It’s in the nature of what I do that many assignments come at short notice. Yesterday lunchtime I was asked to photography my daughters for a promotional image for the dance company they work so hard for. My pleasure. But what to do?
What do we have to work with: it’s sunny, we are blessed with a large garden but it’s a bit cluttered (trampolines, sheds, swings, nets etc), we also have access to our neighbour’s garden which is a lot greener (but quite narrow). Thankfully it’s half-day at Secondary school and the girls are in fine form and have matching dresses.
So we’ll work out the garden thing but the sun is the first challenge. Nice and bright but we need to make sure we deal with the contrast between the direct sun and the shadows. There’s no real shade at this time of the year so we need to plan to shoot in full sun. Personally I generally shoot into the sun or at a slight angle so that my subject is in reasonably even shadow and we might get a bright rim light.
Fine but now there’s a stop (or more) between my subject and the background. You have two options: expose for the shadow and blow the background by overexposing it; or get some additional light into the subject using a reflector or an artificial light source. I want my background so it’s going to be the second option. I’m a big fan of the reflector but I don’t have one big enough to light a full length shot and no time to find something to improvise. On site I’d normally use on-camera flash to fill in here but I have a little more time and enough kit at home to try something else: off camera flash to one side. This gives me the option to get more dramatic lighting (since it’s a dance pose).
When we get to the bottom of the garden there’s actually some lovely dappled shade at the bottom of the garden from the bare trees. Two bonuses here: the back-lighting is now way more interesting and textured; it’s also somewhat diffused so there’s slightly less contrast between the sun and the shade. Result.
As it happens my first few test shots show that the camera’s exposure is pretty much bang on so we work away.
Some lovely stuff in there and hopefully we’ll be seeing them around Cork very soon ahead of the show in May.
Daughter Number One has been on at me since Christmas for some nice shots of her dancing to balance out the swimming pics on her wall. So as well as the duets for Tina we do a few of her on her own. I’m sure Other Daughter will want some now too when she sees these…
It’s been quiet on the blog – lots going on in the Gallery but January is traditionally when I get time for a few personal projects that help me think about how (and why) I work.
So look out for more here about that but in the meantime here’s a clue to something which I hope to start today. Looks like it’s brightening up a bit so it might actually come off as planned.
This motley crew of camera are all lined up and ready to go. You might recognise a few relics here but let me assure you that they are all fully functional and ready for action (well I’m hoping that they all step up when their time comes).
Sometimes I do get asked how many cameras I own (normally by someone else’s kids). I normally don’t count them all cos it’s embarassing how many of my film camera I’ve held on to (and I’ve a couple more than are in this photo).
The IR-converted D70 hasn’t been out for a while. Years in fact. The battery was so flat it had completely reset. It was one of my phases: the IR phase. Like the Fisheye phase I guess every photographer has these.
But over the last few years I’ve been focussed on my core skills as a portrait photographer and that’s all about traditional people skills and natural looking tones. I think classic portraiture endures whereas the latest trendy-faddy look will always date.
I’ve always been fond of the IR landscape look – those dramatic black skies! I just don’t shoot that many landscapes. And it hasn’t exactly been IR weather.
Today was better though and with a full day in the office in the offing I took 15 minutes out in the sun at lunchtime to see if the D70i still worked (it was a DIY job afterall). I decided to just go out there and shoot what I saw in a very familiar location. No real analysis, just image instinct.
I think it’s worth doing a bit more with the IR landscapes. You need to get the balance between the IR look and good composition. They are remarkable because of the IR thing but you need to use it to make a good image (and avoid the snowscape look). I just ned a few more sunny days and a little time to get out there!
To me there seemed to be a whole bag of stories relating to this bus, the people on it, the people who own and maintain it, where it’s been and what it’s doing outside St Mary’s on a Thursday morning.
And I’d love to know. And I’d love to photograph them.
But what came over me as I walked past the bus was a familiar old feeling of intrusion. It’s one I used to feel when I saw something like this on my holidays – I was fascinated, I knew there was a great story waiting to be told, I could even see some captivating photographs waiting to be taken, but I was inhibited by not wanting to intrude: I had no real right to pry for the sake of a good photograph.
My curiosity isn’t stronger than someone else’s privacy.
I thought that perhaps this would change now I do this for a living. I’m a full-time professional photographer now. But clearly for me that doesn’t give me the right to be nosey for a photograph no-one has asked me to take. Even if it will be fantastic.
Maybe it’s my English background. No doubt many other stunning photographs have been created without such qualms. Maybe the people concerned would have been more than happy to tell me their story and let me photograph them.
But the best thing about doing this professionally (for me) is that people ask you to photograph them and tell their story. It’s the asking that makes the difference.
So I shot this ‘from the hip’ without the people on the bus noticing and went about my own business. That probably says a lot about me but I’m OK with that.
I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Cork Craft Month at the Old Mill Kinsale last night. The Old Mill is the location of an exhibition entitled “Who Made This ?” – Cork Creates 2012 which showcases the work of 30 Cork-based craftspeople.
In June this year Cork Craft & Design Network invited me to photograph each of the selected craftspeople. I was expecting to be asked to photograph their work but this exhibition brings the story of each of the Makers into play and the curators wanted to feature them more strongly.
So I had a day of photographing 20-odd very interesting (if somewhat reluctant) people who are far more used to putting themselves into their work than on film.
I think it’s worked wonderfully for this exhibition and there was a lot of talk last night about the portraits and the link made to the Maker from the work and how it enhanced the relationship the viewer (and hopefully the purchaser) had with the work to know more about it’s precedence.
And nice to see my work on the wall next to so much wonderful Art.
The exhibition runs until the end of August in Kinsale and there are lots more more events going on as part of Cork Craft Month running into September