Fleeting images from around Melbourne’s CBD
After doing my shopping in Melbourne’s CBD (central business district) yesterday, I left the city quite late in the afternoon and got caught in peak hour as office workers surged onto public transport and down many of the alleys and arcades on their way home.
The sun was much lower in the sky and many of these alleyways were in deep, dark shade. I only had the 18-200mm lens with me as I knew I would have to carry shopping bags which may, or may not, have been heavy, so that telephoto lens had to suffice. I suspect I would have been better off with the 50mm prime lens in the low light. But then I really was going into the city to shop, not take photos. But I rarely leave home without my DSLR these days and I’d feel naked without it anyway.
Instead of increasing the light and contrast in editing, I decided to go the other way – de-saturate the colour to make them almost monotone (in some cases).
The only photo I didn’t touch is the first image of this old, dirty, grungy building. It’s one of only a few buildings in Melbourne which has never been cleaned, repainted and renovated. It’s looks like something from a heavily polluted city (like London in the Victorian era). Many years ago, Melbourne was one of the least polluted cities in the western world – I don’t know about today.
Not sure whether people live in this building or it’s leased out to some sort of office or manufacturing company. Ground level, (not shown as its boring),is a row of modern shops.
As you can see it’s really, really dirty and seems to have lots of bird droppings and stains on the exterior facade, but it has loads of character.
After photographing this building, I went into one of the smallest arcades I’ve ever walked through. It’s only about 5 foot wide, fairly short and still has many old features which have never been restored or painted.
It’s rather charming with a tiny cafe (and checkered tablecloths). It’s also rather poorly lit, so the de-saturated images are not that far from reality. Looking into a couple of the tiny shops was like stepping back in time to the 1930s, 40s, 50s & 60s.
In the image (above) you can see a very faint outline of a person in the top left quadrant of the frame. This is actually a reflection of the sales assistant in the small shop on the other side of the tiny arcade – just shows how narrow the arcade, or walk though passage, is in reality.
Now on to a much better lit, wide arcade, but since we’re in ‘de-saturated’ colour mode, I felt I had to give the rest of the images the same treatment in editing.
Passing another narrow lane between two buildings, I glanced down to the cafes in this area to see that most of the tables were in darkness…………….except for a shaft of light which hit an elderly single diner’s hat and the sugar shaker on the table. This shot I had to increase the exposure in editing, as in reality, this area was very dark indeed and you could barely see the outline of the tables. I imagine the cafe & building lights would have come on pretty soon after this time, as it would be too dark for waiters to serve people.
Then outside into the narrow street which intersects with Union Lane (where I photographed that wonderful new piece of Street Art to share with you the other day). The shot below shows a bit more of the piece near the ground (which I think I left out of last week’s shots).
The narrow streets sure get dark once the sun has started to dip down lower in the sky and before the street lights come on for the evening.
Behind each set of buildings there is the ever-present line of rubbish bins. I was reading in the Melbourne City Council newsletter that they have made a goal of cleaning up some of these back lanes and I have to admit that the rear of buildings I walked past yesterday, did look much tidier, with less/no folded cardboards cartons and rubbish lying around.
Once back into the main street (which is pedestrian and tram/bus/taxi only), the deep shadows just got darker and darker, and the streetscape only really lit up where the sun shines between tall buildings.
This Saturday, the 23rd, there is the White Night (festival) in Melbourne. I’d never heard of it until my recent subscription email from ‘What’s on in Melbourne’ arrived in my email box.
The inner city, railway station and public squares are open with live music, open cafes, films, light shows on buildings and art exhibitions for 12 hours from 7.00pm Saturday to 7.00am Sunday morning. Trams and Bus services will be disrupted and stop just before entering the open city areas.
I’m tempted to go into the city for some night photography, but a little hesitant also. I may have trouble getting home via public transport and taxis may be hard to catch. Not sure about the crowds either. Will they be suffocating and loud (I’m super sensitive to noise, bright lights and chemicals or sickly sweet perfumes and generally keep my city excursions fairly short…………mostly).
Anyway, we’ll wait & see how I feel by Saturday night. Back in the old days, I could easily have walked home (which I had to do when a protest march brought all city traffic, trams and buses to a standstill – unfortunately I had both hands full of shopping bags, so had to stop for frequent rests on curbside benches & low brick walls).
I often used to walk to the city centre on a Sunday and wander around the shops for a few hours and then walk home.
But that was when I was fit, healthy and it was daylight. Safe and hassle-free too.
PS Is this the longest post I’ve ever done? Not sure? But at least there’s plenty of images to break up the written words. And somehow, I think it’s easier to read one long post from me every few days, than multiple short posts on one day. Besides all these particular images seem to go together, being the one theme.