-field anyway. The camera's got a cool little feature though — exposure bracketing — which'd take three different photos (one at standard, one under-exposed and one over-exposed) when I hold the shutter button down long enough. For most of the images the standard exposure was fine, but there are a couple where I went for the darker or lighter one instead — and doing this in-camera beats messing about in Aperture afterwards.

Standard, Under-, Over-Exposed

The "standard" exposure is on the left, then the under- and the over-exposed versions. (The camera settings let you vary how much the exposure varies by, and this is with relatively tame settings.) In this case, I ended up going with the slightly under-exposed version as it really brings out the texture of the stone.

Post Script

I'm so used to the old 4:3 screen ratio, that I've only just realised my camera takes photos at 3:2. You can see where that mixed me up — the first image in this entry was a cropped one, and I cropped it to a 4:3 ratio, so it's a little taller than the second photo. No matter — I like the framing on the cropped image as-is. But still— curious.

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