Arthouse Cinema

Crouch End, London | Canon EOS R : RF 35mm f1.8 IS : f/11.0 : 1/10s : ISO 6400

As street photographers, we are only too well aware of the devastation wreaked on the high street by Covid-19. With most retail being forced to close as wave-after-wave of restrictions have been imposed, foot traffic has fallen off a cliff. People are in the most part nowhere to be seen. If they are, it is scurrying to the supermarkets and food shops masked and keen to avoid the eye of anyone they meet.

Although initially the pain of cinemas was shared in the press, for the most part, their pain has been relegated to the back pages of the business section, as other larger and more visible businesses cry out for help. Unfortunately, any business, local or global within the hospitality sector has been particularly hard hit. Cinemas with their business model relying on packing in as many customers into a confined space for several hours have virtually nowhere to go. Even after the restrictions are lifted, people are going to be highly reticent for some time yet to spend several hours in darkness within inches of unknown strangers.

In North London, we had been blessed with a number of independent cinema groups, who invested heavily to innovate and offer unique film going experiences. Whether in the food they offered, the range of films shown or the comfort and luxury of the cinemas themselves. Prices while slightly higher than the mass-market cinema chains were not exorbitant and business was good.

They now lie forlorn and in darkness on the high street. Almost as if a display of defiance, the Arthouse cinema in Crouch End continued to light its façade, perhaps sending out the message that it had not given up and intended one day to return to its former glory. I felt I wanted to capture its pain as it remained under enforced closure.

When photographing the cinema, I looked to isolate the building from the surroundings, which were either unattractive or on the adjacent side, a building site. To achieve this I exposed for the highlights and allowed parts of the building to fall into shadow. At f11 I was able to create a small sunburst from the main light just above the statue. The 6400 ISO did not appear to create a significant amount of noise and with image stabilisation, I was able to achieve a relatively sharp image at 1/10s handheld.

In post-production, I used Adobe Camera Raw for my initial workflow and firstly worked to bring out the maximum amount of detail in the colour shot as shown in the RAW file. I then imported the final DNG into Photoshop for some cleaning up and curve adjustments before importing into Silver Effex to create deeper shadows and more definition in the highlights.