Friday Adventures: 24th April 2015 The Art of Film Noir with Neil Freeman at Nikon School, Center of Excellence.

Over Christmas Nick won a voucher to study with the Nikon School. Not finding much to his liking (except a residential course that would have cost him more than he saved) he was a sweetheart and gave me the voucher.
Having never had any formal training in photography, all I know is self taught, I jumped at the chance.
 
Nikon School, offers a wide variety of courses.  Most are day courses run in London at the Nikon Centre of Excellence. 
 
Stylistically Film Noir Chiaroscuro lighting appealed to me but the course also offered me a challenge. Working with a model is something I have never done. I usually shy away from capturing the human form all together! So this course seemed perfect.
I travelled up the day before and, after meeting an old school friend for coffee, visited the Tate
Modern to view the Salt and Silver Exhibition, see my seperate post here.
 
I stayed in the Hub by Premier Inn. A perfectly compact hotel near Leicester Square. Which is clean,
convenient and excellently priced for a hotel in the centre of London! I slept soundly, it was actually a lot quieter than most hotels I have stayed in. There was a small issue with the staff not replacing a
towel that was filthy on my arrival. But they kindly gave me a voucher towards my next stay after I
complained. 9/10 I would highly recommend this hotel to any photographers who need a comfortable stop over whilst in London. Holborn station was a 15 minute walk and then just a couple of stops to
Oxford Circus. Which in turn is a short walk to where the Nikon School is based.
On arrival I came into the showroom where all manner of Nikon goodies are on display and the friendly staff are happy to chat about the products. It’s not actually a shop so there is no kind of pressure to buy or invest in costly gear. You can just have a good old chinwag with the experts.
From here I was directed to the training room. Seat and training packs were laid out ready. Backdrops, reflectors and studio lights leant up against the walls. After grabbing a tea I sat down and my fellow students began appearing. There were some really lovely people, a few had been to courses before.
There were a few professionals and just as many enthusiasts.
I got on particularly well with an actor/photographer Rosemary Rance, check out her website. Rosemary started out taking her own headshots. Actors need to update their headshots ideally around every six months, which can be costly, especially when you consider actors are mostly self employed. When people started complimenting and asking who had taken her shots, she started up her own business! Rosemary offers affordable rates and sessions tailored specifically to actors needs, informed by her own experience.
Our tutor Neil Freeman began by talking through some basic camera settings. This is where I began to panic. I suffer from anxiety, see previous blog post about my photography and OCD. Situations where I feel I could be judged (even positively) cause me a lot of problems. When Neil explained we’d be using Single point auto focus and spot metering, the blind panic began to take hold. I suddenly thought I had no clue. I wanted to make my excuses, that I was in way over my head and quietly bow out. “Fortunately” I couldn’t because if I had opened my mouth at the point I would have burst into hysterics.
So I took a deep breath and thought about it for a minute. It all came rushing back to me. I always use
spot metering and I have my auto focus set up for back button focusing. I did make sure to tell Neil, once I had regained my voice, that I wasn’t confident with the more technical side of things. And he said “That’s okay. You don’t need to be.”
 
Thumbs up Neil.
Neil went on to brief us on the shoot. We’d be using either one, two or three speedlights and would be focusing on high contrast, chiaroscuro, lighting. We’d be using light to build depth in our images in three main groups: Main Subject light, Background light and a Kicklight/accent light.
We had a brief run down on the Nikon CLS flash system. One thing did annoy me greatly about the course. It was advertised that we would need to bring a speed light, which in fact we didn’t. Neil used his speedlight/s, as we only set up one shot at a time. Those of us without commander units just passed one of Neil’s between us, as only one of us could shoot at a time anyway. I had bought a cheap Youngnuo speedlight because I’d never used a speedlight before and I had no idea if I would ever use one again and I didn’t fancy spending over £100 on a Nikon model! As it turned out we’d have needed the most expensive model anyway. Those who had the cheaper Nikon model were also disappointed to hear their speedlight didn’t have the right settings to achieve some of the looks created. So I didn’t get to use my speedlight that I bought especially for the occasion.
Neil was, however, happy to share with us some ‘gear hacks’ for studio equipment. So that was a neat bonus that will save some money in the long run. We dissected the shots we were recreating by asking ourselves four questions about the light:
What is the Quantity,
What is the Quality,
What is the Direction,
& Colour (which since we were shooting black and white we didn’t use).
Once we knew this we could begin to build out picture. Neil asked us to set our cameras to ISO 100
(I had to do 200 as my D300s doesn’t go that low) F4  and 1/125. And what did we get with that? A black screen. But! This was exactly what we wanted to start with so we could achieve the high contrast shots. Neil described this as “using our camera’s as a dimmer switch”. We built each group of light, isolating each one and making adjustments until we were happy. After cycling though all three we then made the final adjustments using all light groups together.
For each shot, a member of the group took the role of Director of Photography and another was photographer. As a group we decoded the lighting, the DOP having the final say, while the photographer altered shutter speed to achieve the perfect look. We then all had an opportunity to work with the model and adjust the settings and angel of the shot.
Sadly time constraints meant we were limited to three shots each, per pose. I made a few basic errors
mostly due to my nerves. I wasn’t too dis heartened though as I had gone to take away techniques not perfect shots first time round.
After shooting a few poses we stopped for a lovely lunch laid on by Nikon.
 
We then posed a few more shots inside and then moved out into the streets of London! Neil spoke about how a lighting stand is too cumbersome and requires a licence if you’re using it outside. So instead he uses a Manfrotto MN175F Spring Clamp with hotshoe mount. This is particularly useful because if can be clipped onto a fence/railing/bar ect or even a hand help lighting pole to light from above! The best thing is it doesn’t require a permit.
 
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
First shot of the day. Did notice I had focused on the necklace rather than Courtney’s eyes. Neil was very kind though and said I’d “Nailed it”.
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
The next pose I tried from different angles and had a go at directing our model. Courtney has a massive amount of patience and kept a beautiful composure through out the whole shoot. Even with 12 different people telling her how to pose!
 
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
Whilst outside waiting for my turn to shoot I came across this AMAZING cigarette. It really leant itself to the old school gritty glamour of the day! luckily I had brought along my 105mm Macro to use as a portrait lens so I was able to capture this little beauty!
 
 
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
 © Katherine Broadbent
 
A couple shots of my trust DMs. With the spotty tights I couldn’t resist!
 

© Katherine Broadbent
 
One of the final shots of the day. Again I caught Courtney’s face slightly out of focus so I’ve added a little film grain. The idea was to work with the blur!
 
All in all it was a really brilliant day. Even though I didn’t pay for the day myself I would defiantly pay to go back and on a different course because it does reflect, in my opinion, value for money.
 
 
As always you can keep up to date with my projects over on Flickr.
 
 

Wex Monday: Week 16

© Katherine Broadbent 
 
I was really blown away by the light at Holkham this week so my entry had t be from this set.
 
 
Winner this week are over on the Wex Blog. Third place was a dreamy still life by Matthew Laviers, the pastel tones in this image really caught my eye.

Wex Monday: Week 11

© Katherine Broadbent
 
This week I didn’t feel much like going out. So I decided to stay in and work on my Frozen Botanicals project.
This was my Favourite image from the set I took Sunday night so it was naturally my choice for this week’s Wex Monday.
 
 
For those who are interested here’s a brief breakdown on my process.
 
Friday night I prepared in advance. I had some pieces of foliage I have collected on my last trip to Thetford forest.
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
All you need is a plastic tub, foliage and scissors if you need to trim them. Oh and some water and a freezer. The tub I used was about the size of a show box so would fit easily in the draw of most freezers. But if you have a chest freezer you can use a bugger tub!
 
Sunday night, once it was frozen, I popped it out of the tub and put it on the dining room table. On the table I had: waterproof tablecloth, light coloured towel and a old white sheet. For lighting I used a regular office floor lamp with a piece of grease proof paper to diffuse the light. I propped the ice block up so some light could flow through from behind.
 
The cat found it all incredibly exciting.
 
 
© Katherine Broadbent
 
Follow me on Flickr to keep up with the Frozen Botanicals project.
 
I didn’t place this week, check out the leader board over on the Wex Blog. Really loved Mark Witmore’s winning image this week. Impossibly cute smiling donkeys! XD
 

Wex Monday: Week 10

© Katherine Broadbent
So this shot was taken Sunday at Wells Next the Sea. You’ll notice my Sunday Outing post for this day was missing.
This is because I was a mess.
I took my tripod, but forgot the mount.
I got everything covered in silt.
I dropped my camera (only a few centimetres)
And I managed to jam my two filters into the same pouch (without noticing) and scratched them both, one badly.
BUT I WON.
This image forms part of my Open Skies series which I will be doing a post about when I have a few more images. You can keep up to date with my progress over on Flickr. 
I’ve now got a lovely shiny £20 voucher to spend at Wex Photographic. Which no doubt will go towards a new filter. Check me and the other winners out on the Wex Blog. I particularly liked 3rd place, won by @MushroomGodMat, this week. Check out the beautiful colours in his entry.

Sunday Outing: Sea Palling 15th February 2015

Today we ventured out to the cost. While there was no rain the weather was infinitely gloomy. So trusty tripod and filters in hand I experimented with long exposures.

© Katherine Broadbent
This is the shot I am happy with out of the 12 I took. Did a bit of editing to get it looking presentable. I’m still finding me feet so I don’t think I will enter any long exposure into Wex Mondays until I get a bit better at the whole process. Any tips from my readers would be gratefully received.
I also snapped a shot with my iPhone.
© Katherine Broadbent
Edited on Snapseed. I have briefly tried the new Darkroom by Bergen app but I did miss the selective editing tool I’m accustomed to in Snapseed. I will be having more of a play Darkroom over the next few weeks and plan a review.

Friday Adventures: Friday 13th February Blakeney

Far from being unlucky I had a great morning shooting today (on Friday 13th!) at Blakeney.

On my last trip to Blakeney, I was feeling under pressure and uninspired. I got one good composition that day, which was poor quality so I went out today to have another go at it!

© Katherine Broadbent

 

© Katherine Broadbent
‘Leader of the Pack’
I am really happy with this shot. It was well worth the wait in the cold for the right group to stroll on by!

 

© Katherine Broadbent

I have two more images to edit but I need to do a little research on how to edit the clouds. They look a bit pap!

I’m feeling a little under the weather so I’ll do those later on.

I also snapped this chap on the way to the car.

© Katherine Broadbent
Taken on iPhone camera and edited in Snapseed.

By the way, you can see all these images on my Flickr page 🙂

Review: David Lynch: The Factory Photographs

June last year I came across an advert for Prestel Publishing. Who have quickly become one of my favorite publishers.

The first book that caught my eye was David Lynch The Factory Photographs. My first thought was ‘David Lynch does photographs?!’ But on reflection, it’s not that odd for a cinematographer, especially such an auteur* to also be a photographer.

* A term used in film theory. The French word for ‘author’. Used in reference to a film maker who’s personal artistic vision is portrayed throughout their body of work.



The book collects images taken between between 1986 – 2000 across Europe and America. Interestingly England only providing a handful of opportunities to shoot. Lynch explains how the decline in industrial factories in England meant that a lot of the vacant sites have been demolished and/or rebuilt. I would imagine this is owing to the limited space we have in England, all workable space is precious with our ever expanding society and need to preserve Green Belt areas. I suppose in larger countries and states in Europe and America, respectively, have space that they can allow to ‘go to seed’ for longer periods. Creating some beautiful derelict and abandoned places. Perhaps it might also have something to land owning and procuring laws.

The book opens with a portrait (taken by Nicky Bonne) and quote from Lynch:

“I just like going into strange worlds. A lot more happens when you open yourself up to the work and let yourself react to it. Every work “talks” to you, and if you listen to it, it will take you to places you never dreamed of.” Gilroy-Hirtz, P.“David Lynch: The Factory Photographs Germany: Prestel, 2014. 


I suppose this is fitting owing to Lynch himself, as an artist and public figure, being the main selling point for the book. Opposed to the notoriety of the work, however brilliant, itself. The quote also prepares us as readers/viewers on how to contextualize what we are about to see. 

Following this is a short interview between Petra Gilroy-Hirtz and Lynch which further familiarizes us with the world we are about to enter. Lynch remembers some photos were taken just after his film, The Elephant Man. This dates some shots in the collection back to the nineteen eighties. We also learn the subject matter of Lynches great fascination is owing to the great beauty and abstract forms he found in these abandoned places. This certainly comes through in the images. Lynch succeeds in capturing the individual personality of each factory. Personality that is, Lynch laments, lacking in modern factories.

After a longer piece detailing an overview Lynch’s career and further exploring his fascination with industrial scenes. Finally a collection of quotes from Lynch. The title “Reading David Lynch” directs us to take note and bear these in mind when looking over the work.

For me all this introduction material was fascinating. It really helped me to understand the meaning of abstract photography. I was also able to contextualize modern photography in terms of photographic history. Gilroy-Hirtz draws parallels between Lynch’s work and that of the New Objectivity movement in the nineteen twenties. Even those who have studied photography academically, or otherwise, will find something of interest. 

The Text

Written by curator Gilroy-Hitz is compelling and well presented. Making the reading experience enjoyable.

The Book 

The one thing I love about (and makes me willing to invest in) photography books is that they are often beautiful objects. The Factory Photographs is just that. The cover is a soft textured linen. The 160 prints are spread across good quality paper in a matte finish. It’s a medium sized book measuring 30.4 x 26.7 x 2.6 cm.   

The Photographs 

The collection is arranged loosely into untitled sections. My description would be External, Internal, Windows and the final section moving toward abstract landscapes.

A common thread through out the series is Lynch’s use of high contrast black and white. This is commonly used in abstract photography, creating flatter images breaking 3D objects down into 2D shapes. As color film was readily available at the time it’s worth noting that this was a conscious choice by Lynch to create a certain mood in the project. One he has made in some of his films(IMDB: David Lynch) as well.

Through out the book we certainly get a sense of Lynch’s fascination with industrial spaces by variety of shots included. Delving deeper we find the photographs were taken over a period of 14 years. Further showing how much time Lynch has dedicated to the study of his subject. 

David Lynch: The Factory Photographs is available from The Photographer’s Gallery & Amazon.co.uk and is published by Prestel

This publication coincided with an exhibition of the work. I was gutted to have missed this as it was held in London at The Photographer’s Gallery 17th January – 30 March 2014. 

I have since visited The Photographer’s Gallery and it is a fantastic exhibition space spread over three floors. There’s also a cracking photography bookshop (shop online here) in the basement. They also, if you have the budget, sell a selection of prints from selected photographers (available online here). Along with a large selection of books and magazines the shop also sells refurbished Polaroids by The Impossible Project and Lomography products.