Tag Archives: Shadows and Light

Why QP Cards?

I started my photography career with analogue and the guys who I assisted and from whom I learnt; Gered Mankowitz, Dave Sherwin, Red Saunders, Gil Galvin and others, taught me the importance of accurately exposing film in camera.

Most images were being made on E6 stock; Kodak Ektachrome 64 and later Fuji 50D then Provia 100, the latitude for error was only about 2/3rd of a stop and over-exposure was not a possibility. Therefore it was fundamental to my practice to learn to correctly use the exposure meter, proof using Polaroid (later Fuji Instant) then relate that exposure to the film. It was common that films varied in colour caste and speed rating so each film batch would vary and needed to be compensated for in camera.

I still have a box of Polaroids in the attic of me posing in all sorts of sets and locations with the exposure and lighting diagram scribbled on the reverse.

When I switched to digital I began using QP Cards as a way of gauging and refining exposure. I felt the need to continue with a rigorous method of determining accurate exposure yet rather than examine Polaroids I now find myself judging the QP Card. I do this on the camera screen, in conjunction with the histogram and on a computer monitor when shooting tethered.

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Shoot with test frame selected

With the eyedropper tool selected I neutralise White Balance by clicking on the grey square of the QP Cards.

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Eye dropper tool selected

Then make any additional minor adjustments via the Tool Tabs for Exposure, Black & White conversion, etc.

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Tool Tabs bar for additional adjustments

Prior to copying the adjustments.

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Copy adjustments

Selecting all the relevant files & applying the saved adjustments to the entire batch.

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Apply adjustments

The beauty of this is the way that it simplifies and speeds up my workflow.

I use Capture One Pro 7 for my image management but Adobe Lightroom is just as suitable.

Remember that QP Cards are not fool proof, nothing is, but then neither is a histogram, a flashmeter or even a Polaroid. You need to combine all of these elements together plus your own innate experience of your camera or film and different lighting situations.

PC_Shot01_0032

Entrance to disused Cruise Missile Bunker, East Anglia
© Julian Hawkins 2013

Details: Nikon D600, 17 – 35mm, ISO 200, 1/2sec , f10

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Filed under Exposure, Lighting, Tech Tips

Downloading Capture One Pro 8

In preparation for January and beginning to use the Phase One camera system you ought to be downloading the Capture One software, installing on your Mac & getting a feel for how it works.

Here’s how to do it….

Go to the download page of the Capture One URL

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Then add your email address as prompted and click the download button. The file should go to your downloads folder then open it up and copy to the ‘Applications’ folder.

When you open Capture One for the first you’ll see this dialogue box…

Capture One initial dialogue box

Select the ‘Run DB’ option. This will allow you to process the RAW files that the Phase generates but not those created by a third party camera such as a Nikon or Canon.

Remember that the Phase doesn’t generate anything but RAW’s!

When running Capture One make a point of quitting any unnecessary applications otherwise you may find that you machine crashes.

My opinion of Capture One, for what it’s worth – it’s the business! I find it easy and intuitive to use.

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Photographic Exposure – a simple guide

This is a post intended for my BA students but others may find it useful too.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPOSURE

This is controlled by 3 different though inter-related methods:

1. ISO

2. Shutter speed

3. Aperture

Finger

ISO

This is the speed or sensitivity of the camera’s sensor & is selected by the photographer. Formally it was the sensitivity of the film that you chose to load into the camera.

At the time of writing (Sep 2012) most Nikon DSLR’s use 200 ISO as their base position whereas Canon’s begin at 100 ISO (though higher spec models have a greater range).

The lower the ISO value that is selected the less the sensitivity to light that the sensor will have and the less the electronic noise/interference that will result.

As a general rule you choose a low ISO when you have a lot of light to work with and you increase the ISO to higher values as lighting conditions become darker.

The progression of ISO values you can expect to find on a DSLR are:

100   200   400   800   1600   3200   6400 +

Each time the ISO value doubles or halves this is referred to as making an adjustment that is equivalent to 1 f-stop (more on this later).

On film the common ISO progressions are:

50   100   200   400   800   1600   3200   6400 +

Offerings at San Andrés

SHUTTER SPEED

This is the time for which the shutter is open and the sensor or  film is exposed to light.

Shutter speeds are referred to as being either slow (when the sutter is open for a longer time) and fast (when the shutter is open for a short time).

You select the speed to suit what you are wanting to achieve as well as for the conditions under which you are working.

As a general rule:

Slow speeds may result in camera shake so think about using a tripod.

Fast speeds for action photography where a clear, concise image is needed.

The progression is:

< 15sec  8 sec  4 sec  2 sec  1sec  1/2   1/4   1/8   1/15   1/30   1/60   1/125   1/250  1/500   1/1000   1/2000 >

There will also be a ‘B’ (bulb) setting. This allows you to open the shutter and it will remain open until you release it.

Some cameras &/or lenses have a ‘T’ (time) setting where you press once to open and again to close the shutter.

Both ‘B’ and ‘T’ as well as speeds slower than 1/8 sec should be used in conjunction with a cable release.

Jazz for Sax

APERTURE

This is the third (and sometimes most confusing) method for controlling exposure.

This refers to the diameter of the aperture formed by the iris diaphragm, which is a series mechanical blades built into the camera lens.

The diameter of this aperture is expressed as an f-number (f-no).

There is a set progression of f-no’s & each time you change this number you increase or decrease the amount of exposure by 1 f-stop. Thus the photographic convention of expressing exposure in f-stops. This is the inverse square law in action.

The size of the lens aperture influences both overall exposure AND the amount of subject that is in ‘acceptably’ sharp  focus – referred to as ‘Depth of Field’.

As photographers we need to consider how much depth of field we require in order to be able to achieve a given result. This in turn will influence the f-no we will want to select.

When the lens is fully open to it’s widest aperture there will be very little depth of field, when stopped down to a narrow (or small) aperture you will achieve greater depth of field.

Yet more confusion comes about because a wide aperture has a low numerical value (f1.4 or 2.8) whereas a small aperture has a high numeric value (f22).

Older, non auto-fucus lenses, will have their range of f-no’s inscribed on the barrel and sometimes also the intermediate positions which may be half of third f-stops. Thus you will hear people talk in terms of fractions of a stop when considering exposure.

The standard f-no progression is:

< f1.4   f2   f2.8   f4   f5.6   f8   f11   f16   f22   f32   f45   f64   f90   >

Beware though when using a DSLR. These cameras express the intervening fractional values as f-stops & this causes added confusion. On your cameras you will see f-no’s such as f9, f14, etc. But you will not see these marked on a lens barrel or a lightmeter.

In fact modern light/flahmeters will read a full f-stop followed by fractional units in tenths. So it just got more confusing!

An example of a lightmeter reading: 1/125 sec   f5.6 9

This translates as a shutter speed of 1/125th second with an aperture that is f5.6 & 9/10.

Your camera doesn’t work in tenths (yet!) so you have to be prepared to compromise & rounding up or down to the nearest full f-stop which, in this case, is f8 or the third of an f-stop interval if that is closest.

In actual fact a 1/10th of an f-stop is not going to make a huge difference to your exposure & if necessary can be adjusted in post.

Nighttime on the M11 motorway

Use these notes as a general guide, read around the subject for yourself & experiment so that this becomes familiar.

Further reading:

Diprose, G & Robbins, J (2012) Photography: The New Basics, Thames & Hudson

A first class read, thorough, easy to follow

Adams, A (1981) The Camera, New York Graphics Society

Old school and very technical, the best there is on the subject

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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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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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Valuable Media Assets for the Photographer

This is a different kind of post for me. What’s contained here isn’t photography in the direct sense, rather a source of useful links that can lead you to worthwhile information. I’ve used many of these myself and continue to find them of great value in my life as both a commercial photographer and as an educator. They vary from business, media, arts, culture and general background information and help to inform my practice in a great variety of ways. When writing my first ever research document (about why men avoid yoga) many of these programmes plus features in the press provided me with valuable additional reference material.

Many are links to BBC radio programmes some of which will be seasonal, some are available to listen again via the BBC iPlayer though not all will be available if you are based outside of the UK due to rights issues. I do know that some of them go out via the BBC World Service so root around and see what you can discover.

If you’re endeavouring to make a living from photography all sources of information are valid, you never know what you may learn next or where it may lead you. These are in no particular order so why not be curious and see where they lead you?

Front Row – every weekday evening Mark Lawson presents this incisive and valuable arts show.

The Film Programme

The Culture Show – a TV programme from BBC 2

The Media Show –  broadcast on a Wednesday and invaluable to anyone working in media and wanting to keep ahead of the game. They will consider print, electronic and internet media, ethics in the media, the impact of downloads on the music, publishing and print media industries. Certainly raises questions to keep photographers thinking hard.

From Our Own Correspondent – one of the long runners on Radio 4 yet always worth a listen. The number of my own creative ideas I’ve been able to trace back to articles on this programme are legion. I often find it inspirational.

The Bottom Line – business and how to survive out there in the real world is unavoidable to you as a freelancer. This show offers valuable insights for free – well for the annual cost of a TV licence.

In Business – the title says it all

Law in Action – to a photographer this must sound seriously dry. Yet in 2009 this team made great radio to demonstrate the nonsense of regulations often quoted at photographers to stop us working, together with the vast number of time wasting calls made to police about photographer/terrorists acting suspiciously in cities and elsewhere. Before 9/11 photographers tended to left alone to just get on with their work.

Stephanie Flanders, BBC economics editor writers a highly accessible blog.

I hope that you enjoy these and find them as useful as I have. You don’t want to end up like this…

Bust!

Details: Fuji 617, 90mm, Ilford FP4 @ 125 ISO, 1/15 sec, f16

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Scenes of an Unexpected Nature

From 2 Aug to 2 Sep 2012 Shadows & Light Workshops presents an exhibition of images made by photographers who have participated in our programmes.

© Delphine Lytlleton

There are examples of both digital and analogue photography made with cameras varying from SLR’s through to large format. Some images where generated during Shadows and Light Workshops whilst others have come about by the direct application of skills and techniques learnt with us.

© Rosie Berwick

© Marjorie Devine-King

All of the colour printing has been undertaken by Metro Imaging Ltd.

Located at the The Phoenix Cinema Gallery, 52 High Road, London, N2 9PJ the show is open daily. The Phoenix is one of the oldest UK cinemas in continuous use, having first opened in 1910.

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