I couldn’t resist buying this wonderful camera called a Speed Graphic which came with the traditional flash mount and even a couple of darkslides. Back when I did my Photography degree in the 1970s, I was trained on large format cameras and learned to compose photos using the upside down and right to left image on the ground glass screen at the back of the camera. The screen was also hard to see and also needed a magnifying loupe to fine focus – that’s why photographers used the black cloths to cover their heads and the camera. This Speed Graphic along with other models from various manufacturers such as Gandolfi, MPP and Linhof was designed to be portable and featured viewfinders and focus scales for quick use.
This particular model is the iconic press camera that appeared in the Hollywood films of the day – I wonder what clients would think if I took this to my next job?
The purist would say that a photograph should stand entirely on its own merits but would probably admit that sometimes colour photos are acceptable. I love black and white and to me nothing quite equals the look and feel of a large print on proper silver halide paper like Ilford Gallerie, with blacks so deep and rich you can fall into them.
Okay, sometimes I used to tone them with selenium…oh alright and I’ve used used sepia toning, iron toning and Colovir (more about Colovir in another post) and yes, I montaged and manipulated prints in the darkroom to achieve different looks, ideas and emphasis. Then along came Photoshop and digital cameras and I went crazy experimenting, trying to get that unique edge. Trouble is that so did everybody else and then Instagram was invented and now everyone’s a fine art photographer. Or are they?
Lately I seem to have gone full circle and prefer my personal work as simple black and white, except… when I discover a new tweak in Photoshop!
Here’s a photo of an action actress/stunt double from Atlanta, originally taken in colour and then played with it to get the result I originally envisaged.
A composition of shadows and textures
One of my favourite experiences is to simply go exploring – with camera to hand to just see what catches my attention. This photo was the result of being in the right place at the right time with the combination of shadows and textures making a wonderful composition. I’ve sold copies of this print to collectors and also similar prints where I hand tinted the geraniums and plant pot .
This set of four photos evolved by chance whilst out exploring on a holiday in Spain armed with my Contax and it’s wonderful Zeiss T * 50mm 1.4 lens .
I was enjoying the shadows and textures of the backstreets when I suddenly saw an elderly figure step out of a doorway with a cane extended. The diagonal created by the cane complimented the vertical and perspective lines, so I grabbed a quick shot then moved closer and took another. The lady had seen me by now so I smiled and asked if I could take her photo in the doorway, she smiled back and nodded and I took two more. We then had a great chat about all sorts of things including the fact that she’d actually helped the resistance movement during wartime when she lived in Southern France and now lived with her son and grandchildren.
I realise that today I would have used the zoom lens on my digital and rattled off a score of photos and to be on the safe side legally, I would’ve had to have the lady sign a model release – which would’ve meant difficult explanations in my pidgin spanish. I would have missed these great photos of a wonderful lady!
It was very flattering that an action actress/stunt double who has appeared in films such as Scary Movie, The Walking Dead, Hunger Games, Talladega Nights, Need For Speed, etc., wanted to come 90 miles down from Atlanta for a photo session with me! Here’s one shot before and after Photoshop editing. The gun and the background were made in my 3D programs so I could match the lighting before editing. If you just take existing photos from the web or your own files then you have to make sure that the light on your model matches them to avoid looking fake.
It’s as easy as falling off a wall, in this case literally. (more…)
My favourite model asked me to shoot her wedding and during the evening reception her sister dared her to do a cartwheel. She did.
“I’ve got a great idea!”, said the Art Director of a candy firm I worked for regularly. “For our Company Christmas card let’s put a candle in each of the chocolate bars coming down the conveyor belt!” (more…)
Or could be subtitled: “Not everyone appreciates my sense of humour”!
Marketing is the only way to spread the word about a business and I used to make my own flyers and adverts. I figured a humorous approach would attract more attention but my flyer for my portrait services “Amber Visual Shoots People!” met with a very negative response from a few people. (more…)