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On the street: New Cross (and how I take photos of people cycling when I’m cycling too)

James Greig | September 3, 2016

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For most of my time in London I’ve lived east, around the various neighbourhoods of Hackney.

But 18 months ago I moved  south, over the river to New Cross Gate, after some friends and I stumbled across an amazing house for rent.

You know, the kind of house that actually feels like a home, with breathing space, and a garden, and even a shed. (That has since become more of a man cave).

The biggest downside about New Cross is the huge road that slices it in two, making cycling less-than-pleasant almost all of the time. Once you get to Greenwich, Deptford or Peckham you can escape on to quieter roads, but the main drag is not a place that is friendly to cyclists.

Yesterday I went out towards the end of rush hour to see what was happening bike-wise in my neighbourhood — but before showing you the photos, I thought I thought I’d tell you a little about how I actually take them…

How I take photos of people cycling when I’m cycling too

Fuji X100T camera

If you’re curious about my photography setup: I shoot with a Fuji X100S (now superseded by the X100T), which is an incredible wee camera, and allows me to leave my clunky SLR at home most of the time. The lens is fixed which means you can’t zoom in —  I prefer this as it makes you think and work actively to frame your shots.

Fuji’s cameras are renowned for their colour reproduction — most of the time I can publish a shot straight from the camera, without needing to edit it at all. I normally shoot in RAW mode though, so that I have maximum control over the editing process on the rare occasion that I want to tweak something. In the past I’ve used Aperture to manage my photo library, but sadly Apple have put the software to bed, so I’m now begrudgingly using the Photos app instead.

When I’m actually cycling the X100 is usually slung over my back, but with the the strap under my right arm, so I can swing it round to take photos on the go. (And yes that does mean that sometimes I’m looking through the viewfinder whilst cycling… you get used to it… and it makes going down hills even more fun).

As you’ll see below, I’ve just added Fuji’s TCL-X100 teleconversion lens to my setup, which takes it from a 35mm-on-35mm equivalent to a 50mm. If that sounds like technical gibberish, it basically just means I’m closer to the action, and can take nicer portraits. (This is the thing I was missing most about having a 50mm lens on my Canon).

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Now for your periodic reminder of how not to lock your bike — please please please make sure the frame is locked up, not just your wheels.

Otherwise this happens…

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As you’ve probably guessed by now, New Cross doesn’t exactly have a lot of space for cycling. You don’t see kids cycling here, except sometimes on the pavement. In short, it’s only a place that the brave of heart would choose to cycle around.

Here’s looking at you, Lewisham Council!

Posted to London
by James Greig

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