Semester 5, Up Close and Personal

Exercise 2 was back in the studio. The basic brief was to shoot a portrait at close range, such that there is little to no background showing. As usual we were encouraged to bring in a reference image to use as a starting point. I went for one from Robert Mapplethorpe who was a master of the monochrome portrait.


Brit Hammer 1988

I was hoping to emulate the lighting, which gives a real glow to the face, although in retrospect I think that makeup may also have played a big part. After playing with a couple of strobes I ended up using just a single light set up with the largest soft box I could find. This was placed front on, at eye level and angled down at about 30 degrees. There was a full length reflector on the right hand side and a horizontal reflector at waist height below the soft box. This meant I had to shoot around the softbox which limited the angles available to me.


After a little mucking around I got the lighting to where I wanted it. The light is soft and even which is generally quite flattering as it is less inclined to highlight any skin flaws.


It seems to work well for guys too, even with a bit of stubble.



School holidays meant we had an extra model (it is usually just us students) who was close to perfect for what I wanted to achieve. She was enjoying herself which helped a lot – there is nothing worse than an unhappy or uncomfortable model. I prefer the first photo because it is more subtle emotionally, but the second photo is probably a better portrait and certainly more likely to win favour with the sitter and her family.

All of these were shot at f9.5 using my 77mm lens (roughly equivalent to a 120mm lens on full frame). I would have thought that this would be too long but in fact I could probably have used a longer lens. The photos were imported into photoshop for a quick touch up of the skin and then converted to B&W. They haven’t been cropped or sharpened. I would probably have spent 15 – 20 minutes on each photo.

Semester 5, The Street Where You Live

Our first exercise for the year was fairly simple: take one or two shots on the theme “The street where you live”, process them in ACR but not photoshop and output as jpegs @1500px max. I didn’t find the topic that exciting, any more than I did back in first semester when we did our awareness walks, so I decided to head to my happy place which is night photography. The first one is just on dusk (8pm), shot with a 28mm soft focus lens (just to be different) while the second is about 9pm shot on the trusty 24 f2.

Semester 3 folios

Finally got around to getting galleries done for both folios. The first one really didn’t come up to the vision that was in my head. It is all about patriotism and the difference between how it was when I was a I kid – quite understated – and how it is now with the very overt wearing of the flag and the southern cross and so on. I probably need more time to fully think it through and get the images fleshed out before I try again.

The second one was just a bit of fun, a spur of the moment thing that took off. The photos are meant to look like they are in one of the 70s style “magnetic” photo albums and mimic the feel of family snapshots. Each photo is just a little bit wrong and together they chronicle the life of a family of serial killers.