Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper Spitalfields

Text and picture World © Geoff Wilkinson – All rights reserved. 

As this is the first article on this blog I thought I would show you one of my favourite pictures from a series that I did in the Spitalfields area of London. To me photography is about keeping the technical side as simple as possible and then looking and thinking about the photograph itself. Having said that, some of the commercial and editorial work that I undertake does have it’s technical complexities but I’ll save those for a different story.

Back to this particular picture. The location was Parliament Court, Spitalfields in East London. This is very much ‘Jack the Ripper’ territory and with some of the narrow streets and alleyways it’s difficult not to be whisked back in time.

This photograph was taken on a cold day in November. As soon as I found this spot I knew it had terrific potential and I started to formulate the finished photograph in my mind. I knew that I had to strip out the colour and go for a black and white image to build atmosphere. Although it’s a narrow alleyway, at this junction I wanted to get some of the building in the foreground plus be able look down the alley at the same time, so I fitted a wide angle zoom to my Nikon camera. By now the light was fading which was fine as I wanted some of the ‘Jack the Ripper’ atmosphere in the picture. I framed up carefully and waited.

I had in my mind a figure in a billowing cape fleeing the scene in growing gloom. I waited 20 or 30 minutes, people came and went, none of them quite right and then this guy with his coat blowing open as he walked went into the alley. A slow shutter speed gave him the bit of movement that I wanted to give the impression of hurrying, one click and I had my picture.

Technical info: Nikon D80 camera hand held with a Nikon 10/24mm zoom lens set at 15mm. The exposure was 1/8th of a second with an aperture of f4.2, the ISO was 200. The conversion to Black and White was done in Photoshop CS5

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