Sunday, 26 December 2010

A snapshot of Magnum's Bruce Gilden. This week's tutorial is how to look after your memory card.

 Welcome to the 22nd edition.
Bruce Gilden
Is Bruce Gilden a worthy Magnum photographer? His abrasive style of picture making appears to lack grace and subtlety, it is this 'style' that troubles me. The images are attention grabbing but often mixed with a sense of mockery at the people within his frame. The unforgiving use of flash which is cruel and harsh. Flash blur is an interesting technique in the right circumstances and is best used sparingly. Bruce was around many years before the industry took notice of him. Without losing faith or direction he persevered which is a recurring quality in successful photographers.
Diane Arbus
There is without doubt that sense of glimpsing a hidden world in Bruce's photographs that strikes a chord with Diane Arbus's work. This is a compliment for many photographers and I do not make the comparison lightly.  One of his books is in my collection. 'Facing New York.'  If you love the characters in that cosmopolitan city this book is a treat. The 'in yer face' style of Gilden's work brings a grotesque element just like Arbus. Click on the link to see what you think. Gilden's has limited technical skills but this limitation defines his work rather than detracting from it. Lisette Model is similar in her use of drama and urgency in street photography. The photographs that he took after the Haiti earthquake show a more sensitive side demonstrating a mature documentary style. Some photographers make a good living from producing stylised work that never really progress's technically. If you can do this you are fortunate in some respects but the ability to express yourself is restricted as a consequence. During my time I assisted many established photographers and the lighting would never change. The experience that I gained the most knowledge from was working with a still life photographer who always wanted to push the boundaries. This inquisitiveness which was both a technical and creative form of motivation kept us asking questions. Complacency is a photographer's biggest enemy.
Do you think that I am being unfair to Bruce Gilden? I would like to know what you think about his work. The aim of this piece is to bring greater awareness to this less well-known Magnum stalwart and to challenge my own views of what is good documentary photography.

Lith printing and flash blur.
Nicholas Brewer
I printed this a couple of weeks ago and is the first lith print I have made. The exposure was around ninety-seconds and five minutes at least in the dev tray. The dev was a  strong mix but despite this it exhausted quickly. While it is not a fast process it is exciting. The lith reacts differently for each individual print and can add another dimension to the right image. The paper I used was Multigrade warm tone made by Ilford bought from Silver Print. The paper choice will affect your final result so consider your options before buying persihable material.  Naturally the best place to see a lith print is in your hand looking at it in daylight.
The movement in the photograph is created with a technique called 'flash Blur.' I was using an external flashgun fixed to the camera and bracketing at about 1/8 of a second for the shutter. The moment the flash fired I jerked the camera to create the blurring behind the frozen sign. The great thing about it is the randomness of it. With the flash freezing the foreground you can be confident that this will look like it is meant to however; the background is a blur of merging shapes. As it is done in camera it is an exciting / anxious wait until the first contact sheets. It is a very different way of working from a digital camera. Bruce Gilden uses a lot of 'flash blur' in his work and you can see a small hint of it above. The second lady has a slight 'ghosting' behind her head.
Lith developers as originally conceived were designed to develop lith materials to a high contrast, with total elimination of half-tones, an important requirement of the then graphic arts industry. However the industry that used lith films & papers has gone the same way as video recorders and dinosaurs. The other use for lith developers is using them creatively, highly diluted with various papers for continuous tone printing with colour effects as demonstrated above. Click on Silver Print's link as they provide arrange of information about the history of photography and alternative process's that you may find interesting.

"Great photography is about depth of emotion not depth of field." Peter Adams.

How to care for your memory card -


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Pearls of wisdom from Albert Watson

Welcome to the 22nd edition.
Albert Watson
Albert Watson is the greatest photographer of a generation. His images have been influencing style magazines for over twenty-five years. If you are not familiar with his portraits and fashion click on the link. Recently I heard him talk about his work and these pictures. I would like to share some of what he said.
"I just got lucky" Albert Watson said when describing the events leading up to taking this striking image. Shot on location with traditional film and camera long before photoshop was around. It is a double exposure made taking the photograph then printed in a darkroom. Albert Watson prints all his own black and white. The double exposure is created when the camera is stopped down a 1/2 for each one.
The portrait was commissioned by a magazine with the original idea for Mick and the leopard to sit together in an open top car. The wild beast could not contain its natural urge for long and tried to maul the Jagger! While they were building a partition between the drivers seat and the passengers this incredible photograph was taken. The two faces have to be lined up perfectly for this to work. Only one roll was taken with a total of twelve frames. Six of the frames did not have the faces aligned properly leaving six frames that were successful. This presumably is the 'luck' that he was referring to. "The more prepared I am the luckier I get' Albert Watson said later that evening.

Mike Tyson -by- Albert Watson
Albert grew up in Scotland, a tough place were his father was a boxer. He told his son that the neck is the most important part of a fighter and the result, was this picture. A good photographer does research into the subject and location of the shoot. He did take one the right way round so the world could see Mike Tyson's handsome features.....

While I have not learned anything new from hearing Albert Watson two important points are reiterated. Firstly preparation is the key to making our photographic experiences free from unnecessary anxiety. Always double check your equipment and make sure that you have spares of everything if possible. The second point is that portrait photographers need to show leadership and an assured manor when photographing their subjects. No matter what our internal feelings are an impression of everything working out perfectly enables the photographer to remain in control and appear professional even if they do not feel it. Fake it until you make it.




The Darkroom.
Over the past couple of weeks I have re-discovered the joy of the darkroom and I have tried Lith printing for the first time. Zoom In near the Oval cricket ground in London were running a workshop on Lith printing and it was fascinating. Lith is the developer that the fibre based paper is developed in. The paper needs  overexposing by about three stops. I was using Ilford warm tone multi grade that worked successfully. The exposure was F11 at ninety seconds so it is a long exposure in comparison to regular printing. The final tone will depend on a variety of factors including how long it is left in the developer, the ratio which it is mixed to and the temperature of the dev. Lith prints produce amazingly delicate highlights and high contrast in the shadow. Next time you can see the affect.

"The camera is an extention of yourself.... Your story treatment may be subjective, but it is important to remain objective as to truth." Cornell Capa.


Thank you for reading.

Convert digital colour images to black & white -

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

do we see in 3D or 2D

Welcome to 21st edition.

 This weeks tutorial is on caring for your camera's sensor. Simple maintenance will save you time and money.

3D or 2D that is the question?

Surely we see in 3D. Your computer screen has a front middle and back which you can see clearly so the answer must be we see in 3D. We have a sense of space and depth otherwise driving would not be a universal means of transport. Some of you will be screaming "no you idiot we only have two eyes so therefore the answer is 2D" and you would of course be correct. So how can we judge space and depth? The brain tricks us into believing that we are seeing in 3D.

Hold your finger a few inches away from your eye. Close one eye and then switch to the other. The same finger in the same location appears to move although we know it has not. Our angle of view changes. The eyes see two slightly different views of the world but our perception is that we have a continuous view. The brain takes this information and interprets it and our sense of depth is created. If you move your finger further away from your eye the effect of movement is reduced. Have you seen 'Avatar'  by James Cameron. You may remember there were a lot of images where the viewer is looking through things that help to create this illusion. Can you remember the scenes in the forest in Avatar?

This effect of movement is called 'Binocular Disparity.'  Charles Wheastone was the first person to describe the experience and in 1840 was awarded the Royal Medal from the Royal Society for his work.

Man of the moment,  Eadweard Muybridge used  this knowledge to show his landscape images via a stereoscope. Two photographs were taken at slightly different angles just like our eyes see.  Looked at through a viewer  it creates the impression of depth. Queen Victoria started a craze for them when she used one in London during the Great Exhibition of 1851. Queen guitarist Brian May is fanatical about this aspect of photography. May became an international figure during his time in the band however; prior to this he was studying for his phd. While his contribution to good music is a matter of taste, his work for the stereoscope is significant. Please click on the links to find out more about this curious subject.

This Tuesday there is a talk by Albert Watson at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. Going with a friend so it will be interesting at the very least. I will share with you the pearls of wisdom from Mr Watson next time. They still have tickets aviliable if you can get there.

As 'The American' is released soon about a photographer played by George Clooney it got me thinking about films with photography in them.

Blow Up, Momento and Rear Window are three of my top contemporary films. I would like to hear anyone elses choice. What would you include?

Thanks for reading.
"When I have a camera in my hand I know no fear." Alfred Eisenstaedt.

How to care for your cameras sensor -

Monday, 8 November 2010

how to use movements on a 5x4 camera and Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain.

Welcome to the 20th edition.
Nicholas Brewer
The weekly pdf tutorial is an introduction to the 5x4 camera. It covers simple movements and the uses for them. There will be another one next week.

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain.
Murderer, scientist and artist all describe Edward Muggeridge the birth name of one of England's most pioneering photographers. The exhibition at the Tate is big. It is difficult to appreciate the broad range of Muybridge's work that includes a panoramic cityscape of San Francisco, stop motion pictures and landscape images of Yosemite. The recent work that I have done with time-lapse photography ignited a profound interest in the man and his legacy. Why is Muybridge worthy of your attention and valuable time?
It is not important if you consider photography an art or a science or a mixture of the two. One must have some technical grasp to make consistently well exposed photographs and this you can learn in a variety of ways. Creativity is much harder to learn if you consider that it is a skill to learn as opposed to instinct. Creativity in my opinion is shaped by everything that influences you from books to films, how much it affects you depends on how open you are to it. Eadweard Muybridge was a master technician and also a creative who fused these two qualities together making a lasting impression on the world. Do you like U2 or know someone who does? Their video 'Lemon' is a homage to Muybridge and I have included a link below.

Marcel Duchamp 'Nude Descending a Staircase' is also heavily influenced by you know who. Muybridge's work bridged the gap between how we think we see things and how they are in reality. Naturally this had a profound impact on artists ever since and Francis Bacon's work is clearly guided by the photographers images. It is for these reasons that Muybridge is a photographer that can offer inspiration for pushing technical boundaries and for self-promotion something he did with great skill. It is rare to find all of these qualities rolled into one person however; Eadweard Muybridge worked incredible hard and was a risk taker who earned his place in history.With his influence affecting so many different types of artists and still shaping the world in which we live this is why you should at least consider investigating his achievements further. None of us are perfect and Muybridge was no exception. Not long after shooting Harry Larkyn who was the lover of Muybridge's wife, she died suddenly. Believing that his only son was fathered by the dead man Muybridge sent him to an orphanage. There is no proof of who the biological father was. The story is all the more tragic as the boy grew up having a very strong resemblance to Eadweard Muybridge....
Please see previous blogs to find out more about this fascinating man. If you are interested in the history of photography click on the photography podcast link and listen to History of Photography by Jeff Curto.

"All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth." Richard Avedon.


Introduction to 5x4 -

Sunday, 31 October 2010

How to use photographic lighting and an exhibition of the emperor's new clothes

Nicholas Brewer
Welcome to the 19th edition.

The weekly pdf below continues with studio portrait lighting. If you do not have access to a studio you can always improvise. Portable flashguns are powerful and provide good light as an alternative. Bounce them off white boards or ceilings to soften them. Use card and other means of directing the light to suit your style. Remember that tracing paper over the front of your flash-gun will help to imitate the light from a soft-box. You can do simple portrait shots in a small room. There are plenty of places that you can hire lights from if you are feeling adventurous.

Shadow Catchers.
At first glance you may dismiss this show for its inability to make you think it is about photography. The work is not made with a camera but using a mixture of techniques including solarisation. My friend was obviously cynical of the work. Clearly he did not think that I had invited him to a photographic exhibition at all. Just the pretentious offerings of those who have no idea how to work a 5x4 camera and probably lacking in any technical ability. It's not sharp, who cares we will call it art! Many commercial photographers view the fine art world with sneering contempt. For a long time I was one of them. Once you realise that the principle is the same just the practical side is different we become more open minded about what a photograph is. The medium is a broad church ranging from science to art with everything in the middle. The work represents a uniqueness not found in the digital age.  Chemigrams involve the artist putting chemicals like varnish onto the light sensitive paper and then manipulating it. These images explore the area of a unique piece of photography as a physical art form. The Chemigrams in some ways are a return to images like a Daguerreotype. While it is not traditional photography in the same way that Robert Capa made images it still has its place. Traditional photography is dead. Long live the Avant-garde.  Click on to the links and make your own mind up, let me know what you think a photograph is. The Daily Telegraph link provides in depth information about the artists. Where we did find common ground was the need for the artists to dress the photographs with quotes. The jury was unanimous it was 'Pretentious Crap.'

Sam Scott-Hunter a well respected music photographer is having an exhibition at the charmingly named Filthy Macnastys. For those of you who like real photography of rockers like Ozzie Osbourne then this could be for you. The raw edgy style of Scott-Hunter captures the subjects in a way that is neither flattering or too exaggerated. The show is on for a month starting from Wednesday 10th November and is in central London. See details below for more information.

"The obsession we have are pretty much the same are whole lives. Mine are people, the human condition,  life." Mary Ellen Mark

Ville Valo by Sam Scott-Hunter.
Sam Scott-Hunter

Week 19 -









Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How to improve time lapse photography.

A closed-circuit television camera in a tree, ...Image via Wikipedia
Welcome to 18th edition,
This weeks pdf tutorial is on studio lighting. It covers a range of styles and I will add more next week. If you are a student or have access to a studio you can practice these traditional styles of lighting. If you don't imagination will have to do.
I hope you will notice some improvements from the previous time lapse photography and you can see the results below. With over four hundred jpegs to turn into something that looks like film, the post-production takes a long time.
Now it is winter people move much faster rushing around and this affects how they look to the camera. There is a photographer taking portraits in the last ten seconds of the film. He does a star shape near the end so keep an eye on him. It brings humour and closure to the film.
The cloud looks much softer with a solid blue background and I used a polarizing filter  to do this. Increasing the frequency of shots from every 30 to 15 seconds helped to smooth the cloud movement. It is interesting how much the color changes  when the sun goes in. The camera white balance was on cloudy throughout. The sundial affect of the CCTV cameras adds meaning  in many ways The sundial for the passing of time and the cameras recording it. Photography is all around us and our every day movements captured constantly.
The happiness when I first saw the film is the reason for doing it. There was a real adrenaline rush. It is a sensation we have all felt.

The camera was set on aperture mode @ F22. The shutter speed was from 1/4 - 1/10.
If you look at the previous blogs you can see earlier films. There are pdf tutorials showing you how it works. I hope you try it and I look forward to any comments. Thanks for reading.

"Photography is a major force explaining man to man" Edward Steichen.




Studio Portraits -

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Test Your Knowledge of Photography. The Tale of an Urban Explorer.

Welcome to the 17th entry.
This weeks pdf is based on a quiz that I gave my students in the week. The 15 questions range from very easy to difficult but as they are multiple guess, sorry I mean choice, eliminate the obvious wrong answers and you may surprise yourself with how much you know.
Nicholas Brewer
Nicholas Brewer
This weeks photographs were taken in a disused building that is being developed in the near future. There is a whole movement out there photographing distressed buildings and having much fun in the process. 28 days later is a popular website used by urban explorers to discuss ideas and share information. Thankfully I was able to gain access to the building with the permission of the developer although I did have to sign a disclaimer stating that any injury incurred during my time was my responsibility. Somehow this felt like cheating....  Many images taken by urban explorers are given the H.D.R. (High Dynamic Range) treatment and is a perfect subject for this type of post production. In the near future I will dedicate a blog to  H.D.R.
Time Lapse
I have included a longer time lapse 'film' that gives a better idea of what is possible although I do not like  it as much as the first one.

I have never taken a picture I've intended. They're always better or worse. Diane Arbus




Photography Quiz -

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Virgin No More! How to use time-lapse photography.

Street in Scanno. The House Henri Cartier-Bres...Image via Wikipedia
Welcome to the 16th edition.

I am no longer a time-lapse virgin. You can watch below.
It was fun but did test my patience.The process is much slower than still photography and there are new skills needed. Watching the movement of the shadow at the bottom left of the image was exciting and felt an important step forward in my work. The shadow is cast by a pole supporting a CCTV camera and acts like a sun dial. A sense of time slowly revealed by the camera.The clouds roll smoothly enough but are tame and lack any real interest. The whole thing is to short and I will shoot some more frames later. It is fun to learn new things. If you have a good DSLR you can easily make your own. As stills and moving image cameras continue to merge it is good experience to understand the difference.

Today a student asked who my favorite photographer was. It does depend on my mood. I replied, Cartier-Bresson, who thankfully he had heard of. It was good to get the new photographers talking about a classic photographer. Spreading the Cartier-Bresson message requires constant effort and  I am pleased to supply it.
The image above is a photograph of his house.
Henri Cartier-Bresson
This photograph in Italy is from Cartier-Bresson's book 'Europeans.'
Did you notice where this black and white photograph was taken? Look at the colour photograph again, can you see the steps going to Cartier-Bressons front door to the left of the frame?

"Many people who excel are self-taught." Herb Ritts.




How to use time-lapse photography -

Friday, 1 October 2010

what is time lapse photography and how the killer photographer proved that a horse can fly

Welcome to the 15th edition.

There is a pdf about time lapse and stop motion photography at bottom of the blog.
Eadweard Muybridge 1878
Eadweard Muybridge (1830 1904) the pioneering photographer, killed his wife's lover. In the nineteenth century things were different. Shooting a man for sleeping with your wife was considered, 'justifiable homicide.' Muybridge is probably most remembered for his 'Time Lapse' photography of horses. Businessman Leland Standford asked Muybridge to photograph his horse to settle a bet with a friend. Standford was convinced his horse lifted all four feet off the ground during a gallop. It was the first time this question about horses being able to lift all four feet together would have photographic evidence. The experiment was put on hold during the trial and Muybridge's legal costs were paid by Standford. This was the one of the earliest scientifc photographs and it showed the way for moving film which arrived later. Despite the unusual spelling of the photographer's name, he was born in Surrey, England and moved to America in his early twenties. The relationship between the two men broke down four years after this photograph was taken. Standford published a book which Muybridge felt did not give him (the photographer) enough credit and they went to court to settle the dispute. The case did not go his way in some part due to power and wealth of Leland Standford. As we can see, the horse does lift all its feet off the ground and is an example of how this ground breaking photographer shaped the world in which we live.

Nicholas Brewer
The Ghost Sign was taken in London this week. I used a polarizing filter to bring out the sky and give a slower shutter speed.There is a strong geometric element to the photograph which I like however; the line down the middle of the frame  does not work for me. The compositon could be improved and I will have another go soon. 
Thank you for reading.

Time lapse photography -

Monday, 20 September 2010

four essentials you need to know

Welcome to 14th edition

The 'Four Essentials' pdf is below.

Corrine Day
One of the leading photographic advocates’ of the ‘waif look’ during the nineties, Corinne Day sadly lost her battle for life last month. Her fashion work for Face magazine started a fashion revolution moving from the excess of the late eighties to a raw anti-glamour style.  The term ‘Heroin Chic’ described the look and her muse was Kate Moss. Perhaps ‘Cocaine Chic’ would have been more suitable. President Clinton condemned the look claiming that it was glamorising heroin, which of course we all know that it was not.  The skinny looking models without make up were fashion moving into a documentary style. It was not surprising that Corrine Day’s work followed in the same direction. Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1996 she was not expected to live past 2004. Day has work exhibited in Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery.

Nicholas Brewer

Reflections.
Reflections often work well in photographs throwing the viewers sense of perspective and space. They are great for providing interesting images of the everyday into a mysterious ambiguous sense of confusion. All photography is a reflection and taking that concept one step further can help to make unique images with a lasting impression. Garry Winograd used this technique with devastating affect leaving the viewer entranced by the images trying to understand the spacial awareness of the photographs. This image was taken in an office window and it appeared to me like there was a monitor showing an image of the sky or an open window in the distance. For those who are looking for a project see what reflections you can find? Photographing portraits that are reflected into a window can sometimes give a supernatural feel to the images.  "Photography is not about the thing being photographed. It is about how that thing looks  photographed." Garry Winograd.

Thought 4 the day1 -














Sunday, 12 September 2010

Understanding the ISO on your camera.

Nick Knight
Welcome to the 13th edition.

This weeks tutorial is understanding the ISO. How you can use it to get the look you want. The pdf is below.

Nick Knight one of the worlds' leading photographers is always at the cutting edge of his profession and  produces breath taking photographs. With many awards for  editorial and fashion work he always pushes the creative boundaries.

When I had a look at his website this week it reminded me of his genius. Nick's first book 'Skinhead' is particularly relevant now with Channel 4 showing 'This is England'  which is set just after his book was published. The girtty quality the book has is a thing of the past replaced by digital which is smooth and clean.
At the millennium, SHOWstudio.com was launched. Using the latest technology SHOWstudio.com brought the secret world of fashion to your desktop. You can be in the studio with Nick Knight via a webcam. As part of the online audience you are encouraged to make suggestions and share ideas.
Nick Knight we salute you
This week I started as a volunteer at Zoom In which is a non profit photography darkroom in  London. They are really enthusiastic and if you want to get involved and hangout with like minded people than it could be the place for you. Photography is best shared with others and is a great way to get feedback on your work. I did some printing while I was there. It was exciting watching the print develop in the tray. The Zoom darkroom is a very soothing place. The running water sounds like a gentle waterfall and is very calming and atmospheric.
I like things that have to do with what is real, elegant, well presented and without excessive style. In other words, just fine observetion. -Elliott Erwitt


Nick Knight

Understanding ISO -

Sunday, 5 September 2010

What is a histogram?

Frank Hurley close to HMS Endurance trapped in...Image via Wikipedia
Welcome to the 12th edition.

Frank Hurley was a mans' man. A great photographer and explorer from a forgotten era. Imagine spending nearly two years almost freezing and starving to death in Antarctica and a few months later going to fight in World War 1. Welcome to the world of photographer Frank Hurley.

The official photographer for The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition which set out in 1914, long before global warming and North Face jackets. Ernest Shackleton's ill fated journey is an example of bravery and leadership that inspires many generations. With their ship crushed by ice and sinking they had to abandon ship and take the essentials to survive. Frank's survival depended on his photography as much as food and water. The story is one of a great leadership, courage and determination. The incredible photographs with breath taking scenery are worthy of your time.

What is a histogram?
This easy to understand pdf covers the basics and provides all the information needed to help you on your way.

Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.  Paul Strand.


What is a Histogram? -

Saturday, 28 August 2010

What is white balance?

Welcome to the 11th weekly edition.
I wanted to show you the photograph below. I had forgotten how beautiful it was until I saw it again recently. On his first time of seeing it Henri Cartier-Bresson said, "I couldn't believe that such a thing could be caught on camera, so I grabbed my Leica and went out into the street." In 1952, he published 'The Decisive Moment' in which he wrote: 'It is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as a precise organisation of forms, which give that event its proper expression'. 


Martin Munkacsi
Martin Munkacsi's easy image is such a fine example of  life giving us pictures.  'The precise organisation of forms' so aptly described is still as important today as it was in 1931 when the photograph was taken. This is probably the first of its kind and is a reference point for many when looking at this type of picture. Many photographers have taken similar pictures to this but  this was the impulse for many.
Photographic inspiration takes all forms from film to surrealist art.
As photographers we have seen images that filled us with a sense of awe and amazement. This photograph inspired one of the greatest documentray photographers ever and I hope you like it.

What is White Balance?
The pdf below explains what white balance is and how you can improve your photographs by understanding it. The important thing to remember is that a pure white does not exist.  If you are photographing a white plate on a white table cloth you will notice there is a difference in the tone between the two. If you are lighting this with daylight as the brightness of the sun changes so does the colour reflected down the lens. This shift in colour is caused by the 'White Balance.'
"The camera is my tool. Through it I give a reason to everything around me." Andre Kertesz

What is White Balance? -

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Which is the best lens to use? (Grotesque Portraits R Us)

Hi welcome to the 10th edition of the blog.

You already know the answer don't you. It depends on what you are photographing and what you want to say about your subject. Why not try photographing your sitters with a wide angle lens and light them from below, like the footlights in a theatre? This grotesque and dramatic style will get peoples attention. Can you imagine a portrait of Gordon Brown or someone similar using this style. My subject choice reveals a lot about my thoughts of the last Prime Minister!  Robert De Niro could be a great subject for this kind of treatment. It is important to express your feelings about your sitter and not just take a flattering portrait. You can always do a couple of variations to make sure that you have that 'Knockout' portrait that is going to get you noticed.
In the pdf below you will see outlined  the key factors that will enable you to make the right choice for your photographs and gives a break down of the important things to know about lenses. There is much more that could be added however it can all get quite technical and a bit dull.

What are 'Ghost Signs?'

Nicholas Brewer
They are not signs of the paranormal but hand painted signs on brick work that have faded with age. There are hundreds of them throughout  the UK and interesting as part of our heritage and a reminder of the goods that we used to buy years ago. Hovis is still going strong but many others no longer exist and help to preserve a part of our history.
Secret Britain.
There is a great new program on BBC 1 on Sunday nights (available on iplayer)  which provides many exciting ideas for photographers. One that caught my attention was the natural forest on Dartmoor national park.It is the last remaining natural forest and has a wonderful atmosphere about it. It is like something out of a fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm.
A photographer needs: creativity, style, elegance, wit and craft. [A photojournalist also needs that and] 
courage, stamina, 
cunning and luck. - Elliott Erwitt

How do I know which lens? -

Sunday, 15 August 2010

How to avoid camera shake.

Diane Arbus photograph, Identical Twins, Rosel...Image via Wikipedia
Welcome to the 9th edition.
This may seem like a lesson in the obvious as we all know the causes and solutions of camera shake. 
Or do we?
Before you look at the pdf consider what you think you know and then with an open mind think about if you may have missed anything?
When researching any of the lessons that I prepare I am always amazed about my assumed knowledge, especially my lack of it!
The photograph below is one that I took while Hackney Wicked was on, it was the shape of the A in the window and the almost surreal grass growing inside of the room that caught my attention.





Nicholas Brewer
I have included a famous photograph by Diane Arbus and is one that will be familiar to some of you. Have you seen Stanley Kubricks "The Shining" and can you remember the twins at the end? This photograph inspired him so it is easy to see how one medium informs another.
"The thing that's important to know is that you never know. You're always sort of feeling your way."
Diane Arbus.

How to avoid camera shake -




Thursday, 29 July 2010

Secrets of Professional Portrait Photographers'

Hi Welcome to the 8th edition of the blog.
If you want to make your portraits look like they have been shot by a seasoned pro and scream out " I have something to say" then I have some great news.
Between us we can make that happen.




This a picture of Charlie Kray the older brother of The Kray Twins notorious gangsters during the 1960's. I wanted  him to give me that intense stare and it took many frames and quite a lot of whisky to achieve it.  I knew what I wanted to say and started from there, once you have a starting point you can always return to it if you lose your way. 


As usual there is a pdf below for you to download that will explain how to make the eyes look a little more interesting. The tip is used by the likes of Terry O'Neill and I should know as I assisted for him many years ago.


Have a look in the eyes? Do you notice anything about them? Why not look again once you have read the pdf?


This weekend is Hackney Wicked a large arts festival near to the Olympic Village which is full of amazing work from artists photographers and designers. If you are in London it is well worth a visit.


"If there is a single quality that is shared by all great men, it is vanity." Yousaf Karsh

Professional Photographic Portraits -






Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Stolen from Nikon 3 steps to great portraits.

Don McCullin (Taken on a Nikon)
Welcome to the 7th edition.
We all take portraits in fact it is the most popular form of photograph. I bet you have taken loads from your first few attempts at photography and will take many more in your life time.
How do we make your subjects look like Kate Moss and help you to produce work like Nick Knight.
I am going to share with you three tips that will make a difference, they have been liberated from the Nikon website and improved upon. Nikon just want you to buy their cameras not surprisingly and the tips are fairly universal.
Don McCullin's camera

I am not trying to break new ground just give you some tried and tested industry tips that will help to give your work a commercial edge. I went to the Wolfgang Tilmans show during the week and it was quite a good reflection on communication shot in his unique style. It is at the Serpentine Gallery and is worth going to see just for the Serpentine Pavillion designed by Jean Nouvel. There are many reviews on the show so you do not need another one from me.
A recent class of mine really liked Nigel Parry so you might like to have a look at his work to get you thinking about what you consider good portrait photography to be.

"Ultimately suucess or failure in photographing people depends on the photographer's ability to understand his fellow man." Edward Weston.


3 Steps to Great Portraits -

Friday, 16 July 2010

How to make a camera obscura

Welcome to the sixth edition.

What is a camera obscura and what are the benefits of you taking time out of your busy day to make one?

In simple terms it is an optical device that allows you to view the outside world projected on to a screen. They are easy to make and great fun. The link above will give you more detailed information on their history.

They are important for anyone who has an interest in photography as they teach you the basic principles of how all cameras work and you will be suprised at what you already know and how making one fills in the gaps of your knowledge.

They are great fun to make regardless of age, I made one on Monday and it was really enjoyable.

If you have limited technical skills then do not worry I have trouble doing the most basic of practical things so follow the instructions in the pdf and you will have a camera obscura in about fifteen minutes. (Mine took a little longer...)

I would like to hear from you if you have made a pin hole camera anything similar.



How to make a camera obscura -