Queen Elizabeth Country Park Star Trails

Loving the clear winter sky’s recently! Snapped this beauty at Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Horndean earlier this week.

Isambard Brunel Car Park

As part of an ongoing exploration of the non-place I am closing in on several categories of space.  The view is to create a typology of non-place.  A photographic record of the world around us.  A world which we frequent on a regular basis but rarely think of as anything special.

In this particular instance I visited a 24 hour car park in the city of Portsmouth.  Car parks at night have always been photographically attractive to me and I’ve often referred to them as ‘playgrounds of light’.

The car park in question has motion activated lighting, so as to save on energy bills.  This feeds directly in to the notion of place and space.  This mundane of structures stands in the darkness while disused but springs to life when the motion lights are triggered.  This illumination converts that place in to a space with the presence of humans.  The presence of a purpose.

Secret Dockyard

Secret Dockyard was a photographic project during 2011 to 2012 documenting the conservation areas of Boathouse No4 in the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth.  A historical structure in its own right, Boathouse No4 was a key part in preparations for D-Day and other aspects of World War Two.

The aim of the project was to show these otherwise unseen areas so they could be accessible to the public through photography.  The photographs themselves serve as a preservation of the areas, documenting them for generations to come.  The series was shot using large format 10×8″ black and white film and a series of fibre based contact prints which were treated using selenium.  The process of the fibre based prints and the selenium helps to preserve the photographs for as long as possible.

Through exhibition, Secret Dockyard was presented in cabinets with a glass lid.  The cabinet serving as the walls of the museum with the artifacts inside.  A large print of an overview of Boathouse No4 featured above the cabinets as the facade to a museum does from the street it is on.

A Road Petrol Stations at Night

A photographic investigation of non-place and the sanctuary provided by the A Road Petrol Station.  Emerging from the darkness of the long nights drive, they give us shelter, food and water.

All images photographed using a 5×4 large format technical camera on Kodak Portra 160.

Decay

As part of a recent triptych as contribution to a photographic collective called ‘Collective of Two’.  Andrew shot a short series of animal skulls.  The images were shot in a studio environment using focus stacking to create a hyper focal image.

Milky Way over Hurst Castle

The Milky Way is something I’ve always wanted to photograph but needed to enthuse myself to get out and do it.

Recently on a camping trip in the New Forest I trekked out to Hurst Castle at about 1am and finally captured one!

This has ignighted a growing spark for astro-photography and I hope is the first of many!

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Smoke Photography – A how to guide

Recently after a load of ‘Smoke Photography’ images I said I would write a blog post of a guide to what I had done and how I had done it.  Below is an image of the whole set up and I will discuss this in detail.

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My set up is possibly overkill but it’s kit that I own and use so why the heck not.  One of the most important parts (apart from the incense stick to make the smoke) is the black backdrop.  Creating the negative space behind the image enables use to be very flexible in post production.  All I use is a black piece of material bought from a fabric store and then tailored to hang from a backdrop stand kit.

The incense I have used is very cheap, 60 sticks for £1 at Poundland, and does the trick perfectly!

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I used my camera on a tripod, this isn’t essential as the settings used can make fast speed shooting very easy and dramatically reduce shake and blur. However I found it very useful for having a spare hand to manipulate the smoke.

A light source is very important, I used a Nikon SB700 speedlight but a simple desk lamp can be sufficient.  This was fired using a basic radio remote trigger.

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I used a reflector to balance out the light in the image, this isn’t needed but it’s what I wanted.

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The settings:

For my images I used the flashgun at 1/16th power and had the camera set to:

1/60th

f 8

ISO 100

The f 8 helped to keep the depth of field enough to not get massively out of focus areas of the smoke.  Focussing can be a big issue, I framed the shot so the tip of the incense was just visible in the bottom of the viewfinder and manually focused on that.  Cropping this out in post is simple.

To take it a step up I added coloured filters to the flashgun to change the cast of the light.  This colours the smoke and gives us more possibilities when we edit.

The Editing:

The editing I’ve kept really simple for the most part where I’ve cropped out the tip of the incense stick, deepened the black and raised the shadows on the a tonal curve.  With a colour filter over the flashgun we can also adjust the hue to create entirely different sets of colours!  If we wanted to take it a step further we could invert the colours to make the background white, the smoke negative and adjust the hue.  Below are a couple of my examples…