I was fortunate to have been able to do Photography in my time at Willows High, thanks to the effort of one teacher who helped set up a dark room for use by the pupils. It had the works, a number of enlargers, red-lights, chemical trays and a great mentor, Mr. Coleman, whom taught us how to use it all alongside his normal job as a French teacher. I fell for photography and processing in a big way. As part of my Art A-Level I spent a lot of time working in the dark room learning to process and get some nice looking Black and White prints out of there.
At the same time I was learning to use an SLR camera, I’d quite often go off and take photos around town, forever trying to master depth of field, exposure and composition. I liked to shoot with the wide-angle lens most of the time, and really like a red filter on to highlight the clouds. As a result, a lot of the stuff I shot was under exposed unless it was shot in bright sunlight. I really like the contrast of bright sun on shadow in buildings, it’s always been something that’s moved me in art and something I tried to capture in my photos.
A few times I strolled into the city centre early on a Sunday when the streets were quiet, and shot the buildings. A lot of what I shot never made it past the contact strip, only a choice one or two would get the full development treatment. I recently went through what remaining negatives I have from that period and scanned in the lot. There’s a few nice photos in there (that I’m pleased with at least) and I’ve collected them here to share for you. Sadly a lot of my negatives disappeared, I had many more that I chucked years ago, not thinking I could ever get a decent image from them. If only I’d know how good technology got, I might have hung on to them!
This would be around 1989, and as you can see a there’s some blemishes, not everything’s in focus and there’s scratches and dust on the photos. There’s a few buildings that have gone now, long flattened and built over. I’ve also done a little bit of photoshopping to either lift the exposure and crop things a bit nicer. They’re not necessarily great photos, but to me an interesting record of the mood and look of Cardiff back in the late 1980s.
The Central Hotel, Central Station and old British Rail buildings
The Central Hotel, GWs and old British Rail buildings – 1989
The Central Hotel and British Rail buildings
Astey’s and the Bus Station looking toward BT House in the background
Astey’s and the Bus Station
Astey’s and the Bus Station
The Hayes Island Snack Bar and Central Library, note the lack of the Queens Arcade entrance on the right of frame
St John’s on Working Street – prior to full pedestrianisation
The top of the Royal Hotel on St Mary Street
One of the domes above the old antique market at the end of St Mary Street, next to the Philharmonic
Unidentified man and bike making their way up Park Place
The old Prudential Building, now the Hilton Hotel on Greyfriars Road
Looking up at the Admiral Tower (Pearl Assurance) building from the subway
Looking up Wharton Street to the original BT House
Blurry photo of the top of Queen Street, the Capitol Centre undergoing construction
The corner of Queen Street, now a Sainsburys
The corner of Queen Street