Bus Bokeh and Boredom

As an inner London resident there is little point owning a car. The logistical, economic and environmental problems and costs of congestion, parking, charges, fuel etc generally outweigh the benefits for me - so I walk and cycle and use public transport a lot. These images have been created on or while using the bus and train.

The first set were taken on the double-decker bus as I returned from the MA show at Chelsea (the number 36 to Lewisham). I think when you’ve just seen a lot of art it can help you see the everyday world from a different perspective. I love to sit on the top deck, at the front of the bus - and always do so whenever possible. It provides one of the best views of the city which, even after around 20 years, I never tire of.

As the evening fell I got out my camera and had an idea. I’ve also always loved the photographic ‘bokeh’ effect ("the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”) - but never tried to create them myself. This is nothing new and you see it all the time on TV etc, but I just wanted to experiment with it. I really like the way it is familiar and recognisable as well as abstract. Increasingly, I found that de-focussing and zooming the camera as much as possible created the best effect.

After some minor processing in Photoshop I tried inverting the images into a negative and preferred these versions, which made them more abstract - and looked almost like microscopic images or ink blots.

The second set was taken on the bus from Camberwell to Lewisham. It was raining, the roads were jammed and what should have been a 25 minute journey ended up taking about an hour and half. I didn’t have anything to read and didn’t bring my camera, so was going out of my mind with boredom (I get bored very easily!) I pulled out my mobile phone and passed the time taking snaps of the window and how the effect of street and traffic lights interplayed with the rain etc on the window. The camera on my phone isn’t very good, but I found that some of the coarse pixellation etc almost added to the effect. I also later made these negative for the same reasons stated above - and quite liked the delicate, painterly quality of the images.

This third set was taken while waiting for a train at London Bridge station after visiting the White Cube gallery. There is this large perforated steel box on Platform 1 (no idea what it’s for.) By manually switching the focus on my camera I could achieve some interesting layering effects that, to me, resembled the moiré pattern of halftone printing - or even of Islamic architecture? I only had about two minutes until my train arrived, so I would like to return to the site to take some more photos…!