Its Important To Take Bad Pictures Sometimes



Diane Arbus, a doyen of black and white photography, once said “It’s important to take bad pictures”, the rationale being that by recognising bad pictures we will understand what makes good pictures.

She also said, “I’ve never taken a picture I intended. They’re always better or worse”. I can identify with that!

Last Saturday, late afternoon, I wandered around the inner city area of my home town Invercargill to try to make some bad pictures to learn from and to make some pictures that were better or worse than I intended.

Alleyways are often interesting places to venture – places where you’ll notice things you may not normally see.

Alleyways also seem to present a grittier side of a city – a characteristic that made me decide to continue my foray into the world of black and white photography.

Remember – it’s important to take bad pictures…

I continually remind myself that the only person I have to please with my photographs is me and if others like my photos then that is a bonus. So – please if you like them – let me know. Or if you have suggestions for improvements – also let me know.

I am still nevertheless a little reticent to share because I feel many of my pictures are bad – even though I do actually like them.

This imposing statue of Lord Kitchener stands alongside Southland Cenotaph,  a memorial that holds the names of over 2,000 Southlanders who have died in overseas war service since the 1914-18 Great War.

Just over the road from Lord Kitchener is the site of the old Dee Street Hospital.

The old Dee Street Hospital was built in the late 1800s, and comprised three main blocks, two of which remain – derelict! A MacDonalds stands on the remainder of the site. Also remaining is the Porter’s Lodge, the original gate, and a section of the original cast iron fence. The old hospital closed in 1979.

Invercargill’s inner city has undergone a major redevelopment in recent years, with a whole city block being demolished and replaced by modern buildings collectively known as Invercargill Central. As many existing businesses relocate to the new city centre block, many buildings are left ghostly and empty..

There are still many old advertising signs painted on the walls of some of our alleyways. A E Beadle was a Cordial Agent in Invercargill – and presumably wider Southland – in years gone by.

Another alley – and the welcome mat is out!

…another alleyway with light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m not sure what the significance of hands clapping is, but this certainly wasn’t the only graffiti or posters around town with hands and/or the word clap on it.

Texture, grunge and an empty coffee cup…

I suspect this sign originally said no parking or no stopping day or night.

Bricks and bottles was taken just for fun.

Gallery and stalls, the side entrance to Invercargill’s Town Hall and Theatre, is a remake of an earlier analogue photograph captured using an elderly Nikon F75 35mm camera and Fuji 200 film. See the original in my analogue gallery.

Our beautiful Town Hall and Theatre was originally built in 1906, and underwent a $15.6 million upgrade in 2015. It is a Category 1, New Zealand Historic places building.

I guess I’ve taken some bad pictures – and probably some good pictures. There are also some pictures in this story which turned out better or worse than I intended.

But overall I am happy with the results….I think…

For the record all photographs were initially processed in DxO Photolab 6, then exported in TIFF format to On1 Photo Raw 2022, where they were converted to black and white using the Chrome preset to give then an urban, gritty look.

Check out all the images in this slide show which includes Exif data when the :i” button is clicked on each slide.


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