After a slightly unscheduled break from gig photography, I was kindly invited to photograph The Sandrunners EP launch at the 2014 Belfast Nashville festival. A great night of music with The Sandrunners ably accompanied by The White Mansions and Lazy Flies.
I enjoy gig photography – it’s not a controlled environment so you’ve got to grab as you go. But unless you’re photographing a rock concert, the lighting is never going to be on your side and even with F4 lenses and a 5Dmk2 I find I struggle to get a decent exposure. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to spend serious cash on an F2.8 though.
Whilst this site remains in a semi-dormant state, it’s not through any lack of photography. Instead I’ve found myself shooting to project briefs more and more. And to put it simply, these don’t seem “right” for the blog and to a degree had reduced the priority of this in my photography.
I think as well that my ability to discuss failures, or to ask myself questions in public has been impacted as well. When you have “clients”, it becomes second nature to act confident and knowledgeable. This leads to me internalising my questions and actually reduces my willingness to share.
I’m still enjoying my photography. Still looking for opportunities. And indeed, some personal opportunities are just around the corner.
Anyway…. enough of the self reflection and meandering.
One of the cool things about project briefs, or at least the ones I’ve picked up in the last 6 months is that they involve people. And photographing people, it turns out, is one of the most fun things I’ve found to do with a camera. Even when shooting to a timetable, when you have an amateur model who’s willing to let you experiment with lights and have a bit of fun for the camera you can get some fun photographs.
I’ll try to post more often going forward.
I was back with Nigel Fleming at the weekend for another workshop. This one focused on the sue of Off Camera Flash using flashguns rather than studio lights.
Like a lot of photographic techniques, I’ve played around with this before as part of my “have credit card – will photograph” approach to gear. However, without really knowing what I was doing I fell into the hole of simply using my strobes as studio lights without any real thought about the advantages that little portable lights can actually provide. I’d read a bit of The Strobist over the years, but I’m not a book learner and need to be physically shown for something to sink in.
Sunday was just that sort of day.
We worked through a series of lighting setups, ranging from how to get the most out of an environment without the viewer ever realising there were flashes used through to using flash to make a statement and give a photograph real punch.
Throughout it all, Nigel was helpful and forthcoming with his tips and advice – Like I’ve said before, sign up to his classes (but only after I’ve booked my spot). Complementing Nigel was Sarah, the highly talented and professional model he’d lined up, and Catherine, Nigel’s wife and professional make-up artist.
Here’s some example photographs from the day. (It’s worth pointing out that they have been post processed, but only very slightly).
Both of the above were shot using two flash heads for depth and contrast without over egging the light.
These were shot at lunchtime, in quite a bright street. Lighting here was totally controlled by the flash.
Cloughglass Beach holds a lot of sentimentality for me. It was one of the very first places I ever deliberately went with a dSLR just to take pictures.
It’s kind of amazing what 5 years, several thousand pounds of gear and the right light can do.
Studio Nights may be just a trend in Northern Ireland, but I suspect it’s becoming common across the UK and Ireland. I’ve been lucky to attend a few (and have posted about them before), but let me just reiterate – if you enjoy portrait photography, these nights are fantastic.
On Thursday past, I spent the evening in Dungannon with Nigel Fleming Photography. Nigel organised a fantastic evening for 6 amateur photographers, making sure everything was explained at a level we could understand and checking each of us was getting everything we could hope for from the session.
Having looked at Nigel’s photographs before going, I hoped we’d be able to see some of the tricks he uses to produce such spectacular portraiture. Not only was he thorough with his teaching, but he was eager to show us everything he does and personally checked our images to make sure we were getting good quality results. Everything was covered, from camera settings through to how each light in the setup works.
To support Nigel’s teaching, he organised a brilliant model who was patient and professional – no need for any of my stumbling direction. Nigel’s wife, a professional make-up artist, looked after the model’s styling for the evening.
The results? I think they speak for themselves.
If you have the chance to attend a studio night, give it some serious consideration. If you have the opportunity to attend one being run by Nigel, go – you won’t regret it.
A lot of images I’ve seen recently have been composites. Some are really good. Some, not so much…
But it did get me wondering if it was possible to do one.. OK, I’m guilty of dropping in a different sky or something similar but I’d never tried anything more complicated.
Anyway, during the club practical night this week we had the fortune to photograph a rather pleasant model who happened to have a Victorian dress and veil. I kind of press ganged the rest of the club into doing some longer exposure stuff with the aim being to get something more ghostlike. I did know what I wanted as an outcome, but I honestly had no idea how to create it.
This wasn’t it. But I did like the feel of it so I went digging and found a couple of other photographs, one of a corridor in a monastery and one of a graveyard. With a little help from Photoshop I’ve ended up with something interesting.