Category Archives: Photography

Steaming

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A few months York of York Smith Productions asked me to shoot some publicity stills for an up coming production of theatre play Steaming written by Neil Dunn which is to play at The Elgiva Theatre in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Because the publicity material needed to be created months in advance of the play itself so there was no actual theatre set to shoot on and the plays Director/Producer Liz Mente Bishop arranged for the shoot to take place at Ironmonger Row Baths – Spa in London.

With cast assembled we had just four hours to get in, shoot and get out and a shot list to get. As steam and cameras don’t really mix I bought some cames of Magic Smoke which once sprayed in the room looked like steam without the moisture or heat.  The cast played out some scenes on location allowing me to set up some shots evoking the essence of the play. I shot everything on the Canon 5D using a mixture of available light and my trusty 150w LTM with a large piece of with poly board

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Steaming is on from Wednesday 18th until Sunday 22nd September more info can be found on the Steaming website www.steaming.me

Fuji x10 Review

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This is probably my favourite camera right now and the one that is nearly always in my bag. I still probably use my iPhone to take more photos but this has replaced my Canon 5D on many occasions.

The things I absolutely love about this camera are, its size, it’s image, manual controls, build quality and it looks pretty cool in a retro way.

For the last three years I have hauled my Canon 5D around with me, professionally and personally. I love it and it still produces a better image that the x-10, especially in the low lights but its a lump to carry around and add a couple of lenses and you become your own packhorsealso its a pit conspicuous when you are on holiday and trying to fit in. Continue reading »

Getting Up Close and Saving Cash

Strawberry flowerWe all love seeing the world like no other, seeing things others don’t see. One way to go this is using macro photography, whether it be film or a still image there is something magical about seeing the world from a bugs persecutive. Over the last couple of years I have needed to shoot macro photography and every time I have planned to do so I find myself looking to picking up a macro lens for my Canon 5D. About thirty seconds later I head up stairs, not for my credit card but for my old Olympus OM kit.

I loved my Olympus OM2n, I still do and would never sell it, I’m emotionally attached to it, and to be honest it probably has very little cash value anymore. I bought the OM2n to replace, and as an upgrade from my first camera an Olympus OM10 which I shot my A Level photography with. At university, a time before digital had really hit the main stream, I shot my degree worth with the OM2n. From that point onwards it’s lived most of its life in a flight case along with lenses, filters and extension barrels. Continue reading »

Stills into Motion

As someone that got into photography as a way to get into film I have previously experimented in using still images in sequences, sometimes as story boards and sometimes as actual story devices accompanied by sound tracks. But up until now I have never turned my portfolio into a moving sequence. I may be a little late to the party as applications such as Aperture already have built in tools for creating such things, I have in used them to create event slide shows in the past. But although great I chose to use Final Cut to turn my photographic portfolio into a short sequence, partly due to the being able to fine tune transitions, size and add text. Continue reading »

Bahamas Olympic Team 2012

Olympic 4x400m Gold Medalist winners Chris Brown + Demetirus Pinder from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

Just before The Olympics I started work on a project for Bahamas Olympic Team sponsor BTC. Essentially I was tasked with producing media assets, both photos and videos for BTC to use to get their message out about the team and BTC’s involvement in their Olympic dream. Initially I covered the project on my own but as project evolved we brought on a photographer Neil Rouse allowing me to concentrate on the video side. We shot for five days over three weeks and produced sixteen videos along will delivering individual 290 images and shot at the Bahamas High Commission, Claridges Hotel and the International Maritime Authority head quarters The highlights being meet and film some of the athletes including former Olympic Gold Medal winner Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and, Chris Brown and Demetrius Pinder who went onto win gold  as part of the in the mens 4 x 400m team London Olympics.

All the videos were shot using a Canon 5D mk2 and edited using Final Cut 7.

 

Johnny Wore Black: Up in Flames

Johnny Wore Black‘s latest video for Up In Flames was shot over two rather wet days in a derelict brick factory in West Sussex about a month ago. Fronted by osteopath and stuntman Johnny Cohen, Johnny Wore Black’s music is fully or haunting poetical lyrics. Up in Flames was shot on the Red One camera with a full professional crew more often seen on big budget hollywood fare and brought many of the toys from  them, stunt fighting, sets on fire and smoke. Directed another stuntman come director John Newton, Up in Flames is the  follow up to Johnny’s previous single All The Rage. I shot the stills using available light and a few HMI’s which lit the video shoot. Post production was achieved using Apples aperture and Adobe Photoshop

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Making It Look Good.

Recently I shot a wedding for a friend and as part of it I found myself doing something that has become fairly rare for me, actually printing the photographs. I love prints, despite most images that I create now only ever seen only electronically there is still something far nicer than a print or set of prints. Try sharing and passing a stack of photos around a room with family or friends with only one computer screen or iPad. It’s not a social experience unlike a set for physically printed photographs. In the past I have got prints produced by dedicated photo printers in London but on this occasion I decided to try myself as I was only needing prints no bigger than A4. Continue reading »

Shooting in an Instant: Vosene #Vosing

A few years ago millions of cameras screamed and then when silent. Polaroid had stopped film production . Millions of camera’s were consigned to cupboards, landfills and memories. As the very last factory was closing something amazing happened two people talked about restarting all those cameras hearts and the Impossible Project was formed. More about which can be found here

So why shoot using instant film today when we have instant sharing through the use of mobile phone cameras and the internet? Well for me it brings a little bit of the magic back to taking pictures, watching the image develop before your eyes. It’s also subject to a little pixie dust as you’re not one hundred percent sure how the image will come out as its subject to so many more factors than electronics and computer logarithms. Continue reading »

Pedigree IR Triggering Camera System

Recently I was asked to put together a system to automatically take photos of dogs as they jumped over a small hedge and then could be be easily uploaded to Pedigree’s We’re For Dogs Facebook page.

Safety was my main concern for both the dogs and us humans involved in the affair. Traditionally race line finishes which take photographs use lasers. This is normally fine as the chances of a laser hitting an eye, human or animal is very small due to the positioning height of such devices in relation to the things passing them being relatively constant. Dogs, just like humans come in all shapes and sizes, which leads to uncertainty when positioning possibly eye damaging lasers. To get around this I opted for and Infra Red trigging system. After trawling the internet for a ready made system I came across on made by Cognisys in the US. The Range IR is a clever devise as it is a self contained unit firing out a harmless beam of IR which can be varied in length as desired. When the beam is broken the sensor sends a signal out to the camera and a photograph is taken. Quite frankly I believe its the work of magical Pixies and that’s fine with me. Continue reading »

Facebook Photos & Gala Bingo Metrocentre

A couple of weeks ago I headed up to Gateshead to photograph the relaunch of Gala Bingo Metrocentre for the guys at 1000 Heads to be used on the Gala Bingo Facebook page. Facebook allows individual bingo players an online community and place to engage with one another and Gala Bingo itself. Like all online media content is key and photographs are a great way of  to both engage an audience and allow interaction especially through Facebook which people can comment on photos and tag themselves in them. Gala Bingo Metrocentre like a lot of the Gala Bingo sites has it’s own dedicated Facebook page from which you can find the whole gallery of photos from the shoot and info on Gala Bingo all of which were edited in camera and handed over on the day for overnight uploading to Facebook. Continue reading »

Witch Skin Care

A few months ago I was asked to document a private make up tutorial for a Witch Skin Care competition winner and her friend in a London Hotel. Having spent a good portion of my working life as an Assistant Director in the film and television industry hanging around makeup artists as they work is nothing out of the ordinary. The Location was to be the Sanctum Hotel, a boutique hotel which has the reputation as the rockstar hotel in London’s Soho. It lives up to is glamourous image. The Make Up Artist was Witch Skin Care Ambassador Lisa Valencia. Lisa is a highly in demand Make Up Artist working at the very top of the industry. The images were used on Witch Skin Care’s Facebook page.

 

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Weekend Warriors: Canis Belli.

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Many months ago I met up with filmmaker and blogger Robin Schimdt or as he is knows on Twitter  aka_elskid, at the London screening of  Zacutos Camera Shootout 2011. In the pub after the event he talked about an ambitious short film he had written set in the trenches of the first world war, Canis Belli. I told him if he needed a hand to give me a shout. Now when you usually hear about plans for short films of this scale you very rarely hear of them again. The ambition and scale usually halts any prospect of actually shooting them.

Fast forward almost five months and I get a message on Twitter from aka_skid to see if I was available as he was about to shoot the film along with co-director Gez Medinger, aka JerzyBondov. The film was to be shot over two and a half days on a permanent standing set just north of  Ipswich on Trench Farm. The set was been used from many major productions including Downton Abbey Continue reading »

Not Sexy But Essential: CF Card Readers


This is not a sexy subject by any means but memory card readers are essential if you have multiple cards for your camera. Today I received my sixth or seventh in the last fifteen months, I loose count because at least four have broken, and that is why I always like to have at least two, one as a back up. If you like my are reliant on Compact Flash Cards the choice is far more limited that other flavours of card. SD cards are the king of memory cards right now.  Most card readers are so poorly built and designed that when you see them you think when will it break rather will it break. Having said all that the second one I bought the Lexar FW800 still works like the day I bought it. It is well designed, when built has Firewire connections and is now discontinued. Now it is almost impossible to get a CF card reader with FW800 connections unless you want to shell out $250 for one from RED which is just an insane amount. I’m a Mac person so of course I have Firewire and prefer it to USB, mainly because I can daisy chain drives together. Essential if you have like me four hard drives connected to a laptop with only two USB sockets. Continue reading »

Workflow: Backing it up

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This week a good friend of mine had his car broken into and had his laptop, ipad, and back up hard drive stolen loosing everything. This is a a fears for most of us in the digital age with our whole lives centred in one place, diary, photo album, music collection, love notes, emails, and work. Hearing this first hand is the equivalent of a digital mortality check.

Backing up is important but so is separation of back ups especially when traveling. On the off chance your bag gets stolen you wont loose everything. But it’s not just the fear of theft we should be worried about it’s failure of equipment, computers and hard drives do have a tendency of stopping work, no matter what their age. I had a LaCie rugged hard drive I was using as my portable hard drive, it lasted less then a month. Clients have phoned slightly panicked to ask if I have a copy of the footage I shot for them as their drive had failed, strangely enough another LaCie Rugged drive, and yes I did have a copy. Continue reading »

Getting a Background White Using Aperture

Getting a background white is often a necessity for when images are to be inserted onto a white printed or webpage. The best way to do this is to shoot your subject against a white background and light both the background and your subject separately. But we don’t live in the ideal world and often time space or equipment is not available to us. If you can shoot a clean image of your subject against an white background and as long as the subject is properly exposed it is possible to make the greyness around turn white using Apple’s Aperture program.

The first of the three images below is the raw image I shot  of my Canon 24-70mm using an overhead Elinchrome Dlite 4 with a soft box about 60cm above facing directly down. The camera settings were ISO 200 f11 at 1/125 of a second.

The second image shows an adjusted colour balance using the eyedropper tool in the white balance panel of Apertures Adjustment settings. I use the eyedropper to sample an area of the that I know should be white. If you don’t like what you see first time just keep sampling until you get something you like the look of.

The third image is the result of using the Devignette adjustment in aperture. The Devignette adjustment can be found in the drop down list in the Adjustment tab in Aperture. There are two settings for this adjustment Intensity and Radius. By playing around with both the sliders depending on the image should turn any murky edges to your “white” background to pure white.

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The beauty of using this method if you are using Aperture as your default library is that of speed. You can do all the adjustments within the program without the need to export it or open up Photoshop and as ever you can be assured that the original RAW file is untouched should you need to go back to it.

 

 

The Dangers of Sound

HDSLR’s have a problem.  The problem I am told is sound.  No the reason I say told is, is I don’t believe it. HDSLR’s and by that I predominantly speak of the Canon’s are lacking in the sound department, with the inability to manually control or even monitor the sound as it’s recorded.  On top of that internal mic is not great and it only has a single 3.5mm mic input jack.  So on paper the camera is as I am told rubbish when it comes to sound and people moan about it, or more over bore me to death about what it can’t do. It is worth remembering it is a stills camera that shoots video and not a video camera that takes stills. I actually think this is all positive and here is why. Having sound attached to the camera can be simply dangerous.

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Jacob and George

Last Saturday I was asked to shoot some pictures of Jacob and George two brothers who each needed a set of  photos to submit to modelling agencies. The shoot took a couple of hours at their home in Hemel Hempstead. The photos were shot using a Canon 5D mk11 and post production was achieved using Aperture.

Jacob

George

When The Sun Gets In Your Eyes

Recently I tried to take a photo of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai using my iPhone but the old issue of screen glare reared it’s ugly head making it almost impossible to see what was on the screen. To get around this I took my Zacuto Z-Finder 2.5x from my Canon and placed it onto the screen. Boom. Problem solved, not only was the sun blocked out from the screen but a saw a magnified image. Now it’s not the perfect solution and you do have a bit of a balancing act to contend with between holding the phone, Z-finder and trying to hit the all important shutter button but with a bit of practice I got the shot I wanted.

The image was processed using the BestCamera App on the iPhone using Jewel and vignette filters along with simple white frame. Job done!

It’s A Numbers Game

“the decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organisation of forms which gives that event its proper expression” – Henri Cartier Bresson

Allusions of grandeur, a coverall for luck or something deeper?

Something deeper I think. Back in Bresson’s day photographers were arguably far more technical than they are today and would probably shot a lot less than we do now, bearing in mind the length of 35mm film rarely exceeded 36 exposures.  So every frame was precious, and expensive and probably more considered before the shutter button was finally pressed.  Essentially Bresson in my opinion was talking about the need to be ready for those decisive moments in life, being technically ready for what the universe brings.

Be prepared is also the motto of the Scouts, in fact there any number of quotes, phrases and anachronisms relating to being prepared. Being prepared is important, but its more an just a technical thing, it’s a mental thing too.
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Freeing Old Negatives

There use to be a time when people would quite often only shoot one roll of film a year.  The roll would either contain 24 or 36 exposures and would have a family Christmas at the beginning then a sumer holiday and then at the end of the roll the start of the next Christmas.  Today we all takes more pictures than ever before. Not only do we take more we probably share them more with email, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.  But what about all those old negatives we have in draws, packets and files? Just like that pile of CDs that are now on the computer it’s possible to do the same with those negatives.  Film scanners can be relatively cheaply bought either new or on Ebay.  Use it  to scan all your  archive and then you can stick it back on Ebay or pass it on to a friend to do theirs. Last thing any of us want is another un-unsed box cluttering the place up.

Here are a few I scanned in the other day.  Most of the negatives are from my work as Picture editor at the University of Westminster Students’ Union fortnightly magazine, The Smoke.  Most of the photos were shot using either my  my trusty Olympus OM2n, using a mixture of Ilford HP5 and Delta 400. The scanner is no way be means up to modern standards, it’s ten years old and has lived in a draw for much of that time. The software is not great and the whole thing is rather temperamental but its nice to rediscover images that I had forgotten. The scanned negs have not been altered but for the removal of the odd bit of dust, just shows how good the faithfully thirty something year old OM2 is.

 

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