Photographing bells was never going to be easy, but it IS interesting. I now have pictures of bells being produced, bells in towers (from above, alongside and below), churches, ropes and ringing chambers. But I am struggling to get across the 'people' aspect. It's a part of the panel of critical importance, because bells have been rung by hand in this country for over 400 years, and they still are. There are some challenges for me in getting people shots, some of which are:
I am not a regular 'people' photographer...
Ringing chambers usually have horrible lighting and flash is not exactly welcome when a band is ringing.
Bells create movement in towers. Not the obvious movement - ie. the bells swinging - but movement of the entire tower! Yes, lots of towers move as several hundredweight of bells are rung inside them. This makes long exposures tricky...
Ringers are moving quickly as they ring, and hands or ropes frequently cover faces at the key shutter-pressing moments.
Access and angle for your shot is frequently difficult with limited options as to where you can safely be messing about with a camera.
Oh, and ringers often look extremely focused, which doesn't translate brilliantly in a photo.
A previous set of pictures of ringers got the comment 'they're all a bit blurred...' from our Tower Captain. My carefully chosen slower shutter speed, specifically picked in order to blur the ringers' arms and thus show the movement clearly didn't achieve the desire objective. This is part of the reason why I changed my approach, and set out to try to get some less obvious pictures of people ringing bells.
Here is an example:
For the ARPS I have had to be far more structured in my approach to producing the panel. My statement of intent (SOI) has helped with this (blog post to follow!), and I have had to go out with much more specific photographic goals in mind.
I went on a ringing tour recently. Ringing tours are common as bell-ringers like visiting new towers and ringing the bells they contain. On this tour, twenty-two of us spent the day travelling from tower to tower and ringing, and I took my camera along with the specific aim of shooting people for my 'A'.
As the biggest 'ring' on this tour was eight bells, this meant that after a while the other ringers got used to me clambering around with a camera, and I ended up with some interesting shots.