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Same subject, same lesson, different location

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A while back I wrote a blog about a trip to London to see Lee Evans and the impromptu photo session the morning after. If you cannot recall this, or maybe you havent read it then take a look here . To cut a long story short I was advised quite early in the morning of shooting images at Canary Wharf that I needed permission to shoot professionally at this location. Well as I wasnt shooting professionally and I had no intention of selling the images I couldnt see the problem. This moved on to them suggesting that I needed permission to use a tripod and would need public liability insurances for said tripod. Well, what a mess eh? In a way the police officers were right, the land at Canary Wharf is private property and a quick look on the website does in fact state that commercial photographers will require permission.

Why does a tripod, a long lens and the actual manner of looking like you know what you are doing make joe public think you are either a professional photographer or a member of the paparazzi? Answer…A sign of the time. My comment to this…does driving a 1984 Ford Escort make you a rally driver? Answer: No.

The very nice people at Strictly Yorkshire Photography Group had arranged a tea-time meet up at Clarence Dock in Leeds City Centre. If you are not familiar with this place then take a look here…(Wikipedia). This is a great locations for photography during the day but at night the scene is set for coloured lighting, awesome reflections, rippling water and countless silhouettes. Trip Advisor, Visit Leeds and various other tourism sites have good things to say about Clarence Dock including

“The docks are nice but nothing to rave about. However from behind it there is a really nice path through the canal. You can walk to Methley and even further enjoying the landscape. I highly recommend this if you have a day off with nice weather and a picnic”

“A pleasent walk on way to Royal Armouries, one can only imagine what this area must have looked like before it was re-developed. Seemed a very busy area, people taking boat trips, riding bikes or just sitting reading. Noticed nice selection of eateries.”

But no where in any of the reviews or details does it say you are not allowed to take photographs. This got me thinking how many images must there be on the internet of Clarence Dock and its waterways on the internet. My first port of call was flickr. Where I found this image and the quote “…this is one of my favourite locations in Leeds to come and test new (or old) camera equipment!” … mmmmm

The evenings photography had already started when I arrived and a few people were stood around arranging images and setting up tripods. I proceeded to do the same and within about 10 minutes of doing so I was approached by a security guard. His words to me were “Do you have permission to take photos?” to which I answered “Do I need permission?” he then began explaining that the land was private property but we could stand further back (approximately 20ft) and that was a public highway. Now this begs the question of signage. Surely if something is private property there must be a sign telling you so. There is a public footpath along side this area over Knights Bridge and within this area are local shops and restaurants i.e. Tesco, Mumtaz to name a couple.  If it was private proprty then surely this would limit access to the shopping area?

Looking at Google Images reveals thousands of images of Clarence Dock, even at night. The BBC Leeds website even praises and hosts an image by a local photographer from the exact location we were stood at. Our latest distant accquaintance “Mr Security Guard” whom incidentally refused to give us his name but insisted he had only worked here a week had stuck to his decision and insisted we couldnt take photographs.

I was tired, my head was in agony and as much as it was ideal for photography a clear night would have been so different. As the others headed off to find a new location, I headed back to my car and a short ride home with my single image. It wasnt a total waste of time but it just felt like Canary Wharf all over again.

Unlike Canary Wharf who have a website that clearly indicates that no commercial filming or photography is allowed, Clarence Dock has very little and the only item I can find relates to a company called “Allied London” who are a property developer who originally purchased the “New Dock” site.

Maybe one day I will find out. Until then, all photographers out there, watch what you are taking…..you never when you are on private property

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Fundraising is a family affair for mum of three

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A Sunrise & A Sunset … all in 10 hours

The low light addiction continues. At last some nice weather….with nobody working in the planning department over the last few days (btw the planning department is fictional and is actually my personal  ideas bank) and the intermittent rain the camera hasnt ventured further than my cupboard. I have actually thrashed around looking for photos to edit and to my horror after playing around with a recent photo I discovered ten gazillion dust spots. With no sensor swabs left I am stuck with the wretched thing in this condition for the time being. Not to worry, the advantages of having a spare camera body.

Last night the sky looked quite promising and opened up a wealth of opportunity for a an evening sky shot. I jumped in the car, drove the couple of miles over to Rawdon and set my stall out. There are one or two vantage points that are not so high in Rawdon, thus allowing some foreground in the frame. Been to high up limits foreground inclusion and getting the foreground makes all the difference; silhouettes are the primary value of this type of low light photography and as much as minimalism has its place this was not todays foray.

Yes, the low light addiction continues and so does my passion for panoramic stitching. I find it irresistible. Just one look over the vista and I am mentally sewing imaginary images together like a digital tailor. Anyway, one to last nights image. At this time of year sunset is at a reasonable time and 8pm I can cope with when a sunrise is planned for the following morning. At the shortest part of the year, a good spell of weather tests my mentality as well as my strength as the time between sunset and sunrise is at its shortest. The time difference on June 21st is only 6 hours 55 minutes. When you deduct travelling time and getting up along with the fact that the best sunrises are usually before the sun breaks the horizon, the best sunsets after the sun actually sets then you can see exactly where I am coming from.

The following image is taken looking almost due west towards the Pennines just after the sun dipped below the horizon. It comprises of three horizontally stitched images. The clouds were moving from right to left very slowly and in my opinion made the whole scene a much more pleasing. If I had my way (which I didn’t) they would have covered much more of the scene.

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After the result of Friday evenings offering and the knowledge that fine spell was to continue for the next twenty-four hours at least I planned on an early morning sunrise image-fest. With only 5 hours in bed I was up with the birds at 5am and heading out of the door to this mornings chosen location. A few months back I tried some images from a place called Adel. Adel is a small hamlet in North West Leeds just a few miles from the city centre. It is situated in quite a rural area with a vast array of photographic opportunities. Not only that, something I was in need of….Foreground.

I left home in the dark and drove the 6 miles to the east. The location looks across a plethora of fields each bordered by small thicket and the odd tree scattered for good measure. Awesome material for sunrises. One of the advantages of this location is its’ position in regard to altitude. It is in a valley floor and the expanse to the east is flat too. This is a great place to be for including foreground objects as silhouettes. I was on to a winner and maybe a sunrise and sunset within hours of each other.

I knew exactly where I was heading for, previous visits and Google Earth have a lot to answer for you know. On to the images…in the space of 20 minutes the whole scene changed. It started with a glow of orange that paled in to the blue early morning sky with a few scattered low clouds. It finished with a mass of orange spread across a vista of fields, trees and hedgerow.  Two images are shown below to illustrate the difference twenty minutes can make.

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The final image looks quite dark in the foreground but viewed large you can actually see detail. A worthy trip out at both ends of the day even if it did span two dates. Thank you for looking, as usual all comments welcome

Enjoy your weekend.

Clarence Dock | 2nd April 2013 – Monochrome Magic

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I took a very dear friend to the Leeds General infirmary yesterday. Instead of dropping him off and returning home to wait for his call I decided to explore.

Now I have been here before and there is a set on Flickr to show it but I really love Clarence Dock and the surrounding area. There is so much to see, shapes, lines water, stonework, buildings and people…you name it.

I set out with Monochrome in mind. And I was to stick to it. All images were shot in RAW so they officially were colour but with a conversion in CS6 to get me to the mono stage. One thing that struck me was the lack of people around. It was very very quite and even the Royal Armouries seemed slow.

I slowly wandered around updating images that had been obtained on several occasions and then I had a bit of a “Montage Moment”. I started tapping off images one by one at different angles all with the intention of joining them together. Nothing new here you may say and yes I agree, except I have never created a stitch/montage with so many images. One of them had over 100 base shots to compose it.

Please have a look at this set and see what I managed in under an hour at Clarence Dock

Thanks for looking…

As inspiration goes, this is up there with the best | Lomokev

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I have always been open to inspiration with my photography. Years of studying, reading, more studying, taking photos and doing recce’s of locations has taught me that. Reading about historical photographers is a great way to understand not just technique but the way things have progressed with technology since earlier times but most importantly the ways that ideas have progressed and altered. Photographically, if we are all stuck in the same rut doing the same things day in, day out then the job in hand would surely become very tedious. I’m not talking about professional photographers with specific interests like bird life, wildlife, photojournalism who are tasked to do specific tasks etc… what I am referring to is the run of the mill photographer getting out and trying something different for a change.

Of course, this is easier said than done. I will be the first to admit that back in the beginning of my photography years I would never have stepped out of my comfort zone; a comfort zone moulded from family grounding, holidays in summer and Agfa Ct-18 film. There is a whole article on my blog here about this very subject. It was only through forced situations and then education that I began to learn how to deal with opportunities thrust before my eyes and positions that were psychologically out of my league offered to me on a plate. What I dont want to and not going to do is start criticising and condemning camera club photography. I have been a member of various clubs since I was sixteen and having sat and watched countless slide shows, stood and given numerous presentations and made some fantastic friends; they are great places to go. If you are a budding photographer or a serious enthusiast, a complete professional or just want the social atmosphere then this is something that I would highly recommend. Unfortunately what I have found is that some (and that is said very loosely) can be very set in their own ways. The acceptability of images that push the boundaries of photography to the limit can easily be frowned upon. Club lectures and presentations frequently concluded with some members silently questioning whether the last two hours would have been better placed at an art club or even a local historical society. A number of years ago I attended a lecture at an unamed club where a very highly qualified and competent photographer and artist had been asked to speak. His two-hour slot was to display a very small portion of an extensive portfolio on a set subject. He had chosen to show around 120 images that were all uniformly mounted in large black frames and looked very impressive in terms of demonstrating continuity.

The images were all based upon rejects that had been cast aside over the years whilst sorting through his newly received slides. Instead of doing what most of us would do and throwing them away, he had chosen to store them for a rainy day. Before the digital age it was impossible to check the accuracy of your composition, ISO, exposure and shutter speed settings. Waiting until it had been developed was the only option back then, usually a box of 36 slides had 1 or 2 rejects that were either split frames from the end of the roll or purely out of focus and candidates for the trash. He had kept them and put them in a show called “Oooferiges” a ficticious word that stood for Out Of Focus Images.

I could really follow his lead… the colours, the shapes, the ideas (intentional or not) were great and it really got you thinking. I could understand why he hadn’t thrown them away. It was like art college all over again. I set out to try it myself and at the time it was one of the “been there, done it, filed it away” topics as something more important was always waiting in the wings to try next. College taught me a lot. Not just how to take photographs but how to see. How to use an image for its worth not just its photographic quality. An image that may first appear unsuitable for whatever reason may not necessarily be destined for the bin. It taught me that photography is co-joined with art and that the two are inseparable. It taught me that surrealism can be your friend and as a photographer you have so many choices to make when it comes to taking, editing and printing the final shots. Each stage can have influences that will steer the eventual purpose of the finished piece.

What it also taught me is that there is no right or wrong way to take a photograph. If you intentionally set about tilting the camera to add a different take on a portrait then so-be-it! It is not for anyone else to judge but the end recipient or user. A classic example of the difference between 1980’s club photography and the real world of image making in business. If a customer should call asking you to shoot a portrait against a barbed wire fence with a model wearing an army uniform and from a very low angle to emphasise the size of the feet then that is what you must do. If it breaks all the rules of photography then it doesn’t matter. The point here is that it fits the customers criteria and brief and they paid you to do that then it’s a result. All parties are happy. Job done.

I learned this at the right time and on every photo shoot and trip out I was always up for trying new angles and different approaches. In the computer I would play with Adobe Photoshop and push an image to its limits to create what I had envisaged as the final output. One example of this can be seen below. Low light photography: a simple image of something I love….but with a slightly different take
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A mere low light photograph of a simple subject, but by carefully exposing over a few minutes then later increasing the blacks and contrast, cropping alternativley and changing the style of the image by allowing the subject to move creates a whole new take on an idea. In my opinion the ghostly figure really makes it jump out. I have had quite a few inquiries to purchase this shot and it has subsequently been used in a number of publications.

In September last year I was invited to the White Cloth Gallery by a group called Exposure Leeds. The White Cloth Gallery is a unique space for established artists to exhibit and elevate projects of particular importance while at the same time providing a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work. The gallery and its events space also has a pioneering vision to support the artistic community, encourage creativity and work alongside other local arts organisations to aid the city’s burgeoning development as a cultural centre and to become ago-to destination for art lovers everywhere. Throughout these endeavours they also wish to promote a socially aware and progressive approach to visual culture and aim to create a sense of community, attracting artists and visitors from all walks of life. White Cloth Gallery is also home to the WCG fully licensed Café and bar – a cool and vibrant urban retreat, serving up tasty snacks for those looking to enjoy the exhibitions, as well as those just looking to grab a drink or a bit to eat. An early start to the evenings presentation meant parking in central Leeds in the rush hour. A note to any prospective visitors:- allow plenty of time for this as it’s not as easy as it may first seem.

I was attending to see a presentation by multi-featured photographer, author, teacher and speaker Kevin Meredith (aka Lomokev). Kevin’s website can be viewed here. The video of the presentation is available for viewing on Kevin’s website and link to watch it is shown below

There had been no time for me to do any research on Kevin’s work as the invitation I received was very late, same day if I am truthful. I turned up “blind” if that is the right expression to use and made the customary introductions in the meet and greet area of the White Cloth Gallery. Upon sitting down and listening to Kevin talk I felt an instant connection to what he was saying. Everything I had learned over the years raced through my mind with certain items triggering old ideas and others tossing memories around like a leaf in the wind. I was fixated. I had learned alot about surrealism and studied the works of David Hockney at college so joining photographs to create montages was nothing new to me. Prior to this evening I really thought nothing could surprise me when it came to photo montage and joiners. Kevin Meredith on the other hand did surprise me. This chap has established his own ideas and turned out some absolutley amazing pieces of work.

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I can understand that this is not to everyone’s taste but personally this is right up my street. For much of his photography Kevin uses a Lomo-LC-A Camera. This is a fixed length 35mm compact style camera. It is loosely based on the Cosina CX-2. The camera is a perfect companion to this style of work and in particular Kevin’s ideas and approach to photography. This is just my opinion but the Lomo Camera is a perfect tool for street and documentary photography allowing easy use for this experimental style approach. It allows easy storage in a large pocket and can be used quickly and effectively. The Lomo Camera is available in many forms which were kindly demonstrated by Kevin at the event. The camera stems from a style of photography called Lomography. This is an analog camera movement and community and also a commercial trademark of Lomographische AG. The Lomographic Society International was founded in 1992 by a group of Viennese students after they discovered the Lomo LC-A Camera. In 1991, a group of Viennese students discovered the Lomo LC-A and were “charmed by the unique, colorful, and sometimes blurry” images that the camera produced. The name is inspired by the former state-run optics manufacturer LOMO PLC of Saint Petersburg, Russia. If you would like to read more about Lomography and the Lomo LC-A then click here for a link to Wikipedia

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Another of Kevin’s many arms in photography is shooting portraits. As before, he lends his own unique take on portraiture by capturing images from his hometown of Brighton and the people on the streets. He narrows his selection by discretion and in particular to fit his own ideas of hip and notable characters. A lot of this work is for Brighton Source Magazine’s street style section. I personally find these “Fragmented” portraits fascinating. It’s hard to put my finger on what it is but I particularly like the un-cropped edges and the very alternative approach of the imperfection in the joins. It reminds me so much of my studies of David Hockney back in my exam days. Kevin has a whole site on these portraits here and they are really worth a look. I have discussed this elsewhere on Nomoredeadpixels but I will say it again; it takes courage some nerve to approach a stranger in the street and speak to them. It takes a lot more to ask them to pose for a photograph let alone half a dozen of them.

After Kevin’s show at the WCG I vowed to go away and try this myself. As it stands currently, I am yet to do anything like this and forever fall back in to my own style. It’s not for a lack of desire to do it, more a fear of “copying” and offending the original artist. I am sure Kevin wouldn’t mind as he is not the only photographer to do this type of imagery. A quick google search reveals many derivatives but the fear came from the heart. I’m not a person to copy, I much prefer to put my own take on the ideas of others. Ideas, we all have them, and many will have a go at doing the obvious and making an exact replica of what they have seen. I would much rather try to understand what the photographer was thinking and go out with the same feelings and shoot a different subject with the same approach (if you follow).

So there it remains. A field that I have yet to try. But one that is almost certainly in the queue.

Thanks for reading. Kevin is a great guy and if you are fortunate to meet him you will completely understand everything I have talked about. Please, please take a look at his website and his Flickr pages…it will take you hours and you will inadvertently become one of thousands of addicted viewers. I am going to leave you with one final image from Kevin. In his own words, from his website “At the HiFi festival in 2006 I spent the night documenting the array of different coloured wellies on show. Before 2006 wellies were mostly green or black, this was the first time I had seen so much variety. I also shot some of these images at another festival, Beachdown in 2008. Shortly after Beachdown I was contacted by CHI Partners asking if they could use the images in a TV spot for the Sunday Times Festival guide.” Click the image below to view the full article.

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Links

Kevin Meredith aka Lomokev – Photographer, Author & Teacher
http://lomokev.com

Kevin Meredith – flickr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lomokev/

Kevin Meredith – Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Meredith

Lomokev – Twitter
https://twitter.com/lomokev

The White Cloth Gallery, Leeds
http://www.whiteclothgallery.com

Exposure Leeds
http://exposureleeds.org/

All images are copyright (c) Kevin Meredith and must not be reproduced.

Nearly Spring | Tarnfield Park

Finally, some sunshine. This light was just crying out for some photo opportunities. Just two minutes away is a location that always has the ability to host some photography.

Only managed this one though, its a two-image photo-stitch. Thanks for looking

Via Flickr:
A stitch of two images taken with my Canon G9 A beautiful, but cold morning.

Leeds Bradford Airport | 28th February – Shooting in to the sun grrrr

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G-CELD Early Climb Out

The Photos from “The Day of the Faux Pas” .. enjoy !

Bananas ! A Faux Pas

Exactly ! Bananas….that’s how Thursday started at Winterbourne Towers. In a nut shell (or Banana skin in this case) I stole my wifes breakfast. Technically speaking it was a “portion” of her breakfast. Well I didn’t know that she wanted a banana in her porridge did I? Elaine never has banana in her porridge, she always has Granola. Having said that so do I. Anyway, to cut a long story short we’ve not had chance to shop this week yet so supplies have been diminishing slowly with Granola and bananas holding on to the top two on the shopping list chart rundown. This is all beyond my awareness as a male by the way. So Thursday commences like any other Thursday.  I got up slightly early to make sure the sunrise wasn’t up to much after yesterdays faux pas. And also because I had agreed to meet my good friend Lee Pirie aka Yorkshire Flyer to have a morning taking aviation images. Two days in a row I hear you say. Yes, its been a while hasn’t it. Anyway, back to the bananas… I am going to try to defend myself here but it’s probably all in vain as I know I was in the wrong. So here goes…My beautiful wife (that’s not a grovel by the way, that’s what I always call her) Elaine was about to put two bowls of Porridge on the table and as usual I pop a sliced banana in my bowl along with a small handful of  Granola. This morning there was only two very small bananas left in the fruit bowl so I grabbed them both thinking that wasn’t greedy as they were significantly smaller than normal and proceeded to slice them whilst sat at the table.  After Elaine had placed the bowls on the table a brief statement to the words of “Oh there’s no bananas.. err … there were some bananas” came out of her mouth with a comical glance in my direction. Yes, I know, I was guilty. I just didn’t know….. “I’ll just have porridge then shall I” she said….We laugh about things like this, because life is way too short. I did offer Elaine my bowl before you ask.

Despite the Faux Pas at breakfast Elaine was still communicating with me, that was until the second slip up of the day. Elaine has been very fortunate to have been granted a place in this years BUPA Great North Run. My wife is what I would call a serious, casual runner. You know what I mean, she doesn’t go running twice a day and spend 32.5 hours in the gym and she doesn’t need a rub down from a bronzed Italian masseuse afterwards. Elaine runs to a plan; she has a set routine in place for the countdown to the GNR and she’s sticking too it. I have to give her credit as her running is something that has evolved over the last few years and I am extremely proud of her. I never thought I would see someone diagnosed with Asthma run the way she does.  Anyway, before I set off to meet Lee this morning Elaine informed me that she was going running. Now, I don’t have the best memory in the world, but it might have helped if I had listened instead of drifting off in to Winterbourne-Land and thinking of aviation and photography. Half an hour in to my photography I received an email on my phone asking for further details regarding an issue I had with a website I am looking after. Now I knew these details were on my desk at home and instead of being patient and waiting until I actually got home, I did what I always do and ring my beautiful wife, only this time Elaine was 5 miles from home and half way through her training plan.The  only way of answering the phone was to stop her in-ear coach and take my call. Well, I didn’t know did I? I should have listened. I actually rang twice, because she didn’t answer first time which I think made things worse. When I finally did get to talk to her I found out that I wasnt the only one that had rung and I was reliably informed that her morning run was crumbling beneath her feet. I’m truly sorry Elaine……lol 🙂

On to the important bits…. My great friend Lee Pirie, (before you go any further please have a read of Lee’s Bio here because this guy is the salt of the earth and what you would call a real true friend. You know what I mean, someone who would do anything for you and you would do the same back ). Lee loves his photography just like me and with the weather being so nice it was an ideal opportunity to get up to the airport. Lee expressed his desire to get some photographs of this mornings Thomson Holidays flight as it departed. So that was it, the stage was set. Cloudless skies, wall to wall blue and sunshine..yeehaa..a photographers best friend. In winter the sun rises almost in the south-east and this leaves a bit of a problem at Leeds Bradford Airport as it means shooting in to the sun. Who cares !! this is No Rules No Limits Photography … so we did.

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Jet2 Boeing 737 departing Leeds Bradford Airport

As you can see from the shot above, the images do require a little bit of attention once you get them in to the computer. But they do give an impression of what it was like. I really like seeing the heat from the back of the engines in shots like this, it really provides atmosphere. We arrived at the end of the runway just in time for the Thomson flight and with the view down the runway looking direct in to the morning sun it was going to be a similar effort to the one above.

Thomson Boeing 757 rotating off runway 32 at Leeds Bradford Airport

Thomson Boeing 757 rotating off runway 32 at Leeds Bradford Airport

It was, in fact it was almost an exact replica. What happened next was very strange and it took a couple of minutes to sink in what had actually happened. As the aircraft passed overhead and climbed in to the Yorkshire sky it started to snow. Seriously. Lee and I looked at each other in disbelief. There were no clouds and the sun was shining.  You could see the snow, feel the snow it was very strange. Before I had time to take it in, it had stopped. The only explanation I could muster up was that it had blown off the wings of the departing 757 and it was actually small ice crystals and not snow. Who knows.

It was a slow morning  at Leeds as aircraft movements were limited but we had a great time and I managed to tap off just under a hundred frames. It was also great to catch up with Lee again, I am just hoping it wont be as long before we get together again. Thanks Lee.

On a final note….Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today…..

Posing, Poses and Posers

These tips are by no means intended to be any sort of official rules. These are things I’ve learned as I developed into a photographer. I can only speak from the best of my knowledge, experience, and style. Not all of them will fit everyone’s style and some of them might work or not work depending on what type of photography you are focusing on or how your photo shoot is progressing. I don’t want to announce myself as an expert in this field of photography, because this is one thing I am not. To start with, lets see some examples. Like anything in photography, and just in my personal opinion, people will say there are right ways and wrong ways to do things. As much as I can agree with that statement, in the Model Shoot | 25th June 2012mark_001 (2)mark_001 (10)end if you are happy with your results and they fit the criteria you set out before you began your photoshoot then where is the problem? There are however, photographers that firmly believe that the way they do things is the only way. I don’t condone anyone who is happy to carry on shooting the one and only way they know how as long as they are happy with the results. Some photographers are afraid of change. Fact. There are many phrases that spring to mind but the one that jumps out first is “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it”. This can be applied in many circumstances but in some instances it isn’t always that appropriate. Sometimes a little push in a different direction can open up a whole new window of opportunity for you and I. Something as small as someone suggesting something can make you realise. As uncomfortable as it may feel, you suddenly see things from a different perspective. You can open up whole new avenues of ideas and nine times out of ten you will usually end up asking yourself “why didn’t I see that earlier?” or “what was I thinking?”. Photography is not about secrets, it’s not about hiding things away. We share our images with the world for others to see and ultimately enjoy. So why hide the creative process.

In this age of digital photography, presently, we have the ability to shoot and check, adjust, shoot and check again..until we achieve the results we want. So we have no excuse for not knowing that we have what we came for before we leave a set or a studio. We live in an electronic age; and as photographers with digital cameras we now have the ability to tether the camera to a laptop either with a cable or even wirelessly. If you have never tried tethered shooting before I can highly recommend it.

Tethered Shooting involves connecting the camera you are using to a computer or laptop during the photo shoot. It’s a great idea if you are working with a subject (not just a model) where the focus needs to be checked to pinpoint accuracy. tether08When tethered, your camera is connected to your computer or laptop via a USB or FireWire cable, so each image is immediately available on the computer screen for you to look at. I have used it for some macro work at home inside Adobe Lightroom 3 and 4 and had some fantastic results. Using a computer screen to check your images is also a great way to understand how the small screen on your camera can make mistakes. Checking the focusing on macro shots gives a whole new experience when you see the images on the big screen. It makes it easier to place lights, define framing and correct things because you see each flaw in your technique. If you’re using RAW expect for some delay for the images to appear on-screen as file sizes from the latest cameras are quite large.

Back to the subject of posing. Below are twenty ideas that will give you an insight in to what you might want to try when doing a studio shoot. Enjoy !!

  1. Don’t shoot shoulders square on. Shoulders are the widest part of a body and as a photographer it is our job to flatter the least flattering parts of our bodies. Shooting straight on is not flattering. Angle the shoulders slightly to lead the viewer into the photo.
  2. If it bends, then bend it. Don’t let your clients have straight joints. It looks stiff and un-relaxed. Asking your client instead to slightly bend an arm or walk as they have their photo taken will help your client look relaxed and naturally posed. This rule also applies to the neck. If the neck looks stiff, ask your client to tilt their head slightly.
  3. Shoot straight on, or better from above. Shooting from below a person makes even the most gorgeous subject look awkward. Shooting from above can make someone appear slimmer, eliminates double chins, and can provide a beautiful look into your subjects eyes. Shooting from below can make someone’s hips appear wider than they are or any other body part and this is generally unflattering.
  4. No up the nose. Sometimes we forget our perspective and as moms when we photograph newborns we look at them the way a mom would holding them and take a photo. Anytime you are shooting a face from below or at an angle, be careful you are not doing ‘up the nose’ shots where you can see up your client’s nostrils. This can happen during any type of photography, so it’s good to be aware.
  5. Sharkeyes. Sharkeyes are when someone’s eyes in a photo are black and have no light or color to them. Ensure that the eyes of your clients have good catch lights or sparkle to them by asking them to tilt their head or turn slightly one way or another. These small movements can give that sparkle to a client’s eye that can make or break a photo.
  6. Put weight on the back leg. Have clients angle their shoulders so they’re not square to your camera and put their weight on their back leg. This automatically makes them relax.
  7. Give your clients lots of direction. Most people are uncomfortable in front of the camera and you have to direct them. Giving them direction will help them feel confident and that confidence will show up in the photos.
  8. Let one pose become many. You can move your own feet, or zoom in or zoom out or move slightly to the side and take photos from different angles.
  9. Have your clients look places other than your camera. You can tell them to look away, look down over their shoulder, look past your camera to provide a different emotion to your photos.
  10. Give your clients encouragement. When they’re in front of the camera they can’t see what they look like and they need to know if they look good. When they hit a good pose or you’re taking photos that you know have hit the mark, let them know how good they look.
  11. Portraits are traditionally shot a few degrees above the eyes.
  12. Bring a stepladder with you to all your photography shoots and weddings.
  13. Talk to your clients. Getting to know them gives them a sense of trust with you. You want your subject to trust that you know what you’re doing and can make them look good.
  14. Sometimes people’s faces get stiff. Ask your clients to take a deep breath and breath out with their lips slightly open. The few moments after this your clients face will be relaxed and natural – so snap a few. If that doesn’t work, ask them to do the “pufferfish” face where they blow up their cheeks and then let it all out. That helps their face to relax too. If you do it with them, they won’t feel as silly.
  15. Give them something to do with their hands. They can touch their cheek, run their hands through their hair, put their hands on a nearby object…something.
  16. Show them what you mean. Instead of trying to tell your client how to pose, get in the pose to show them how you want it to look. You’re a photographer right? You are visual and probably learn visually and it’s likely that your clients are visual learners too!
  17. Be aware of ears. Shooting people straight on can make their ears appear large. With women if they are tucking their hair behind their ear or if their ear sticks out just slightly it can be one of those things that will bother them later in photos and can sometimes look distorted when in 2-dimensional photography form
  18. Get close. One of the biggest newbie mistakes is to shoot from far away and get lots of the background or landscape in the photo. This happens a lot when we’re not confident with posing. If you force yourself to get close the photo becomes more about the clients and their interactions with each other or with you than about the background.
  19. Limbs. If you are cropping out anyone’s body ensure that your crop lines do not fall at the joints (wrists, knees, elbows, etc.). When this happens it gives the appearance that the subject’s body does not continue past the frame of the photo. Instead if you have to crop, do it where there isn’t a join and this will give the impression that the rest of their arm, leg, etc. continues beyond the photo.
  20. Watch for shadows and light. There’s a reason a lot of photographers like to shoot in that ‘golden hour’ either in the wee hours in the morning or just before sunset. The light is even and not harsh and it prevents you from having strange shadows on your clients faces. Shadows below the nose or below the eyes can give your client the appearance of not being as good-looking as they truly are. Whatever time of day you are shooting aim to ensure that your clients faces are in perfectly even light where there are no harsh shadows. If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, shoot in the shade.

mark_001 (11)

I actually did it….. 33 days late

I finally decided to remove my “idle plug” and get on and edit a photo (or two). I posted this to my Flickr pages in only my third posting of the year. The first was the lovely winter scenes that I managed to capture a couple of weeks ago and the second was the crane that toppled in to the canal. Since then nothing. It’s not down to my enthusiasm.. well, maybe a little bit; I can’t even put it solely down to the weather, actually its more down to me deciding to be more selective. Over the last few years I have uploaded just shy of 11,000 images to Flickr and I have loved every minute of it.  But, and that’s a big but, I have learned that quantity doesn’t override quality and as much as I have time to take and process images I have decided my time would be better used being more selective. So there you go…and here I am, the more selective me. So, for today “Saturday” I removed my idle plug and edited a photo (or 3 as this is a photostitch) and uploaded it to my Flickr page. Just for information, the image is taken with my Canon G9 and stitched using Microsoft ICE. The three images were taken at quite an extreme angle hence the angle of the buildings in the foreground (Left & Right). It was quite difficult to balance the exposure between the highlights of the sunset and the shadows of the foreground. A quarter of an hour later and here we are….enjoy. Thanks for reading. As usual, all comments welcome.

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