I guess it has been a while since I have updated this blog. I’ve still been taking photos but they have mainly been going up on my facebook page. There will be a lot more shoots in the near future so I’ll make sure I update the blog too. I’ll try to give a breakdown of some of my shots and show how I went about them.
The latest shoot was interesting. I was feeling a bit restless due to bad winter weather so I thought I’d organise a relaxed shoot with some of the people that I knew or had worked with before. One of the photographers knew of an abandoned building that we could use and we went from there.
The great thing about this location was that we had an amazing amount of space and we could pretty much do as we wanted. We did not have to worry about disturbing people making noise or leaving a mess. As can be seen from some of these shots there was a lot of grafitti and broken material lying around.
I thought I’d start by putting Bree in her new dress surrounded by a trashed office space. I’ve got a lot of respect for the models who were willing to go around amongst all the broken glass and sharp metal bits. We tried to make sure it was as safe as we could but you never know.
I tried to go for fairly natural lighting here and matching the ambient. There is a strobe firing through an umbrella tucked away in a room to the left and a bare strobe behind the model to the right. It created the effect of soft window light coming in even though they were several meters away.
So it has been a while since the last update, things have been busy yet quiet at the same time. I did manage to head out and do a couple of photo shoots recently. To the left is a shot of Amy at St Kilda beach. I like the wonky horizon and curious expression on her face. This was done with one flash and surprisingly easy once you balance the ambient light.
I have been to St Kilda beach a few times and always manage to find something new. It is a great part of Melbourne and full of character. I will be trying to get back there and work on some other projects.
A little while ago I went to a different beach in Melbourne, Brighton beach, and tried some slow exposure shots. They required a bit more patience but paid off just as well. Using some ND filters to allow for extra long exposures (20-30sec) the water became a smooth misty layer.
Working with a tripod and camera, good tunes playing and a gorgeous sunset is a pretty good way to spend an afternoon. This one worked better for me due to the lights on the horizon. There were many similar shots but this was the one with the clearest city lights. I need to get out and do more of these I think. Expect to see more landscapes and cityscapes in the next couple of months.
There are a projects that I am looking at in the near future, paid and personal that are exciting and should produce some great work. A lot of planning but should lead to great results.
I hope that everyone’s new year is shaping up to be better than the last and full of amazing possibilities.
Recently I had the chance to photograph a play being performed by the La Trobe University’s Theatre and Drama Program. It was partly as a favour to a friend but also to practice taking shots in less than optimal circumstances.
The performance great to watch, even for someone who doesn’t really go to theatre at all. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for putting on a great show, especially under some trying circumstances.
The shot on the right is an example of one of the challenges. This was lit entirely with one spot light. There was no way to get any detail in the background unless the face was extremely over exposed. The compromise was to have such heavy shadows. I took the shots at the final dress rehersal so that I would be able to get these sort of angles. I was standing on the front edge of the stage to get this shot.
The shot to the left was taken in the last half of the play as some of the storylines are coming together. Quite a few solid laughs in the scene.
It was a bit if a trade off to get a sharp picture and try for more depth of field. This shot was at f2.8 so the near and far players are slightly out of focus.
I was considering bringing along a tripod to get some more stability but am glad I didn’t. Going hand held for these shots allowed me to respond a lot better to what was happening on the stage. Essential as I had not seen the script or play before.
I compiled a slideshow of some of the shots from the play. You can watch it here.
I have also entered in the canon photo5 competition this year. Apart from the prizes the challenge is what has motivated me. The premise is that everyone is given the same 5 items and need to make compelling images featuring them. Once I have my entries in I will give more of an overview of how I captured them.
I’ve had the oppurtunity to be the photographer for a couple of friend’s weddings recently. They were both very easy going and enjoyable events to attend, and it was great to be able to document the occasion.
Terry and Coral’s wedding was a bit unusual that they had 2 seperate photographers, myself and Jess from GoreJess Photography. We had both known the couple for years and it was interesting to see another view on how to get some of the shots as well as knowing that other angles will be covered.
Overall they were thrilled with the variety of images we were able to capture from the day. More of the shots can bee seen here.
The other new thing from this wedding was trying haggis for the first time. It was tastier than I thought it would be and the ritual and procession was great to watch. Any meal that comes into the room under armed guard deserves attention.
The other wedding was for a friend from Uni. The recurring themes were ‘Red Vs Blue’ and LEGO. This was held at the artistic commune at Montsalvat. A great location and no wonder that a lot of weddings are held there.
The main challenge for this wedding was the light, or lack of it. The ceremony started at dusk and the reception was mainly candle lit.
For the formal portraits I brought along some lights and umbrellas and was able to get some shots that they loved. More from the wedding can be seen here.
Last weekend I was invited along to a have a few drinks and celebrate a friends birthday. He also asked me to bring the camera along and take some shots of his makeup. He decided to finally get around to doing his version of Chad’s stage make up from Mudvayne. Happy to oblige I went along with camera in tow.
Not wanting to be weighed down I just took my main body and a 50mm prime lens. A good choice as I would soon find out. I got some basic shots of friends and documented the night. I was originally planning on leaving the camera in one of the cars but didn’t feel safe doing so around Melbourne. Somewhat sad realisation but none the less a sound one.
So there I was in DV8 (a metal club in Melbourne) with a camera and plenty of space on the card. So what do I do I take some shots. In the middle of a dark club with wildly changing lighting setups and strobes, and me with no flash to control the exposure. The first couple were kind of ordinary until I realised that I can just treat it like ambient. I put it on f1.4 and let the camera work out the rest.
It is one of the many times when fortuitous mistakes can be your friend, I started to experiment. Long exposures, short exposures, high ISO, black & white and a fair bit of video.
Overall I found that shooting video with about -1ev compensation gave me the impression of being in a dark room without losing all detail when the lighting changed. Add to that the smoke machine and you get some cool effects.
Most of the clips were not that impressive to look at, the lighting was out of sync to the frame and the focus was all over the place. But a 30 second clip gave me 900 frames to choose from. If 899 are a complete waste I’m still coming out ahead.
From my initial plan of taking a few snaps and being done with it, I now know that i can take the camera into some pretty tricky situations and produce results that stand out. Overall a great night and productive too.
I was invited to a wedding recently and of course took some photos. It was nice to be able enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and take pictures when the oppurtunity arose. Tash and Jed make a great couple, although they did get a bit carried away with the wedding cake.
It was all available light shooting, I probably only used the flash 2-3 times. The venue was great in that regard. Large sunlight and an early afternoon wedding. Plenty of light to go around. In true wedding style I had to put plenty of black and white shots into the mix.
I also did another portrait shoot recently, with the Melbourne Strobists. The models that I worked with were John and Linh. I’m very happy with the way that the shots turned out.
I was mainly working with 1-2 lights. The main light was a speed light in a 28″ softbox, for some shots I also used another speedlight as a hairlight. Really basic stuff. Easy, quick and gives a nice result.
The shot of Linh was in a fairly average looking car park. Overcast day and a soft box can get a bit of drama out of it though. I also kinda like the catchlights in the eyes. There has been a bit of post production on this shot, mainly raising the shadow levels and a bit of contrast.
For this shot of John I was aiming for maximum drama and impact. I think I may this again with the same setup but the model in an expensive suit, mafia style. Again this was done with just one softbox. The shot seems a little bit cliche but seeing the couch there against the wall I saw this exact shot in my head. Who was I to say no to that.
Also the group that I shot for last year, 27 politics, has released their first EP. The album art was also shot by me. If you want to support aussie music you can get a copy here.
I have been thinking more about the ever shrinking gap between moving and still images. Especially since the release of DSLR’s with HD video capabilities it is now an affordable proposition to make good quality footage on the cheap. Shallow depth of field and smooth low light performance aside it is the ability to use the same device, the same lenses that has gotten so many people excited. Myself included.
The camera I bought at the end of 2008 was the Canon 5D MkII. I bought it to be the work horse for starting a professional photography business. It is a great still camera and I have put several thousand shots though it but never really explored the full possibilities of the video side. In a previous post I mentioned starting to use it a bit an practise editing, but it is not the same. I am yet to make a deliberate constructed film, not just a collected of recorded clips.
To remedy this I am starting on a script and story board for a simple short film. Nothing too over the top and adventurous, but it will have structure and try to tell a story. I will probably make a post later asking for volunteers if anybody is interested in helping. At the moment it is still being worked out.
I don’t know where this going to lead but I think I would be equally happy working in either medium, still or video. I may end up making short films as personal projects but I’ll need to wait and see.
No photo for this post, I’ll put 2 up next time. If any of you have ideas for a short film drop a line in the comments.
I had a photo shoot last weekend with a new Australian Rap group called 27 Politics. It was a good shoot. They are an emerging group and needing some promo shots.
This shoot was done almost entirely with natural light. Luckily it was overcast and the light was good. The original idea was to shoot in an indoor skate park, but it wasn’t really working. Luckily I was able to use the concrete wall of the carpark almost like a studio wall. Not bad for an improvised solution.
The shot to the left was taken near the end in a little laneway near a factory. Having the wall so close acted as a nice blocker allowing some definition to T’s face. All this without paying for a studio.
All in all it was a good day. I may end up helping out with their next music video. That should be an interesting change. They have a director already, I would just be working on some ideas. All the creativity, none of the pressure.
There was another Strobist photoshoot on the weekend. Lots of fun. Hanging out on a beach with a bunch of models in swimsuits, what could go wrong? Luckily not too much.
The basic shoot went well. My group decided to go easy on the lights. Instead of trying to wrestle with the ambient we went with the flow. It allowed us to work with the models more and do some quick setups. I’m quite happy with the results.
The shot on the right was with Zoe just walking out of the water while one of the other guys was pointing a single strobe at her. Even though it was only a hot shoe light it did the job nicely.
I have noticed that on recent shoots I have tried to simplify the setups and am quite happy with the result. Overthinking may have been my enemy. Maybe I should write a book called “Zen and the art of Photography”. Just checked amazon and the book is already made. There goes that idea, back to taking photos I guess.
This is the final product from the footage taken last month. I am fairly happy with the result. The learning curve for video is pretty steep considering that I am more familiar with stills. The people involved seemed to be happy with the results which is a plus.
Using iMovie to edit felt cheap and nasty in some regards. Not having full controll over the timeline caused some problems. If I end up getting final cut I may re-edit this clip and see how it compares.
I will be putting more video stuff up when have a chance, it is a fun process even if very time consuming.