Impromptu is often the best. A beautiful summer evening. 23 degrees at 8pm. No
kids obligations. We get a bag of chips and have dinner at the beach.
A walk across the ripples. The sun is beginning to set. We pass through the shadow of the big chimneys. All I have is my camera phone. What I get is this.
Impromptu is good.
What do you think about radical crops?
That picture obviously didn’t start out like this. But I think it is visually much more interesting like this. (Would I say the same if it contained my favourite movie boyfriend in it? Um. Hm.)
Is less more? Or is extreme cropping bad?
More portraiture, again from the 1920s shoot with Locks and Lashes.
I tried a different antique-ing approach here – sepia. Certainly works better for portfolio purposes – at least we get an idea of what the make-up looks like.
And you live and learn, on every single shoot. The set-up here was determined by the space that I had available for shooting, i.e. the backroom of Locks and Lashes’ premises. The space there is about 2 x 3.5 metres. No natural light, some tungsten bulbs. And more or less bare walls. We covered those up with some net curtain – which leaves a nice textured background here to the image. However, not that ideal for the purposes of the portfolio – the frilly curtain design kind of meshes up with the hair. Where do the curls end and the background drapes start? I guess we’ll be back to neutral backdrops next time ’round.
Another weekend, another shoot for Locks and Lashes. Sonja is all set, grabs her remote release, her speedlite, the portable soft-box, a tripod and off she goes through the rain. She is enthusiastically greeted at the door of the shooting venue. “Can we shoot outside, you think? Has the rain stopped?” It has. And Sonja is delighted because shooting outside, under clouded available light is muuuuuch easier than in the confined impromptu studio with flash. Five models, one era. We were doing the 1940s on Sunday, and a variety of looks including the 1940s bride, the Marilyn, the relaxed (house) wife, the society lady – and some “casual-sophisticated a la 1940s”.
Those are my monikers, no guarantee that that is what those different looks really meant to convey. Here is the latter:
The fabulous Kat Moiselle
The last in a quick series of shots outside. The freshly painted exterior of a house in the neighbourhood provided a lovely background, with the doorway framing model Kat Moiselle nicely. The demure pose in the authentic garb fits the vintage look very well, I think. Where is Mademoiselle Moiselle off to, one wonders?
Within a range of 100 steps we shot on three different locations, all outside, all with available light, much to my *de*light. Dublin is brilliant that way – just go outside, and you have photo locations galore. That is when the weather plays ball.
Luckily it did – for all of the three-hour session. Upon return to the base, I discovered that I had forgotten an essential part for the studio set-up. Duh. Thank goodness for my clients’ suggestion we shoot this outdoors. Otherwise I’d have been f…
Let’s take a break in the whole portraiture series. I’ve experimented with music photography on and off. Music *was* my first love, so all the better when I can combine that with my current first love, photography. While I have altogether given up taking marky Mark to concerts and festivals any more – I’d rather see the event through my eyes rather than through the lens – I did not hesitate to go out and shoot at a concert that a good friend of mine was playing last month. The Choir Invisible are a Dublin-based band and I was at their gig in The Workmen’s Club to try and capture some impression.
Now, shooting in clubs is ridiculously hard (I think). You are dealing with a dimly lit which requires either strong flash or high ISO. Strong flash irritates musicians and audience. High ISO inevitably results in grainy, fuzzy imagery. Hmph. But what else can you do? Open up the aperture, shoot slow at 1/30 s and pray that the band doesn’t move around too much. As per usual, I was unenamoured with my band shots.
Maybe I am too hard on myself, I’ll show them another time. My favourite instead is a technically faulty shot that I personally find quite nice.
Yup, shot so slow that the movement of the guitarist results in multiple exposure on the sensor.
Well, it’s all deliberate, I will claim.
The rest is silence.
PS: The Choir boys are playing Whelan’s this weekend, May 30th, 2014, supporting Carriages. Check them out!
Bear with me. There’s a number of portraiture shots coming up over the next weeks. There was just too much going on with Locks and Lashes recently *ggg*. They keep me shooting – which is great, btw.
I have always been fascinated by the Hollywood Glamour style of photography. The use of light – or rather shade! – is just so dramatic, and makes the sitters look good in any case. I came across the “inventor” of Hollywood Glamour photography when I was researching for one of my college projects. George Hurrell actually had pretensions of becoming a painter. He initially started photographing as an aide for his painting. Or rather, to document his paintings. Gradually, however, he got into photography, takeing pictures of other artists’ paintings and eventually discovering that he could actually earn money with photography. Hurrell revolutionised portrait photography and famously declared that it was not about where the light was, but where the shadows are.
He also invented possible the boom light. An obvious idea for a photographer to have – easily movable lights that can illuminate the sitter from above, drowning out lines and wrinkles, creating what we nowadays call beauty light. Not only did Hurrell perfect the lighting techniques he pioneered, according to a website I found, he was also a master of retouching. I could go on and on here with more examples of his fascinating work. The photographs are just stunning. And while I am neither a fan of Hollywood nor of beauty as such, this footnote in photographic history utterly transfixes me.
Not that I come close to his work, but it’s certainly an inspiration, and it is fun to play with light and shadow. Here is my take on it:
Light is too soft for Hurrell – and it’s a colour image, too, but I like the shadows drowning the image to the right. It pays to look at the old masters, in any case.
The recent post on Locks and Lashes’ Facebook page has finally shocked me into action again.
So much for all my good intentions and New Year’s resolutions of posting more regularly. It’s not that I haven’t been photographing. I have. And I like the stuff that I produce. I am actually more annoyed with some technical blogging snags that keep me from posting more regularly. But well.
Last month, in any case, I was called out to shoot for Locks and Lashes. They were doing 1920s themed make-overs for their own portfolio, and I was thrilled to be shooting for them. Again. I previously had done a first trial shoot which I wrote about here. And in March they booked me for a shoot of a make-over which I haven’t even written about yet.
Doing a 1920s themed shoot gave me a bit of scope to play in Photoshop. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not particularly keen on postproduction work. With this, it was actually fun, because model Chloe in 1920s garb, make-up and hair really looked straight out of a Man Ray shot.
You know which one I am thinking about. So add a bit of overexposure, and out comes this:
Maybe I should have added a few scratches and stains to the image to make it look even older? But that would not help my clients, who want this in their portfolio. In any case, for once an instance where I enjoyed playing around with effects.
I was tempted to title this post “Shitty day just got shittier”, but in the interest of the high standard of this blog (…) and in view of the fact that it doesn’t look good to come back to the blog after a couple of months’ absence with that kind of profanity, I’ll keep it clean. Fact remains though – I am deeply disappointed and annoyed. More with myself than with the actual shitty product I have received today. The lessons to be learnt from my experience are as usual self-referential.
You see, I had had the brilliant idea of making a few photo calendars. I owed a few people who have been helping me with a project. Since they are not based in Ireland, I wanted a personal gift that could be easily shipped. Photo calendars. Bingo. 13 landscapes of Ireland on my hard drive, quick upload onto the website of an online printer, bam bam bam and out. It literally took me five minutes to do, including research for a discount code. Nonetheless I paid 72 Euro for five desk calendars.
And here they are, looking shitty. What the…? What was I thinking when I made these? Apart from the quality of the calendar (images are grainy, design template of the calendar is crap), how the hell did I not see in a preview how bad this looked? Right, it is my fault that I forgot to put a title in – the usual snazzy “Ireland 2014 – 2015. But those landscapes look lost on the page, and the black frame around them looks like a condolence card decoration, and the monthly calendar bit looks cheaply designed. Those images are massively big files (4000×2666) – how canthey come out grainy? Dafuq??????????
Moral: Don’t do things in a hurry. I should’ve looked at this closer.
Moral 2: Not using that particular printer again. (Name on application).
That’s 72 Euro straight into the bin. Arrrrrrrgh.
One of the big challenges of studio shoots is the distinct lack of context. There are no circumstantial or environmental references available for the sitter – the scene has been deliberately emptied of all outside distraction in order to focus entirely on the face of the subject. Pros are able to deal with that, and know how to provide the photographer with facial expressions. Amateurs, however, often appear like deer in headlight – thrown into an artificial situation with the spotlight trained on them, literally. Well, not so my friend M___ who has sat for me several times for various projects. She is an absolute natural –
almost all of her shots come out great. She has that “something” that makes people photogenic – and she is just great at letting go and simply fooling around in front of the camera.
The downside of that is that I have huge problems with the editing. I simply cannot decide which images to post-produce. I like them
almost all. Invariably, with M___ as my sitter, I end up with far too many good shots. Which means I have to spend a long time adjusting them all… What a complaint to have… No, it is obviously a joy to shoot with someone like that. Hope there will be many more!
Yesterday I was shooting in difficult conditions. I had been asked to take action shots of a soccer team. Indoors! They wanted shots of the players in action, i.e. kicking the ball. That demands a fast shutter speed, a fast lens and lots of light. The shutter speed I could do – but the shoot was at 8 am! So bad lighting. I had no other option but to crank up the ISO. Grain City! But with my fast shutter speed I still had to shoot at f4 – far too low an f-stop when you are trying to focus on a moving subject. Hmph.
So it is so surprise that my favourite shots were the group images I took (where the players were standing still), and something entirely unwanted…
Greetings from Piet Mondrian. I didn’t compose this image *at all*. It just happened. But strangely it turned out to be interesting how the lines criss-cross the image and create a pleasing overall composition. Well, at least in my opinion.
The power of coincidence. This happening to me quite often. It happened when I was shooting blindly into the crowd at the red carpet in Berlin and ended up with a couple of great shots that turned out to be more evocative of the whole scenario than the actual celebrity shots. Is there a lesson to be drawn from this? To stop composing and to just blindly aim nowhere and wait what comes out? Maybe only as enhancing bonus shots, but not as the general strategy, I suppose. Still, I’m glad I got this one…