Adelaide’s city centre is traditionally empty outside of business hours. Suburban malls have lured a lot of retail out of the city, and there are very few people living in the core. It had, and still has, a dull city core.
People are slowly returning to the city centre to live. Will the small bars, that are starting to set up all over the city help to bring people back to the city as they did in Melbourne? Will a fine-grain laneway culture develop in Adelaide as it did in Melbourne?
Ari and I wandered around Adelaide’s CBD early this morning.It was Sunday and so the city streets were relatively quiet apart from people (young males) spilling out from the nightclubs. The early morning light was flat and drab as there was fog hanging around. There was no early morning sunlight.
We walked to the Morphett Street Bridge then returned to Sturt St via the University of South Australia.
I had an hour to fill in this morning whilst I waited for new lenses to be put into the old frames of my glasses. So I wandered around the CBD with my digital camera looking at the shops in and around Rundle Mall, the CBD’s premier shopping strip.
Nobody was buying. Some of the fashion shops were empty. The shop assistants looked bored. A few of the fashion chain shops had closed. Plenty of people were having coffee with friends and colleagues though.
It has been a while since I’ve wandered the streets of Adelaide on a daily walk with Ari and a digital camera. Today was the first day that I returned to walking the streets taking photos:
I was wanting to take more street level photography for the Adelaide book. The draft is top heavy with ‘birds-eye’ views of the city. I wondered if the digital camera become a tool of the flâneur who walks the city in order to experience the present conditions of daily urban life. This urbanscape in which we live which is often ignored or taken for granted.
The idea of the flâneur returns us to the Situationists concept of psychogeography, which is the practice of exploring places in unpredictable ways within the society of the spectacle. This is connected to a favorite practice of the dadaists, who organized a variety of expeditions, and the surrealists, for whom the geographical form of automatism was an instructive pleasure.
The last poodlewalk in Melbourne was done by car. On my previous visits to Melbourne I’d seen some architecture on the Nepean Highway that caught my eye, whilst I travelling on the Frankston train to the CBD. So we–Suzanne, Ari and myself— cruised the Nepean Highway from Frankston to Mordiallic looking for “Custom Framing” and a big bold blue building.
It was the day that we had Agtet, our grey standard poodle, put down. We were to drive back to Adelaide early the next morning, and we had heavy hearts and time on our hands. A phototrip in the car was my way of filling in the afternoon. Suzanne drove the car whilst I looked out for the building.
I’m on the road for the next month —a phototrip to Tasmania. The trip is based around a 2 week residency at the Landscape Art Research Queenstown in Queenstown with a weeks holiday each side in the Midlands and Bruny Island.
This picture of the Prada shop window in Collins street is from an earlier trip to Melbourne before I turned towards topographics and began working on the documentary book.
I’m lost without the use of my digital camera. I had initially bought the pro-sumer Sony DSC R1 to enter the world of digital imaging, to see how the digital work flow operated, and to judge the quality and look of the digital image.
Over the next couple of years using the Sony had become habitual, with it primarily being used to study a particular object or scene to see how it looked as a photograph. I’d post some of these images on the web–on Facebook, Flickr or on my blogs—and if the picture looked okay I’d go back to reshootthe object with a medium or large format camera.
The digital camera was my scoping instrument and sketch pad–a pocket sketch pad as it were.
When it was stolen in Melbourne I found myself back to using film and not knowing how things would look as a photograph. I didn’t like the process of taking pictures blind, especially when it came to using the 5×4 Technika in Ballarat before I caught the overnight bus back to Adelaide. I stayed close to what I could remember from my previous trip and which I had filed away as suitable subjects.
One of the pleasures of my recent phototrip in Melbourne was walking around Brunswick Street in Fitzroy with a digital camera. It was liberating after the discipline of large format photography.
I was returning to old haunts, as I used to live in nearby Gore Street whilst studying at the Photographic Studies College in Southbank, and working on the Melbourne trams. I started learning how to do photography (then 35mm black and white) on the grungy streets in, and around, Fitzroy.
This time I was discovering Brunswick Street afresh as a photographer— exploring a world I knew, yet didn’t know, because so much had changed since I’d lived in Fitzroy.
How do you order the chaotic flow of the city? How do you arrange the different elements in the picture plane so that relate to one another in some coherent fashion?
I avoid “street photography”–that is, representing the everyday flow of the city — because I cannot satisfactorily resolve the above problems. I started working by sitting in a tram and taking shots but I found that very limited.
The next step was to stand in front of a building and wait for someone to walk past. That didn’t work that well for me as I wanted to cram more urban stuff into the picture plane. The city is full of flowing stuff–eg., ever changing and moving events and situations.