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Lighting a Room

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Lighting an entire room with just a couple of portable flashguns sounds like a big ask, but under the right conditions it’s completely achievable and very simple to set up.

Especially if your room is like this one, and made up of white walls on two sides and a white ceiling. By firing a flash into the ceiling you effectively give yourself a light source far bigger than even the biggest soft box, and by opening the white wardrobe door in front of the model (out of shot but to the left in this image) you’ve got the perfect reflector. Light bounces about everywhere giving lovely soft shadows and gentle, even illumination.

A second flash was put inside the bathroom (along the short corridor to the right of the image). This was to show that there is another room along there, but also to blow out the yellow light that’s emitted from the ceiling LED light (the light has been brushed out) and make sure that the entire image is the same colour temperature.

The iPad screen can also act as a light source, simply open Word and create a new blank page and you’ve got a white LCD panel – though in this case it wasn’t required.

Converging Verticals

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This is an image of Thornton Place in Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s not one of Newcastle’s best known architectural locations (the likes of Grey Street and the Quayside are the usual ‘go to’ places), but like a lot of cities you never really notice some of the buildings unless you’ve got a few minutes to spare and you look upwards.

1524659_1025229974158213_5955181392400240162_nThis shot was really taken as a test image to see how I got on with the Fuji X100. This is a compact camera, beautifully styled by Fuji to look like an old 1970’s rangefinder, but more importantly the technical specification and image quality is bang up to date. It’s got a fixed 35mm focal length lens with a maximum aperture of f2, which makes it the classic choice for street photography. This is combined with an APS-C sensor, the size found on a lot of high end digital SLR’s. The lens and sensor combination have been specifically designed to work together, and that’s where the quality comes from.

The image above is a reasonable one, but what pleases me the most from it is the complete lack of distortion from the 35mm lens. This is quite a wide focal length, and you would expect to see some barrel or pincushion distortion in there somewhere, especially considering the subject is made up of straight, converging verticals, but there’s none. It’s absolutely nailed it.

Since getting the X100 (I looked around for a mint condition second hand one which is a bargain) I’ve hardly picked up my DSLR, and I could genuinely say that I could use it for pretty much everything I shoot. More importantly, because it’s so compact it’s the kind of camera I don’t manage carrying around with me, so I’m more likely to grab those interesting photographs (like the one here) when out and about.

On Reflections…

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Reflections are fickle things, especially in rivers and moving water. You can spend literally months waiting for the reflection in the Tyne to be just right.

The tide has to be right, as does the amount of water in the river system, the wind, the river traffic and the location of the sun. It’s rare that it all comes together, and when it does you typically don’t have a camera with you!

This is one of those rare exceptions. I was in Newcastle on a photo job and decided to take a 15 minute break on a bench by the river, and the scene pretty much presented itself. This building has always fascinated me, though I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the pale blue colour, or perhaps the blue and red strips running from the roof and along the base. Regardless, I like it, and I especially like it when you can see almost a perfect mirror image of the jagged roof in the river. It’s a very untypical view of architecture on the quayside.

Technically there was nothing to it. The aperture was f8 to get the best out of the lens, the shutter speed was left to the camera and ended up being 1/40 second. All I had to do was make sure I was as square on to the front of the building as possible, and the rest would look after itself.

Blue Skies in Manchester

According to the locals, this is something that you don’t see very often – a clear blue, cloudless sky in the frequently rainy North West of England.

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This shot is of the new Co-operative headquarters in Manchester where I was shooting for a magazine article inside. It’s very striking, and equally impressive inside, but considering the weather it would be crazy not to take a couple of exterior shots too.

This was shot hand held at 1/20 sec f8 with a 10-20mm lens at the wide end. Hand holding at this slow speed is no problem with a lens this wide provided you’re careful. A polarizer was used to deepen the blue sky, take reflections off the glass and give the image some punch. I also waited until there was a small group of people walking out the front door, just to give a sense of scale.

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The view from the top wasn’t bad either!

 

Tyneside Joiner

This is a series of six photographs of Newcastle upon Tyne’s amazing quayside, which can be used to create a ‘David Hockney’ style joiner.

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1450170_10152029869085396_429742364_nThe images were taken on an old Braun Norca III (circa 1951) medium format folding camera using Ilford HP5+ 120 film. The Norca allows you to shoot either 6×6 or 6×8 negatives, but I opted for the classic square format in this instance.

The film was developed for 5 minutes in Kodak HC-110 dilution B at 20°C, and the 8×8 inch photographs printed by Digitalab in Newcastle upon Tyne. The 35×18 inch frame was produced by the Factory Framing Centre and they also provided a bleached white backing mount to fit.

So if you like it and would like your own version on your wall, download the full resolution images from here, and use the local businesses that I did. You can lay out the images however you like, so each one will be a little different to any others. Enjoy!