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.
It’s been a while since I blogged. This hasn’t been intentional and I haven’t put away my camera. In fact I’ve probably been taking more photographs each week than since I first got the bug. It’s all been gig photography though, and I figured that there were only so many photographs of moody acoustic musicians you could cope with.
However, I did take some family photographs on Sunday and it got me thinking about the whole “photography” thing again.
I got into photography because I wanted to take better pictures. And one of the main reasons for that was to be able to take pictures of my family. This I’ve ended up spending huge amounts of time and money on my hobby has never changed the core of that – to take better pictures.
And to be honest, you don’t need the gear and you don’t need spend large amounts of time to take good photographs. If you enjoy pressing the button and the person on the other side of the lens is enjoying the moment too, you’ll end up with something pretty special.
With September on me, life seems have found it’s routine again. Camera Club on a Tuesday night (but not tonight, because….), then Lagan Sessions on a Sunday and processing images on a Monday night.
What’s different this year is that I’ve started to push my photographs a little more. I’ll now suggest taking pictures where before I’d wait to be asked. This has been good and it’s opened up some new doors – taking images of a girl who wants to try modelling, taking publicity photographs for a fitness studio and the usual haul of musicians etc. The downside is that a lot of these images aren’t really the sort of thing I want (or can) share on my blog. The good thing is that some of this has ended up being a kind of paid work (at least in the goods exchanged front – which works for me!).
I’d never seen myself making money from photography. Sure, I dabbled with Stock photographs a few years back, but it really wasn’t for me and I soon gave it up. I’m still not sure that I really want to turn it into a business. But, if opportunities present themselves I think I’m going to take more of them. What’s more, I think I’m going to start being a little pushier about using my photographs to get me things – access to other gigs, interesting photography opportunities, discounted toys, and whatever else comes up…
Tagging your photos – It’s been a frequent debate amongst my photography (and music) friends.
It’s never been something I’ve been particularly comfortable doing. I know how incredibly precious my photographs are to me, and in an effort to not get thin skinned about feedback on them I’ve adopted a casual attitude to them. Part of that casual (and nervous) approach has been to put my name in the EXIF and nowhere else. My thoughts have always been somewhere between “is my image good enough to put my name on?” and “will my name on it detract from the image?”.
If I post images here, you can bet it’s because I’m proud of them in some way or another. They might not be much compared to the average photographer, but they’re still important to me. Same goes for things on Facebook etc.
A few things happened over the last few months to make me revisit this and I’ve decided it’s time to try tagging my images. We’ll give it a go for a while anyway….