Nick Palliser: 2am

The Image

Nick Palliser

Salisbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Time / Date:
00:38 / October, 5th, 2013

The Technical

Camera Body: Fuji X-Pro1
Lens: Fuji 35mm f/1.4

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: 1/60s
Aperture: f/2.5
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 35mm

The Story


I have been a professional photographer for many years now. I lived in the United States for 12 years but moved back to my homeland, the United Kingdom, about 4 years ago.

Having returned to the U.K. after many years overseas it was a rediscovery of my home country.

As a photographer I am interested in light/shadow, but also in human behaviour and social interaction. The UK has many late night take away restaurants that fuel the after pub/club crowd and serve as a social melting pot.
I wanted to shoot a project that looked at these take aways (in a defined and purposeful way of shooting/framing) and explored the diversity of customers and their behaviour. Also, it appeared, no matter the weather (this shot was in November) style takes place over comfort.

The Scene: 

The contrast of shadow to light at night excites me as a photographer, and also these take aways are spread out thus creating an almost natural dark framing to themselves within the darkness of the night itself. This image, as all in series, was taken in a pure documentary way. That is voyeuristically not eliciting subject contact. Although you can see in this image the man in the bottom left corner has seen me.


I found the Fuji cameras perfect for such a series. Their small size, discrete actions and great dynamic range/high ISO character made the series possible (whereas a dSLR would have been much less discrete and harder to work in this way).

Making the Shot:

When shooting such documentary projects I like to be fluid. I spend hours wandering miles, both to become accustomed to my surroundings and as alert as can be. Shooting in this considered way of framing did entail more issues than normal as a certain angle and distance was required, but the same criteria applied. I was patient, wandered in a small area (keeping my eye on potential subjects entering the shop) and when I saw the good composition come together I positioned myself for the shot. I shoot digitally as I did with film and try and get as much as possible right before pressing the shutter and never fire rapid shots. Timing the shot so the door framed the girls, the girls being perfect subjects in their dress (for the time of year) and indeed the peering man element was perfect.

Editing & Processing:

With editing I try and avoid anything but that which would be done in the darkroom with film (with documentary anyway). I processed the image in Adobe Lightroom with simple adjustments to make sure the image had a good punch and contrast to it, POP as I call it.

Looking Back:

I chose this image for the final edit as all the elements I was trying to achieve came together perfectly. Framing of the take away shop, the subjects and the light/shadow. To me it communicates the project I was working on and has the added benefit as working as a stand alone image also.


My best advice, and that which I give my students (I teach courses at University also) is to know your camera inside out. The camera is simply a tool to record our vision. Knowing our tools allows us to concentrate on our art and not the technology, this will allow for greater vision and breadth in our work.


Challenges! I tend to see or think of an idea then work to see if it is valid. That is would the project work. Then I research, research and more research. By knowing my subject (whatever or whomever it may be) makes the actual shooting immeasurably easier. At the end of the day “I” need to enjoy what I do, then, I trust, others will enjoy it also. The day I don’t feel challenged or enjoy my work anymore is the day I stop.


About the Photographer

I started by learning to develop my own 35mm film in my teens. After working many years in the diving/mini-sub arena I went pro as a photographer. I have lived/worked all over the world (most of my adult life). I am constantly curious about this planet and it’s inhabitants, especially behaviour and social interaction.

Twitter: @DraigPhoto
Official Fuji X Photographer:

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