Favourite things

Camera - - IN PRACTICE -

The Pic­ture

Orig­i­nally pho­tographed for the surf­ing mag­a­zine White

Horses and a se­ries of ar­ti­cles called ‘A Few Of My Favourite Things’ (an idea, in­ci­den­tally, we’ve now adopted in sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion ProPhoto), Pam Burridge – who was the first woman in Aus­tralia to be­come a full-time pro­fes­sional surfer – is pic­tured with a col­lec­tion of her favourite pos­ses­sions, in­clud­ing an old car­a­van, a lad­der, sev­eral surf­boards, a cro­cheted rug (mod­elled by her hus­band, Mark), one of her hens, and the vin­tage dress she’s wear­ing.

The Pho­tog­ra­pher

Af­ter a long ca­reer as a cor­po­rate and ad­ver­tis­ing pho­tog­ra­pher, Bruce Usher now works as a free­lancer pri­mar­ily con­cen­trat­ing on ed­i­to­rial as­sign­ments for a wide va­ri­ety of magazines

The Equip­ment

as well as shoot­ing for an­nual re­ports and brochures. He is also a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion for work­ing pho­tog­ra­phers, ProPhoto, pro­fil­ing the life and work of other pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers. Nikon D700 D-SLR fit­ted with a 50mm f1.4 lens. This pic­ture was taken at f9.0 with a shut­ter speed of 1/200 sec­ond and the sen­si­tiv­ity set to ISO 250. The avail­able light was sup­ple­mented by a stu­dio flash Monobloc fit­ted with a re­flec­tor brolly.

The Tech­nique

There are a lot of el­e­ments in this pic­ture so a fair amount of or­gan­i­sa­tion was needed be­fore­hand, es­pe­cially in terms of ar­rang­ing ev­ery­thing to cre­ate a co­he­sive and bal­anced com­po­si­tion.

“I pho­tographed Pam late in the af­ter­noon,” Bruce says. “It was vir­tu­ally on dusk, but hav­ing the car­a­van as a set back­ground was magic and it pulled ev­ery­thing to­gether both phys­i­cally and colour wise”.

Just to add to the chal­lenge, Bruce de­cided to add an el­e­ment of move­ment, get­ting Pam to ex­e­cute a jump and re­lease the hen at the same time.

How It Was Done

“Pam has just launched her­self off a mini tram­po­line,” ex­plains Bruce. “It’s po­si­tioned just out of the frame and that’s Patty Bou­vier (named af­ter Patty and Selma from the Simp­son’s), her new Isa Brown chook, up there fly­ing next to her. I only took around ten frames as it was hard work for both Pam and Patty Bou­vier. We tried a few ver­sions of Pam com­ing off the mini tramp un­til we set­tled on the ‘straight-to-cam­era’ jump. I also did a few ‘in­sur­ance’ im­ages with no jump­ing, and Pam just stand­ing.

“It took Pam and I about 40 min­utes to style the pho­to­graph, and an­other 20 min­utes to tweak the light­ing and ad­just the po­si­tion­ing of the mini tramp.”

Tricks Of The Trade

With any photo as­sign­ment that in­volves pho­tograph­ing peo­ple, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the key to a suc­cess­ful. Here Bruce and Pam worked to­gether on what the fi­nal im­age should look like, so she fully un­der­stood what she had to do. In most sit­u­a­tions, there will only be one or two op­por­tu­ni­ties to ‘nail’ a busy shot like this be­fore any spon­tane­ity is lost and the sub­ject starts to tire. Bruce’s rec­om­men­da­tion is to keep it re­laxed… and fun.

De­gree Of Dif­fi­culty (Out of 10)

This would have been a chal­leng­ing im­age to pull off even be­fore adding move­ment and an un­pre­dictable hen… eas­ily a ‘10’.

Can You Try This At Home?

Many am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­phers feel ap­pre­hen­sive about pho­tograph­ing peo­ple, but it can be hugely re­ward­ing, not to men­tion en­joy­able, es­pe­cially if you your­self a few chal­lenges. A project such as ‘favourite things’ in­volves the sub­ject too, mak­ing it more of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ex­er­cise while also telling a much more in­ter­est­ing story about that per­son. Why not start with fam­ily or friends? You might be sur­prised what you’ll learn, and you’ll end up with some great pho­to­graphs too.

Pho­to­graph by Bruce Usher, copy­right 2019.

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