Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fleetwood fashion shoot reportage

I've been meaning finish these images for an age. A few post ago (link) I exressed the enjoyment in processing film, but then also the way altered images come about. Well these are the images that will be passed on to the stylists along with others for my side of the day.

I love the chance narrative that happens in this pictures framing

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I couldn't sleep

Last night I couldn't sleep. I got up at 4 am and started to finish off John Berger's - 'Another Way of Telling' I dragged myself through the pages of text, feet getting pulled down as if I was walking through some peat bog. Ironically enough I turn one page to be faced with an image of a man sleeping sat in a chair, his head slumped in his hand. I finish the text enjoy the 'visual essay' that followed and went to bed... this is what followed

"I remember my girlfriend sat in a room wearing these trainers that morphed and mis-shaped as she moved her feet to the music that played in her headphones. Her friend a man who was dark skinned, talked but in a deep American southern draw, I couldn't understand him I kept having to question what he said. I went into the bathroom a man stood with his back to me, I said 'you can't smoke in hear - it's a non-smoking building' he turned to face me, he looked eastern european, old, thin, dark hair - he mumbled under his breath in a foreign language. I urinated in a sink, but when I looked up it wasn't a sink, it was stirrups for childbirth. I looked down I saw what looked like an old cigarette. I turned and walked around the corner, three women stood. They talked about what was for lunch, they said a Carrot section was one split four ways. I woke up. "

Friday, October 22, 2010


I've often considered the nature of a transparent material, I suppose if I'm honest from a young age my life has always been focused through either glass or now plastic. I'm not talking about a camera lens, but spectacles so that I can see correctly. Although at times I think we all look at the window pane on the Bus, noticing the dirty, hair oils, food etc. So we keep glass clean and we see a perfect image, but over time glass wears and starts to show signs of life. It takes on it's own personality through wearing its scars openly for all to see.

On another level does glass have a memory? a window that sits looking out towards some scene or view, be it stationary or moving. Like photographic film that captures something in an instant, can glass hold onto something by means of a long exposure. By exposure time of years not seconds? I've always had an interest in the deformed glass of years old.. the imperfections, bubbles, distortion, was glass always like this or has it aged with an absorption of light over time? okay so they couldn't make glass that well years ago so that's why it's like that... but does it have an organic nature? can it feel and record without us seeing?

I've posted two images below that follow my thinking. The first is of an old window - glass through glass, this is the Harris Art Institute. The next is the bay window of the Edwardian house I live in. I'm not looking at what is beyond the glass, but the glass and what it might see.


On Thursday I went into the Victoria building for a Darkroom induction. It was a necessary requirement for me to use the facility. I don't mind, and I'm not reporting that in a negative manner, in fact it was enjoyable and I truly believe that we all can do with a re-cap now and then.  Anyway I had two rolls of Ilford HP 5 to develop, I wasn't going to print as I didn't have the time.

I soon found myself in a darkened closet with films ahead of me, tools to the side and developing tank ready. It had been several years since I've done this, and it's something that I'm used to.. but today it was like a new experience, a beginning something completely different.. had I become so dependent on digital had I'd forgot Photography's roots? Well sure enough I fiddled and cursed as it took me a while to find the start of the spool. After a little thinking and stopping I'd loaded two reels, and made the tank light tight.

I'll not bore the reader with the process, but the one distinct memory was that feeling of trepidation, would it work, did I get the temperature right? had I agitated enough, did I time it correctly? well sure enough after nearly half an hour my worries had passed... negatives lay in front of me, I cut then and filed them (rather rashly I'll add) onto my studies!

And today I revisit them. One of the many treasures of processing. It's not all about rushing and instant results. I thought I'd write a quick blog about the darkroom, and to illustrate the negs were in a bag on the living room floor. I grabbed both and placed them on a light box. I thought a quick image to capture, and post along with the blog. However through the processing element of Photoshop, I toyed with 'invert' command, and gained a instant result. It made me think what a possible project this created.

I have taken carefully crafted images, tentatively processed them, filed them with abandonment and cheapen the images with a snap and quick post production. Does this then produce a disregard for photography, the once revered negative, protected from dust, light and scratches now tossed to one side. The framed composed images exposed perfectly, sullied by a quick snap piled onto each other creating an abstract image, than once 'inverted' provides corners and glances of what once was?

Or is it just a pile of negatives bunched together on a lightbox?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dana Popa

Just more of a mental note for a Photographer to study further. I found this site online and I'm interested in her style of work, it's well worth a look and she has a distinct practice that comes from a Masters level of study. Dana Popa

Friday, October 15, 2010

Contemporary verses Classical Ballet

One of my projects is starting to come together. I have been talking to friend who is a Classical trained Ballet dancer, she is now moving into Contemporary Ballet/Dance. Some of the differences comprise of form changes with breathing, contractions against classical forms, going on/off point, types of clothing no longer tight lines, but free flowing to distort the form, and thus going against the Classical training.

So last night we started a series of images, looking into contradictions and highlighting them through poses, lightning effects and so on. I've added one of the results from last night. Single light, Barn doors, Honeycomb filter on a Black paper background. Light effects were added in post production, and are indicative of Romanticism.

I think this is going to lead onto more studio sessions, but also following classroom lessons and possibly lead onto a recreation of Degas paintings? 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flaneur walk inspires

So I had an inspiring walk this morning, despite a slow start and what I thought was poor lighting didn't turn out so bad. I really should have made the most of those Blue skies days ago. However I have asome great ideas. I noticed this place a few days ago.

What caught my eye to start with was the detail to the right of where I'm typing right now. I not really quite sure if this happen in construction, or it was intended in repairs, but i love it and it inspires me on the quest for the architecture in and around Preston that is hidden and ignored.

Aside from this the whole building is of interest to me possible as a project. I was talking to a friend last night, she has lived in Preston most of her life. It seems that one of her Aunties used to work in the building. This is perfect as I will arrange to interview her, and ask if I can take her portrait in front of the building. Same composition as this image. This will tie in with some other social portraiture projects I have planned.

Also it seems that my friend may now the current owner, or at least have some contact. So I'm hoping that a visit inside might be an option - If I marry that with an interview and possible guided tour from this lady, I might be able to combine and Audio/Visual piece.

I have some other images that I've taken, but rather than post all on this blog, I'll only use one or two and the rest can be in a scrap book. I did consider an online gallery but it a lot of resizing and cropping images would be involved.

Along the same walk I discovered a passageway off the main road. What I found was a contrast of natural beauty amongst bricks and mortar. I really liked the look of the passage, so it's sometimes what you discover than inspires.

I also mentioned in a previous blog entry 'Sounds all around', That Audio effected my images and what I chose to capture. I'll add an image and then see if I can get the sound file to upload as a video clip

Hopefully this will work and you'll sample the sounds. I'll let you guess what it was in the comments section. What struck me was how you enter into a frame of conciseness, to capture, express and absorb the environment throws back clips and sensations to enhance your memory. I'm now starting to think of carrying some kind of digital voice recorder to compliment my journeys. 

Walk taken today

Sounds from all around

This morning I followed a drift, I suppose mixed in with some Flaneur for inspiration. I already knew where I was partly going as I had seen somethings before that I wanted to explore more. I have a post for this soon coming up, however what struck me was how audio sometimes effects the image. A case in point was some pictures I started to take, in a locked walk through. I had to stand with my lens resting on the gate, but the noises I heard haunted me. I have an audio file I will convert, and post with the images soon.

Later after editing images this afternoon, I walked to the local chip shop. As I left I had a surreal moment, as images I had captured this morning now had come to life. I'd started at 2-D images, and now I walked around, exploring sounds, smells, the feeling of the ground under my feet. I arrived at the Chip shop, overhearing a conversation about 'Gassing people, and Babies buried'? the dialect was of more interest to me and beckoned me some how record them. Incidentally I didn't plan on buying Chips, I had set off to buy a sandwich.... I guess that's just the way things go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From last weeks fashion shoot

I've been working through some edits from last week when I helped Antonio. I had my camera with me to capture some reportage images I thought I'd share some, these three I think work well together... more so if you view them all side by side.... I'll try and use this layout on the blog.

I'll add some of the models pictures next, but sometimes turning the camera on the surroundings offers greater chance images.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

this morning....

Last night was something... Beer festival in Preston, followed by a late night in the Sun Inn, then takeaway and a Taxi home. I'd been working until 9 so it was a long day, followed by some good but heavy drinking.  All of this of course leads to an altered frame of mind the following day.

I was awake early as both myself and Mary were off to Church, thankfully the service was being held at St. Johns 9.30AM so it would leave the day open. The service lasted for around an hour, and towards the end I noticed the light filtering through the Stained Glass window, it made me smile as I felt the warmth from the sun heat my face. I felt relaxed and energized. Once we left walking along the main high street, I kept looking down the side streets. The light was amazing it was breaking through the drab, gray lifeless scene, instantly I wanted my camera. I wanted to capture, explore and share my vision. But this wasn't possible, sure I had a camera phone but it wouldn't resolve what I could see in all the infinite details, and nuances of the light ballet.

So in reflection of this, I now will make a promise once my new camera arrives. I shall carry it everywhere, it will become a lumbering weight that will mold to arm, by body and provide the expression I seek to capture.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Visiting Lecture from Peter Baistow retired from the Sunday Times

Today I was lucky enough to be able to drop into a guest lecture by Peter Baistow, retired Associate Design Director of the Sunday Times. He was primarily aiming the lecture to the journalist students on magazine layout and production of images.

His lecture started with an interesting collection of photographs (photographed) on the way of his study, he explained that he liked to place one image next to another and draw likeness. Some of places he has visited and then older paintings that looked similar. One I found of interest was Botticelli's - Birth of Venus, next to an iconic image of a Streaker in the 70's (images below)
Note the figure to the right with a flowing cape
See the official running with the rain coat.
The idea being that a visual composition is in a lot of images that can be well placed in layouts. Not necessarily just alone in layout, but always thinking how the images we capture could be used otherwise.

Other examples he showed us among many others included a picture of Micheal Heseltine reading a paper, the page turned towards the camera an article on himself. A complete chance, and by all accounts Mr. Heseltine asked for a copy as he liked it so much, but warned he'd get his own back on the Photographer some day.

Also to a degree the sensitivity of dealing with deaths of celebrities. The paper he worked on the time had a great debate over the 'un-official' use of a picture taken of Marylin Monroe dead on the mortuary table. Although they did use it, they placed a picture taken of he two weeks before showing her happy, despite the depression she suffered.

He also then went on to discuss the Royal wedding and the small details in pictures that gave things away about the marriage, and how Princess Diana was exploited by the Press to start with, but in the end she used them to her advantage. Pictures of the un-happy family, but then the next frames a happy family - and how frames used can make a difference to how the Editor wants to run a story.

He then added how we have a moral sense of duty to report the truth, and also have principles on how we could use our images - parallels ran with a recent lecture and previous post. A story which I had missed was the altered image taken in the Iraq conflict in 2003, ran by the LA Times accusing Commandos of killings in Basra. (see link gif also slows alteration) what worth noting look at all the images and see how the final image changes what really happened.

Needless to say the paper had to run a retraction and the Photographer lost his job. This reinforced how now due to the digital age we all have a more enforced sense of duty to report the truth in what we do. Arguably yes the final image makes stronger image, and alone without publication for his own personal satisfaction it is okay - but not when it misinforms and damages the credibility of Photographer and the New reporters.

During his time on staff he remember the impact the change from a Broadsheet to a Tabloid, this effected the Photography completely as the images we often smaller, odd shapes and the copy had to fit around advertising (which of course pays the wages of the paper) But then also insensitivity that arose when a story on famine ran with supporting advertising of food from supermarkets. All of which was completely by accident. But due to the nature how the layout was made, copy and advertising never knew what was running where.  

All in it was a good informative lecture and some lines of further study will no doubt follow.

Listening Post

A few months ago I visited the Science Museum in London, amongst all the exhibits one stood out from the rest. The reason why I'm posting this now, is as I'm in the University library and the background chatter, snippits of converstaion take me back.

The instalation is funded by the Art Council and well worth a visit. Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin's Listening Post immerses us in a rhythm of computer-synthesised voices reading, or singing out, a fluid play of real-time text fragments. The fragments are sampled from thousands of live, unrestricted internet chatrooms, bulletin boards and other online public forums. They are uncensored and unedited.

The Project appeals to our voyeurist nature, without prompting I'll tune in and out of conversation. Moments in time, peoples exitement, anger, joy a whole range is experienced when you are fixed in a busy public space. Perhaps without knowing parts of this conversation, your web posts, chat room moments maybe reproduced on the Listening Post?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rights and Responsibilites

Following on from a Lecture on Monday the 4th of October by Steve Speed, the idea of 'our rights' and more so in the case 'responsibilities' as Photographers is something that has been moving around in my mind. It's been something that has been mentioned in previous lectures, and the more I think, the more ethical we must become.

Post Production has become so massive and simplistic that images can be changed and altered to suit an altered message from that which could have been intended. I'm directing these thoughts to an image I came across online that had been entered into a public competition. And what I believe in the Photographer has abused his/her responsibilities in submitting with disregard for his subject.

The brief was as follows: "The 7 Deadly Sins, used since the advent of Christianity, are the most objectionable vices which beckon humans to sin. This challenge explores "acedia" (also known as "sloth" or "despair"), its most basic definition being "the failure to utilize one's talents and gifts; laziness; indifference". There are numerous ways to interpret this with imagery and it is now up to your creativity and perhaps a little research to come up with something that portrays this "deadly sin".

The winning image was voted by the subscribers to this popular website, and titled by the Photographer as "Malt Liqour 9AM"

Now in what I find objection to in this image, is the disregard to the subject in which way her image has been used. Was she asked if she would mind being portrayed as a lazy, sloth like, greedy person, who is drinking liquor at 9AM? do we know the real story behind the image? for all we know she may work 48 hours a week, and ending a night shift? she may be carrying said booze for her father, husband etc. The social and economic situation she is in? where she lives etc. The Photographer in my mind has shown a lack of respect and responsibility to his subject.

I will credit the picture to the photographer and remove if required, although the use is purely intended for research purposes. I only know the winners name to be Brick33308.

Friday, October 1, 2010

UCLan International Student Graduation shoot

Last Friday I had a repeat booking from a job I undertook a few months ago. However this time I had obtained a different fabric background. The last I used was a very light gray Lastolite, this time it was a deeper Brown/Blue. I say both as depending on the light source, it seems to show either. I had used my Interfit lighting kit and balanced the light outputs via a Sekonic meter.

The last time I used a two soft box set up, one is approx. 2 and 1/2 feet across, the other is four. This time however I used a shoot through white, and the smaller soft box. I did this as the room I was using had a large amount of natural light on the one side (hence the softbox on this side) and the Umbrella on the other. A few test shots and I was ready to go... Digital really opens up the ease of Studio use. Before I would have had to rely on Modelling lights to check for shadows etc. now it's a case of shoot and see.

I was ready for the ceremony my camera choice was a Nikon D80 with the 18-135 kit lens - shooting on .NEF for maximum creative control and adjustment. Nikon SB800 flash with stofen diffuser. This gives a great natural look to the flash close up, although at times I'll take it off for distance shots, primarily as it reduces the guide number by half.

All was ready to go, but no students turned up.. well in fact very few did. So it was a case of 14 portraits rather than the planned 40. It was good for me as I got away without having to shoot the ceremony, although not so good as I'd have to reduce and adjust my bill.

Things didn't go too badly though, I had already promised staff portraits for the corporate website. Although ideally I wanted to shoot on a white background, thus giving them a greater scope for final use. Now this is where it is difficult, I had already balanced lights and metered for a different setup. It would still work for the close up shots, although I'd of rather shot with a snoot and large softbox. The results were acceptable, but not my best. I then moved onto group/department images. All in it took around four hours, from setting up the studio, taking pictures, and packing away.

I have now finished editing, I sized for prints at 8x6 inches 300 dpi (staff portraits) this ratio gives a nicer feel to the composition, also it lends to the 800 x 600 dpi web resize. The Student pictures were produced to a 9 x 6 inch, again 300 dpi for prints. I've ordered these online, and will be presented in Kenro card folders.

- What I have learned from this experience? I need to move lights about and mark places with duct tape, record exposures, so if the poses or groups change I can adjust quickly. I'm thinking the next shoot will be with shoot through umbrellas on both sides. Soft boxes for me seem to give a move directional hard light (despite name) opposed to a umbrella giving a softer look wider field. Also for me they give a big wide light, perhaps less shine will be on the subjects faces. (editing curse having to clone shine - something you have to deal without the assistance of a makeup artist)

Thankfully I have a good working rapport with my client - which for me is far more important than any equipment you can ever buy.