Monthly Archives: December 2013

Let there be light!

I realised I really needed to learn about lighting when I was taking live photographs of Edinburgh based band Lipsync for a Lullaby. The local venues the band was playing in were very dark. Since the low light capabilities of the camera I had at the time weren’t that great, I definitely needed some additional light to take decent quality photographs.

My job as I saw it was to take a variety of shots during the performance, from close-ups to photographs of the whole band. Therefore, I had to figure out a way to set up my small flashes in such a way that the lighting would work in all these cases. I usually set up three lights, one to the left of the stage, one to the right, and since I’m a big fan of back light, one at the back. The venues where the band played were typically rather bland colourwise, so I started experimenting with coloured gels on my flashes. My favourite set up consisted in using the three primary colours, red, blue and yellow for maximum colour contrast.

Band Lipsync for a Lullaby playing at the now defunct Forest Cafe in Edinburgh. Shot with a fisheye.

Lipsync for a Lullaby playing at the now defunct Forest Cafe in Edinburgh.

In the above photo, one can definitely infer that there is  ‘blue’ light coming from camera left,  ‘red’ light coming from camera right while the ‘yellow’ light at the back is visible in the frame.

Close up portrait of Lipsync for a Lullaby viola player David Townhill performing at Henry's cellar bar in Edinburgh.

Portrait of viola player David Towhill from Lipsync for a Lullaby framed by the out of focus double bass player Balazs Hermann. The band was performing at Henry’s cellar bar in Edinburg.



Dramatic portrait lighting with Lisa Rigby

In a few of my previous posts, I talked about how I like to photograph women using a beauty lighting set up. But sometimes, breaking the rules is a good thing.

In the commercial world, one typically sees ‘happy’ pictures. Light tones without deep shadows. For some subjects, however, a more dramatic, darker mood is a better fit. Musicians and athletes tend to fall in that category. Maybe it’s just me, but most musicians I know relate to darker, moodier photographs.

Singer songwriter Lisa Rigby holding a mandolin profile portrait

Profile pictures lend themselves better to moodier lighting in my opinion. Lisa is holding a mandolin, a favourite instrument of hers.

A while back, I set up a few portrait sessions with Edinburgh based singer/songwriter Lisa Rigby.  We did a sunset/night urban decay photo shoot, another shoot in a park and a portrait session at a friend’s house. The sunset photographs had a mood of their own, but I wanted to try to get much more dramatic images. Since the photographs are all about tonal contrast, bright areas versus dark shadows, I felt colour was a distraction, and the pictures were converted to black and white.

Singer songwriter Lisa Rigby looking at a painted face on a wall in Granton,  Edinburgh

When I saw the painting of the face on the wall, I immediately thought of this picture. We also provided some entertainment for the security camera operator, who followed us around the courtyard for the duration of the shoot.


Los Angeles, California Exhibition

A while back, I took a series of online Fine Art Photography classes with Kathleen Clemons. Kathleen is a top class flower photographer and many of the other students in the class chose flowers as the subject for their weekly assignments. So I decided to give flower photography a try. It has been a wonderful vision training exercise, because it is quite a bit more difficult than one would think.

Pink Flower with out of focus background and texture

I carefully chose my focus point and my settings to render a nicely out of focus background, and added a texture to the photograph later in post -processing.

It is typically not possible to get the whole flower in sharp focus when shooting up close and one of the choices one has to make is which part of the flower one focusses on. The choice has a great deal of effect on the aesthetic of the final photograph.

Shooting flowers has also given me more intuition about how my lenses see the world. And while I still have a long way to go in my flower photography, I was thrilled to learn that two of my flower photographs, shown in this blog post, were chosen for the juried exhibition “Flower Power” at the 1650 Gallery in Los Angeles, California. Opening night reception is on December 14th,  2013.

Red flower and reflection against a blue background

The blue background for this red flower photograph is none other than the from door of my apartment building. A texture and the reflection were added later in post-processing.


Portrait Photography and the Importance of Makeup

According to a New York Times report, a new study reveals that women who wear makeup (without overdoing it) are perceived as more likeable, competent and trustworthy. Not surprisingly, the study also reveals that makeup increases a woman’s attractiveness.

In a previous blog post, “Business portrait, the why”, I gave a number of arguments in favour of having a portrait of yourself on your website, LinkedIn profile or Facebook page. You wouldn’t buy something from someone wearing a mask, and if there isn’t a picture of you for potential online customers to look at, you are effectively wearing one. A photograph subtly tells your audience you have nothing to hide and makes you more trustworthy.

Beauty shot of model with professional makeup Edinburgh

Professional makeup by Maria Carmela Chierchia and beauty lighting

All of these observations indicate that it is definitely a good idea for business women to have a professional photograph with good makeup on their website, LinkedIn profile or Facebook page.

The pictures in this post feature  Stephanie Buckley, who was a joy to work with. The makeup artist was Maria Carmela Chierchia, who has been in the beauty industry for nearly ten years.

Beauty shot of model with professional makeup Edinburgh

Lighter makeup by Maria Carmela Chierchia for a different look