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Thursday 22 September 2011

Photography really DOES mean 'drawing with light'

We went to the theatre last night to see the Rambert Dance Company. It was a series of three pieces, all modern and all different. The middle piece was called " Seven for a secret never to be told".

What has this got to do with photography ? ...

It's all about light. The stage lighting was out of this world. The use of colour, modelling, shaping, direction and quality of light was simply sublime.

If you think you're pretty good at lighting or if you're thinking of taking up photography as a professional then go and watch these REAL experts at work, you will come away feeling inadequate, humbled and inspired.

In fact it should be mandatory for all photography students to study stage lighting before they are even allowed to touch a camera. The bland rubbish that is often passed off as 'creative' photography by the current crop of degree courses could be consigned to history.

Photography done properly is a true craft and the idea that anyone with a digital camera and a 'bit of flair' can produce high quality work is frankly just not true.

Apart from anything else, a trip to a professional dance theatre will also teach you a hell of a lot about the possibilities of the human form and should leave you with your jaw dragging on the floor in awe and amazement.

Rant over

Friday 5 August 2011

Hard work this Blogging !

I've been busy taking photographs recently and so blogging has had to take a back seat. After all I'm a professional photographer and one has to get ones priorities in order.

I'm working on a new collection of fine art prints which will be available as  a limited edition run once the series is complete. The theme for the project is the textures and forms which can be found all around us, if we can be bothered to look. My self imposed restriction of not arranging either subject or lighting in any way but simply working with what I find on my wanderings has led me to discover some remarkably beautiful compostions created by the natural elements with no human intervention.

The inspiration came from revisiting the still lifes of 'found' objects created by the late Bob Carlos Clarke 20 years ago. I will change that to the late GREAT Bob Carlos Clarke. If you don't know his work then you simply MUST research him. Don't be put off by his reputation for concentrating on the erotic and voyeuristic side of photography. Brilliant though his erotic images were ( and no, they most certainly are NOT pornography ) his talent covered many fields and I can't believe it's over 5 years since his tragic suicide.

My images are not in the same catgory as his as BCC's were carefully arranged and lit in a studio and are of a standard that I only aspire to.Would that I had his vision. However I don't, I have my own and here is the first image from my new project. It has, naturally, no title, I just can't stand titles

Interpret it as you wish. Whatever conclusion you come to is exactly correct.

Thursday 30 June 2011

White Balance

In an ideal world you would always shoot you images as RAW files. My next blog will explain why but in the meantime if you are still shooting jpeg it is VITAL that you get your white balance right every time you press the button.

You camera will have an AUTO white balance function which I would advise you never use except in the direst of emergencies, where you simply don't have time to change settings for fear of losing the shot. Auto settings only work perfectly in a 'perfect' situation where you have an absolutely 'average' subject. Even lighting, even tones, even colours etc. These conditions only exist in a laboratory, not in the real world.

The camera will also have a number of preset white balance options to accomodate bright sunshine, cloudy days, artificial lighting, flash etc . These are all approximates and can't be anything else. Light can be at any point on a long sliding scale of colour temperature and these presets are once again a compromise.

The only way to be sure of pictures with neutral greys, clean highlights and colour cast free shadows is to use your CUSTOM WB function. It's really easy. Follow the instructions specific to your camera and take a reading from a piece of white card in the same light as that falling on your subject every single time you take a picture. Faffy ? yes, worth it ? definitely.

A more costly but far more convenient and even more accurate method is to use a specifically calibrated device called an EXPODISC, cost around a hundred quid but is invaluable to the serious operator, have a look at it  

Happy snapping !

Thursday 16 June 2011

Famous Clients ( well almost )

I've had John Wayne AND Lana Turner in my studio this week, at the same time!.

You'll be greatly relieved to hear that they weren't here in person, both being long deceased but a client brought in some photographs of them to be copied. Not just any old photographs but ones that he actually took himself whilst they were filming in the far east and he was stationed there.

The photos are not remarkable in any way but my client was able to confirm that a) Lana Turner was indeed as beautiful and gracious as the studio publicity always said she was and b) John Wayne was indeed capable of consuming VAST amounts of alcohol with no apparent effect on his ability to function normally.

Hopefully I'll be posting in the next few days with my views on the importance of white balance and why you should NEVER shoot  anything other than Raw files. Shooting on jpeg may seem to work most of the time but one day it will all end in tears and you'll lose that once in a lifetime shot because using Raw seemed too time consuming or complicated. It IS both of these things but it's worth it. Watch this space... ( I do like a well used ellipsis ).

Shame on all of you who didn't recognise the lyrics ' Time flies etc'
The answer, The light pours out of me by Magazine

Saturday 4 June 2011

Self Promotion

Been a really busy couple of weeks, what with it being the Wedding season and everything, so no deep thoughts or fancy philosophies today, just a little self promotion.

If you live locally pop out and get yourself a copy of tonights ( Sat June 4th ) Lancashire Telegraph and if you look on page 26 there's a chance to win a fabulous free portrait from our Studio. There's still a week left before entries close so don't delay !

Back soon with more abstract and tangential thoughts

Saturday 21 May 2011

PERHAPS , It's all in the interpretation

When you take a photograph, the point where you press the button in just one of a number of stages involved in 'creating an image'.

It all starts with an idea. You get a picture in your mind and then go out and find a subject that fits your mental picture. Or perhaps that's not true. Perhaps you see the subject in front of you and this then evolves into an idea which you then have to record. Or perhaps it's neither of these. Perhaps  you take a snapshot without really thinking but all the while, in the background at a subconcious level you really ARE thinking and you don't realise until later that you have a potentially exciting image to play with.

Too many variables to ever nail it down as a simple logical process to be sure, however at some point you have to make concious irreversible deciscions about how you want to present your creation to the world.

Digital or wet darkroom, it doesn't matter, that's just physics and chemistry, we're talking about creativity here and so far thank goodness the white coated boffins haven't managed to distill that into a bottle and if they did , well, then people like you and I are lost.

To complicate things further, there is, of course, no RIGHT way to print an image. The same image and I mean EXACTLY the same image can be prepared to give any number of completely different results leaving the viewer with several ways to interpret what they see and hopefully inducing different moods and emotions to experience.

Perhaps the images below will explain things more clearly

And finally thanks for the emails Identifying the Song 'Freelove' by Depeche Mode.So if you think you know your lyrics, identify this song ( and no internet cheating ! )


Monday 16 May 2011

Problems with comments

I was a bit puzzled at not receiving any comments on the first few Blogs I posted but being new to the game I though perhaps this was quite normal.

However I've been contacted by a couple of people who tell me that they tried to post comments but were being blocked by the software.

Having spoken to my internet guru I've discovered that the problem may lie with google and he's currently looking to find a way round it.

So, in the meantime, if you do feel the urge to make a comment on one of my blogs then please feel free to contact me directly via email on reg@garthdawsonstudio.co.uk and I'll get back to you.

Apologies for the inconvenience but I did warn you from the start that IT is not my strong suit. Hopefully things will be sorted soon.

Should you find yourself once more looking for inspiration and want to see some outstanding photography then try googling  CINDY SHERMAN. It's only my very humble opinion but I rate her as the greatest living artist in any media. You won't be disappointed.