Tag Archives: urban landscape

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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Monumental London – photography by Adrian Ensor

The Framers Gallery are hosting an exhibition of black and white images created by photographer and award wining black and white printer Adrian Ensor. ‘Monumental London’ runs from 16 July to 12 August at 36 Windmill Street. London, W1T 2JT.  It’s well worth a visit for anyone with even just a passing interest if not an absolute passion for quality black and white silver-based photography.

Tower Bridge © Adrian Ensor

Choosing as the subject for this series, great landmarks of London, Adrian prowled the streets in the early hours looking for different and unusual takes on these well known locations. Shooting square on medium format to create 6x6cm images he would later return to his Fitzrovia darkroom in order to process and then print.

St Paul’s © Adrian Ensor

Having twice won the coveted Ilford Printer of the Year Award and with an intimate and extensive knowledge of both chemistry, emulsions and papers Adrian is able to have a clear pre-visualisation of how he wanted his final picture to look. As a result he has made a unique take on a number of sites familiar to millions yet now observed in a different yet refreshing manner.

For anyone with a wish to experience working with Adrian first hand then watch the Shadows and Light 2013 programme. Julian and Adrian intend to team up next year in order to offer a one day black and white photography and darkroom workshop. Expect the unusual!

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Using the Capture One overlay tool

In the bad old days of analogue when shooting Time Out magazine covers or Music Sales book covers for Pearce Marchbank he had an ingenuous method for enhancing workflow. He would produce a piece of clear film of the cover showing the position of all the type & in pro to the film format of the camera. I  then placed this in the camera viewfinder so that I could position models, props, etc to work around the typography that he had designed. A second, identical piece of film would be used to lay on top of Polaroids prior to making the final shot on film.

Clearly the guys at Capture One have taken this idea on board when they created the ‘overlay’ tool in the Capture One software for the Phase One. Here is a simple step by step on how to use it….

Import your shots into Capture One & select one frame.

Choose the ‘Composition’ option from the left side of the frame.

Move down to the ‘Overlay’ tab then across to button that carries the symbol ‘…’ to the right of ‘File’. Here you select a file for overlaying and navigate to it in the usual way.

The overlay comes in at 100%. Using the 4 sliders beneath the overlay tab you can adjust; opacity, scale, horizontal and vertical position.

Major adjustments to position can be made with the ‘hand’ tool, afterwards minor re-positioning takes place with the tools beneath the overlay tab (as described above).

This shows crop needed for a 48 sheet billboard poster with type ranged left

By returning to the overlay tab & clicking the down arrow at the right hand end of that bar the ‘Clear Overlay’ option is revealed which allows  the opportunity to remove the existing overlay prior to importing a different one.

In addition it’s possible to position the overlay as desired then crop down using the crop tool thus darkening the unwanted image area and confirm that the shot wrk to a different pro, in this case a 96 sheet billboard.

Crop needed for a 96 sheet billboard poster with type ranged left

Overall this tool is absolutely invaluable, saves great amounts of time and makes you look good in front of clients and in my view is another great plus to the Phase One/Capture One.

A debt of gratitude to PM for introducing me to this technique many years ago.

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Phase One – North Circ & Cold Hands

North Circular Road

Another cold day and I’m out again working at finding urban landscapes. An image here cropped from the original Phase One RAW file then processed using the Capture One software. Applying on camera filtration in the form of Lee ND grads would have been very difficult here if not impossible because of the various structures so I made sure that I held the details in the highlights for the sky then used the Capture One controls to pull out more shadow detail.

And I struggle with poor circulation in my hands so cameras outdoors in winter can prove difficult. the most practical solution I’ve come across is to carry rechargeable handwarmers. They make all the difference.

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 3 secs, f22, 50 ISO, no filtration

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Phase One – 9 Below Zero

Waste Incinerator, A406

It’s late. It’s cold. However the Li-ion batteries that come as standard with the Phase One to power the IQ back worked just as well in the low temperatures as team at The Flash Centre had assured me they would. After 50 mins shooting I still had around 55% charge remaining and I could have carried on for a while longer but by then my body was too cold.

One criticism I do have of the camera is that it’s not possible to operate the touch screen on the IQ back when gloves and when it’s so cold and with a sharp northerly wind I’d prefer to keep my gloves on.

I’d been intending to shoot this waste incinerator for some time but knew that I needed to wait for a particularly cold night in order to enhance the steam and vapour that the plant gives off. I was driving back from Essex late on a Thursday and knew that all of the elements I needed would be in place. Standing downwind of this plant is much fun though as the smell is pretty overpowering!

This is yet another area urban Britain that I will add to a future Shadows and Light workshop. It’s gritty and grimy but does have a certain appeal.

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1 min, f22, 50 ISO, no filtration

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Slip Road – Phase One along the A13

Slip Road

So here I go again. Another unusual situation to place the camera in and see what I’m able to get out of it.

I’ve spent this evening driving along the A13 towards Tilbury. I managed to get locked into a car park near on the Rainham Marshes, the local police station was closed so I was getting ready to dial the emergency services when a man from the nearby refuge site turned up with a key & let me out. I didn’t fancy a 20 mile walk or trying to hitch. I was pulling off the main road at different junctions, parking & then walking to see what oddness I could find.

Living in such a large metropolitan area as London has meant that urban landscapes make up a large proportion of my own landscape material as well as offering locations for the teaching of workshops on the Shadows and Light programme.

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 15 secs, f12, 100 ISO, no filtration

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Phase One Goes to the Dogs

Millwall Inner Dock, London

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1/4 sec, f22, 100 ISO, 0.3ND Grad filter

My first urban landscape shot with the Phase One system on a late December afternoon in the Isle of Dogs at the heart of London’s Docklands. An area that I’ve visited and shot in since the old docks closed down in the late 1970’s leading to it becoming a land in limbo. I was working for the Daily Telegraph when they moved into 1 Canada Sq and the area was still one huge building site. Some wag on the paper decide to name the everything to west as the Avenue of the Victory of Capitalism whilst all to the east was referred to as the Avenue of the Failure of Capitalism.

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