Photography studio, gallery and training complex

opinion

Prude Or Rude?

There’s been a great deal of controversy over the last year or so about the apparent gender-biased censorship by Facebook. This largely centres on the alleged hypocrisy in the way male nudity (or partial nudity) is treated more leniently than female partial nudity by Facebook’s censors and their lack of a coherent explanation for this.

For example, post an image of a topless woman on Facebook and there’s a fair chance it will be reported and removed fairly quickly but if you post an image of a topless man, or even extreme violence (such as beheadings or beatings) and it will stand a greater chance of being left alone.

If this also strikes you as a bit unfair, perhaps you’d like to join me in using the image below to cover the “offending” bits of any photos you fancy posting…

WARNING

Just right click and save it onto your ‘puter for future use – go on, you have my blessing.

This is how it looks in situ on an actual image I posted on Facebook of the stunning Rosa Brighid

 

 

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Time To Downscale?

Apart from my very first digital camera – a Fuji “bridge” camera – every camera I’ve owned since I (largely) turned my back on film has been a Nikon DSLR. I can’t deny the merits of the Canon DSLR system and I’ve long coveted the lovely retro styling of the Fuji mirror-less range. BUT, I have pretty much always been openly dismissive of any other non-DSLR, considering them to be very much sub-DSLR.

But last week I had the opportunity to try one of Olympus’s OM-D Micro Four Thirds cameras and I began to realise it might be time to rethink my prejudices.

The following images were taken during a Fotofilia Studio Evening last Thursday as jpegs and are, apart from a very minimal amount of contrast adjustment, “straight out of the camera”. The model is pro boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston.

Boxer Ryan "Tank" Aston

Boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston

The camera is an Olympus E-M1 fitted with a 12-40mm (equivalent to 24-80mm) f2.8 lens, shooting on it’s top jpeg setting. It is no exaggeration to say that I was AMAZED by the image quality. Here’s another…

Ryan "Tank" Aston.

Ryan “Tank” Aston.

There are various picture style settings. These were shot in the “natural” setting. But these cameras also have some great in-camera picture styles so I tried one using the “grainy film” setting. Again, this is straight out of camera…

I’ll be posting more images taken with this system soon and weighing up how it compares with my Nikon system. So far though, it looks as though my Nikon is in danger of being listed on ebay.

Find out more about the spec of the E-M1 here


A Matter Of Etiquette

I’ve long held the belief that it’s possible to spot the difference between the pros and the amateurs (I can almost hear you groaning “not the Pros Vs Amateurs stuff again”) on social media simply by the notes that they post along with their images. For instance, in the case of photographers who work with models, a professional photographer (or at least most of the ones I know) will name-check the model, the make-up artist, the hair stylist, and any designers or stylists that have been involved in the creation of that image. The amateurs… don’t. Usually (thankfully, there are exceptions – those with a more professional attitude probably).

I’m not sure what to put this down to – perhaps amateurs are in more of a rush to get their images “out there”, or pros are more appreciative of the contributions made by others, or pros realise the value of maintaining good working relationships with the team they work with, or amateurs are more prepared to take credit for the work of others… I don’t really know.

But I do know that if you look at the work of Claire Seville, Tanneke Peetoom, Andy Watson etc, credit is given where it’s due. But, sadly, I could equally point you to the websites of MANY amateurs or new pros who never even mention the model by name.

A snippet of the excellent Andy Watson's Facebook page (thanks for permission ti use it, Andy). This is how it SHOULD be done.

A snippet of the excellent Andy Watson’s Facebook page (thanks for permission ti use it, Andy). This is how it SHOULD be done.

And since I’ve climbed up here onto this here high horse, this basic etiquette should also, I would suggest, extend to mentioning whether your picture was taken as part of a training event or workshop (even if the details of the course aren’t mentioned). I’ve seen so many pictures published on photographer’s profiles and websites where no mention has been made of the fact that the image was taken as part of a group shoot, even when…

  • The model was selected and styled by someone else
  • The “theme” was someone else’s idea
  • The hair and make-up were done by a third party
  • The location was selected or even hired by someone else
  • Lighting was provided and set up by someone else
  • Camera settings were as instructed by someone else
  • And sometimes, when someone else is DIRECTING the model!

In some cases, all the photographer has done is to point the camera in the general direction of the subject and press the shutter, and then sat back and lapped up any resulting internet adoration without acknowledging ANY of the input of the other people who have played such a vital role in the production of that image. I have seen websites of photography businesses where a substantial percentage of the images chosen as representing the skills of the photographer – the pictures that potential clients may use to determine whether this photographer is capable of producing a particular look – were actually taken as part of a group course or workshop (mine, in some instances).

I’ll admit that I do find this a bit rude. A little bit of courtesy here costs nothing. And what of the potential clients who are looking at their work assuming that they’re responsible for the whole look of the images when they’re not? Surely, this is misleading at best, almost fraudulent at worst. ¬†After all, they’re selling something that ¬†they didn’t actually create, something that they almost certainly wouldn’t have produced without the considerable input of others.

If everyone behaved with the kind of professional courtesy of the likes of Andy Watson (et al), the industry would be a much more civilised place.

Right, can someone let me down off this high horse? Anyone…?


Murder By Vignette. Chimp Held For Questioning

Once upon a time, I embarked upon a self-righteous rampage against the willful abuse of sepia in photography – my so-called CAMOS (Campaign Against Misuse Of Sepia). Well, I now have a new photographic bete noire…

Vignetting, a phenomenon which started out as an inevitable consequence of taking rectangular pictures through a round hole, is basically that distinctive darkening (or in some cases, lightening) of an image’s corners. Back when I spent half my life in a darkroom I would often “burn in” the corners to add a vignette where required. I like vignettes – but only when they suit the image and when applied with some sensitivity.

I’ve noticed an alarming rise in the number of images on websites and social media that look like a vignette has been applied by a chimp with a 6″ paintbrush and a pot of black paint. Eurgh! Here’s a few randomly acquired images (sadly, I can’t use some of the worst offenders I’ve seen on Facebook)…

Who thought this effect was a good idea?

Who thought this effect was a good idea?

So if you’re a bit slapdash with your vignettes, read on… At best, the vignette will darken parts of the picture (for instance, one of your portrait subject’s eyes) more than others, and at worst it will look as though your entire portfolio was shot through the porthole of a convict ship (which is possibly the best place for you if you’re a “excessive vignette offender”).

A case for the RSPVA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Vignetting on Animals).

A case for the RSPVA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Vignetting on Animals).

Shoot me now.

Shoot me now.

And so the motto of this story is: Children, have fun with your vignettes, but when you start to feel you can’t do without them, please pass your camera on to me, and go take up crochet.