Wednesday, 31 March 2010

People, Light, Fabric and Texture

I have completed my Advanced Studio Lighting class and I am delighted to say that I did well in my final critique. In the last two studio sessions, I found myself exploring the theme of people and fabric. (You can take the woman out of Textiles but you cannot take textiles out of the woman?!)

The first of these two sessions was a Figurative Nude class.

100-101 Diptych

Ahem. For the general consumption purposes of my blog and Flickr, this image is probably the only one that is safe for me to share. It is a bit dark but it does illustrate the theme that I was starting to explore i.e. the way that fabric changes light, form and adds texture to what you see.

My second studio sesssion was with Erica. Now, I did warn Erica in advance that I planned to wrap her in fabric - just because I was a bit nervous that she might think me a complete weirdo. To my utter relief, she just burst out laughing and said, 'Toga Party!'

So, without further ado, here are some of my Erica 'Toga Party' portraits:

_DSC0040 - Print 03


_DSC0054 02 Copy

For fun, I converted the top image into a negative image. I love how this appears to changes the very soft image into something hard and alien - almost like a x-ray of chiffon thrown over a marble statue:


So, once we had conquered Rome, I did my best to move us forwards through time to 17th Century Holland:

Through Fabric 001

I think that this might be my favourite image. The effect of the lighting and the fabric in this picture reminds me a little bit of Johannes Vemeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'. The above picture is sort of intended to go with this next picture:

Through Fabric 002b

The narrative idea behind these two pictures is a kind of 'before' and 'after'. Through a fabric screen: unaware of being observed and aware of being observed.

The next three images are a continuation of this theme but concentrating a little more on texture and form through fabric. Amongst a number of other things, Erica is a talented florist. So I included flowers in a few of her portraits as a reference to her skills:

Through Fabric 004

Through Fabric 003

Through Fabric 005

Please click here for the full slide show of Erica's photoshoot. I really enjoyed creating these pictures and I would love to explore this theme further. So I am hoping that this session did not creep Erica out too much and that she will agree to model for me again soon!

Friday, 26 March 2010

On Entitlement, Health and Luck

Although I am fairly well known for blethering on about the small stuff and using humour to dismantle the bigger things that are bothering me, I can become quite quiet and I can retreat into myself when something is genuinely not going well.

I am not sure why this is - I am not sure whether it is because on some level that I think that if I make myself quieter and smaller in some way, the unhappy or bad thing will roar past me without noticing that I am there.

Usually, it does too! After it has gone, I emerge from cover, dust myself off and carry on. After all - many things are just not as bad as they first appear. With time and thought, it is usually possible to navigate quietly around them or break them down into manageable chunks to chew, swallow or spit aside.

My circumstances over the past year or so have meant that there have been some stuff bothering me here that I have not been able to address because I have had no status in Canada. One of these things has been lack of access to health care.

Although I had a travel insurance policy followed by an expatriate medical insurance policy that was supposed to cover me until my Canadian health care benefits kicked in, they both turned out to be fairly useless for day-to-day matters or things that the insurance company was determined to argue might fall into the category of a pre-existing condition (which is pretty much everything, as I discovered when I phoned them). So, during my visits home, I visited my GP but I was not ever in the UK long enough to be referred for follow up treatment.

So, basically, I have just had to go without and put up with things not being quite right. All fairly minor stuff but it has still got me down a bit. As I am from the UK, I am just used to healthcare...well...just being there, as and when you need it.

The good news is that this situation changed for me on the 1st March - I now have entitlement to Canadian health care. As a result, I have been working on getting a number of things sorted out. I feel quite lucky to have found a family doctor that I like, who has accepted me as a patient and who, unexpectedly, set me off on a referral path that might help to explain some of the symptoms that I have been experiencing over the past year or so e.g. insomnia, tiredness, weight gain, feeling down, 'fuzzy headed' and being very forgetful. Fingers crossed, at least.

In addition, the cherry on the cake piece of good luck (which I think completes my immediate list of Canada 'settling in' tasks) is that I passed my driver's knowledge test* last Friday and I passed the road test* this morning. So I now have a Canadian Driving Licence!

*Notes: you can only drive on your foreign licence in BC for 90 days after you become a Permanent Resident. After that you have to cease driving until you have obtained your Canadian driving licence. As BC has no reciprocal agreement in place with the UK to do a straight swap of driving licences, I had to pass a knowledge test and a road test in order to obtain my Canadian driving licence. Today was my 90th day in BC...which was cutting it all a bit fine.

This was not entirely my fault as you cannot apply for a Canadian driving licence, do the knowledge test or do the road test until you have your Permanent Resident card. My PR card only arrived in the post recently, which made everything all very, very last minute.

Things have been a bit stressful here so I am really looking forwards to a relaxed weekend!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Portrait Lighting and Model Shoot

Two posts in one day, whatever next?! Well, I am sort of stuck at home on 'Fella Watch' today as he isn't well. He's been ill since Monday - thankfully, he seems a bit better today (his temperature has come down) and I am delighted that he is asleep on the sofa at the moment and not, um - how to put this gently - shut in the bathroom, making noises like a dying animal.

Was that too much information? Okay, well to distract you from the mental image of my husband dealing manfully with the explosive output from his gastric system, here is my output from the portrait lighting demo that we did in class recently:

5 x Basic Portrait Lighting Set Ups 0

This is just a very quick guide to some basic studio portrait lighting - Broad, Glamour, Rembrandt, Split and Narrow.

The next images are from the high and low key photo shoot that we did to explore the above lighting for ourselves. We also got to play with some other portrait light set-ups as well.

The brief that we were given for our shoot was to come up with an overall, emotionally evocative triptych plus provide a small selection of other portraits. Just to demonstrate that we had explored a range of different lighting set-ups during the session. In addition, we were asked to convert all of our images to black and white so that we could review the three-dimensional rendering of our subjects with the lighting that we set up.

_DSC0258 - For Crit 02 - Flat & B-W 8 bit

This is my emotionally evocative tripdych - my theme and brief to my model was 'Dreamy on a Weekend Morning'.

2 x High Key Lighting Set Ups 8 Bit

These are two of my other high key lighting examples. I do not particularly like either of them but I truly dislike the one on the right. I took it to crit on purpose - the pose reminds me of a school photo and I did not get the effect that I was looking for with the ring flash - yuck!

_DSC0374 flat 8 bit

These are my low key examples. The image on the right is a narrow - rim lighting shot simply to fulfil the exercise brief. The other two are closer to what I had in mind for the shoot. I was told beforehand that my model is both an actor and in a band. So for the left and centre images, I researched actor publicity shots, theatre lighting and pulled together some classic gestures/poses from some Shakespeare plays to come up with some ideas for my shoot. I was feeling quite smug and prepared when I got to the studio...

...unfortunately, when I met my model, it turned out that he actually does tv comedy type things, rather than classic theatre type things! Opps - poor chap. At one point I asked him to pose with a melon so that he could emulate some of those classic poses from Hamlet. Later, I had him posing with flowers.

He dealt with both props valiantly though and was cheerful throughout (even if I did catch him knocking on the melon to see if anyone was there and putting it up to his ear to hear if it was talking back to him) - happy to share the outtakes if you would like to see them!

Life Update & Advanced Studio Lighting

I realise that I have been a bit quiet lately. Oddly enough (for a person out of work) I have been quite busy recently. In addition to the Landscape Photography course, I have been doing an Advanced Studio Lighting course, taking some pictures for a friend plus trying to sort out all sorts of new Landed Immigrant (Permanent Resident) admin. E.g.

In UK:
  • Inland Revenue/Tax
In Canada:
  • Customs;
  • Medical Cover;
  • Social Insurance Number;
  • Permanent Resident Card;
  • Driving Licence;
  • liaising with the company importing my belongings for me and trying to get the house/my studio space ready for everything to arrive;
  • tarting up my CV, trying to find out which local recruiters deal with the sort of jobs that I do, worrying about job hunting in a new country and fretting about the fact that I have got so fat that none of my old work/interview outfits fit me; and
  • shoving my head into the sand about looking for a job, even though my savings are just about dwindled to nothing, and attempting to diet (note: attempting but apparently not succeeding) my way back into some of my clothes so that I don't have to go to interviews looking like an over-bloated blimp.

On that cheerful note, I will leave you with the still life images from my Advanced Studio Lighting Course that I presented during our image critique recently. The inspiration for these was sort of afternoon teatime treats with associated lighting:

Hot Light Pick

Strobe Pick

Above Exercise: lighting comparision between strobe and constant hot lights

DSC_0039 copy DSC_0106 copy

Above: the two still life images that I preferred (both strobe lighting).

Now that I have uploaded these images to Flickr and linked to them from my blog, I am interested to note that all of the colours in these images look a bit grungy and washed out. How odd. I wonder if this is because I have changed a Photoshop image profile from sRGB (web) to RGB (print) recently?

In terms of composition and lighting, my idea and the shots are not quite there yet. However, I have the lights and props at my studio and I'm hoping to have another go at setting this up and getting the images that I want!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

1st Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Lovely.


I can hardly believe that it has been a year already. It's been a big year (or so) of change and adjustment for us both. Do you know what? I think that we are doing okay. I guess that it helps that you happen to be one of the kindest, most lovely men on earth. Yep, you:


I am really looking forwards to the next year with you.


Ps, posted a day late because our anniversary weekend included a quick trip over to Salt Spring Island. We arrived home late last night. I am delighted to say that Salt Spring Island delivered my first ever viewing of a sheep on Canadian soil:


I spotted quite a few Suffolk sheep (with new lambs - hurray!) on the island, plus this breed. I am not sure which it is. I am sorting of hoping that it is a White faced Welsh Mountain sheep.