Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Archive for October, 2013

Good Day At t’Mill

Here are a few iphone pics from the recent Fotofilia CLUB/f2 trip to Sarehole Mill, Hall Green, Birmingham. We were only there for a couple of hours and at least part of that was spent in the cosy little cafe (fresh coffee cake that morning). But it’s a nice little place to toddle around with your camera. As usual, I took both my DSLR and my iphone, and as usual, I still haven’t edited the DSLR images as yet.

Window. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013.

Window. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013.

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

 

Using the "marblecam" app. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Using the “marblecam” app. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

health and safety, miller-style. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

health and safety, miller-style. Sarehole Mill. Copyright David Rann 2013

Apparently, a certain young man by the name of Tolkien played around the mill as a child and it was thought to have inspired locations in his books. I can certainly see how the cake might be hobbit-forming. Yes, I know. It’s been a long day.


Battle of The Sexes: Bashing The Gums

I often wonder why some of our courses seem to appeal only to men while others appeal only to women. The recent “Gum Prints: The Art of Gum Bichromate” course was fully booked but all of the participants were female. And it isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, whenever I’ve arranged workshops about so-called “alternative” or “historical” printing processes over the years, the vast majority of participants have been female. Why should this be? (I’d be interested to hear your thoughts).

The leading exponents of this medium worldwide appear to be a healthy mixture of the genders – so is it a British thing? When I mentioned this disparity during the class, it was suggested that men were more interested in “fiddling with their f-stops” or “comparing lens sizes” and whilst this was said in jest (or so I would like to think), perhaps there is an element of truth to it. I have definitely noticed that those courses less dependent on technicality – the more “craft-based” and imaginative “arty” processes – attract more female than male participants.

Detail of a gum print from the last workshop by Esther Parker-Duber.

Detail of a gum print from the last workshop by Esther Parker-Duber.

It would seem to me that women are less interested in the eternal pursuit of technical perfection and instead are more open to a broader concept of what is “right” in an image: are more prepared to put “something of themselves” into the picture. Even when they do take part, men will ask “how can I make this a better quality image?” whereas women will ask “can I print onto fabric?” or “can I apply the sensitizer with something else? Like a sponge?”

Male readers may disagree and as a male myself (who loves these processes), it pains me to think this may be the case. But this is simply what the evidence might suggest.

Still, if you’re a fella who’d like to redress this disparity, you’ll get the chance by enrolling on the next Gum Printing course on Saturday 11th January.¬†

Drying gum prints during the recent workshop.

Drying gum prints during the recent workshop.

Footnote: The Gum Bichromate process, if you’re curious, is a beautiful “printing-out” process, whereby a negative is produced from a digital image (or at least it is the way I teach it). A mixture of potassium dichromate solution, gum-type glue and pigment is painted onto watercolour paper in subdued lighting and dried. Then the negative is placed onto the paper flattened down with a sheet of glass and exposed to UV light. Finally, the print is washed to “develop” and fix the image.


Is That You?

“Hey David, I noticed you got a mention in Prima magazine!” (message recieved on Facebook from Eileen Clews, a former student and club member).

I knew nothing about it, of course, Prima not (to be honest) one of the magazines I regularly read. So I dashed to the local newsagent and bought the November issue. I scoured the pages over a cappuccino (ignoring the looks of fellow coffee-slurpers) and couldn’t find a blimming thing. So I handed it to Rob Manison who’d come along for coffee and a chat, and he couldn’t find anything either. Convinced there must either be a mistake, or I was the victim of a wind-up, I finally began to wonder if it had been in an earlier issue so asked everyone I knew (mom, sisters etc) if they had a copy of the October issue and sure enough, there it was, an article about one of my former students Morag Cutts, who attended one of my 10 week “DSLR For Beginners” courses at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens a few years ago and went on to follow that up with a few more of my courses plus an NCFE Level 2 at a local college.

IMG_5365

Thanks to Morag for the name-check. Much appreciated!

 


A Little Experience

I’m about to show you a few images from one of the recent “Model Shoot Experience” events that we ran at Groupon‘s suggestion. The idea was to offer an alternative deal to the amazingly successful 5 hour “Introduction to Digital Photography” courses for the same price. Group studio shoots are always problematic in that we don’t like to have more than 6 participants – this would lead to a lot of standing around waiting, and this being an “experience” I wanted it to be as practical as possible.

Luckily (?), few people went for this deal option anyway so we were able to accommodate everyone on just 2 sessions. I chose Emilie Walt as the model for both, knowing that when a variety of looks within a short period of time was called for, I could always rely on Emilie to transform in seconds. Just as well, this being only a two and half hours workshop.

As ever, once the lighting set-up was changed (by moi), I’d take just a few shots to check the exposure/settings and to demonstrate posing/direction ideas, so these images were taken pretty quickly. Still, quite a range, and the beautiful Emilie never disappoints.

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

Emilie Walt at Fotofilia. Copyright David Rann 2013

On the whole, these were lovely little shoots, giving (usually) studio novices a gentle and low-pressure introduction to the possibilities of studio lighting with a great model. I’ll probably run a couple more of these in a couple of months so keep an eye on the website.


Double-faced: Two Sides To Every Story

You may already have seen these images popping up all over social media of late but just in case you haven’t…

From time to time I like to share a project with you that I think is truly unique both in style and technique, and Berlin-based artist¬†Sebastian Bieniek‘s amazing “Double-faced” series is one such project. The concept is deceptively simple, using an eye pencil and lipstick, Sebastian draws half a face on a model’s face and then conceals the other half of their real face from the camera. He then photographs them in everyday situations – on the train, in a cafe, in bed etc.

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

The effect is most disconcerting. Sebastian doesn’t use “photoshoppery” and doesn’t use ultra-realistic make-up to create a lifelike representation of the facial features. Far from it, the added features are “primitive” at best – and that, I think is the strength of these images.

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

The viewer’s mind overcomes the very obvious falseness of the “new” side of the face and we almost – almost – accept it as real. But then we realise it’s too odd to be real and look again. These images are a kind of photographic trompe l’oeil but with the added psychological twist of their photographic realism of the portrait and setting pitched against the relative obviousness of the drawn-on features.

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

 

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

By kind permission of Sebastian Bieniek

These images have, quite rightly, attracted international attention and you can find out more about Sebastian’s work via the link above or his Facebook page.

Thanks to Sebastian for allowing me to reproduce his work here.