Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ghosts of the Past

Time tunnel

One of the tricks I'm planning to use in the book I'm working on (celebrating 150 years of the Otago Chamber of Commerce) is to combine historic pictures with contemporary shots taken from the same viewpoint. It's an idea I got from Sergey Larenkov's amazing WWII photomontages.

Photoshopping the montages isn't so hard. The most difficult bit is trying to get in the exact position and matching the focal length of the original photograph. Having a copy in front of you is essential but often its impossible to match the positions, especially in photos taken a long time ago as some places have been built on. It's also a challenge trying to match the lighting and weather conditions but its a very satisfying thing to do when you nail it. I'm tempted to make another book project of this one day. The thing I've picked up from Larenkov is that drama in the photos makes a huge impact, not just the change from then to now. People also help bring the shots alive, especially when they stare out of frame.

The Exchange

You can tell by the frames on these that I've made them my shots of the week for my mail list followers and the feedback has been very good. If I do try to make a commercial project of this, I might collaborate with a talented designer I know to really make the technique sing.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Faces and spaces


The other day Mrs C asked for a bunch of my images to use for compliments and greeting cards for her business. She's a pretty good client, so I cut her a special deal: She gets to use my work and I get... certain considerations. They turned out so well I'm thinking of producing some for sale eventually. That's my favourite model Boog. I'm so disappointed that he's left town, the camera loves him... in all his altered states.

I've also been back to Dunedin Public Art Gallery to shoot promotional shots of some of their spaces for hire. Shooting rooms can be scary and challenging, but DPAG is one of my favourite clients, and any time I get to climb a ladder for a shot is a good time! This was an exercise in stability: perched up a ladder, attempting to get a hand-held low-light shot with an unstabilised lens. Never thought I'd be able to produce a sharp shot at 1/8 before, but it's amazing what you can pull off when you're really motivated.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Industrial Photography

Laurie I'm glad to say that I'm finally getting to the part of my book project that I've been looking forward to: Shooting the pictures.  I love industrial photography, so shooting the engineering firms is going to be great fun.  There's something very cool about manufacturing and metalcraft, although after working summers at the Bluff Aluminium smelter, I knew it wasn't the career choice for me.  Like my Dad (who was a foreman fitter there) used to say: "I can tell you love hard work boy, I've seen you sit on your backside and watch it all day long"

AJ Grant is one of the firms I'm writing a little about, so when I popped in today to talk to manager Allan Grant, I thought I might as well take my kit and get some pictures.  Allan's brother and partner Bruce wasn't there, so I thought of this as a quick test shoot.

AJ Grant is a blacksmith and metalcraft firm who also do a great job of children's play equipment.  I've already got some playground shots, so I wanted to see what could be done quickly in the workshop.  I was drawn to the most cluttered part of the building.

Unlit workshop

Workshop lightingThe fluoro lighting was pretty standard, and there were some really dark places under the mezzanine storage area - that's lit by one of my flashes. I knew I'd want to lose the ambient and do my own lighting. The foot of the ladder looked like a good spot for a portrait of Allan.  I like the clutter that busy workshops always have, but didn't want it to look too grungy, so I decided to add some contrasting colour to the foreground and background.  There's something about blue light that lends things a hi-tech look, so I figured it would help  Then I popped another flash on the floor with a red gel to wash up the pillar in front.  I was happy.  A quick exposure test with Laurie as my stand-in (top), and then it was time for Allan.

Allan Grant

You could have gone crazy with this - softer light for Allan, hair/rim/fill light, more restricted beam...tormenting Allan until he gives me the perfect pose and look... there's no limit to the number of ways to do this. I may well go back and do it again when Allan's brother Bruce is available, but this was a quick workshop portrait, and it does the job.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Low Light, Little Camera, Big Lizards

A Mother's Love

Last weekend I forced myself to leave my DSLR gear at home for once and just take my little Canon G12 on a short family vacation to Auckland. It had served me well in the underwater housing during my white shark dive trip, but I hadn't really done much with it topside, apart from playing with its excellent macro function. One highlight of our weekend was to be the Walking With Dinosaurs show at Vector Arena, so I knew the G12 would be up for a good test. It didn't disappoint.

Brachiosaur Love T Rex

The lighting conditions were pretty low and we were a fair way up in the arena, so for much of the time I had the ISO cranked up to either 1600 or 3200 - places I very seldom go with my 7D or 5DII, while the lens was zoomed in to the max 5x 140mm equivalent. I have to say, I was impressed by the quality of the images it gave me. Almost as impressed as I was by the creatures and the show.

T Rex