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 -