Lecture: Jeff Morgan.

Today I attended an all day camera club lecture by professional commercial photographer Jeff Morgan. I don’t belong to a Camera Club but was invited to go along by friends.

The day was another revision of old ground but it was good to look at the work of a professional commercial photographer and hear him speak about may issues surrounding the practicalities of landscape photography and I came away with some useful tips and things to consider that I won’t mention here because it isn’t relevant to this module.
There was much work I admired though and in the mix of the work spoken about there was HDR.
HDR is a method for taking multiple exposures to then merge and render a ‘good’ exposure from otherwise difficult lighting situations.
It got me thinking about HDR.  I have never dabbled with multiple exposures as I haven’t, up until fairly recently, had the software to achieve HDR work. I have learnt to work around difficult lighting in one frame through the best exposure I can achieve and some light dodge and burning in Lightroom that has often left an atmospheric image that is quite unique to me (well, within my peers) and more inspired by early film.
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This is far from a criticism of Jeff Morgans work but a recognition in the realisation of my own personal preferences.
I don’t like HDR. The need for detail in every corner of a dark room at the expense of atmosphere is just not for me.  This, to my mind, isn’t a natural solution to challenging situations. Sure it has it’s place and if a brief requires an outcome that can only be achieved by HDR then so be it and on that basis I guess it is a useful tool.
I have, however, seen some wonderful landscape images in the past that turned out to be HDR. I have come to the conclusion that there is HDR and …..HDR. I believe the unofficial terminology for HDR evident work is ‘overcooked’ and whilst it’s harsh terminology I am inclined to agree.  HDR work that looks natural to the point an image could pass as a single frame is where it is at for me.  I fully appreciate this is a mere personal opinion and an opinion that would cause heated debate on any forum. But …….
My conclusion:
I love shadow and I’ll happily lose some detail in favour of atmosphere.
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Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. Taken last week.
 

Creative portraiture inspiration.

I have just discovered  Blur magazine.  There is some really inspiring work in the mix.  This is really a list for me to refer back to as a library. I haven’t yet subscribed but a friend had shared posts on Facebook and as a result I have been able to visit the individual websites.

An example of strong use of hard light and colour using landscape and portraiture
Raffa,E. (2014). Portfoilio. Available: http://www.eliseraffa.com. Last accessed 13/03/2014.
A collection of portraits:
Ellis,M. (2014). Portfoilio. Available: http://www.excelphotography.com.au. Last accessed 13/03/2014.
Creative portraiture:
Kanevenska, M. (2012). Gallery 1. Available: http://www.mariakanevskaya.com/gallery1#0. Last accessed 13/03/2014.

John Myers exhibition in Dublin – Middle England

Flat Lighting.

I was fortunate to discover a John Myers exhibition on in Dublin last weekend.  His work is widely available to see online but it is so refreshing to see prints!

Anyway, having not had chance to pre read prior to the visit I was left to draw my own conclusions.  When I returned home I found this link where John Myers  explains the exhibition and brings something interesting to the table.  At first it is easy to dismiss the images as bland, flat and uninteresting but that is the point.

The exhibition explores images taken in the mid 1970’s (when I was born) that were never meant for exhibition and were taken for the sheer enjoyment and personal exploration while he  skills as a new  photographer.  This freedom in itself is the key to indulging and risk taking as a new photographer in my opinion.

Every image made use of flat lighting and I was curious as to why. The whole point of the exhibition was about normal people in suburbia coming to terms with living that life in amongst bland concrete and 1970’s fabrics!  (I felt it was a shame all the images were in black and white.)

I had my Mum, Aunt and younger cousin with me. It was very interesting to see their reaction to the images being that they are not photographers.  They were unsure as to why the John Myers took images of what he did but they were so glad he did.  It was a time that my mum, aunt and I remembered but my cousin didn’t. It stimulated conversations and memories of an era that seemed so modern at the time but now none of us are sure how we survived.

This was a remarkable collection of the unremarkable where you realise that every apparent snap is actually a carefully considered frame.

Getting back to lighting this exhibition was proof enough to me that flat lighting has it’s place as a creative tool.

John Myers lecture for this exhibition can be seen here.

Considering the night sky.

In the course notes something is made of making sure the the sky isn’t so dark  that the definition of a building line is lost.

I did see the sense in that train of thought but I did feel sure that I had seen plenty of night sky images where the sky was darker then the course notes suggested it should be.
In this months British Journal of Photography were two images that demonstrate buildings against a very dark night sky and one more image that is illuminated by the moon.
In the first image on page 12, Ahmed Mater has captured a city skyline against a very dark sky. Because all the buildings are illuminated sufficiently to highlight the building line, it matters not that the sky is so dark.
Unfortunately I am unable to find the image online to link to.
In the next image on page 24 John Stanmeyer has photographed people silhouetted against a night sky. This time it is important that the sky is illuminated somewhat as the outline of the people, who are not illuminated in anyway, would have been completely lost.
This image can be seen on BJP online:
References:
Unknown. (2014). Houston FotoFest. British Journal of Photography. n/a (n/a), 12 & 24.

Research: Lighting for portraiture – David Bailey.

Featuring in this months British Journal of Photography is portraiture by David Bailey.  Portraiture is not something I have ever really tackled in a studio and certainly not as a posed  genre.  By the time I have worked through the subject of photographic lighting I would like to think that I can begin to dabble a little with posed work.

Certainly I am not into ‘pretty’ fashion portraiture as a general rule and my eye wanders to ruddier complexions.  On page 40 of BJP is a close up of Man Ray (1968).  It is a classic example of what catches my eye.  Page 41 there is also an image of Damon Albarn (2007). Again the lighting casts harsh shadows that helps to create atmosphere….or to bring out personality.
The image of Man Ray can also be seen on page 2 of this link:
Last accessed:07/03/2014
The image of Damon Albarn can also be seen here on this link:
Another notable portrait using harsh shadow but with a female model (p.41) is of Jane Birkin 1969.
The portrait can be viewed here.
What I have learnt from David Bailey is that harsh shadow can be your friend in creating portraiture that packs a punch.  As I write this I am remembering another documentary portrait of the potter I work with.  The image was genuinely captured while he was working:
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The image was taken with a Nikon V1. I am realising that I do ‘see’ lighting for portraiture but it is an intuitive ‘thing’ rather then a planned ‘thing’.  I now need to go back and see if I can make a transition to planned portraiture.  I just get so self conscious when I have people watching what I am doing!!
Reference:
Hamilton, P. (2014). David Bailey. British Journal of Photography. n/a (n/a), 44-55.

Putting down the books – Part 3.

I’m not posting all the self portrait photographs I tried. It would just be too much information for the public domain.  They are also deleted. I though I’d give it a whirl as I don’t really ‘do’ posed portraits. Here I used high continuous lighting as close to the side of the camera as I could with a diffuser placed between me and the lights.  I know this can be the most flattering lighting. I am off an age where I need all the help I can get now! I forgot to use exposure compensation so the whites are very grey. Oh and out of focus! Sigh.

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