Monthly Archives: August 2012

Riding On…..From Here To Eternity

Why was I drawn to become a portrait photographer? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve asked myself this question.

Bryonie Porter

In part I chose this career because deep down I know that I’ve a strong voyeuristic streak. I like the lives of others, I want to get on the inside, to be nosey, to stand within someone else’s skin and feel their life. And this has been the profession that allows me a way into those spaces and experiences that may prove difficult to achieve in other ways.

Noel Richardson

Some time ago I decided to embark on a very long personal project to document the UK motorcycle community as it was at that time. So I spent three long years photographing as many bikers as I could manage to persuade into my studio to pose with their machines. I had a connection to this world because I, too, had ridden for many years until my driving was curtailed by the onset of epilepsy in my twenties.

Joelle & Calypso (after Jean Cocteau)

I chose to work all of these as a studio series with a standard lighting set-up and background throughout. I was particularly inspired by the work of August Sander’s series of photographs, ‘People of the 20th Century’.

Dan Tze

My starting point was a background and lighting plan. I commissioned a large, painted, mottled canvas which dropped the full height of the studio and then ran out onto the floor and had sufficient slack to allow me to add folds & still fill the picture frame when working on a wide angle lens. It is 7 x 4 meters.

Two Kevs

The lighting consisted of an Elinchrom A2 head with 60cm softbox high above the camera and running from an Elinchrom 202 pack. A large ‘V’ reflector made from two 8ft x 4ft flats on the left out of which runs an Elinchrom 50 head and finally a large 8ft x 4ft polyboard reflector beneath and in front of the camera. I needed something that was simple, easy to repeat, quick to assemble and would work successfully for both individuals and small groups.

Ani Bhana & Edward

The shots were made using either a Hasselblad 500C/M usually with a 50mm lens but sometimes an 80mm. With this camera I shot Ilford FP4 Plus black and white negative. My other approach was to occasionally use a Horseman monorail camera and a 150mm lens to make black and white Polaroid negatives from either Type 55 or Type 665 film. In actual fact I used this method as much as the medium format approach.

Deno with a ‘ratted’ Honda CX500

The great advantage of the Polaroid pos/neg material was that I was able to solarise the negative. I did this by cutting the standard processing time in half, peeling the film, re-expossing the resulting under-processed negative using a speedlight on low power, then leaving the negative in a dark box to continue developing. After another 2 minutes I’d clear it using a bath of sodium sulphite to find an image with properly exposed highlights but re-exposed and thus negative shadow areas.

Vic Dickens with ‘The Mod Machine’

Finding people was the fun part. Understanding that all magazines are always on the lookout for free material I began by shooting a small number of friends and with these initial shots  put together a press-pack for the bike & scootering press. All the magazines published my images and contact details and the phone didn’t stop ringing.  This was done when the internet was in it’s infancy so social media was still just a dream.

Nikki Thomson & Rebecca Stevenson

The beauty of it was that the people just kept coming and the project developed a life of it’s own. The stories of peoples lives, events, journeys, near death experiences, love, loss, sorrow, sadness and joy were a pleasure to listen to and mirrored many of my own experiences. I lost count of the number of cups of tea that were consumed during this process but I do know that film and processing cost me close to £10,000 (€15,000 at the time) and that was without print costs.

Hairy, Scary, Ball-Buggering Bob from Barnet

In retrospect I have no regrets. I never succeeded in publishing it as a book yet I learnt an invaluable amount about my own creative process and the images that found there way into my portfolios generated interest from clients and thus additional commissioned work.

After almost 500 individuals had posed I called it a day.

All images © Julian Hawkins

Details:

Hasselblad 500C/M, 50mm or 80mm, Ilford FP4 Plus @ 125 ISO, 1/125sec, f11 1/2

Horseman 450LE monorail, 150mm, Polaroid T55 @ 50 ISO or Polaroid T665 @ 75 ISO, 1/125 sec, f11 1/2 (flash power increased to compensate for slower speed)

Ref: Adams A, (1963), Polaroid Land Photography Manual, Morgan & Morgan (out of print)

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Filed under Large Format, Studio portraits

The Interview – Ope O talks iPhoneography

Ope O is a Londoner developing his career as a street photographer. Primarily he uses Nikon DSLR’s along with a Fuji X100 but over the last two years he’s been exploring the rapidly expanding and developing world of iPhoneography in tandem with his iPhone 4S. With this in mind we here at Shadows & Light decided to track down Ope O & interrupt him for a short while from his all important work at London 2012 as part of the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) operation.

Before we begin here’s a taste of some of Ope’s recent iPhoneography and you can see his work from the London Olympics under his greatarsenal tag that’s happening on Instagram this very moment…

‘You can observe a lot by just watching’ ~ Yogi Berra

‘Nothing is more beautiful than a line that brings out a form’ ~ Mary Beth

S&L. I’ve been following your work for some time both on Instagram and Facebook so it’s great to have the chance for a more in depth talk.

OO. That’s good.

S&L. Let’s start by me asking what it is about iPhoneography that makes it so appealing to you as a photographic tool apart from just the ease of use and ability to remain relatively unseen?

OO. The quality of the photos is quiet impressive for a mobile phone. It’s easy to operate. Plus I often get questioned on instagram about what I’m using to take pictures, some people are amazed to find out its an iPhone.

S&L. When you first started looking at iPhone photography and camera apps what led you to Instagram rather than, say Hipstamatic?

OO. Not many people were talking about it but I first heard about Instagram through social media.. And I decided to give it a ago after hearing more. I didn’t know about any other photography apps at that time as I was using an iPod touch then.

S&L. What other camera apps have you tried & what do you think of them?

OO. I’ve tried quiet a few including Camera +, VSCO Cam, Vintage Cam, Slow Shutter Cam and more. I’ve also gone through a lot of editing apps. I’ve still kept a few of these apps because each of them have different functions which I’m still interested in using, mostly to enhance the pictures I post on Instagram.

S&L. I can see from your iPhone that you sometimes use a lens type attachment to enhance the existing lens. Tell me about it & why you like it?

OO. I use a fisheye lens attachment occasionally. I really like the warped effect it gives to certain pictures. I would usually use it in tube stations where they have the long walk/pathways

‘When the road ahead seems too long, look back to see how far you’ve come’ ~ Daniella Kessler

S&L. Why have you stuck with Instagram or are you just a loyal customer?

OO. In my opinion Instagram is the best way for me to share photos on a mobile device, I tend to get a lot of feedback from other users and this motivates me to keep posting and also keeps my profile up out there.

S&L. So would you say it’s the not just the app that works for you but the whole Instagram platform?

OO. Yeah, definitely.

‘I dreamed a thousand new paths… I woke and walked my old one’ ~ Chinese proverb

S&L. You’ve mentioned that you feel iPhoneography is going to become a big thing in the immediate future. Can you elaborate?

OO. I tend to use all aspects of the app, sharing through Twitter and Facebook, etc. I’m always looking for ways to improve and with the current rise in iPhoneography there are plenty examples that I can learn from. A lot of pro photographers are starting to use this method in their work while others have won awards for it. I feel that these are the reasons it’ll become a bigger thing in the future which can only get better as the years go by.

‘It is not length of life, but depth of life’ ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

S&L. Don’t you think though that in your pro-practice you’ll have problems convincing a client to accept & thus pay for images generated on a phone? Will they take you/us seriously? Wont they argue that they could do it themselves & therefore the value of your work & what you can charge for it may be debased?

OO. Yes, I think those problems will always be there. There are still people unaware of the full scale of what can be achieved through iPhoneography. It isn’t just the picture, it’s the editing process which can boost your image to the point where it doesn’t even look like it was shot on an iPhone. It can only get better and when people start realising that, they’d start to give more time and effort to it and it will increase in value.

S&L. And with all cameras good ones are never cheap and as pro’s we’re always under pressure to have the latest hardware and software and know how to use it.

OO. Too true!

S&L. I’ve successfully printed out iPhone shots created with Hipstamatic & Instagram full frame onto A3 and had some re-produced in print. Have you tried printing images that you’ve generated in this way? What do you think of the results & what size prints have you made?

OO. I haven’t actually printed out any of my iPhone generated shots. It’s something I’ve thought about doing a couple of times but never got round to it so it’s high on my list.

S&L. Do you think that dedicating just to Instagram is going to limit your scope of action?

OO. I don’t think so, everyone should know about it now. It currently has over 80 million users making it the number 1 camera app and I feel it’ll keep getting better with various updates. Plus they’re now integrating the use of other camera/editing apps with instagram making things easier.

‘Lost time is never found again’. ~ Benjamin Franklin

S&L. Earlier you said that the iPhoneographer can pass by relatively unnoticed, does that take us back to the way in which people like Cartier-Bresson worked & the need to forever be on the lookout for the perfect moment?

OO. Yeah, it does quite a lot. When photographing people on the street I often wait to get that one shot. I’ll take more than two at least before I’m happy with what I’ve got.

S&L. As you develop your own following under the soubriquet ‘greatarsenal‘ do you see this as a purely a profile raising and marketing exercise or do you feel that it helps bring in commissions for your iPhoneography per se?

OO. When I started with Instagram, I never really thought I’d gain as much attention from it because it was just a hobby, so choosing my name wasn’t really that important for me. I’ve chosen to stick with it now as I’ve been a user for quiet a while and that’s what many other users know me as. However my Instagram profile cross-references to me as Ope O and so to my website & Facebook profile. It all ties in really.

S&L. So my final question has to be to ask where you find the quotes that tend to accompany your Instagrams?

OO. (smiles) Well, it’s like this really; I don’t really plan any of my Instagram shots, if I see something that I like and I could make a good image out of it I’ll shoot it, edit the shot, find a suitable quote (usually from brainyquote.com) then post it.

S&L. Ok Ope, many thanks for your time, I’d better let you get back to your work on the London Olympics.

The techie stuff: iPhone 4S, Instagram

All images © Ope O

The web links:

Instagram user name: greatarsenal

www.facebook.com/opeophotography

www.opeophotography.com

And the closing shot…

‘Life is an attitude. Art is an expression of life. Ideally, art as well as life should be the greatest expression possible from us as individuals’ ~ Bobbie Kilpatrick

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Filed under The Interview