Getting out and photographing

24 02 2010

You will have noticed that I am living up to the sub-title of this site by posting occasional blogs instead of daily ones. Some of this has been down to my job being far too busy for me to get out as much as I can and some of it is down to lacking inspiration.

Last weekend, I decided to visit a good friend of mine who has moved down to Newcastle and as he is also interested in photography we agreed to spend the Saturday taking photographs around the North-East before retiring to the pleasant hostelries of Newcastle City Centre. My friend is even less inspired at the moment with his last photograph being a rather nice shot of the Millennium Bridge using his iPhone so for both of us it was a chance to reinvigorate our photography.

The day started with a trip to the Anthony Gormley statue “The Angel of the North”. This is a popular sight for photographers and tourists alike so it’s difficult to either get a shot which hasn’t been taken before or one that isn’t being spoiled by visitors. The first lesson of the day was to work with tourists visiting the site rather than waiting patiently for them to move out of shot (you would be there all day!). The statue is extremely well known and the size of it is easy to picture, much in the way that you don’t need references of the Statue of Liberty to know it is huge. However, this shot was one of my favourites of the day as the use of the two tourists gives context to the size of the statue and then angle and contrast between the blue sky and the red of the statue makes the photograph ping.

We then moved on to a little known spot called the Penshaw Monument which sits on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere (apologies to the good people of Penshaw) but has a stunning view over the hills. Its similar in style to the acropolis or Edinburgh’s Ruin but a little smaller. This was one of those locations where people wandering around the location did take something away form the photograph. So lesson number two of the day was to find interesting angles where the other visitors were hidden from site. I think a success of a photograph is when non-photographers tell you technical information about why they like the image – in this case a friend of mine who is in no way artistic likes this image because the stairs draw the eye towards the main image of the monument – they could almost be using the language of the judges at EPS!

The final image of the day I want to showcase is the final shots of the night at the Millennium Bridge which sits opposite the stage and in front of the equally famous Tyne Bridge. This futuristic looking bridge benefits  from lights that transition through different colours so you can take the same short from the same angle and get different interpretations depending on the colour that is being displayed at the time. However, the really cool thing about this bridge is that for about half an hour every day the walkway is raised to reveal lighting underneath it. We didn’t plan to be there at the time the walkway was raised but just by chance happened to time it perfectly. This is my favourite shot of the day and one that I will be proud of for a very long time. Shortly after taking it, I had a minor panic as every shot I was taking seemed to be out of focus and blurred, it was only after about a minute that I realised the walkway was slowly being lowered and the 8 second exposures  were catching movement of the bridge!

By the end of the day we were both really happy with the images captured on the day and I certainly am back in the groove to be getting out and taking photographs. The overall lesson of the day is when you are lacking inspiration,, get out and go somewhere different and the opportunities will present themselves to you.


Strobist Inspiration

17 02 2010

I am a member of Edinburgh Photographic Society and in all honesty it is primarily for the access to the excellent studio facilities that are available. I joined the Digital Group, a couple of years ago hoping to pick up some tips that I could use in my own photography, however, the level the sessions were being pitched at didn’t really add to my personal tool-kit.

Yesterday evening the value of the society has been boosted immensely with the first meeting of the Portraiture and Studio Group. There is already a Beginners Studio Class in the syllabus, however, a number of members have come together to try to discuss and practice more advanced elements of portrait photography. The first session was run by Janek Mann, a photographer I have been aware of for some time as we have both used the same models in Edinburgh. The session was on the topic of Strobism, which is using off-camera flash guns to create similar effects to those you would see in a studio but with the flexibility of them being very portable.

As you will see from Janek’s website, his portraiture is stunning and the passion he spoke during the evening has inspired me to get out of the studio and purchase some very cheap strobes and radio triggers. I have a shoot arranged for the 7 March with a friend of mine in a great location in the north of Fife which will possibly be my  first proper strobist shoot. That said, I would be more than willing to set up shoots before then if anyone is willing to let me practice on them – I’d be happy to offer the same deal for my studio work, you or your family agree to model for me and I’ll let you have edited images that you can get printed anywhere.

Has anyone else been inspired by a photographer to make a change in direction of your photography?

Ordinary people

1 02 2010

Most of my studio work is usually done with aspiring models who advertise themselves on sites such as Purestorm or Model Mayhem. This is good in many ways as they are usually able to pose themselves and the direction is quite easy. However, I do like to challenge myself work with people who have no intention to be a model and just want some beautiful photographs of themselves.

Saturday was one of those days where I took up the challenge due to being let down by one of the ‘professional’ models from one of the aforementioned sites. I had been talking to this girl for a while and she wanted some photos to give her back some self-esteem as she has a bad self image of her body. I think the results capture something special in her and I would appreciate your comments. It’s good sometimes to be a bit of a Gok Wan and hopefully give someone a little boost with my photography