Focus On Imaging 09

Images and description of my talks for MS at Focus on Imaging, at the Birmingham NEC, 22nd – 25th Feb 09…

Above images: the MS booth. At this event three of my images (mounted on hardboard, 1m x 70cm) were on display on the Microsoft booth which was great. I managed to take two of them home afterwards.. I gave The escape to my sister and put South by southeast on my own wall, which actually looks very nice. I like being able to slap up a print on the wall without having to go and pay for mounting/framing first…

The presentations

Above three images taken by John Mathieu

My talks were 40 mins each, two a day for the whole 4-day event. They were similar to the presentations I did at Photokina, except since Photokina I have come to know the products much better and use them more intuitively in my workflow. Whereas the Photokina presentations were about communication being an important part of the photographer’s workflow, the thrust to the presentations this time was RAW, and getting the most from shooting and processing RAW before destructively editing your images in Photoshop, the latter being the stage with which I’ve always been preoccupied.
There are also specific tools in Capture One Pro which are great for my own methods: the colour picker, meaning I can tweak specific colours in an image like this before the original has even been converted from RAW:

The manifestation

Also, the prospect of shooting tethered. The first time I shot tethered was with Alexandra at Pravda studios in Seattle. With regards to self-portraits, I’m starting to tether up my shoots (at least, indoors) to be able to view my images as they come in, not only larger than I would see them on a camera LCD but also in a way that avoids me having to keep getting up to go to the other side of the camera. Instead I can turn my laptop towards me. Not only that, but process an image and set it as a style to be applied to the other images as they come in.
In the case of clones, the ‘Overlay’ feature, a referencing tool in the program, can reduce the opacity of one image to exemplify how it would layer over another.

This is great for any of my clone composites, the one I showed as an example in my presentations was The evening banter (below) in which the clones are particularly huddled. If this image hadn’t have worked out, I said to my audience, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to reshoot it. I’m interested in guaranteeing a better chance of success in my fine-art shoots, without surrendering too much of the spontaneity I enjoy so much….

Their evening banter

I showed a range of work in my presentation, and as in my presentations at other events, alluded to the three ‘categories’ of processing in my work. It would be misleading to say I love the processing more than the shooting and that the processing is always more important for me. Some images take more processing than others, some barely any. So, I refer to three categories: the ones that take only a slight tweak of processing to be presentable, which have been composed almost completely in-cam, and for which the role of processing is to emphasise and enhance, not to ‘create’ as such. An example would be Life on the downs:

Life on the downs

Here is the image with the original capture on the left:

Other examples would be The dance, Girl dreaming, Stretch, Pink & read.

The second category is what I call ‘50/50′, for images which aren’t dependent on neither shooting nor the processing, it’s an equal weighting of both. South by southeast, for example, may have taken on it’s filmic look through b/w conversion but no other shot taken that afternoon resulted in that same effect, so the original capture’s windblow hair and expression are just as important key components to the final image:

South by southeast

Original next to the processed version:

Other examples would be At Portland Bill Lighthouse, Light wielding, Memoirs of a woman of leisure, and The right way.

The third are the images, such as the clones, which are composites needing more intricate work, with more than one image, but several.

The escape

…and a breakdown of the original shots and the processing stages:

All the images in the Multiplicity category would belong to this group, but also, other kinds of composites, such as my recent ‘Trick’ images which do not use clones but use compositing to create the illusion of an impossible feat. I think one of the most interesting parts of my presentation was a breakdown of the processes used to create these trick images. I showed the original images and method I would use to create different levels of ‘tricks’ in these images, and a brief slideshow of the compositing in process (to see the full process of the trick images you’d have to attend one of my presentations) ;)

Above left is part of the process of creating Sprung:

And above right, The smothering:
The smothering

And… I met Lara Jade! You might know Lara Jade from flickr. She was with her boyfriend, Luc, whose does equally stunning work.
I was just a couple of minutes into one of my presentations when I saw Lara Jade in the audience, instantly recognisable by her distinctive hair and looks which i know well from her self-portraits. I managed to track her down afterwards and have a lovely chat with her, and introduce her to Drew Gardner, a fashion photographer who was also at the event presenting for both Microsoft and Phase One. Here is Drew pulling in the crowds:

Above: me with ‘the cavegirl and the naughty schoolgirl’, just a hint of the very cliched use of female modelling roles on other stands…
Above photo taken by John Mathieu

It was a great event and I had some interesting chats with people… some opportunities afoot, will reveal more later :) )

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Posted in Essays, musings, Talks, Tutorials/'making of' on March 17th, 2009 | 7 Comments |

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Comments for “Focus On Imaging 09”

    1. jestem
      8:14 pm on March 17th, 2009

      Wow. Truly fantastic. Looks like quite an experience for you. And really thank you for the exhaustive blog entry. It gives those of us who couldn’t be there a nice glimpse, not only of what you showed, but also into your work process.

      After all of these public events, how is it for you in front of an audience? Comfortable? Hopefully one day i get to be on of the faces looking back at you.

    2. Lara Jade
      9:30 pm on March 17th, 2009

      was lovely to meet you finally :) well done on the talking btw (you are braver than me!) xxx

    3. Ole Martin halvorsen
      11:19 pm on March 17th, 2009

      Must be cool to take home your laaarge print =D
      I usually take home the ones my boss makes for contest etc to.. not quite 1×70cm, but cool to give away to the models ‘nyway.

      Would love to hear your lecture / talk / thingy. You take great images, and Id love to learn some of your post production tips =)

    4. Richard
      11:50 pm on March 17th, 2009

      Great to see the talk – I’m in one of the photos so I guess they were taken on the Monday. I realise now that I’d been standing near Lara Jade during Drew’s presentation, I knew I recognised her but not why.

      I’d agree that the section on your tricks was the more interesting part of the talk, mainly because everyone likes to discover ‘trade’ secrets. It became less about the technology and more about understanding your thought processes in planning an image (although, with hindsight, the method used to create Sprung was blindingly simple but missed me completely). As someone new to photography, its good to keep hearing that it’s not the camera thats important but the thought and imagination of the photographer.

      (And it was kind of you to sign my copy of your book!)


    5. Arty Fucking Smokes
      7:44 am on March 23rd, 2009

      It never occurred to me just how you’d composited ‘The Smothering’ even though I thought about it a lot. I presumed the box was on something. Dunno why I didn’t realise you were holding it with the hidden hand! I thought Wolfy was holding you, but thought you’d had to clone some skin to block out his arms. Very clever.

      I forgot to say earlier that the print of “South by Southeast” looked absolutely stunning in the Blurb book. I’m normally hyper critical of black and white, but that was definitely a case of “On Black” working to full effect. Maybe the lack of saturation in the other shots made it stand out even more.

    6. Matt
      6:11 pm on April 19th, 2009

      Great work!! I would love to see one of your presentations (“to see the full process of the trick images you’d have to attend one of my presentations”). Do you have any plans of presenting in the US anytime soon? – Thanks, Matt

    7. Miss Aniela Photography: Blog
      5:31 pm on September 9th, 2009

      [...] presentations to date now: Microsoft Pro Photo Summit, Photokina, live photoshoot in Seattle, Focus on Imaging and Palm Springs Photo Festival, over 20 presentations that have been slightly different each time [...]

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