Its all about the light. Again!

Playing with light, well actually understanding light rather than playing with it will take my photography into another level. I like natural light but haven’t really learned a massive amount about how to use it to my benefit. Although I’m not doing to badly at getting reasonable portraits. I did the candid strangers project to get me thinking quickly on my feet about the ever changing light situations from walking on the sunny side of the road to suddenly wanting to take a photo on the side that was shady or just about to take a candid image of a stranger and the cloud would clear and change everything. It was a good experience, often it was just simply changing my shutter speed, sometimes altering the ISO and on the odd occasion having to think about the exposure triangle in its entirety. I can hear people now saying ‘thats not complicated’. If you are one of those then all I will ask is that you take yourself back to when you started out. Yes once it is explained the concept is easy to understand but putting it into practice and feeling comfortable with it is one thing, its another thing when you need to do it quickly to get candid street portraits. However this was simply a project to get me thinking about exposure. Now I’m moving on and thinking about light modeling. Using light to add interest and another dimension to my images rather than relying on depth of field. When it comes to taking portraits of total strangers I am sure that I will feel like a total wally when I pull out my newly acquired reflector. However, I am following a couple of photographers on flickr that use reflectors and it seems like an easy way to sculpt light, lift shadows and even block out some harsh light. I just need to get over the fear of whipping it out in public. The reflector! Any regular reader will know I joined a flickr group to capture portraits of 100 strangers but this time with their permission and posed. This is majorly stressful for me, I like to do my own thing and just blend into the background. None the less I joined the group as a personal challenge and in the hope of improving my portraiture. Here are a couple of the photographers that I have started to follow…Iain BlakeTerry Lok,  Al Fed,  Barbara Asboth and Arnab Ghosal.  They’ve all given me a warm welcome to the online group and importantly for me, feed back on my images. I’m sure I will learn more from them as I progress through the challenge. If you have time please have a look at their work. They might even inspire you to join in and I hope an old friend that has been supportive throughout my learning might even fancy a go and dust off his camera. So….. learning about light also means learning artificial lighting. There is a huge amount to learn and I have jumped in head first with regards to using flash. My camera does not have a pop up flash built in to the body but I did that was intentional. I knew I would want to use more interesting lighting. Another group on flickr is where I plan on learning about lights. I think however I might have dive-bombed into flash photography when I should have perhaps dipped my toes in first. I have been using the flash on manual when I might have been better starting with the automatic side of things and looking at flash exposure compensation. I need to have a good look at this and once I get that under my belt I can start to think about looking at flash in more depth. Also the joy & expense of buying light modifiers. Anyway, enough waffle from me. Here are some images taken in Camden recently and one has been added to my new 100 strangers album.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

At an event in Camden I introduced myself to Dennis and asked if he would sit for his portrait to be taken.

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Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

Dennis was more than happy to have Norman Jay MBE gate crash the photo shoot.

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I think the first image is pretty cool in black and white. It needed some work on the sun glasses to remove the flash reflection and the scooter reflection. Image two I will probably submit as part of my city and guilds work. Image three was very rushed, the light had been moved and I was concentrating on that more than changing my aperture. That said, I think the slight softness, although not ideal, is acceptable. If its good enough for Pierre Bresson (I recently viewed some of his work in Piccadilly) then it is good enough for me. In image four I like the point of view but knew the mannequin behind my subject would be a problem. I wish I had the balls to just move it or at least have asked the stall holder to shift it for a couple of minutes. If I was using the image for anything I would naturally try to deal with the flash in the glasses and remove the few rain spots on Dennis’ parker. Thank you Dennis for being a patient model and thank you Norman Jay (MBE) for the guest appearance. As always, thank you for visiting my blog. Jim Jimmy James

One comment

  1. i love that B+W shot Jimmy. It looks as if the ISO was pushed( from the grain), but only guessing. It’s my favourite of the bunch, and really gets to the soul of the man. Well done!
    Best wishes, Pete.

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