Category Archives: Portraits
I don’t take too many photos of people, but when I do I quite enjoy catching someone going about their business and in the natural state of not knowing that they are being photographed.
Sometimes people simply ‘feel’ that they are being watched though, and look around just as you’ve set up to take the shot – and that’s exactly what happened in this particular shot.
Jim Nix and I were a few hours into our day of shooting around London and we had dropped into the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I had never been there before and on this occasion just wanted to try and use it as a shortcut through to the side of the park that I wanted to be on. I took the opportunity, however, to have a brief look around – hoping to find a nice bit of architecture that may have remained unknown by the masses. Alas, nothing of that there, but while I was standing on an upper level I saw this woman sitting alone on the seats below and thought that her quiet contemplation would be a nice thing to grab a shot of.
I composed the image, and just as my two seconds countdown had done she looked straight up at me.
Friday at last, and what a long week this has been!
Here’s a quick shot of myself, or the hoodie character if you prefer, as I’m descending in a 1930′s lift. Looking at the shot through the eyes of tonemapping, tonal contrast and a few other filters it also appears to have not been cleaned since 1930.
I hope everyone has a great weekend lined up; mine will be pretty chilled – hopefully a bit of photography will be thrown in there. See you on Monday.
My lesson for today – don’t be scared to experiment and make mistakes.
This week a friend bought her first camera, a Canon EOS 550d. I had a little something to say in the matter, as I was given a budget and asked to assist, and this wonderful bit of kit is what we ended up choosing. A new dSLR can be daunting for someone who has never used one…I should know as a few years ago I was in the same boat. We started with the basics of Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO which is where I think most people should start.
By playing with these settings and seeing the results that they have in different light conditions and in working with each other you gain a greater understanding of what they do, and how one effects the other. This is what was happening yesterday when I took this photo, but it was my inexperienced friend who first took this shot and inspired me to repeat it.
We went to the British Museum to have a quick photo session and found ourselves, as is often the case when I visit here, at the viewing gallery which overlooks the great court. After being down in the darkened stairways and compensating for the lack of light using a slower shutter speed and a higher ISO, my friend failed to adjust for the sudden brightness that was available as part of the large open space and glass ceiling that was now in front of us. As such, the images taken from there were pretty over exposed.
However, looking down at the public from this height, the image taken, even though technically incorrect, looked awesome. A solitary figure in the middle of a vast amount of whiteness was quite compelling.
So I stole the idea and took my own shot with the same outcome in mind…though I admit my shot wasn’t as pure and did require editing in Photoshop afterwards. The lady in the shot was busy preparing herself for a photo that her friend was about to take of her.
This image is the result of experimentation. Sure, it may not have been me who was experimenting at this stage, but it reminded me how much can be learnt by playing around and making mistakes, and also how sometimes that one shot you love is created by this.
Don’t be afraid to go wrong.
Here’s a quick shot of myself and John, myself as a hoodie and John as a serial killer character which you may recognise from some shots earlier this year. We seem to like hanging around in old churches…perhaps we’re repenting over something.
I’m off out of London to visit friends this weekend, I hope everyone has a good one.
Something slightly different today, as instead of a single image I’m going to post up the ones I took on Saturday night at a gig at the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane. Hoochinoo showcase acts from the UK’s underground alternative hip hop and urban music scene – not my usual cup of tea, but with beer and the chance to break out the new speedlite it’s something I decided to leave the house for.
Well I say that this type of music isn’t my cup of tea, but I don’t see why not as all of the acts were actually really good, and Def D Fires were certainly one of the better, and certainly one of the most energetic, live acts I’ve seen in a while. All in all it was a good night out.
Oh, and in case you were wondering – that is indeed one of my beers in the image above and, no, it did not taste like it looks.
Canon 50mm 1.8
Samyang 8mm Fisheye
Canon 580EX II Speedlite
BlackRapid RS-4 Strap (yep…another outing with this strap, and yet another eyecup replacement needed)
Processed with PhotoTools 2.6 by OnOne Software
Last night I went on a quick photowalk with Think James Photo and Dfacer after work. It took us a while to get into our groove as none of us seemed to find anything inspiring to shoot during the first 20 minutes or so of the walk.
Hitting the Thames did the trick, and the usual spots along the Southbank seemed to spark the creative juices a little.
James managed to find an installation of some sort (it’s probably art) in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, one of which was a metal disc which spun around in place. After attempting a few shots of placing my camera on the disk and spinning it during the exposure, failing to capture myself in the shot due to ghosting, I had the rather brilliant idea of actually sitting on the disc myself to capture myself without the movement, and the lights spinning around me.
Voila, the above shot was born.
As promised yesterday, here’s a closer look at the serial killer character.
It’s hard when wearing a halloween mask to make it look like it’s anything but a mask, and I would love to be able to afford a proper silicone mask for these purposes but that’s not exactly feasible, and would require a lot more preparation than just slipping it on at an urbex location.
In this instance, therefore, I had to make do with photoshop and covering the areas of obvious skin as much as possible to make it look like the character was fully scarred and not obviously some guy in a toy mask.
Here’s a shot of the face before I processed it:
I know I could improve in many areas of photoshop, but I felt this one didn’t turn out too badly and it blends into the mask quite well. The problem will be doing this on a continual basis for this character, though as I imagine most shots will be using the mask to simply cover the face rather than to show details of the guy, it shouldn’t be too often that it needs to be done.
I would like to introduce you all to a serial killer. He moves from town to town, and works as a trash collector which is easy enough work to get wherever he is. The job allows him to buy a little food, find a place to sleep, and of course look for potential victims along the way.
If you’re an urbexer I think there will always come a time when you wish to play with props, and for a while now my photo buddy John has needed a mask. This one was small and lightweight so would easily fit into the camera bag, which is why he got it.
Over the next couple of days we’ll be taking a closer look at this character, firstly with a triptych of him taking down a victim, and secondly with a closer look at the mask itself.
I thought I would finish the week with a fun post, and chose to do so in the form of Darth Tater.
I’m enjoying having the doom, gloom and desperation of an urbex image, and the moody night time shots of London, closely followed by that of a potato in a Star Wars mask…the processing is different for each and I think it’s good to be able to keep it a little fresh.
I do really need to get out there and shoot something over this weekend though as I’m starting to look through my image folders and feel it’s getting harder to pick things out that I want to process – 90% of it seems to be an abandoned building or a rooftop and I think I want a little more variety than that.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
ETA – On my work PC I notice a slight halo around him; that’s obviously The Force!
It was only a matter of time before I would start creating my own lego minifigures after buying so many on eBay. As usual, I went a little overboard and bought all the various parts from FireStar Toys and, ahem, had one part shipped in from the US.
Okay, it could be worse, because I haven’t yet actually made my own custom pieces with decals and such – but with this one I’ve gone ahead and created my own character from existing parts that are available to buy; so meet my Lego Urbexer creation above. To my knowledge this is the only Lego Urbexer in the world. I could be wrong though – the world is quite big, and the Lego quite small.
So, we have a pair of jeans, a nice zip up hoodie, a beanie cap, a back pack and a torch. Wait…he could so easily just be a burglar! Better throw a camera in there to complete the look and make him look innocent. Phew!
This is his first urbex adventure and he’s loving it, climbing up scaffold to get a great view of the city.
Firstly, thanks for your kind comments on yesterdays post. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone I guess, and the little taste I had in shooting with lights and models has actually left me wanting to do more at some stage – it’s certainly very different to my usual stuff, but feel it would be very good to learn.
To try and put the shoots into perspective and answer a few of the queries received, the workshop was loosely based around selling images on iStockphoto.com. It lasted around 3 hours, and 15 of the attendees got to spend a short amount of time shooting the models. It started with the instructor explaining different aspects of lighting and setting things up, and then taking a few good/bad shots so you could see what we were trying to achieve, and how slight movements in you or the lights can dramatically change the image.
The first model was a solo man, above, and the 15 attendees who were able to go ahead and shoot (out of about 40 attendees) were to spend one minute taking shots as they desired, and working with the model to get a shot they wanted.
The workshop then discussed using other lights to assist in lighting up the shot, and introduced a second model and a second light to the room, bouncing off a back wall, to light up both models evenly. Again, the 15 attendees got another minute each to take shots.
In total, therefore, I had 2 one minute sessions with the models. Out of the 2 sessions I took a total of 20 shots, in between trying to work with the models and asking them to position themselves how I wanted them.
Out of the 20 shots, I have found only 2 that I wish to work with, which are the one from yesterday and the one above. Still, I’ve been on photo trips where I’ve only had 2 shots that I wanted to use after a few hours, so I feel that’s a pretty good return rate in this instance.
I’m not too sure what I was trying to achieve with the above shot, but as everyone who had gone before me (about 10 people) simply had the usual business poses, reading the paper, or the paper under the arm I certainly wanted to try and do something a little different from the normal shots that others had taken.
At the end of the workshop we had to sign a model release stating we were able to use the shots in our portfolios and place them online, but if we were trying to sell them we would have to do so via iStockphoto.com, which I have no issue with, but not sure I will actually go ahead and do so.
I do feel that I want to do more light work though, and wish I had a place big enough to actually set something up as I really enjoyed the end results of these two photos.
And now for something completely different…as they say.
This weekend I managed to get into four nice high places around London by night, and by day I went to the World Photography Festival which was being held in London this week. Though I had no intentions of going originally, and in fact didn’t know it was in town, I headed on down there on the Saturday to meet up with my buddy John. After stumping up the entry fee for a day pass I had a bit of time to spare before we met so headed into one of the lectures that was going on, and quite enjoyed it. I stayed for the next lecture, and very much enjoyed that one also, so by the end of the day I was happy enough to come back on the Sunday for another day of it all.
Sunday started with a workshop with Alexey Ivanov teaching us about lighting. It was pretty interesting, and there were techniques in use that were far beyond my understanding at this stage. However, one of the features of this workshop was that we got to spend a short amount of time working with a lighting setup and a model or two.
Now, I’ve never worked with studio lights before, it’s completely alien to me.
I’ve also never worked with models before, and my only knowledge of doing so was in the 15 minutes or so it took other people in the room to work with the models before my turn arrived. During that time the only thing I could think about was at least attempting to get poses that hadn’t been done already by those gone before me.
To add to the pressure, I only had 1 minute with these guys to get as many shots in as I wanted.
Scary introduction to working with models and lights, that’s for sure!