Light Work

Camera - - CONTENTS -

These pic­to­rial fea­tures are de­signed to help you bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate how work­ing pho­tog­ra­phers deal with sub­jects and sit­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing some help­ful tricks of the trade. In this is­sue, ed­i­tor Paul Bur­rows has some tips for on-lo­ca­tion por­trai­ture and how to deal with what­ever the si­t­u­a­tion throws at you.

The Pic­ture

Part of a book project – ti­tled

Ital­ian Af­fairs – which il­lus­trates the pas­sion­ate love af­fairs that own­ers have with Ital­ian clas­sic cars. This is Amer­i­can Bill Krei­dler who is pic­tured with his beloved 1966 Cin­que­cento, wife Linda, and golden re­triever Sophia (who is also a big fan of the lit­tle Fiat). The lo­ca­tion is the Ital­ian vil­lage of Sarteano in south­ern Tus­cany where Bill and Linda have a hol­i­day home. By the way, Bill also owns a clas­sic Vespa scooter. The Fiat 500 is an ex-rally car that’s been fully re­stored and Bill de­scribes it as “the essence of Italy”.

The Pho­tog­ra­pher

Cam­era ed­i­tor Paul Bur­rows is also pas­sion­ate about clas­sic Ital­ian cars – and the owner of a 1968 Fiat 850 Sports Coupe – so this project is a real labour of love which com­bines car pho­tog­ra­phy, por­trai­ture (in­clud­ing a few pets), and the oc­ca­sional wel­come trip to Italy.

The Equip­ment

Pana­sonic Lu­mix G85 mirrorless cam­era fit­ted with a Lu­mix G Vario 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS im­age sta­bilised lens. Hand-held us­ing avail­able light with a small col­lapsi­ble re­flec­tor. ND2 grad­u­ated fil­ter on the lens.

The Tech­nique

Ital­ian cars are small be­cause the streets in many of the coun­try’s his­toric vil­lages are very nar­row… so space was an is­sue here and so was bal­anc­ing the con­trast be­tween the fore­ground area in shadow and the sun­lit

back­ground. Re­calls Paul, “I had my back jammed up against a gi­ant iron gate be­cause I wanted to avoid any wide-an­gle dis­tor­tion so the fo­cal length was about 25mm… ef­fec­tively 50mm which is per­fect for a tight si­t­u­a­tion like this. I also wanted ev­ery­thing to be in fo­cus, in­clud­ing the back­ground – be­cause the lo­ca­tion is also part of telling this story – so the tak­ing aper­ture is f11 which gives plenty of depthof-field on a Mi­cro Four Thirds for­mat sen­sor, but still al­lowed a ‘safe’ hand-hold­ing shut­ter speed of 1/100 sec­ond at ISO 200”.

How It Was Done

Once the Fiat was ma­noeu­vred into the de­sired po­si­tion, the fram­ing, fo­cus­ing and ex­po­sure were all de­ter­mined be­fore Bill, Linda and Sophia were posed in the shot. For­tu­nately, Sophia is a very pa­tient dog and hap­pily just sat there for the whole time. Check­ing the shots in the cam­era’s mon­i­tor screen re­vealed that, even with the ND2 and small re­flec­tor, there was still a fairly pro­nounced con­trast range so Paul ended up us­ing the G85’s small builtin flash to add some fill-in il­lu­mi­na­tion on the car.

Tricks Of The Trade

Get­ting set-up be­fore your sub­jects are po­si­tioned in the shot is es­sen­tial, be­cause the first few im­ages are al­ways the most nat­u­ral look­ing. The longer time you spend fid­dling with the equip­ment, the more likely you are to lose the mo­ment and ev­ery­thing then starts to look a bit forced. While good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is al­ways im­por­tant when work­ing with peo­ple, it’s also of­ten a good idea to let them ‘do their own thing’ and see how it looks first be­fore start­ing to ad­just po­si­tions or poses. Here Bill and Linda es­sen­tially posed them­selves – bill with his el­bow out of the win­dow (there isn’t a lot of room in there!) and Linda with her hand on the back win­dow – and it all ended up look­ing pretty well bal­anced vis­ually. It’s al­ways a good idea to have some­thing in mind when it comes to the com­po­si­tion and ar­range­ment of a pho­to­graph which in­cludes mul­ti­ple el­e­ments, but al­ways be pre­pared to change if some­thing bet­ter oc­curs… which is of­ten the case.

And never un­der­es­ti­mate the value of a built-in flash, adds Paul. “They may be small, but they can still make all the dif­fer­ence in a si­t­u­a­tion like this. To avoid any hotspots I wrapped two lay­ers of a white pa­per tis­sue over the front of the flash to act as a dif­fuser… sim­ple, but ef­fec­tive”.

De­gree Of Dif­fi­culty (Out of 10)

There were a few chal­lenges here, most re­lat­ing to the lim­ited space to work in and the con­trast cre­ated by the still fairly strong sun­light in early Au­tumn. For­tu­nately, the sub­jects were very co-op­er­a­tive (in­clud­ing the dog), so this ex­er­cise prob­a­bly rep­re­sents a solid eight.

Can You Try This At Home?

Pho­tograph­ing peo­ple is more fun than many am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phers ex­pect and can be very re­ward­ing. It’s even more in­ter­est­ing when you start in­clud­ing other el­e­ments such as a favourite lo­ca­tion, a char­ac­ter­ful work place or trea­sured pos­ses­sions. And you start prac­tic­ing right at home, on fam­ily and friends. Per­haps think up a theme that can grow into a project and see where it leads you… a book, an ex­hi­bi­tion or maybe just some great pho­tog­ra­phy ex­pe­ri­ences.

Pho­to­graph by Paul Bur­rows, copy­right 2018.

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