Category Archives: Edinburgh

Coulours of the Edinburgh Festival: Circus Hub

In the last blog post, I gave a preview of Circus Hub, the very colourful Edinburgh Festival attraction.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I had my composition, using the lines, shapes and colours of the walls, and I just needed to wait for someone to take a peak. People also give photographs a sense of scale.

Circus Hub is surrounded by a very colourful wall, and the same colour scheme is found inside. I can’t remember exactly how much time I spent, but I’d say it easily took me a couple of hours to explore the various photographic opportunities at Circus Hub.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

The same colours could be found inside Circus Hub

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Some of the details, like this fence, also provided interesting compositions.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I used the wall to provide a colourful background for the lights. It was a bit too early for the lit bulbs to clearly show. I wonder what the pic would look like taken a few hours later, during the blue hour, but I didn’t get the chance to go back.

When you are faced with a subject so rich in photographic opportunities, you may want to revisit some of the places you’ve been to. It’s very easy to miss a good shot, and the more you work your subject, the better you see.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

I’m always intrigued by the contrast of man-made objects and natural ones. In this case, the variety of bight coloured regular shapes versus the more muted colours and irregular patterns of the tree.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

This bench with the sweater makes me wonder who was there and what happened. If benches could talk, we surely would hear some interesting stories.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Another composition with the fence from the photo above, this time from a higher point of view. I was drawn to this composition by the light on the wall.

Finally, don’t forget to get in closer and look at some of the details of the scene in from of you. You may be very surprised (and delighted) by what you get.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Blue and yellow are two colours that came make your images ‘pop’

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Moving to a slightly different spot, I managed to get only the blue and yellow colours in my composition.

Colours at the Edinburgh International Festival, Circus Hub

Purple and blue are also two contrasting colours that can make your pictures ‘pop’. But I needed another element in the frame to make the composition more interesting. Fortunately someone happened to stop by and engage in a conversation with someone else. His feet provided the missing element in the picture.

 

Edinburgh International Festival: Colour Abstracts

Circus Hub is one of the most colourful attractions at the annual Edinburgh International Festival, which is why it immediately got my attention.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

For this photo, I stood in front of a colourful wall and moved the camera up and down during the 1/4 sec exposure

When I see a colourful subject, I like to explore abstract pictures using camera movement during a long exposure or in camera multiple exposures. It is a taste I acquired by following one of my favourite photographers, Bryan F. Peterson.

Colour abstract obtained with camera movement

As the ambient light level fell for some time, I was able to use longer shutter speeds, like 1 sec for this photograph. Along with the up and down movement, there was also a little bit of sideways motion to add to the blur.

With this particular wall, I first tried camera movement. The brightness level of the ambient light varied quite a bit while I was taking photographs, which is pretty much par for the course in Scotland. I was able to use shutter speeds between 1/4 sec and 1 sec. I had the most success moving the camera up and down or up and down and a little bit sideways.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this picture, I rotated the camera clockwise by about thirty degrees or so after the first and second exposures.

I next moved to multiple exposures. I had the most success when I rotated the camera between each of the three exposures. It took a bit of experimentation to get something I like but it’s always fun to do.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

For this photograph, I rotated the camera a bit more. I believe I took one pic horizontal, one at forty-five degrees and one vertical.

Next time you find a colourful bed of flowers or painted wall, why don’t you try some camera movement and multiple exposures. I warn you, the process can be addictive.

Colour abstract obtained by rotating the camera between each of the three exposures, and combined in camera

I moved to a different part of the coloured wall, and tried again the horizontal, forty-five degrees and vertical shots.

Real Estate Photography: 20 Atholl Crescent Lane, Edinburgh

Atholl Crescent Lane is a quiet side street off Shandwick Place. It is within easy walking distance of Princes Street and some of the main tourist attractions in Edinburgh. It is therefore a prime location for holiday lets.

Living room, holiday let, Edinburgh

Very cosy living room at 20 Atholl Crescent Lane.

Dining table and kitchen, holiday let, Edinburgh

If you turn the camera 180 degrees from the previous photo, you see a dining space and a very functional kitchen.

Kitchen, holiday let, Edinburgh

A closer look at the kitchen.

Dining area and living room, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this vantage point, you get a sense of the spatial relationship between the dining area and the living room. Especially after you’ve seen the first two photographs.

It always amazes me when I look at the Airbnb website and see so many bad photographs. From my own experience, I believe people will not look at all of the available properties, but select a few within their price range and pick the best from these.

Bedroom with three single beds, holiday let, Edinburgh

This holiday let can accommodate five people, with three single beds in one of the bedrooms. I always prefer the shot with the window in the photograph, and hence the backlight.

Bedroom with three single beds, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this angle, you can better see the three single beds.

Your listing on Airbnb is therefore competing for attention with all of the other available holiday lets. A great thumbnail picture will entice people to check out your property. And when they see all of photos that do your property justice, they might very well book right then.

Bedroom with double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

My favourite angle, with the window in the frame and the backlight. But from this angle, you can’t quite see the bedroom actually had a double bed in it.

Close up of double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

This picture complements the previous one, in that it clearly shows the double bed.

Bedroom with double bed, holiday let, Edinburgh

From this angle, you can see the rest of the bedroom, and in particular the storage area behind the bed.

Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. A professional real estate photographer can add value to your property. And the cost to you is only the equivalent of one, two or three days you charge to let the house or flat.

Bathroom, holiday let, Edinburgh.

It’s always important to show an immaculate bathroom.

It is obviously not possible to measure how many extra bookings professional real estate photographs will bring you, but I have little doubt that one, two or three extra days booked within the lifespan of the photographs (a couple of years or more) is quite an underestimate.

Exterior photo of the 20, Atholl Crescent Lane flat.

On this sunny day, I was able to capture a nice exterior photograph. You can clearly see the property is located in a quiet area.

The photographs will therefore pay for themselves and then some thanks to the extra business you’ll get.

 

Dance Photography at Dance for All: Kirsty

A while back, I met with Kirsty for a dance photo shoot at Dance for All, on St Stephen Street in Edinburgh. The main studio was a little different from what I was used to as it was surrounded by mirrors and windows. Mirrors are a real challenge when lighting a subject, and also limit your shooting angles since you usually don’t want the photographer to appear in the shot.

Dancer at Dance for All, Edinburgh, lit from both sides and slightly behind

I asked Kirsty to look in the direction of one of the lights, in order to avoid nasty shadows on her face. I loved the lights in the background and I think they really add to the composition of this image.

In the photograph above, I deliberately underexposed the background to hide the clutter in the studio. I had two speed lights on the left and right of Kirsty, slightly behind. This is one of my favourite lighting set ups.

Light painting of dancer in front of mirror at Dance for All, Edinburgh

I chose to warm the colours in the photograph to complement Kirsty’s top and shoes and provide good colour contrast with her blue shorts.

As the studio could be made dark enough, I couldn’t resist doing some light paintings as well. I first tried a variation of my ‘lone dancer and the mirror’ image, with Kristy turning her back on the mirror rather than facing it. I added a bit of ‘grit’ in Photoshop and I’m quite pleased with the final result.

Light painting a dancer on a chair, facing away from the camera. Picture taken a Dance for All, Edinburgh

I really like this pose, but next time I’ll make sure one can see the dancer’s hands

I had only done our last set-up once before, and I therefore was looking forward to getting some more practice. In hindsight, I should have asked Kirsty to wear something more colourful, as the black clothing doesn’t provide enough separation from the black background, in my opinion.

 

Light Painting Dancers Chanelle and Charmagne

I’ve been light painting dancers for some time now, and I believe I have honed my technique for a few set-ups, as in the ‘lone dancer at the bar’ one you can see below.

Light painting dancer at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

I really like this set up and most dancers like it too. The reflection in the mirror adds visual tension to the image.

Light painting dancer at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

The challenging bit of doing such a light painting is getting the back light (highlight rim on the hair) right. You’ll definitely know what I’m talking about if you try it.

The light painting technique gives my images a distinct look that helps the photographs stand out amongst the deluge of pictures we are exposed to every day. I can therefore give my clients an edge in getting noticed.

I’m always looking to expand my light painting repertoire. It is quite the obvious step to experiment with light painting two people instead of one.

Light painting two dancers at the bar in front of mirror. Dance Base, Edinburgh

Eventually, I figured that the best way to light paint this set up was to first light paint Chanelle (in front), then ask her to move away so I could light paint Charmagne (at the back)

Usually, I ask my subjects to stand against something, sit on a chair or hold on to something firm, as it helps them stand still while I light paint them. During that light painting session, we experimented with removing any of these ‘helpers’ to see what happens. The light painting session was nearing its end and I knew I already had some good shots. Under these circumstances I like to try something I’ve not done before, to see what happens. Chanelle and Charmagne held hands as they stood away from any walls or chairs.

Light painting two dancers standing  in the middle of the Dance Base studio while holding hands

I left the pose up to the dancers as it is their domain of expertise, while I concentrated on the light painting.

As could be expected, without anything to lean on, both subjects moved more during the light painting than what I’m used to. But thanks to the uniform dark background, it was relatively straightforward to fix this problem in Photoshop. The next step is for me to figure out how to do that with a more detailed backdrop. I look forward to trying this out.

 

 

Dance Photography: Shadow Dancers

The word photography has greek roots and means ‘drawing with light’. But shadows can be your best friend. In fact, it is the combination of light and shadows that creates compelling imagery.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

This is one of my two favourite images from this set-up. I really like the fact the shadow comes really close to the left edge of the frame, as it creates visual tension.

On this dance photography shoot with Charmagne and Chanelle, I decided to explore the use of shadows. With a light coloured wall, it is possible to project a distinct shadow of the dancer.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

In this image the dancer’s body shape is very similar to the one in the previous photograph, yet I don’t think this image is as strong. I believe it is because of the different spatial relationship between the dancer and her shadow.

Dancers can create very photogenic shapes with their bodies. The combination of the dancer and her shadow, as a form of visual echo, creates a more three dimensional feel to the photographs.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

Like in the first photograph of Charmagne, at the top of this blog post, this image of Chanelle has her shadow close to the left edge of the frame. It is probably no coincidence that this is the other of my two favourite pictures from this set-up.

I wish we had more time to explore this set-up, because I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance sometime soon.

dancer and shadow on a light coloured wall at Dance Base, Edinburgh

The shape of Chanelle’s body is very appealing from the graphic standpoint. The triangle shape formed by the legs and the implied triangle formed by the arms. But somehow, the combination of that shape and her shadow isn’t quite as compelling as in the previous photograph.

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Real Estate Photography: Stockbridge, Edinburgh

You always want to put your best foot forward. If you have a property to let or for sale, you want to showcase it in the best possible light (photography pun intended). A photographer who specialises in real estate will produce images of a quality you are not going to achieve taking the photographs yourself, even if you have a very good camera.

Living room in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Beautiful living space. Bright and spacious, lovely view to the outside and featuring a gorgeous Moroccan rug.

A while back I was asked to photograph a property in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. It was clear that the most attractive room of this lovely flat was the living room, shown in the picture above. Spacious, with a gorgeous Moroccan rug and lovely view to the outside. This was used as the cover photo to market the property.

Living room in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I needed to show the lovely fireplace I could not include in framing the previous photograph.

I obviously took a few photographs from different angles to showcase all of the features, such as the fireplace in the above photo. The dining area can be seen behind the couch in the leading image and I clearly needed to show it in more detail.

Dining area in living room. Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I felt this was the best angle to showcase the dining area.

Dining area in living room. Stockbridge, Edinburgh

I consider this to be a ‘documentary’ photograph, because it’s purpose is to show the dining area from the other angle, so the real estate agent knows what’s in the property. The previous picture was used for marketing purposes, not this one.

It is also important to showcase the bedrooms. After all, we spend a good portion of our lives asleep.

Bedroom in Stockbridge property Edinburgh

My favourite photographs are those that are backlit, with the window in the frame. I love the mood backlighting creates.

Master bedroom in Stockbridge property, Edinburgh

I absolutely love the pastel colours in this master bedroom. This was the strongest photograph of the bedroom and the one that was used for marketing purposes

Master bedroom in Stockbridge property, Edinburgh

A ‘documentary’ photograph of the master bedroom to show the storage area. This photograph wasn’t used in the marketing of the property.

Single (or child) bedroom in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

Once again, the strongest image of the room turned out to be the backlit one. This is the photograph used in the marketing of the property.

Single (or child) bedroom in Stockbridge, Edinburgh

The ‘documentary’ photograph used to give the estate agent a complete view of this bedroom.

Potential tenants or buyers will get their first impression of your property from the photographs on your website. An attractive looking property is likely to get more visits. Because of the limited supply, there is just one property like yours, an increased interest or demand is going to lead to a higher sale price. A mere one percent increase in the price will more than cover the cost of hiring a professional photographer.

Guest room of Stockbridge property, Edinburgh

Another room in the flat that can be used as a living space or guest bedroom.

The bathrooms and kitchen may not be the most important rooms of a property in many people’s mind. But showing immaculate bathrooms and kitchen should not be overlooked. Would you move into a property with an unsanitary kitchen and/or bathrooms?

Kitchen in Stockbridge flat, Edinburgh

Well designed and spacious kitchen, looking immaculate.

Bathroom in Stockbridge flat, Edinburgh

First bathroom. Absolutely spotless.

Bathroom in Stockbridge flat, Edinburgh

Second bathroom. Looking great.

Most of the time, my picture of the hall doesn’t get used in marketing the property, as halls tend to be rather dull. This flat was a notable exception.

Hallway in Stockbridge flat, Edinburgh

I framed the photograph this way because I really liked the striking effect of the red wall.

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Impressionism: Edinburgh Tour Buses

The use of camera movement and/or zooming during a long exposure is a technique I learned from one of my photographic heroes, Bryan Peterson. It takes experimentation to figure out which photographic subjects are likely to produce interesting images.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

I really like this old style tour bus and I was delighted I could capture an impressions picture of this wonderful subject.

So a while back, I decided to try out this technique in an urban setting, namely central Edinburgh. I was quickly intrigued by the many colourful tour buses going by.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

I love the colour red as it is an attention grabber in photographs.

The images in this post were taken with an exposure of 1/8s, turning the camera while holding the zoom ring. It takes quite a bit of practice, and I had to try my luck on a lot of passing cars and buses to get the three images you see here. I really look forward to trying this technique on other urban photography subjects.

Edinburgh tour bus, impressionist photography using zooming and camera rotation

This tour bus seemed to go by at a higher frequency than the others, and I therefore had multiple attempts at a “bus impression”.

Music Photography: Diving Station

Manchester based band Diving station are releasing their first EP today at Aatma, 14-16 Faraday St, M1 1BE. I was fortunate to photograph them last August when they visited Edinburgh.

Manchester based band at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh

Diving station at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh. From left to right, George Burrage, Sean Rogan, Anna McLuckie, Barny Kimberley.

I really love long exposures of seascapes, because of their effect on water and clouds. I had dreamt of combining a long seascape exposure with people in the shot, and when I proposed this idea to Anna McLuckie, the lead singer, she was very enthusiastic. The picture above consists of two photographs, one with a relatively short exposure to get the band and a second frame taken without the band but with a two minute exposure. It was a typical Scottish summer day (that was the only day where the band was available for a shoot), but I knew that if we waited until after sunset, the light would be soft and there would likely be some colours in the sky. I’m quite pleased with my first attempt at a photograph of this nature.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

I like unusual compositions, and since the sky over Silverknowes beach looked really interesting, I decided to give it the lion’s share of the frame.

Manchester based band Diving Stattion at Silverknowes beach, Edinburgh.

More conventional composition this time. I always shoot these.

The band logo has a lot of blue in it, so I wanted to give the other beach shots a blue colour cast. This is easily done by setting the white balance of the camera to tungsten and lighting the band with an off camera flash and CTO “orange” gel on it to give them proper skin tones. I worked a number of compositions with two of them shown above.

The photo shoot started earlier in the day, in a stairwell, believe it or not. These kinds of locations are a blessing and a curse at the same time. I’m sure you get the curse part, but the constraints imposed by locations like these allow one’s creativity to be pushed, and one’s frame of mind to be stretched. I’m always up for a challenge.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, straight on

The more people in the picture, the harder it is to get everyone looking good. Fortunately, every band member liked this photo.

I always need to warm up at the beginning of a photo shoot, and so we started by taking very straightforward band photos.

Manchester based band Diving Station group shot, from above

I always try different angles, either from above or below.

Then I started looking for different angles.

Manchester based band Diving Station, "behind bars".

I always look for elements of design such s lines. The stair railing offered an opportunity to frame each member of the band. I also liked the pipes above their heads and therefore included them in my composition.

And compositions.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

Adding smoke completely changes the atmosphere of the location. Pun intended.

I had brought with me a smoke machine, because I thought this could really add some atmosphere to the photos. One light behind to backlight the smoke and a light in front for the band.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

I love silhouettes, so I just had to try to light the band just with the backlight. I really like this moody pic.

After I get the “obvious” shot, I like to ask “what if..?”. For example “what if I switch off the main light?”

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell

When I sense I’m running out of ideas, I just try something. Anything. So I put a bare speedlight on the stairs, camera right, just to see what would happen. Lucky me.

Usually, a number of mistakes occur when I start working my subject and lighting. Fortunately, some of them turn out great. At the time I didn’t think much of the shot above. I think it was because it wasn’t what I really was after, but the band immediately liked it. And I have to say it has become one of my favourite shots of the day.

Manchester based band Diving Station in a smokey stairwell, "behind bars".

Since I liked this composition, I decided to revisit it with a different lighting set up and the smoke.

With the smoke and more moody lighting scheme, I explored some of the earlier compositions. I never thought you could have this much fun with a smoke machine in a staircase.

 

 

Real Estate Photography: Rennie’s Isle, Edinburgh

Rennie’s Isle is a wonderful location in Leith. It is close to The Shore, a lively area with many restaurants and pubs. It is also a short walk away from the Firth of Forth. It is ideal if you, like me, like strolling along the sea shore.

Living room in Leith Edinburgh, with amazing back light.

It was a lovely flat, and I needed to do it justice. With the windows in the shot, it was not possible to capture the whole dynamic range of the image in one picture. It took three photos blended together in Photoshop to produce this realistic looking image.

Professional photography for your property has quite a number of benefits that make it a worthwhile investment.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

I really love back light, and this is my favourite shot of this bedroom.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

For completeness, I always take a shot from an other angle if some aspect of the room is not visible in the first photograph. In this case, the mirrored wardrobe

The first impression of your property people are likely to get is from the pictures on your website. Showcasing the house or flat with good photography is therefore likely to elect more interest in viewings.

Bathroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

Professional photography can really pay off for bathrooms. You want them to be looking clean and fresh.

The more people you have interested in renting/buying your property, the more likely you’ll be able to rent it at the best possible price. It’s just the law of supply and demand, with limited supply.

Kitchen in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

A nice kitchen can be a wonderful asset in renting or selling your property. It should not be overlooked. And as in the case of the bathroom, you want it to look clean and fresh in your marketing photos.

Kitchen with dining table in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

It wasn’t possible to capture all of the features of this kitchen in one single photo. I therefore looked for another angle.

When you have more candidates, you’ll have more choice in selecting your tenants. Better tenants will better take care of your property, saving you money in maintenance and repairs.

Bedroom with lovely view  in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

The view from this bedroom is clearly a valuable asset. As in the case of the living room photograph, it took a number of shots blended together in Photoshop to create this image.

Bedroom in rental flat. Leith, Edinburgh

For documentary purposes, I also took a photo of the same bedroom from a different angle to show the mirrored wardrobe.

While I’m not a landlord looking to rent a property, I imagine that knowing the property management company is going to market my rental flat with good photos signals they are willing to go the extra mile in terms of customer service. And I imaging that the more luxurious the property, the more important to the landlord good photography is. And given that property managers take a percentage of the rent, expensive properties are more lucrative and probably more fun to manage (they clearly are more fun to photograph).

Exterior photograph of building in Rennie's Isle, Leith, Edinburgh

Exterior shots can be tricky, given the temperamental nature of the Scottish weather. On this day, it was cloudy, so I tried to limit the amount of sky showing in the photograph. I also love diagonals, as they give pictures a more dynamic look.