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Posted on 22nd November, 2011

A fair Kop? The Walker Art Gallery, real ale at Cains Brewery Tap, and a bruising fight at Anfield.

 

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Well, my prized Tokina 12-24 lens didn't come back, although Kenro tell me that it's repaired and will arrive early this week. However, as I'll explain shortly, it was failing to carry my Sigma 70-200 that I thought I would come to regret on Saturday. The lens is fantastically sharp, with superb resolving power. But, it weighs a ton, and, lacking image stabilisation (yes, I'm English, so I'll spell it the English way!), it's difficult to get an unblurred image.

 

Entrance to The Kop, at Anfield, Liverpool

 

So on Saturday, with just my 24-85 Canon, I set off on a trip to Liverpool, lining up three activities to make a great day out.

1. Firstly, a visit to the Walker Art Gallery. This was to see an exhibition of street photography by Paul Trevor, "Like You've Never Been Away", which depicts Liverpool in the mid 1970's. I won't say any more about the exhibition in this blog. This is because I'll be posting a review as a blog later this week, so please have a look at that.

2. Secondly was a visit to Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club, with its famous Kop end. Not to the actual match with Sunderland I should add, but purely to the surrounding streets, to hopefully capture the characters making up the red half of the city. (Just in case I upset any Everton fans reading this, I promise I was on the Goodison side of Stanley Park last season, at the Stoke game).

3. Finally, to the magnificent Cains brewery tap, for a pint or two to round off what I hoped would be a productive and satisfying day. I was a bit wary of this, as the brewery is on the fringes of Toxteth, scene of some of the recent rioting in England. However, nothing was going to deter me from supporting that bastion of real ale, and meeting some of the wonderful people inside.

 

Getting to Anfield, I set my lens to MF, as I wanted to experiment on this occasion with manual focussing. I pre-set the focus distance, with the aim of capturing the subject within the resulting depth of focus. This, I hoped, would avoid missing some 'decisive moments', caused by the time taken to focus before actually getting the shot. It also introduced the danger of the subject not being within that depth of focus of course, but with the lens set at F8, and camera in AV mode, I thought the risk was bearable.

 

Walking up and down Walton Breck Road (ie at the Kop end of the ground), and hanging out near pubs, I looked for anyone and anything that might make a good pic. Unfortunately though, I didn't seem able to capture much of the famous irreverent and boisterous Scouse nature, and I shot fewer decent pics than I hoped for. I don't know whether it was because I was tired, or because I wasn't feeling too well. Or perhaps the fans havn't warmed up yet, being the first game of the season. Whatever the reason, my Kop efforts were only 'fair' I'd say.

 

Once all fans were inside the ground, I walked the streets again. Not much happening. Until, that was, I suddenly heard shouting behind me. I turned to see a police car stopped in the middle of the road, with 2 officers running towards a house door. This was the chance anyone worthy of being a 'street photographer' preys for. However, did I have the guts to get in there and do the business? I say this because many years ago, I failed to take the chance of a wonderfully poignant shot of runner Paula Radcliffe. This was when she was just 'bubbling under', well before hitting the big time by winning London and Chicago marathons in 2002. She had just finished very badly in a race at Bedford International Athletic Stadium, and was walking across the lanes to her father, who was in the spectator area at the fringe of the track. Paula was in a state of great distress. I was just feet away, with my camera, but I couldn't bring myself to press the shutter to record her misery. And I've never forgiven myself for it, even though I knew that the 'pic' would have been worthless to anyone else at the time. However, had I been interested in selling my work (which I'm not overly), it would have made me a pretty penny in the context of her win in the London marathon of 2002.

 

In Liverpool on Saturday, I decided I must break my fear, so I did move closer. Too close for a PC mind you, who ushered me away from where several officers were detaining a well-built man. Instead, I went across the road, and did manage to take a couple of pics. With the 24-85 of course, not the 70-200 that I thought I really needed. But even so, I had proved to myself that I could do it after all: I had taken pics in a situation faced by 'real' street togs every day, even press togs, and I could now feel that I'd earned my stripes.

 

Still, it's all very well knowing about my photography you'll say, but what about the more important matter of the arrest itself. Was that a fair cop? Well, all I can say is that I simply do not know, as I have absolutely no idea what happened before I heard the commotion.

 

Anyway, once the intense activity had subsided, I left the scene, only to be stopped by the police a few yards away. They wanted my name, address, etc, and wanted to know why I had taken the pics. They seemed satisfied that I had no dubious intent, and left me thinking that I will hear no more. Should that prove otherwise though, I will try to keep this blog posted. So, feeling relieved, I made my way to Cains, to calm down properly with two great pints amongst a really friendly bunch of locals.

 

Back home, and looking at the pics of the police incident on my computer screen, I'm gutted to say that I still havn't earned my stripes after all. Apart from one, where I was leaning against a wall, all shots are blurred. So, even though I got as far as taking pics on this occasion, nerves still got the better of me, and it caused camera shake. I wouldn't really have done better with the 70-200, would I?

 

Not that I ever wanted to then, but I have to accept that I'll never be a press photographer, or worse still, a war photographer such as one of my heroes Don McCullin. But, of more importance to me, should I be thinking of myself as doing 'street photography'? Well, I was nervous just watching the incident (never mind taking pics of it), uncomfortable being stopped by the police, and, I didn't get a decent shot anyway. So, based on my knowledge of some others claiming to be 'street photographers', and their work of course, the answer is an undoubted 'yes'.

 

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