A home for the things I think are worthy of sharing. Will largely be photography based.

Archive for March, 2011

Hi-Key variations

So I’ve already given a teaser  on my shoot with Samantha Stone, I’ve finished editing half the set.

Originally the purpose of the shoot was to experiment with dark and gritty B&W photos, however towards the end we started playing around with Hi-Key photos. We moved on to a medical theme and so I think the “whiteness” suited it. Although most Hi-Key pictures tend to be clean, crisp and light in atmosphere we still wanted the grittiness to the feel.

Now as you’re probably aware – my usual style tends to be dark, hi-contrast (so not strictly low-key, but close) with fairly punchy colours. I occasionally think I should move away from that but often think – hey why push to be something that your not – or do something that isn’t your natural style – so on the whole I’m happy with it BUT variety is also good – so I sometimes like to have a play in other areas. This leads me on to these pictures and the editing of this part of the shoot – not being used to editing in this way I did a fair few variations. Initially this was limited to Black & White – variations such as : even contrast, high Contrast, various curves,  shading (I usually prefer sepia and/or blue – which I guess you could describe as “silver” since I tone down the Saturation) – but then later on I had a play at keeping it in colour.

So there are some of those examples – just for one image. I have my favourite and so does Sam, but wondered what others liked. Of course there are no right and wrong answers – just personal preference – but I’m always curious to know what these tend to be.

Sam - Original HiKey

Original / Basic Edit

Sam - soft light edit

"Soft Light" Edit

Sam Stone - Harsh Emboss

Harsh Emboss

Sam Stone JL edit

"JL" Edit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can click on them to get a larger image.

 

To give you a brief description (Photoshop geek stuff) ….

Basic – Just the basic stuff really – nothing too over the top. Less punchy than my usual style.

Soft light – As Basic but with a duplicated layer changed to Soft light. What I think this does is causes the dark areas to go darker, and the light areas lighter. I don’t really use Blending modes much. Don’t know what the difference between this and just upping the contrast.

Harsh Emboss – Some De-saturation with a High-Pass filter to make it look edgy.

“JL” – Both the Emboss and the “JL” methods (and Soft Light to a certain degree) are inspired from tutorials I’ve seen from a great (and young!) photographer called Joey Lawrence.  His stuff however is usually fairly dark so a lot more gritty – but I adjusted the techniques for my own liking. Great photographer/retucher though – check out his stuff.

Preference from colour edits:

 

Actually what the hell, here are some B&W edits.

 

Sam Stone B&W Basic Edit

B&W Basic Edit

Sam Stone - B&W Basic + Sepia

B&W Basic + Sepia

Sam Stone - B&W Basic + Silver

B&W Basic + Silver

Samantha Stone - B&W SoftLight

B&W SoftLight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…that’s it.


Bang Bang Club

Although I’m a pacifist I’ve always had a fascination with war films – mostly 2nd world war films.

Although I’m not a Pro photographer, and certainly not a news photographer – in the last couple of years I’ve had an interest in conflict photography. To the point that I’ve sought out and read some conflict photography book.

[BTW it’s generally called “Conflict” photography rather than “War” photography – I guess this means it covers much more bases such as revolutions or serious riots which may not be considered a war.]

What’s prompted this blog post is that I’ve seen that they’ve made a film of one of the books I’ve read and liked : Bang Bang Club. Hence the title of this post. Thought I’d do a mini review of the books I’ve read.

Books

Going in order of which I read them…..

FrontlineFrontline

:The True Story of the British Mavericks Who Changed the Face of War Reporting

About the rise (and ultimately fall) of an independant news/phototography agency : Frontline. It’s a fascinating and capacitative read covering several photographers/camera men in several different conflicts but mostly conflicts in recent times – so largely Bosnia and Iraq (1st time around). It describes how some of the guys would just go off to cover such wars knowing next to nothing about the war or places they were heading to – just camera in hand, but would quickly get to grips with the situations.  [Spoiler possiblity – but not overly so] It also shows why such independent agencies are now doomed with the control that the modern /western war machines put on journalism – with embedding (approved photographers going in with a unit) and pools (photographer/cameramen who are embedded have to share content with a group of other media agencies) being the only way to get to the Frontline. One fascinating and funny tale in the book was how one of the frontline guys got around this using an old uniform and his previous service experience – by all accounts it caused quite a stir! Very good book and worth a read.

Not only covering “getting the picture” it also covers the dilemma that it seems every war photographer/cameraman/correspondent seems to go through after they’ve covered a few conflicts, and is often raised when discussing images from wars – do I stop and drop everything to help, possibly save, that person or do I keep filming in order to tell the story to the world outside – which may in a way save and help more lives. Seems that some can make the decision and live with the confidence that they made the right decision, but others do not.

Bang Bang Club The Bang Bang Club

: Snapshots from a Hidden War: The Making of the New South Africa

The Bang Bang club is about some conflict photographers mostly in/from South Africa during the troubles of apartheid. They all start out as individuals and separate but through their mutual coverage of the troubles become good friends. Couple of famous names will be Jao Silva and Kevin Carter (yes – as in the Manic Street Preachers song – I didn’t know the song was about him until I read this book). As with Frontline – it covers various aspects of both work and personal life of the photographers – seeing how they cope (or not) with pressures both technically in the job but also personally. Although mostly based around the South Africa troubles it does also touch on areas elsewhere in Africa – such as Sudan where Kevin Carter took the now very famous and Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the little starving child collapsed on the ground with a vulture looming in the background.

Slightly Out of Focus

Semi auto-biographical account of Robert Capa’s time covering World War II. I say “Semi auto-biographical” as in the foreword it mentions that Capa wrote this book not so much as it exactly happened, but more so as a tale – so not every aspect is true to life.

An interesting read – and comparing to the other two you can see how things have changed with regards to getting access to a war as a photographer. Again – this book shows the kind of character that will up sticks on just an advance from a paper and will head into a war. In a way it paints a more romantic picture of the fringes of war (but I guess you can imagine that anyway – swapping Paris for Kabul or Sarajevo) but then harsher of the actual war itself – as Capa was one of the few photographers to go in with the soldiers on the D-day landings – as can be seen from the cover photo.

Without giving too much away – there are infact very few pictures of the D-Day landing itself – only 1 roll of film from the half or so dozen photographers made it to the papers – the book explains why – a very unfortunate story.

Films

Only seen the one that is really fact based or true to life, although I have War Photographer on DVD – I’ve not watched it yet.

Shooting Robert KingShooting Robert King

http://www.shootingrobertking.com

This film annoyed me, well no that’s not true – I thought it was a very decent film – Robert King annoyed me. He just came across initially as egotistical and over confident, then annoyingly naive, and then towards the end over self-reflective. But don’t stop  that letting you see the film – ha.

In all honesty – it’s worth a look – it’s a decent and interesting film, it’s just a bit of a shame it’s about 1 person, rather than about the genre or about a collection of photographers.  I guess the guys in the books were over confident too when they would run off to war with the newspaper advance  – but in the film medium – we get to see and hear this more directly. Maybe that’s what all confilict photographers are like – it must take something to go off to war of your own accord like that – especially the 1st one. But the advantage of that (this confidence and bravado being more obvious) is that the right of passage covered in all the books/films is a lot more in your face and “real” so you  get the feeling that – crikey – this stuff is really dangerous!

Will see how “War photographer” compares and the real conflict photographer(s) in it, oh and the Bang Bang club film.

Frontline Club

One of the offshoots of the Frontline agency is that they have set up a charity in honour of their fallen comrades and Media club in London, close to Paddington.

http://frontlineclub.com/club/about.php

I’ve occasionally seen mention of exhibitions and opening nights/ launches there – but I’ve never been. Not sure if you need to be an accredited media person or not. May be interesting to try it out though.


Funky Bokeh

For those that don’t know:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bokeh

Main Entry: bokeh
Part of Speech: n
Definition: a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image

So some of you probably thought that out of focus was just out of focus – but that isn’t the case. The construction makeup of a lens (and other factors – I’ll get into this in a mo) can influence how this “out of focusness” looks.

For the most part it’s not always obvious since many items blur into each other – but where it comes to effect most or when it’s most noticeable is when there’s a single point of light that is small enough but strong enough to be blurred as one unique area.

An example can be found on the Wiki page on Bokeh :

This image would be an out of focus picture of lots of minute dots of light.

If you really want to get into the technicalities of this dot of light turning into a blurred circle – look up “The Circle of confusion“.

Aaaaanyway – getting to the point – the factors that influence the characteristics of this blur/bokeh are the glass in the lens but more so the shape of the iris within the lens. Not all irises are the same as they will have various numbers of sliding metal plates.

The funky stuff, and the point of this post – is that you can cheat and place something in front of the lens – making a fake iris so to speak. I’ve seen it done a few times but just saw this music video where it’s used to clever effect – keep an eye out on the Circle of confusion turning into a “OH” of confusion or notes, walk sign, stops sign of confusion etc 😉

I originally found this on here : http://www.diyphotography.net/bokeh-masters-kit-used-to-create-boekhlicious-clip

And if you want to play around with this with a ready-made kit they sell one : http://www.bokehmasterskit.com/


Multiple Time-lapse

Multiple Time-lapse time!

Construction Time-lapse

Construction Time-lapse. You can see another camera on another column.

 

So I showed a little teaser in my last post about buying 8 little cameras.

These little beauties (GoPro HD) are usually used for extreme sports – Skydiving, snowboarding, surfing and the like as they’re very small, come in waterproof casings have a fisheye lens and are capable of HD. But we’re going to use them for a very different purpose.

As well as HD video they can also take 5Mpx pictures and are able to do timelapse internally – they can take a picture every 1, 5, 10 30 and 60 seconds. And as such they’re suitable for timelapse photography without a controlling computer. we already have timelapse setups using SLRs and a laptop – but the problem there is both the size and the cost. The issue with compacts is that none really (that I could find) have a suitable wide angle lenses. Most seem to end about 28 or at the extreme 24mm lenses. It’s possible to get adapters for some but that’s just another thing to go wrong. In addition the most likely candidate – the Canon G range has an issue – previously – up to the G10 you could control these via remote connection from a laptop – but for some reason – Canon decided to withdraw this in the G11 – strange.

Anyway – back to the point – we’re using them to take time-lapse photography of office installation from bare to fully kitted head office in 14 weeks.

 

So on Tuesday I set up 7 of these little fellas (will be 8 eventually) at the office development in Central London.

Here are a few examples:

timelapse camera view

Open plan office (to be)

Time-lapse camera

Bit of me on a raised platform

Time-lapse camera

Main meeting room area

Of course – these being fisheye lenses things are a bit distorted – but eventually we’ll correct this, including doing some cropping so that the picture fits into a standard video screen ratio.

At the moment these are are at their max time-span – taking a picture every minute.

So per day each camera will take :  1 (per min) x 60 (min in an hour) x 24 = 1,440 photos a day!

Over the total 14 week period this will mean 141,120 photos per camera!

Ok – now times that by x8 cameras!

We’ll have rather a few photos! But thankfully since we’re not really interested in night time pictures – we’ll likely delete those. Also to minimise visits to the camera (since they’re not offloading images to a laptop) we’ve maxed out the cards in each camera – to 32Gb – so doing calculations on average file size I’ll have to visit the cameras approx every 10 days. In testing night/dark shots were much smaller file sizes (~800k rather than 2.5Mb) but since this is a central London location with no curtains/blinds – there will be a fair amount of light-bleed into the building which will mean decent sized files.

 

So that’s what I was a bit stressed about last week – getting all the kit – cameras, special housings, chargers, various different mounts etc.

Glad it’s up and running.

Will post a bit more about the specific kit used a bit later on.

 

BTW If anybody does know of an ultra wide-angle compact capable of interval shooting – please get in touch. Because SLR’s have a physical shutter we’ve been killing them off like no business! Again – another post for another time 😉


GoPro fun

Look what just got delivered !

8 x GoPro HD cameras!

Sorry for the poor cameraphone picture and no more details – very busy and have lots to do – will post more on Sunday Hopefully.


The Stolen Scream/Images (via Fstoppers)

Fstoppers

Fairly soon I’m going to put up a post of a whole load of interesting links that I’ve collected over time – a mixture of blogs,news sites, photographer portfolios etc etc that I’ve collected gradually – but a firm favourite of mine is Fstoppers. Fstoppers is primarily a BTS (Behind The Scenes) video sites where photographers, or anybody can send them interesting Behind the scenes videos of shoots etc, however it also sometimes has other photography or imaging related videos, this is one of those.

The Stolen Scream / [“Stolen” images]

When it comes to copyright “protection” I’m torn between two opposites – at heart I am a bit of a hippy – I would love a utopian society where people do what they do for the love of it and are happy to share and give others credit – I am however also a realist and work for an Image library – where using image without permission = theft.

This is a fascinating story about an image being uploaded to a website (flickr in this case) and spreading it’s way through both the internet and the “real” world. I think most people would understand both the photographers pride and pleasure at seeing the image being spread like this – but also frustration at not getting the credit he deserves or financial reward for his creativity.

(More on the story:http://fstoppers.com/fstoppers-original-the-stolen-scream/)

My stance generally, with my photos, is that if a person or charity etc asks me politely to use one of my photos or for a copy – I will usually say – yeah – go ahead and I’d appreciate credit if online / in print etc – partially as  – well I’m a decent person but also because I’m terrible at asking for money ;).  If however a large company or other such profit making body were to ask – I would of course ask to be compensated i.e. £ – after all – my equipment costs money (several thousands of pounds in some years) and my time and effort to create images is of value to me. I’m not a pro but these things are still pricey and precious.

For these reasons I have avoided such schemes as Creative Common License – Not that I won’t allow free usage of my photos – but I like to know who, where, and ensure correct credit etc. Plus the danger is – once you’ve declared it under such a scheme – it’s practically impossible to change your mind and go back – anybody that uses the photo under the original terms can just claim that they got it when it was under CCL.

A very famous case is the Obama “HOPE” poster – the artist didn’t get permission to use the original photograph and as such the case has been in and out of courts ever since. Now been resolved though.


Sam B&W shoot editing

Task tonight (in addition to re-theming this blog) is to start editing the shoot I did with Sam (http://www.samanthastone.co.uk/) a week or so ago. Afraid this is overdue but I’ve been rather busy.

Primary purpose of the shoot was to have a go at doing some Black and White photos – not something I’ve done a huge amount of – and also do something a bit more gritty even though it was at home in my “studio”. We also got around to trying some Hi-Key shots – not something I’ve done a lot of since I naturally gravitate towards Hi-contrast / low-key lighting.

I had recce’ed out a grity location in central London thanks to Sean – but with no light or heating Sam and I thought best leave it for a lighter time and warmer time of year – hopefully use it soon though.

With Sam only living a short train journey away – hopefully have a few regular shoots.  I have after all been promising to do a lot more shoots now I have my own place – but been procrastinating up to now.

A quickie edit before I cook dinner

Samantha Stone