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Lucius Mammius Maximus Greets You

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Great Court of the British Museum. Light floods in from the wonderful tessellated ceiling, so you don’t have to worry about your having enough. I went to the Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum Exhibition with two friends. We were greeted by this statue, which was found in the theatre of Herculaneum in the early 1730s.

Lucius Mammius Maximus was a wealthy benefactor of the city who paid for public buildings and statues. He wears a toga, a Roman citizen’s formal dress, and strikes the classic pose of a Roman politician making a speech to the people. But, in common with many people in Herculaneum and Pompeii, he was a freedman (an ex-slave).

I’ll confess here that although I’m tagging this as ‘street’ my two friends are actually in the shot. Eileen was trying to get a better look at Lucius and Jenny was trying to run out of camera range!

Camera Olympus E-M5
Exposure 0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture f/22.0
Focal Length 12 mm
ISO Speed 200

At the Funfair

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All the Fun of the Fair

A little funfair appeared at a local recreation ground the other night and I wandered over with my camera. Lots of neon flashing everywhere, so I didn’t need to worry about lighting. These children were queuing for Candy Floss with their parents, but their eyes were on the rather terrifying rides all of which were clearly death traps. The children looked more nervous than excited, and who could blame them? (Wish I hadn’t cut all their feet off, but never mind.)

Camera Olympus E-M5
Exposure 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture f/2.0
Focal Length 45 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Eryn Redux

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Eryn Redux

Eryn – the Mark II version. This was taken just before her twelfth birthday. My daughter’s delightful step-daughter.

I used a Single full-power SB-600 hand-held with a Gary Fong PowerSnoot for the shot which won through Round Two of the Photo Madness Competition on Flickr, the first year I entered. This is how the historic event was reported by Cyn:

“Jonathan Kos-Read (2) DM*U invaded courtside and brought WAR – explosions, blazing saddles and all fired up to take on DeeMac (7) Icebox and drive her back to the motherland…Our fair Dee brought peaches and cream to the battle and repelled the invasion cleanly. God Save the Queen.”

Oh – I took a collapsible black backdrop with me even though I was only at my son’s birthday dinner. They now agree to give me a half-hour photography slot at family get-togethers. Thirty minutes and no more, so I come prepared.

It took the grandchildren and me around fifteen minutes to get the stupid backdrop collapsed and back into its bag again. The contortions we went through would have made a very amusing comic film. I have now learnt to do it single-handed.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture f/14.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200

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The Storyteller with the Renaissance Face

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The Storyteller with the Renaissance Face

Wonderful chap who I met in the Crown in Old Amersham a few months ago. The Crown, by the way, is an Elizabethan Coaching Inn that was used in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ Anyway, this gentleman was sitting in an easy chair by the fire and I couldn’t take my eyes off his compelling face. We started to chat and he turned out to be full of interesting stories. He’d travelled the world from the middle east to South America and when he wasn’t enjoying a pint, he spent his time deep sea diving in Egypt.

When I asked if he’d pose for a portrait, he agreed – not even balking when I got out my SpeedLight with PowerSnoot. I couldn’t believe my luck.

I took my usual approach and just held the SpeedLight in my raised and extended left hand, aiming it so that the light slanted downwards diagonally, falling just in front of his face. And what a face. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in a renaissance painting.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture f/7.1
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200

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She’s Some Otherwhere

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She's Some Otherwhere

She certainly didn’t look like she was of our world. Reminded me of that line from Romeo and Juliet. “This is not Romeo, he’s some otherwhere.” Beautiful girl on the Jubilee Line, with amazing leggings patterned with imagery of Saints and Angels. Wish I could have moved that suitcase so they could be seen properly.

(I’ve looked them up, and she’s wearing Sistine Chapel leggings! Who knew such things existed?)

Camera Olympus E-M5
Exposure 0.033 sec (1/30)
Aperture f/2.0
Focal Length 12 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Underneath My Umbrella

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Underneath My Umbrella

Take one SB-600 wedged into the spokes of a photographic umbrella; add one black backdrop and a fed up son who had to be bribed to model. Et voila.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture f/9.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200
Exposure Bias -2/3 EV

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When a knight won his spurs…

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When a knight won his spurs...

My grandson just seems to encapsulate the message of this old school hymn written by Jan Struther, of Mrs Miniver fame. She was an agnostic, apparently. Appomattox was in the garden shed playing with an old wooden sword looking for all the world like an illustration for the hymn. Natural light for a change:

“When a Knight Won His Spurs”

When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.

No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.

Camera Olympus E-M5
Exposure 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture f/2.0
Focal Length 12 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Modes of Dress

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Modes of Dress

Nikes go with anything! This is what Ishaq was wearing on his feet. Well, it was an impromptu photo shoot. He’s my neighbour’s son and a part-time model who kindly agreed to let me practise on him. It was my idea to get the Nikes in shot. I love the juxtaposition of the two modes of dress.
I needed two SB-600s for this, both on 1/20 power. One for the face and one for his Nikes, naturally.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture f/10.0
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Omnia Vanitas

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Omnia Vanitas

Another trip down memory lane. A while back I took some more shots at the school where I taught Literature for twenty years. They wanted some publicity work done and it gave me a chance to hone my portraiture skills. Such fun!

This is the head girl, Maddie, posing with a peacock feather we found in the Art Department. Vanitas, vanitatus. She’s not vain at all, but once you link the idea of a peacock with a pretty girl, you get the concept of vanitas. In my mind, anyway.

One SB-600 with PowerSnoot on quarter power, hand held by an assistant standing a few feet left of camera with her arm in the air, and angling the light downwards. Maddie was standing in front of the shiny blue door to the stock cupboard. I added a texture to cover the hideous gloss surface.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture f/13.0
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 400

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I am become death: colour version

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I am become death: colour version

Skateboarder I spotted in Chesham High Street yesterday while I was in Cafe Nero. I dashed out to ask if I could take his photograph. He not only agreed to the shot, he obligingly held up his board for me.

This shot is natural light, so I don’t know why I’m putting it this blog which is supposed to be about lighting techniques. Ah well. My blog – I guess I can put what I want here.

BTW, I didn’t notice the tattoos on his fingers until I was processing the shot. I’m assuming that since his right hand reads: DROP, that his left probably reads DEAD. It would go with the writing on his skateboard.

For all the morbid messages, his jaunty red top, Union Jack hat and pleasant manners seemed to show another side altogether. It was ever thus. We are more than we at first seem.

Camera Olympus E-M5
Exposure 0.001 sec (1/800)
Aperture f/1.8
Focal Length 45 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Sharing!

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Sharing!

Paid yet another visit to the school where I taught English for twenty years, to take a few more planned shots. I used two SpeedLights for this one: one inside the booklet and the other I held in my left hand, aiming for the cover. Took a few attempts, but we managed one we all quite liked in the end.

I’ve done this ‘light coming out of a book’ shot enough times now for it to have reached Cliché status, but hey – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (PS: We study whole Shakespeare plays. This booklet was just being used for the pretty illustrations and because it was big enough to hide the SpeedLight inside!)

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.02 sec (1/50)
Aperture f/8.0
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 400

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Enlightened

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Enlightened

I was trying to replicate a shot I faved the other day: Bed Time Stories. The wonderfully named Cassius Klay explained just how he’d done it, so I had a go. This is my second effort. I used two SB-600s – one in the book but without a yellow difuser this time, and one on the floor to light the cover, set on 1/16 and 1/10 respectively. I prefer the light on Appomattox’s face, but for some reason I couldn’t get the cover lit to my satisfaction. I tried three or four times, but he was getting bored and blinded, so I gave up in the end. Bless his little cotton socks!

Wright of Derby – eat your heart out!

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture f/18.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 400

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Rosie May

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Rosie

More fun with the Gary Fong PowerSnoot. My sweet granddaughter perched on a rustic chair.

This shot was initially posted in a critique group and they found a lot of faults, so here’s the new and improved version. The main issues that were highlighted first time around were: ie I should darken the background, put her legs in shadow and lighten her face. Mission accomplished.

One hand-held snooted SpeedLight and a patient model.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture f/16.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Sebastian James and Appomattox Ahab

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My two grandsons with the rather extraordinary names. We call them Sebbie and Maddox for every day, but I love their full names. They don’t.

As I was asked: I used two SB-600 SpeedLights for this shot. One, camera left with a Gary Fong Powersnoot, and the other camera right, shooting backwards into an umbrella, both on full power. Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.025 sec (1/40)
Aperture f/16.0
Focal Length 24 mm
ISO Speed 200
Exposure Bias +8/3 EV

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Attitude!

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Attitude!

Annual ritual with my delightful son-in-law and the rest of the family. They gave me a book on portrait lighting for Christmas, called ‘Hollywood Portraits.’ It has the lighting set-up for every shot. Trouble is, most of them ask for five or six lights. There are main lights; kicker lights; boom lights; fill lights; background lights and rim lights. I have exactly two SB-600s that work and one that needs mending, so I wasn’t able to attempt many of the shots. Still, I found a few I could try to copy.

So, I used two SpeedLights, for this one, both camera left. One was angled at his face and the other at his torso. Yet again, I didn’t write down the settings, however. This blog is going to be useless as a resource, unless I start writing stuff down.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture f/9.0
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Now you see her…

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The whole point of this blog was to make it a handy reference tool for me, as I can never remember how I got specific shots – which lens/settings/light set-up, etc. I used. Luckily, I just found another shot from this shoot where I’d made a note of what I did. Yay me.

It seems I used one SB-600 in a softbox on full power camera right- raised up and pointing downwards, and an uncovered SB-600 on about one-sixteenth power camera left, behind the model and sitting on the floor, but aiming upwards. So there you go.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture f/16.0
Focal Length 50 mm
ISO Speed 200

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The Girl With the Red Headphones

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The Girl With the Red Headphones

My daughter’s step-daughter. Eryn with her beloved Dr Dre’s. Does everyone else arrive for dinner at someone’s house carrying a pop-up photo backdrop, a speedlight and snoot and a range of camera bodies and lenses? That’s totally normal, right?

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture f/8.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200

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Hard Boiled

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Hard Boiled

We were just playing – aiming for a generic film noir look. My lovely son-in-law – always game for a laugh. We didn’t have any props, so we had to improvise. I must put a fedora and a trenchcoat on my shopping list.

One SB-600 with PowerSnoot camera left, on full power, at subject’s head height, shooting through a slatted wooden window blind. Had to do a lot of dodging and burning with this one, plus cloning in missing smoke and whatnot. The things I do for fun.

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Nikon D700
Exposure 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture f/16.0
Focal Length 35 mm
ISO Speed 200

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They’re here!

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They're here!

One SB-600 inside a doll’s house, one willing model and hey presto – magic is afoot.

Camera Nikon D700
Exposure 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture f/14.0
Focal Length 24 mm
ISO Speed 200