Friday, 2 March 2012


LIGHT. Natalie in studio light. Natalie in NATURAL LIGHT. Wonderful.

I went to an exhibition at the V&A Museum a while ago called 'Shadow Catchers : camera-less photography'. Photography - camera-less? Really? Up until this point I'd always believed a camera was pretty much key to the practise of photography, but goodness me was I wrong! Camera-shamera eh? Without using a camera it is possible to create images on photographic paper by casting shadows & manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper...such incredible effects - not created from a 'negative' but encountered as fragments, traces, signs, memories or dreams, they leave room for the imagination, transforming the world of objects into a world of visions. The most common camera-less photography techniques are the photogram, the luminogram and the chemigram.

Ooh la la that was a bit of a divergence from what I was originally going to chat about...but my memory of that V&A exhibition sprung to mind & I remembered how exciting camera-less photography & light manipulation are. Far too much fun. But right now I'm chatting about natural light...the wonderful sun & it's rays. That big chappy in the sky who pop in & out of our lives - lighting my beautiful friend Natalie while we cruised around town taking snaps.
I absolutely love photographing passionate people - musicians, artists, dancers...& my chum Natalie is definitely a pretty passionate person. Everything from her deep connection with fish-fingers & ketchup on toast, to organising an elaborate ball in a castle, she has passion. A particular life passion of hers is with dancing. A bit of contemporary here & there, she's always been ballet dancer & this is how I photographed her in the studio at college in Newcastle - Pointe shoes & perfect poses.
After the success & fun we had on our first shoot together, Natalie & I decided to give it another go - this time taking her out of studio light into natural light. Natural light in London - ballet snaps in an urban environment. Pointe shoes & pavements.

As I explained in my last post, I absolutely love capturing movement in my work. For these shots in the park & made Natalie jump up about a hundred times for me to get the shot I wanted...lucky her. (Bear in mind the January temperatures & her skimpy attire. There was definitely still snow on the ground)

 The light changes as my model hangs in the air...

We wandered through Hyde park to the round pond. So many duckies hanging around & a perfect sunset - it was magical...

...Magical UNTIL I fell in the pond. Yes, I did. Not quite sure how it happened, but somehow just being myself & being near a pond, the inevitable had to happen. Not exactly ideal.


Speaking of light in the darkness, I must add that I'm also quite a fan of light in the light. Yes, quite a fan.

I absolutely love nature - everything about it really. The colours, the freedom, the growth, the inspiration, the joy, the light...natural light is spectacular. Without natural light & it's glorious playfulness, would Monet's lily-pads ever have received such appreciation? I think not (except by a frog that happened to be chilling near them in the river. Maybe) At college in Newcastle, however, I was encouraged to learn & appreciate a different kind of light - studio lighting. 'Unnatural', 'harsh', 'too bright' were all words that sprung to mind - nothing like the wonderful light in nature that changes as the day progresses - studio light is set. It doesn't change. It's man-made. It relies on electricity & technology - not my favourite combination of forces, I must say. Despite these initial feelings towards shooting in a studio setting I realised that it's pretty much essential in the world of commercial photography, so shunning it in this way may not be the best idea for my future career prospects...

Several lectures, studio demonstrations & class discussion later & I must say, I was being won over. It's quite remarkable, that studio lighting business! Yes rather remarkable indeed. Really incredible effects can be created & light can be manipulated exactly as one desires. How convenient...I'm sure Monet would have appreciate a little more convenience with the lighting conditions he experienced - as the natural light faded he'd have to stop painting, but studio lighting doesn't fade as time goes on. I realised that this was really very convenient for me - the serious perfectionist that I am...all the time in the world. Lucky model.
For one project we were required to carry out a 'High Key' lighting photoshoot in the studio. High key lighting aims to reduce the lighting ratio present in the scene, creating bright images full of light & mostly white tones. the kind of snaps you'd see in glossy magazines of models advertising make-up or hair bits & bobs. Bright, light & fun. No drama. For my photoshoot I decided to use my beautiful ballet dancer friend Natalie in her full ballet dancing attire. To prepare for the shoot I whacked some fake eye lashes on the lass & plastered her face with make-up. I did this, not because she needs lots of make-up - she's a true natural beauty - but because the number of lights & flashes on her make heavy make-up a priority. We had so much fun in the studio - twirling here & there, snapping here & there. Ya know, doing our favourite things. Ballet & photography. Love & love.

 I also want to capture movement in my work - drawing & photography. The next few snaps are some from capturing Natalie as she danced around.

And then I simply had to join in. With a tea pot, of course.