Friday, 23 December 2011

Open Eye study visit

I recently attended an OCA study visit to the Open Eye gallery in Liverpool to see exhibitions by Mitch Epstein and Chris Steele-Perkins.

Mitch Epstein: American Power (2003-9) examines how energy is produced and used in the American landscape, exploring the effects of mass consumption and the interaction of nature, government and corporations.

There were eight photos from the American Power series on display at the gallery which may not sound much but they were approximately 4x4.5 feet and extremely detailed.  Some of the pictures were difficult to view because of reflections due to their location in the gallery.  One part of the gallery had a high ceiling which provided a better lighting angle.  Galleries with low ceilings tend to have the lights reflecting in the photos.

Biloxi, Mississippi (2005) shows the result of hurricane Katrina.  Cars overturned and matresses in trees showing the ultimate power of nature that cannot be stopped or reasoned with.  Martha Murphy and Charlie Christian, Mississippi (2005) also shows outcomes from hurricane Katrina with the two people sitting behind remaining posessions.  This picture also brings in to play the power of religion and government symballised by the clear dog tag and cross round the necks of the main charachters.

Martha Murphy and Charlie Christian, Mississippi (2005)

The same 'ultimate power' also exists on other levels; the ultimate power of corporate vs the individual.  If you take Poca high school and Amos coal power plant, West Virginia (2004) you see the town in the shadow of the huge coal power plant, literally in peoples' back gardens.  Epstein discovered this corporate power to his cost on a number of occasions when being moved on by police with the excuse that the power company didn't allow pictures, enforcing corporate law rather than constitutional.

Poca high school and Amos coal power plant, West Virginia (2004)

BP Carson refinery, California (2007) pictures the refinery with a US flag draped over one side pointing to the link between oil and politics and the power struggle that goes with it.  Interestingly the power of nature is still underlying in the form of the line of trees bent by the wind reminding us that it has ultimate power.

BP Carson refinery, California (2007)
Chris Steele-Perkins: The pleasure principle, is a portrait of England in the 1980s.  There were a greater number of smaller prints compared to Epstein giving the opportunity to capture a wider spectrum.  Though difficult to view after the impressively large Epstien offerings, Steele-Perkins' images proved to be a bit of a trip down memory lane.  Being in my 20s and living in London in the 80s I can recognise some of the images.  I was very into the indie music scene so the shot of the 'David Sylvian look-a-like' in the night club brings it all back.  The hypnotist at the college ball; they were very popular at one point but what happened to them all?  They're probably helping people quit smoking these days!  He has captured trends that were very much of the 80s and do not seem apparent today.

I found this picture of Margaret Thatcher rather disturbing.  Over time Thatcher has become a characature in my mind (helped in no small part by Spitting Image).  The white face and large mouth in this shot remind me of Jack Nicholson when he played the Joker in the first Batman film!

The pleasure principle is the psychoanalytic concept describing people seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering (pain) in order to satisfy their biological and psychological needs.  It is also the title of a Gary Newman album who is synonymous with the 80s (the album was in fact released in 1979).  Steele-Perkins has caught the element of having a good time (the pleasure principle) but has done so with a certain unsavory tackiness about it.  That said, there is more humour than, say, Martin Parr for example.  The best example of this is probably Blackpool beach; a place that is always going to provide a rich vein of opportunity.

I warmed to the Steele-Perkins images the more time I spent looking at them.  Time that was necessary after looking at Epstein's large and beautifully produced prints.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

thermal portrait

In the current  (autumn 2011) issue of Photoworks there is an artical on Kenji Hirasawa whose uses a thermal imaging camera to capture portraits.  A few months back I visited Jodrell Bank where they have a thermal imaging camera.  I took this picture of myself and my partner by photoing the display from the camera.

I used the fold out screen so that the camera was not in the shot.  What captured my interest was the difference in temperature.  I'm much warmer than Katya and she has a conspicuously cold nose having been outside!  It's an interesting way of looking at people that I've only seen before in airports in China (when the bird flue was scare was on).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Narrative and Illustration: Project - Narrative

Exercise: A narrative picture essay

Aim; the aim of this exercise is to capture an event or assignment in pictures using them to tell the story of the event.

Approach and results.  For this exercise I chose to use a wild food foraging event run locally.  I contacted the organiser in advance to arrange this.  I also met up with the organiser early to scout the area for opportunities before the walk started.
The pictures used tell the story of the event and have been chosen specifically.  I planned the article by drawing it out on paper, breaking it down into the different components that I thought made up the essence of the walk.  I developed my idea of these components on the walk and took pictures that I felt captured this.
This was originally done in Word and exported.  Word is not ideal so the layout is not quite how it would look in, say a magazine.  I have been unable to get it into the blog in a viewable size so have created this version for the blog.  Some of the pictures cannot be sized how I want because of the limited options and not all the pictures show up in the slide show for no good reason!!  The pictures have captions in italics and my notes about their choice in blue.

Learning points;
The main lesson to take away from this is to plan and research in advance.  I already had the stages of the walk and what I wanted to capture in my head before the event.  This ensures that you actually get the shots you were looking for.  It's the difference between being proactive and reactive.  Some things you can go back and capture but others you can't.
Take plenty of pictures.  The more you take the better the choice.  A picture that may not seem relevant may contain what you want when cropped.

Wild food foraging

Recently I arranged to join a wild food walk in Fletcher Moss Park in Manchester.  The Park has a range of different habitats including woodland, fields and marshland. 
In the United Kingdom we have a considerable array of plants and fungi that have the potential to make delicious wild foods. In fact once you get to know what is and what isn't edible, there really isn't much excuse for passing up on this great free food, especially since many wild foods are as good if not better in taste than the foods we buy in supermarkets.

 ‘Chicken in the woods’, a large edible mushroom, growing freely on a fallen tree. Notes: this picture does not have to be too big as the subject is clearly recognizable. I wanted the first shot to be something actually growing wild. There is no sense of scale here but this is dealt with later.

I have been on these walks before and I know the area well.  The person running the walk was Jesper Launder.  Jesper is a consulting medical herbalist. He has been collecting and eating wild mushrooms for over 25 years and has a great interest in the food potential of Britain's field, hedgerows and woodlands.  He not only knows whether you can eat something but also the potential of just about everything in front of you, including all the medicinal properties.
The walks are usually made up of a mix of people who (at the start) don’t necessarily know each other.  However it doesn’t take long before people start talking and sharing their mutual interest for wild food.  The walks are informal with Jesper talking to the group about a particular plant or mushroom and then everyone having a try at finding it.
Left - Wow; it really does taste of aniseed!  Notes; this picture shows Jesper explaining and people trying things.  It is important to capture people actually trying things for themselves.  The ‘love food hate waste’ bag is a nice prop.Right - Jesper in full flow captivating his audience with his encyclopaedic knowledge.  Notes; Another example of instruction and interaction showing the teacher at work and also showing bags full of plants.

Members of the group searching for a range of edible wild plants.  Notes; I wanted to capture the group rummaging around at random in a less structured way.

Foraging in full flow; surrounded by a type of wild leek.  Notes; I particularly like this shot of the girl with the basket.  It has an almost fairy tale feel to it.

The highlight of the walk for most people is finding and identifying the vast amount of wild mushrooms, actually knowing that you can eat them without worrying.  There do seem to be more poisonous ones out there though!
Baskets brimming with an amazing collection of wild foods.  The huge ‘chicken in the woods’ mushroom was the star of the show.  Notes; I wanted to capture the scale of the mushrooms and the excitement it created.

There is always a great atmosphere on the walks generated by Jesper’s enthusiasm.  People always get involved and there is a great sense of fun from toddlers to pensioners.

There is a great atmosphere and a sense of fun throughout the walk, with a wide range of ages.  Notes; I wanted a group of pictures that captured the atmosphere of the day.  The picture on the left shows people interacting and having fun.  It needs to be larger than the other two to preserve detail.  Top right points to the age range of the group and that it is a child friendly day out.  Bottom right reinforces the sense of fun.
The end of the walk results in a cook up of all the edible mushrooms.  This takes place on the wall of the park using a couple of gas burners.  This is rare for a wild food walk as most people who run events like this do not have the professional indemnity that Jesper has as a consulting medical herbalist.  It’s also one of the best bits!  You also get to go home with some as well.

Preparing a pan full of freshly picked oyster mushrooms (left).  A quick brush and chop and their ready for cooking(right).  Notes; the picture on the left shows the simple preparation on the wall of the park and the right shows the pan full and ready to go.
And now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for! A pan full of oyster mushrooms fried in butter (left) quickly devoured (right). Notes; I wanted to make these look good enough to eat!  The left picture needs to be large for the subject to be recognizable.  The right picture shows people digging in.  I like the anonymous hand coming in from the right grabbing a handful.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Big Issue

Over the last few months OCA have been working with The Big Issue in the North to get students' photographs in on a weekly basis.  So far I have had four published.  Originally the brief was something topical from the previous week but this has since changed to any image.  My first picture in the magazine was from the week of the royal wedding.  An interesting subject bearing in mind it was to go in the Big Issue which had just run an article questioning the relevance of the monachy the previous week.  The image used raises the question 'were we patriotic or did we just want something to celebrate in the current climate?'

The next two shots were general interest/topical pictures that are quite clear and striking for their own reasons; the dedication of the Bob Marley fan with the design and the artist in the background and the results of errosion on the coastline creating sculpted patterns between the sea defences.

This shot was one that I took on the day of the pensions march in Manchester and uploaded straight away so that it could meet the deadline for the magazine for the next issue.  I was mindful that this was the sort of shot they would go with so I put forward a selection from the march. 

Here are a couple of images that didn't get in.  There is a learning curve in working out what an editor prefers or will go with.  This first shot wasn't used because the editor did not want any post modern industrial images.  The second shot was too contentious.  I thought this might be the case but put it forward to get the reaction.  As an editor I can see why it he did not want the headache of the possible backlash but it did make me laugh that it was too contentious for the Big Issue.

Other things that need to be considered are the size and format of the image.  Because of the position in the magazine, landscape images are preferable.  Portrait is ok but there's more chance of getting in using landscape.  The image is not particularly big in the magazine so the subject generally has to be large and clear.  A busy detailed picture will be more difficult to see.

It has been and still is an interesting challenge and now I often think about shots that will work for the Big Issue when I'm out.  If I'm in it then I always buy an extra copy to send to the folks down south!

Paris Photo

This year I finally made it to Paris Photo.  It coincides with my birthday so that's two good reasons to go to Paris if ever I needed any!  This is a brief post about my initial impressions.

Paris Photo is held in the Grand Palais which is worthy of a photograph or two itself.  It is a fantastic glass and steel structure dominated by a huge central dome.  The first thing that struck me was that, although there are curated sections, a large proportion of the exhibitors are independant galleries representing particular artists and selling a lot of older prints.  This was an opportunity to see first hand many famous prints that up to now I had only seen in books; Fox Talbot, Arbus, Cartier Bresson, Brassai and Kertesz to name just a few.  They were also all for sale if you felt like selling your house.  Seeing these first hand made me really appreciate them in a way that I had perhaps not done before when looking at a poor, scaled down reproduction in a book.

Some of the more contemporary photographers that stood out for me were Mikhael Subotzky, Yann Gross and Trine Sondergaard.

Liu Bolin's invisible man series is incredibly well executed and full of humour.  His ability to get the perspective and camera angle just right is quite brilliant.

Du Zhenjun's incredibly intricate and detailed collages facinated me; so much going on creating a surreal but coherent landscape.

Raphael Dallaporta's Antipersonnel series is a collection of images of antipersonnel mines isolated against a black background.  I'm not sure about this as it almost elevates the status of a mine as a thing of beauty.  The flip side is if this raises awareness of the vast number of mines in use.

My favorite picture was Kim In Sook's 'Saturday Night'.  This picture came together over a period of four years so the next time you're rushing something think about that.  From her series Saturday Night, Kim In Sook has constructed the fantasy of every voyeur: The curtains are wide open in all 66 windows of a hotel,  exposing the occupants as they go about their business.  It is a facinating picture that is so full of detail.  I felt that I couldn't leave until I'd checked out every room.  Maybe that says more about me but there was a constant crowd doing the same thing.  We are all nosey to a point.

There was a lot more going on including Acqua by Giorgio Armani which is 'an exploration of the theme of water in photographs', selections from the J P Morgan Chase art collection including such artists as Andy Warhol and Garry Winogrand and much more.

It was a lot to take in and a lot of walking but well worth it.  I look forward to next year!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Narrative and Illustration: Project - Illustration

Exercise: Evidence of action

Aim:  The aim of this exercise is to produce a photograph that shows that something has happened.

Approach and results:  I needed to frame a picture that I took at my tennis club finals day so I thought I'd use this as the subject.  I needed to show that something had taken place so I chose to have the finished artical in the picture along with the the materials and tools.  I wanted the remains of the mountboard in the shot as it is this that shows that something has actually happened.  In fact, the tools, mountboard and picture are all necessary as without any one of them you have to assume more.  I chose this composition as it follows the route of production from measuring to cutting to the final mounted print.  The objects are placed pointing in the general direction of the print creating strong diagonals.  I also like the limited range of colours; orange/browns and shades of green.

Learning points:
It is important to think about the steps in any action.  When you create an image like this, you already know what the action is.  You therefore need to look at it with fresh eyes to decide whether you would come to the same conclusion had someone else created the image.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Diane Arbus at Tate Modern

First off I'm not going to regurgitate what the art history books say.

My first encounter with Diane Arbus' images was in 1982 on the back cover of a 12" EP by the Sex Gang Children.  They were an art school post punk band producing a strange collection of gothic type apocalyptic rantings (typical student stuff).  At the time I didn't know whose photos were on the cover as there is no reference on the sleeve.  I assumed that they were taken for the cover to underpin the shock value and mystery around the band.  Almost 30 years later and Arbus' images still facinate me whilst, I have to say, the Sex Gang Children's 'Beast' EP hasn't survived so well!

The exhibition at Tate Modern takes over 3 rooms and includes 'a box of ten photographs', a group of ten photographs selected and printed by Arbus as her definative portfolio during her lifetime.  Diane Arbus is known for taking pictures of people on the periphery of society, from circus people to inmates in mental hospitals and nudest camps and had a committment 'to photograph everybody'.

Arbus is generally thought of as sympathetic towards her subjects but this is not a view shared by all.  Germaine Greer's experience of being photographed by Arbus is less complimentary (  Most of Arbus' portraits do not appear to over dramatise the subject.  For me, she doesn't try to make people look like freaks but nor does she make any attempt to take them in a flattering way.  The people themselves are the interest, not the situations they are put in and quite often unsettling in their own right.  The context in which the subjects are put is usually quite subtle.  Perhaps an exception to this is the 'boy with a toy hand grenade' who is in a very deliberate pose.  I always been a fan of this picture and it was in fact one of the images used on the EP I mentioned earlier.  However, I have only recently seen the contact sheet below that shows some alternative shots taken at the time.  These show the boy in a completely different light, from a confused angry child from a broken home to a boy without a care enjoying a day in the park with the rest of the family, demonstrating how a photographer can control the emotions and thoughts of the viewer.  Interestingly, the final image is the only one showing the boy in this light.

The following pictures are both in the collection at the Tate and are typical subjects for Arbus (if you can call any of them a typical subject).

Teenage couple on Hudson Street NYC 1963.  This image shows a young couple that frankly look old before their time.  There is no reference point for scale in the picture but both of them look rather petite.  They are both smartly dressed but the shot is taken on what looks like a run down backstreet with litter and doors that open on to the street.  Does this point to where they live or just where she met them? A subtle background but one that sets the tone for the image.

Boy with a straw hat, NYC 1967.   Clearly taken outside an offical building of some kind, this boy looks indocrinated to the point where he even looks like he was dressed by someone else.  Slightly awkward looking and not sure what to do next.  For me, this underpins a scary view of the American way of life.

Boy with Straw Hat, NYC by Diane Arbus 1967

Jose Navarro has just blogged about rephotography and I have recently been to Bradford National Media Museum to see (amongst others) Daniel Meadows' early works which included updated portraits of people taken in his earlier career.  Interestingly I have just found this image from Feb 2011, so quite recent, of the twins from  'Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967' which is one of Arbus' most famous works.  They don't remember the day they entered photographic history but they still have the dresses (which are green).  Their parents tried to stop republication of the image.  I do ask myself sometimes when I look at photos such as Arbus' 'what what happened to these people?'.  I'd like to know what became of the boy with the hand grenade. 

The exhibition shows a wide range of Arbus' work even including a self portrait taken early on when she was pregnant.  I have usually draw a picture in my head of what a photographer looks like when I look at their work so it's always interesting to see what they really look like.


I have been to a large number of exhibitions this past year but this was one of the exhibitions I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.  Arbus had an eye for capturing people on the edge of society and a unique way of capturing them.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Light: Project - Photographic lighting - concentrating light

Exercise: concentrating light

Aim:  The aim of this exercise is to create a shot that uses concentrated lighting and also to construct a snoot as a method of concentrating that light.

Approach and results:

I wanted to create a simple still life for this shot.  I had been framing some prints so I decided to use this as the inspiration.  The pencil, cutter and scissors were all orange and this strong orange presence was ideal for highlighting with a concentrated light source.
I created the snoot from a cardboard tube.  In the first instance this was too defined.  It created a definate circle of light over the subject with an obvious edge.  I wanted a softer edge so I taped a piece of tissue over the end.  This was too soft and diffuse, evening up the scene.  I then went from 2 ply to 1 ply and this gave me the result I was looking for.
I lit the subject from fairly high up aiming down at a slight angle.  I chose this to keep any obvious and unwanted shadows to a minimum.  Using a reflector to remove shadows would have spread the light across the scene.  I like the way the light tails off towards the background, giving a hint of the finished framed print leaning against the wall.

Learning points:

When concentrating the light the subject needs to be central unless there is a particular reason to deliberately offset the light, otherwise it just looks careless.  It took a number of attempts to get this shot, slightly repositioning the light each time.
Snoots can create harsh edges so it is useful having something to diffuse the light slightly.
Concentrating the light can emphasize and focus on any element of the shot and can produce very dramatic or moody images.  This shot would look completely different without the concentrated lighting.  The lighting has emphasized the composition.  

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Light: Project - Available light

Exercise: outdoors at night.

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light.

Approach and results:

For this exercise I had a number of places and buildings in mind.  Setting up the camera for the different types of shot was important.  Despite being all night shots, the desired results needed particular settings.  Tripod mounted shots did not need a high ISO whereas handheld and long focal length  invariably did unless it was very bright. I used centre or spot metering for specific subjects like buildings and evaluative for the more general shots where the whole scene was important.  A camera does not recognise when you want atmosphere so it was necessary to compensate for some of the overly bright images in order to get the end result.

I tried a number of times to get an indoor shot of a large space with lots of people but this restricts you to shopping centres and the security was rather sharp.  I'll try again sometime with a smaller camera.

This first shot is of the top of a local office building called the pyramid.  I wanted to isolate the building from it's surroundings so I waited for a clear night with no cloud cover or light pollution.  I used tungsten WB to keep the colours cool.  The green especially would turn more yellow with daylight balance.

I sec ISO200 tripod
The following two identical shots of the Pantheon in Paris show the difference between black & white and colour.  The black & white has much more even tones as there is no difference in the lighting whereas the colour shot shows the yellow from the street lamps lighting the lower part of the building, the white floodlight lighting the roof and dome and the blue/white light of the moon.  I like the colour contrast of the artificial lighting against the moonlight which is lost in the B&W shot.

I/8 sec ISO800 handheld

I/8 sec ISO800 handheld
The main aim for this next shot was to ensure I exposed for the lights and not the building.  Neon lights like these are easily overexposed.  Because of the close crop there was enough light to hand hold at a reasonably low ISO.

I/125 sec ISO400 handheld
This shot is of Vidal Sasson after it closed (I didn't want any people in it).  I took it because of the arrangement of the bottles in the window.  It reminds me of a Damien Hurst installation that I saw many years ago that was the interior of a chemist shop with lots of white bottles lined up; an almost clinical quality.  The lights are quite dim as some of the shop lighting had been turned off so I had to use a high ISO.  I also used tungsten balanced WB to keep things as white as possible.

I/50 sec ISO1600 handheld
This shot was split toned (red/green) in Photoshop. There was already a significant difference between the foreground and the background so I used the split tone to accentuate this.  The red table and chairs were lit by a bright red outdoor heater.

I/30 sec ISO400 handheld
  For this shot I wanted to keep a large area of darkness.  The metering on the camera always wanted to brighten the whole scene up so I used exposure compensation.  I originally took this in black and white but I like the colour as much; the darkness leading into the light and the stairs taking the viewer up to the restaurant sign.

I/45 sec ISO800 handheld
One issue with night lighting is flare but in the right place it can be very effective.  In this shot the flare from the streetlamps makes them look like a pair of drop earings.  Again there is a lot of black in this picture but this was necessary to stop the clock face from blowing out.  I could have increased the dynamic range or used photoshop to bring out the rest of the picture but I prefer the mood the darkness creates.

I/45 sec ISO200 handheld
These next two shots are long exposures taken from a motorway bridge.  I took a range of shots from different positions and at different shutter speeds.  Over 10 seconds gave continuous streaks of light but it's dependant on the speed of the traffic.  Motorways are obvious choices for this kind of shot but I think city centre night shots are far more interesting.

13 secs ISO200 tripod

I0 secs ISO200 tripod
The following two shots show the difference between a one sec and a 10 sec exposure taken from a moving car.  I tripod mounted the camera on the passenger seat and used a cable release to take the shots.  The dashboard was never going to stay sharp with the long exposures but I wanted it in the shot as it gives more of an idea of the exposure and lets the viewer know that it is the camera that is moving.  The ten second shot was taken on the motorway.  I enjoyed creating these shots as there was an unexpected element.  I stopped every now and then to check what I'd got and adjust the camera settings.  I got a lot of interesting shots of which these are only two.  Driving past a zebra crossing is interesting; have you noticed that the poles on belisha beacons light up these days?
I sec ISO200 tripod

I0 sec ISO200 tripod
These final two shots were taken under the floodlit conditions of the greyhound stadium.  Despite being bright, I still used a higher ISO because of the focal length of both shots.  The first shot was taken across the track and the second was taken from the grandstand through glass.  There are no refections because they dim the lights when a race is underway.
I/80 sec ISO800 handheld

I/100 sec ISO800 handheld
Learning points:
Night photography is very wide ranging with quite different techniques needed for different shots; moving and static subjects, dim or brightly lit and different colour temperatures.
When it came to white balance I would quite often use what I prefered for mood rather than accuracy.  The photographer creates the image and this is just another weapon in the photographers arsenal.  Daylight balance was invariably too warm but there are a wealth of different types of artificial lighting these days and more and more of them have a more natural balance.  The AWB on my new camera is far more accurate than on my old camera and I found that I could rely on it far more.
Cameras are far better at dealing with high ISOs these days and I found I could shoot most scenes handheld unless deliberate streaks were the desired outcome.  If noise becomes an issue then shooting in B&W and presenting it as grain is also an option.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Light: Project - Available light - tungsten and fluorescent lighting

Exercise: tungsten and fluorescent lighting

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to compare the different qualities and limitations of tungsten and fluorescent lighting.

Approach and results:

Part 1 - Tungsten.  The first part of this exercise involves taking a series of meter readings to see how bright the conditions are under tungsten lighting.  I used the living room at dusk and using the evaluative metering at ISO200 I recorded 1/125sec near the light source and 2" in the darkest corner.  Taking this further I used the spot meter on the light bulb to get 1/1250 and in the darkest part of the darkest corner I got 8".  Using the spot meter showed the extremes but is not very useful, however I was curious!  What it does highlight is that the light is much weaker than daylight.

I then set up a still life shot that had tungsten light and fading daylight in the shot and took three exposures.  The first uses Auto WB, the second tungsten balanced and the third is daylight balanced.  The first two shots are similar whilst the third shot is much cooler.  Te auto white balance has obviously chosen a tungsten value, which probably means that this was the more dominant light source.  The daylight balanced shot shows how much cooler tungsten light is compared to daylight.

Auto WB

Tungsten WB

Daylight WB

Part 2 - For this part of the exercise I needed two different interiors lit by flourescent lamps.  I chose a shopping centre and a theatre cafe as my two venues.  The aim was to take the same scene with auto and flourescent WB settings and compare the outcome.

The first two images were taken in the shopping centre on a small pocket camera (as photos are not permitted).  The first shot is the auto WB and the second is the flourescent.  The auto setting handled the situation better than the flourescent setting which surprises me.  There is a pink cast on the second shot.  I think the main issue is finding somewhere that is purely flourescent lighting.  There was a mixture of artificial lighting here, and in all the other places I visited.  The different shops, the cafe I was in and the shopping centre itself have different lighting.

Auto white balance

Flourescent white balance

The next three shots were taken in the theatre cafe on an SLR.  The first shot is the auto WB and the next two are different flourescent sttings.  A different camera and a different setting but similar results.  I prefer the auto WB result.  Again there was a mixture of lighting and also possibly some daylight.

Auto white balance
Flourescent white balance

Flourescent white balance

Learning points;
Artificial light is generally much weaker than daylight.
Internal scenes often have a mixture of light that needs to be balanced.  Quite often a WB setting on a camera will be too specific, for example flourescent or tungsten.
In tricky scenes I usually use the manual kelvin scale to 'dial in' an accurate temperature.