Bristol ‘Urban Portraits’ 4 – pictures

Nov 20, 2008 | Flash | 13 comments

One of the last pictures I took on Wednesday was this flash and burn shot. A flick of the wrist at the time of exposure ensured the lights in the background created trails.

One of the last pictures I took on Wednesday was this flash and burn shot. A flick of the wrist at the time of exposure ensured the lights in the background created trails.

Here is a selection of the pictures shot on Wednesday’s workshop.

A gust of wind ruffled Lora hair.

A gust of wind ruffled Lora's hair during this exposure. A lobby area in a modern building provided the right kind of natural light.

The same scinario as above

The same scenario as in the shot above.

The windows of the HBOS hq in Bristol provided the abstract reflections in this picture.

The windows of the HBOS hq in Bristol provided the abstract reflections in this picture.

The out of focus elements in this picture.

The out of focus elements in this picture form an integral part of the composition.

Evenly lit by 2 windows.

Evenly lit by 2 windows - this picture is as close to 'badger lighting' as I like to go.

I always like to explore close up shots. The lack of eye contact adds to interest in the picture.

I always like to explore close up shots. The lack of eye contact adds to interest in the picture.

A lift of the face and the mood. Rim lighting from a distant window adds the depth in the image.

A lift of the face lifts the mood. The side lighting was from a distant window.

Flare is back in style at the moment. Perhaps this is near the limit.

Flare is back in style at the moment. Perhaps this is near the limit.

In this picture you can see how I've used reflected patches of sunlight from the building across the street.

In this picture you can see how I've used patches of reflected sun light from a building across the street.

Lora is in the same position as in the picture above. I've just moved in and made more of the reflections on the background glossy paint.

Lora is in the same position as in the picture above. I've just moved in to make the most of the reflected sunlight on the brown glossy paint in the background.

A fabulous sky gave a pink hue.

A fabulous sky gave me a pink hue to blend with the distant street lights on the Bristol waterfront.

Flash from a stand on the right of camera looks after the foreground exposure.

Flash from a stand on the right of camera looks after the foreground exposure.

Please feel free to comment on these pictures, especially if you were with me on the day.

13 Comments

  1. damien

    Hi Nigel and Paula,

    I spent 2004 – 2007 shooting exclusively with my Hasselblad H1 with a P25 (22mp) back. I didn’t own another camera. It could only go up to ISO 400 and so for 3 years that is what I shot at. My point is that any digital SLR from Canon or Nikon on the market today can shoot at ISO 400 without excessive noise. I use higher ISO because I can. I shot high ISO film last century often choosing Neopan 1600 35mm stock for the grainy look. If grain is well controlled it can look fantastic. If the shot is under exposed it will look awful – it doesn’t matter if you shoot film or digital, under exposed high ISO pictures are horrible. Just like shooting neg, it is important to give a sensor just that bit more exposure than the camera would give it if it were on automatic. I used to rate my Neo1600 at 800 and it worked a treat.

    Damien.

    Reply
  2. Paula

    Damien, I am so amazed about all the information you share in this blog! Thanks so much! and our portraits are beautiful! I have to fly from Spain some day to take part at your urban workshop! :-)

    I agree with you about the importance of lenses, but what about noise? Specially the kind of images you usually take with high ISO, it makes all the difference if you have a good camera body, doesn’t it?

    Paula

    Reply
  3. Nigel Bayliss

    Thanks Damien. Good info. Luckily I have a 70-200 F2.8L, and a 17-40 F4L…so a reasonable starting point. I’m just waiting for the 5D mk2 to come out…then I might be able to afford a 5D mk1 to replace my 10D!! P.S. The filters are now off!!

    Reply
  4. damien

    Hi Nigel,

    I’m glad my filter explanation makes sense. Here is a more complete reply…

    This is my importance list of picture making:

    1 The photographer is the most important element in the process. The way he or she uses light, the moments they create and capture are the foundations of great photographs.

    2. The lens is the next most important element. It converts the three dimensional scene or vision of the photographer into a two dimensional image. The optical quality of the lens directly effects the resulting image.

    3. The camera is the least important element because it just records the image made by the lens. Yes there are functionality factors too, but these affect the photographic process not the image.

    I’m not usually in the habit of ‘dissing’ cameras as such because they rarely make much difference to the picture. Lenses yes! I started shooting digital weddings in 2001 using Fuji S1 cameras and at just 3.2 million pixels they performed fine. That was because I used professional ‘top shelf’ lenses. I recently shot a 6 page feature for DSLR user magazine using a Nikon D40 and the results were fantastic. I also shot on the Canon 1000D two weeks ago and that was great too.

    Of course there are functional limitations with certain camera bodies but it would be virtually imposable for me or you to distinguish which shots were taken on what cameras for wedding album sized prints except of course at very high ISO. So if I had a budget of £1500 lets say for a portrait kit, I’d opt for a £1100 lens (70-200mm f/2.8 IS or VR) on a £400 camera. I wouldn’t waste money on a filter :)

    I hope this helps.

    Damien.

    Reply
  5. Nigel Bayliss

    Nice to hear your explanation Damien as to why you don’t use filters on your lenses and that the camera isn’t the most important bit, as when I attended your urban portraits shoot back in July you ‘dissed’ my camera and lenses but didn’t give any explanation as to why, which knocked my confidence at the start of the day. The filter bit now makes sense.

    Reply
  6. David Tillyer

    I’m with Damien on the point about filters. I have had alot of lenses in my career (when you work for a Photographic Retailer you chop and change alot or at least I did) and all have performed better without the filter. Also I treat my gear with very little respect (I know I should but I’ve got bad habbits) and I have never scratched a front element (touch wood). I say put the money towards another lens or remote flash.

    Just my 2p

    Reply
  7. David Lowerson

    Damien,

    I use filters on all my lenses due to the fact that they cost so much money for the L series lenses.

    If i was to damage the front of the lens, can this be repaired ?

    Would I notice the clarity improving if the filters were removed.

    David

    Reply
  8. Fergus

    Hi Ion.
    I think the filters are a UV and a skylight but I haven’t looked at them since returning from Bristol. Having experienced pictures without them I’ll only replace them on the lens if the situation really demands protection – something like salt spray for example.

    Damien, thanks for clarifying the point.

    Fergus

    Reply
  9. damien

    Hi Fergus,

    I’m glad you found the day useful. I must clarify the filter tip. If you have 4 or 5 lenses with filters on then you have more money invested in filters than the cost of replacing any of the front elements.
    Lens manufacturers make curved front elements for a reason. It is essential that light has the opportunity to enter the lens perpendicular to the glass plane in order to reduce flare. The last thing a lens needs is another bit of flat glass put on the front.
    Clarity of image is one of my main objectives and I never use filters on my lenses for this reason.

    Regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  10. damien

    Hi Ion,

    There are several factors that affect the image quality of your images. The camera is the least of them. I could have shot these pictures on a Canon 1000D and they’d have looked the same. The lens is the most significant technical factor. I use the f/2.8 pro lenses with image stabilisation on the long optic.
    The next biggest factor is the shooting technique that keeps the camera rock solid at the moment of exposure. Like shooting a target rifle, the make of rifle is a lesser factor than the shooting technique.
    The biggest factor is of course the use of light, tone and design. When shooting portraits, rapport with your subject is also critical.
    On my shooting workshops I demonstrate how to shoot slow shutter speed pictures and achieve sharpness. I also teach how to see and use light. The use of flash and how to control the exposure elements are also covered.
    Practice makes perfect. I shoot 1000 – 1500 pictures every week and this is essential to keep my skill level at a peak.

    I hope this helps.

    Damien.

    Reply
  11. Fergus

    As one of the participants on wednesday I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learnt an enormous amount.
    Recommended training for all.

    Loved the shots Damien and I got some good ones too, even when we were moved on by an over zealous security guard.

    Tip of the day! throw the lens protection filter away, it causes bad flare, and if the front element is ever damaged it is cheaper to replace the element than the filter. Anyone want to buy a couple of 77mm filters?

    Reply
  12. damien

    Hi Roger,

    I used my 70 – 200mm f/2.8 for all bar 2 of these pictures. The other lens I used was my 24 – 70 f/2.8 I’ll add more exposure info later, when I get a chance.

    Kindest regards,

    Damien.

    Reply
  13. Roger Griffiths

    …..and another set of superb images. What lens were you using for these shots? the 70 – 200 again?

    Regards

    Rog

    Reply

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