I have recently identified certain street corners that are otherwise unworthy stopping places but which often become traps for late light.

The time of day has been of little importance lately compared say, to a late autumnal afternoon before the clocks go back, when the habits of pedestrian traffic changes for the worst.

For now, the most interesting occurrences do happen.  When Londoners emerge from their jobs and hurry home en masse and in daylight.

It is a Friday and the sun pours down the East / West Piccadilly corridor, grabbing the culture of window displays by the throat while abandoning the rest to the dark of retail recesses. But I have waited for these shadows to advance enough to border the left of my intended frame where the statue (credited to the 19th century Florence-born artist Raffaello Romanelli) looks out with a seductive glance at noughty commuters.

Several incidents seem promising. A woman carries awkward boxes; a courier pedals on the pavement; a beauty walks past while an admirer looks across adoringly and a St James’s dandy looks every bit the Beau Brummel. The shapes on the reddish stone pillar are curious too as people wait at a crossing and the background of pacing walkers is unpredictably okay too.

So then the blonde in red comes along and drops her Oyster card and I hope she’s going to notice, going to turn around and stooping in those heels, do what I yearn will be something spectacular. And something does make her stop but what follows is all done and dusted within a few seconds.

The creeping worry starts before I scroll the screen – whether I’ve managed to get the moment amid all that can and (statistically, should) go awry. The screen lends such a nasty rendering that it ought to be taped over completely – for the experience of pressing the button to remain intact until one reaches home. But adrenaline kicks in and I search it excitedly.

Looking more closely, there is something wrong with each frame. In the first we see the lady in marble seemingly looking at the dropped item though the beautiful shadow on the wall shows us the lady in red is more occupied with a smartphone. We might decide it isn’t her item at all and is not the key ingredient to the sequence. In the second, we are too aware of another pedestrian with a red bag interfering with the nearer figure. In the third, I am worried about the dominant, emerging male. And in the last picture, despite the hard-core red coat, does the background detract from the moment once again?

And what is it I’m trying to sell from any of the four candidates? Is it the suggestive, the mischievous or the obvious?

And why is there no fifth, final frame?


6 Responses to “16.05pm”

  1. 1 Bob

    Great! You’re inventing a new narrative genre.

  2. I’d better have a think about that one, Bob.

  3. but what is causing the black shadow on the red coat in frame 2 ??

  4. Not sure which you mean, John but think it’s a post at the crossing. There were a a lot of conflicting shadows.

  5. off frame to the right something or someone is casting a shadow across the back of the coat and her hair – but it doesn’t show up on the left wall.
    I can see what you are trying to do – maybe the best technique would be to use video and then select the best frames.

  6. I can’t say what the shadow is, John. But I’m more interested in the mechanics of the still image, the making of right decisions, when to make each frame as a single entity rather than simply letting the video ‘machine’ to flow on its own for one to pick and choose after the event. That to me is one large part of the skill – though I have huge respect for film makers. Anyway, I though I’d post this as an exercise in editing and deciding the merits of the best picture. R

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