Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey
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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)
Or, playing about with the shutter, if you like. This blog post is my first in a while, and first of all, my apologies for that. Unfortunately, the day job has been intense of late, and keeping me super busy. I’ve actually been shooting, but just not had the time to keep up with writing about the shoots. Hopefully, I can rectify that in the next few weeks.

Before writing about the individual shoots, though, I thought it would be good do to a short post about a shooting style I’ve been experimenting with for quite a while. I first tried this in the mid eighties, before putting my camera down for two decades, and enjoyed shooting in this style all that time ago. I’ve experimented with this style a few times since, with varying degrees of success, but feel like I’m learning something new each time I do so. As an aside, I’ve recently purchased a ringlight which I think will remove a lot of the hit and miss aspect of this kind of shooting for me, so I’m looking forward to playing with that at some point soon. In the meantime though, a little bit about this technique.

First off, though, the confessional bit. I’m not exactly au fait with all the technical aspects of this. I’ve heard it referred to as front synch or rear synch, depending on if you trigger the flash as the shot starts, or as the shot finishes, as dragging the shutter, and various other things as well. Bottom line is, you leave the shutter open for longer than the usual 1/125
th of a second, which will change your shot in a number of ways. Depending on what you want to achieve, though, the results can make for some great, atmospheric, and unusual images.

First of all, there’ll be some blur in the shot. The flash will freeze an image, but by leaving the shutter open, if your subject is moving, you’ll get motion blur in the image. This can add a real sense of drama, and of course of movement, to your image, while the flash frozen image will still give the image a central, coherent point.

Secondly, it will let in more light. Obviously, even if you’re only opening the shutter up for 1/50
th, or 1/20th of a second, there will still be more light. What kind of light will depend on where you are, and needs to be balanced against the image you want. Shooting in the middle of Summer outdoors (well, maybe not in England right now) will result in a bleached out image, for example. Indoors, though, if it’s a studio, you can manage very carefully what ‘kind’ of light gets in after/before the flash, as with the fierce image of Kayt Webster-Brown. If I recall correctly-it was 18 months ago-the flash was gelled with red, and the warmth beyond the red was the result of leaving the shutter open, and letting the ambient light in.
The photographs of Ella-Mae, though, were taken in a nightclub that we’d borrowed for the shoot. We were able to leave the flashing lights around the dancefloor on, and even got to mess around with the glitter ball thing. The photographs of Anita DeBauch were taken in a rather splendid hotel room, where the bedside lamps gave a very warm flight, and added some real warmth to the images. Finally, the images of Miu were taken on the streets of Tokyo, and the mono one-they don’t all have to be colour, for sure-was taken in the back of a cab on our way back to the train station.

And thirdly, you can mess around with moving the camera as well-the motion blur doesn’t have to be just in the subject. One of the pictures of Miu was taken whilst twisting the camera around as the shot was taken. Equally-although this isn’t something I’ve given any time to as yet-you can zoom the lens after the flash has fired, for a different effect again.

I still reckon this is an area that’s absolutely super-ripe for exploration, and I suspect that I’ve only just begun to get a sense of what can be achieved with this kind of photography. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what I’ve got to date in this style.








Mini Miu, photographed in Tokyo

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I was recently in Tokyo on a business trip, something which I do once or twice a year. This time, though, instead of arriving wishing that I'd arranged a shoot before travelling, I actually did something about it. I posted a casting call on model mayhem, asking if anyone in Tokyo fancied shooting whilst I was over. Much to my surprise, one of the very first to reply was Miu, who I photographed at a group shoot a couple of years ago. She now lives in Holland, but was fortunately planning on being in Tokyo at pretty much the same time as me.

We planned to shoot on the Thursday evening. All set, no problem. Until Typhoon Roke decided to show up. Wednesday afternoon, all staff were told to go home from the Tokyo office, as the imminent arrival of the hurricane was likely to disrupt things. No kidding. Wednesday afternoon and early evening, the whole of Tokyo got battered by the Typhoon, and having had to cross the street in order to get to a restaurant, I can assure you it was… intense. LIke Skegness Pier in Winter, only twenty times worse. So, I thought the chances of us getting to shoot on Thursday were pretty slim.

Fortunately, though, the morning came around, and it was a completely different story from the day before, as evidenced in the picture below. So, despite it still being a little bit breezy, and certainly rainy on the Thursday evening, and despite the plan to shoot out of doors, we decided to go for it.

I chucked my main camera, and flash gun into my bag, but decided that I would, first of all, try to grab some decent shots on my new camera, the FujiFilm X100. It's getting some great reviews at the moment, and I was pretty happy with the test shots. I planned to shoot a handful of shots on the new one, but despite it being a little bit fiddly and difficult to set (trans: 'although I hadn't even looked at the manual…') I ended up shooting with just this one. I'm very happy with the shots we got. I suspect Miu was more than a little suspicious about the little old fashioned looking camera, and was probably a little bit worried about the images, but too polite to say anything.

Honestly, so was I. I knew they looked good on the back of the camera, but that's not much of an indicator of what it'll look like once it's on a thirty inch monitor. It can look fantastic on camera, and then once on the proper monitor, out of focus, super wonky, or just not right. And, with a new camera, you just never know what the foibles will be. I needn't have worried though-considering we shot for probably 50 minutes of the two hours, we got a good handful of images that were more than worth the effort.

Okay-not quite fifty minutes. We then did a handful of extra shots at the end of the shoot in the Taxi on our way back to the train station. This gave us another couple of images that I’m certainly very happy with, and one of which is featured as the gallery icon here.

Anyway, as will be evident with the images, I experimented with exposure lengths of around 1/4 to 1/2 a second to allow for light trails, and ‘blurring’ but still forcing flash to freeze the main image, and was pretty happy with the results. The neon, and various lighting trails in the backgrounds definitely add to the images, I feel.

Check them out by clicking on the picture of Miu at the top of the blog, and feel free to leave a comment.