Photography

Chthonic, Download 2013


So that was another minor bucket list item checked off: being with a band at Download. We only got to see one day of the three because of assorted logistical issues, and I spent all of it backstage either taking photos or being like water. For Chthonic, it was a special show, they brought over a string section and a Taiwanese pop singer, which made some of the planning challenging. We were delayed slightly be some setting up glitches, but still, once they started, they blew the roof off as usual. Catering was decent too. Good weekend!

Click on the image for a full gallery!

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Camden farmer’s market

The ambassador for Norfolk - Camden farmer's marketHere we have Norfolk’s ambassador to Camden presenting his wares at Camden farmer’s market. Ever since I’ve been in Camden I’ve wondered, and asked, often why Camden doesn’t have a farmer’s market. If I get the urge, I tend to wander up to Parliament Hill Fields on a Saturday morning.

Well, now it does on a Friday, albeit twice-weekly. There are tasty wares on offer, from artisan bread (Hoxton on the first week was sublime) to the obligatory Bath cheeses who turn up everywhere. I got some Tottenham Wildes cheese which being young was a bit bland. Give me some lovely Comté from the Dark Knights of Cholesterol any day!

I do fear for the market though. Footfall on a Friday during the day seems poor. Maybe some marketing among the local offices, leafleting local homes and perhaps cheekily doorstepping outside Morrisons or Sainsburys would help a lot. I will enjoy it while it lasts and looking forward to this coming Friday!

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Lucy Rose, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

 

 (David Hodgkinson)

Good gig. Nice to hook up with some of the Bristol/Bath posse and also some cousins I’d never met!

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The Tate: Pre-Raphelites, Turner, Moriyama

On strong urging, we went to see the Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain.

And therein lies a story. With joint visitation being in the region of £35, and an annual membership around £90 it seemed crazy not to cough up for membership. Plus we get lounge access! So I coughed up. And we got to see the Turner prize exhibition for free as well.

What is there to say about this that doesn’t sound overcooked? GO SEE IT. I’d been aware of the low-hanging fruit like Rosetti and Millais, as well as the crossover with William Morris, but to see the development of the school over decades and many affiliated and even unrelated artists was great. A room of Morris-related craft added to the ambience. The audio guide was worth it too according to my in-house artist, apparently. Will definitely go back before it closes!

The Turner Prize was a mixed bag. Too much un-grabbing video work for me. Paul Noble was robbed.

We then hit up William Klein and Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern. We’d seen the Moriyama video loop outside already which whetted my appetite. Sadly, despite the comprehensiveness of the shows, and all the contrasty black and white street photos, it left me cold. Nothing really captured. Might give it another try if we’re down that way again (likely). Also the member’s room was a zoo.

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On camera modes: “Sunset mode”

Regents Park sunset...When I teach photography, one of the things I tell my students is “don’t be afraid of the modes”. Tell this to someone who fancies themselves as a “proper” photographer and I’m likely to be met with the sucking of air over teeth. This is the reaction of a clueless bigot. All modes are are quick presets for certain situations: “sports mode” sets shutter speed priority, “beach” mode sets a nice sunlight white balance and “snow mode” fixes the exposure and white balance.

My old Canon S90 had a favourite: “sunset mode”. It took a fairly ordinary evening sky and turned it into something nice. It disappeared on the Canon S95, but with the power of fiddling, and for your benefit, I’ve worked out how to emulate it manually! Here’s the recipe: underexpose by one stop and ramp up the white balance. And here’s the result with several kittens: silhouette, reflection, sunset and a musician having his photo taken!

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Studio photography workshop

After having my arm strongly twisted, I ran a studio lighting photography session this weekend. Packing down ten weeks of Central St Martins course into six hours on Saturday (with time out for a nice lunch!), was quite tiring but ultimately I hope, successful.

I gave a handwaving introduction contrasting natural light with studio light: natural light means we have little or no control; in the studio with powerful lights we have ultimate control.

Then we ran through a few basic setups:

  • Full, model-style three light setup. No contrast. Boring but it’s what they like.
  • Turned off two lights, moved the big softbox off to one side, got nice contrast on the face.
  • Snooted one of the lights and pointed it at the model’s hair. It’s a bit cheesy when it’s overdone but can be nice.
  • Then we added a fan for that wild, blowy look. As our model had lovely golden tresses, this worked really well. Getting the fan too close can be a problem though!
  • After lunch, we acquired our male model and moved to a more masculine-friendly contrasty setup. One big softbox off to the side and a couple of black scrims to fully subtract any stray bouncing light.

With that, it was time for the pub and to discuss “what is art?” and “how can you tell if art is good?”. In the last ten years I’ve had two artist girlfriends and on art historian so even though I’m a techie at heart, I feel like I’m beginning to get a feel for it all so I’m happy to call a Rothko blob of colour good art!

I’ve got a few people on hold for another session, so if you’re interested, let me know and we’ll fix a date!

Thanks to Ania for the pic, I was too busy to take more than a couple of photos the whole day. One of my pictures on Flickr is here. Look at that yummy catchlight. I was even caught in a few pictures. Update: New session for October!

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Doris Yeh Signed Limted Edition Print!

Bloodstock 2012I managed to pin Doris of Chthonic down when she was over and got her to sign 3 (just 3!) giclée prints on Kodak archival paper on an acid-free 11″x14″ mount.

This shot was taken at Bloodstock Open Air 2012 up at Catton Hall, which was a fine show.

The cost is £150 plus £5 postage UK, £10 rest of the world (Royal Mail signed for and all that goodness). First three people to email me at [email protected] and arrange payment via PayPal will secure this one-of-a-kind item which will look incredibly stylish on anyone’s wall.

 

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London Zoo

Five years in London and I finally scratched an itch. The Zoo! First up, when we went in, my eyes watered. £23 for a ticket! Ouch! But I’ll say now, it was totally worth it. We were there for nearly seven hours and even with a cheeseburger at at £5.50 and a couple of cups of tea it was good value. OK, so the lions, tigers and gorillas were lethargic but that meant they were still so I got some reasonable shots. I can’t even begin to remember the names of many of the animals we saw, but here are some of the best. Disappointingly, no pandas or polar bears.

All the conservation work they do was sobering, much like the films we saw at the science museum. We are killing the planet. Razing forests for soy plantations is not good.

But yes, if you have a WHOLE DAY to spend in London, do the zoo.

Photography footnote: it was a really grey day, and it pushed even a really wide lens. Then the sun came out and it got worse.

Tiger

 

 

Pengiun

 

Giraffe

 

Pygmy Hippo

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London Festival of Photography

Having hibernated yesterday because of Jubilee rubbish grinding London to a halt and the awful weather, today I resolved to do better and hit up the London Festival of Photography. We saw a few exhibits last year and they were pretty good, and they’re well clustered in easy to get at parts of London.

First up were the Contemporary London Street Photography and The Great British Public exhibitions in King’s Cross and St Pancras Stations respectively. Don’t be put off by the busy locations, they are cracking shows with many photos guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Up the side of St Pancras on the way to Camden are two galleries: the Minnie Weisz showing “Camera Obscura” and the Hardy Tree showing “Single Saudi Women”. The former was closed, sadly, but the latter was an interesting project trying to show the breadth of life style of Saudi women in the UK. Incidentally the Minnie Weiscz Gallery is a great place to go to find out about wet plate photography!

Then, off up past my part-time alma mater Central Saint Martins to King’s Place for a welcome coffee and sit down. The Guardian offices in the same building were showing Beneath the Surface by Steve Bloom, a selection of photos of apartheid-era South Africa.

A handy bus took us from there to the British Museum for “Money in Bamako and London” a surprisingly small set for such a large space. It links lives in Mali and London within the context of the recent upheaval there.

And finally, a dusty doorway on Oxford Street hid yet more excellent street photos. 3Space have taken over a floor in a disused (how can office space on Oxford Street be disused?!!) office to show yet more “International Street Photography“. Some more smile-crackers in there, especially the Mexican workers in the backs of pickups.

The only other exhibit I feel really drawn to is the London photographs from the late fifties and early sixties at the Museum of London. Not long now before my childhood is history!

So yes, a good day out and inspired with this and a new camera, I might have dashed off some street snaps too.

 

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Shiny new Nikon D700

Nikon are apparently winding down manufacture of the D700 in favour of the supremely expensive D800 and the rumoured-this-autumn full-frame D600. My D300 suffered further creeping death with the failure of the on-board flash: pop up the flash and the camera freezes. Otherwise, it’s still a supremely useful camera for gigs portraits and on-camera and tethered speedlight.

Jubiliee leggingsI’ve had an itch to go full-frame for a while and snoozed and losed when John Lewis had a batch for £1500 and I missed it. A couple of weeks later, I wandered again onto the John Lewis site and they had two in stock. No, wait, only one. I bought it. Just got to figure out how to get £75 back on their price match promise.

The thing about the Nikon D700 is that while people are being most about the D800, the D700 is the same camera it was when it first came out and people were moist about that. It’s full-frame and has a couple of stops of low-light more than the D300. That’ll do for me. I have two AF FF-capable lenses, and a crop 80-200 which will continue to do fine for gigs and portraits.

I took it out today while we were wandering about viewing the London Festival of Photography and mainly have this observation: it’s just the D300 on steroids. It’s got pretty much the same functions as the D300 with some extra goodies like a horizon measure.

I’ve got the “My Menu” set up with my shortcuts again. The wheel under the thumb has a nice positive click. Otherwise, all in all, a good solid purchase. Hopefully I’ll get a good solid five years out of it.

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