Posted September 20, 2011 by Gavin Hoey in Videos

Brighton Sewer – Photography Challenge

IMG_7493Sometimes photography can take you to some very unusual places and nowhere is more challenging then going into the maze of Victorian sewers that crisscross beneath the feet of the people of Brighton. It might have been easier if I had advanced warning of my visit, but the whole thing was arranged by Sam as a mystery location challenge. All I knew was that I was going to Brighton and I’d need to wear old clothes.

I’m sure there are a lot of questions to answer, but here are the first ones that come to mind.

Was it smelly?
Well surprisingly it wasn’t too bad. Yes there was a slight odour but nothing like you might imagine.

Surely if can’t be safe?
You get well briefed before going on the tour. Everyone wears gloves and a hard hat and there are comprehensive washing facilities at the end of the tour. That said you only go in walkways or sewers that handle surface water, so although you do see (if you want) the nasty stuff, it’s kept well away.

Wouldn’t a faster lens be more useful?
If I had time to research where I was going I just might have taken my 50mm f1.8 lens. However it really was a mystery visit so that wasn’t an option. Besides my 24-105L lens has image stabilisation equal to three stops and the f/4 aperture gave me a slightly bigger depth of field.

What happened in the middle of the video when it went black?
It was a power failure. One moment the lights were on the next it was pitch black. Fortunately the power came back on a few seconds later.

Are the images noisy at 6400 ISO?
Yes, but Photoshop CS5 has an almost magic ability to subdue noise in RAW photos.

What’s with the colour scheme?
In previous challenges I’ve come in for criticism for “over processing” my images. That’s a very subjective thing to say, but for these Images I decided to give them all the same look and do very little Photoshop work. The split tone look was applied in Photoshop CS5 (Adobe Camera RAW)

Would you recommend the tour for photographers?
I’d whole heartedly recommend the tour, but not as a photographic venue. Go and learn about the history and modern use of the sewer system, but don’t expect to come out with lots of photos.

Gavin Hoey