The photographer’s eye

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The photograph above was taken at Clough Co Down, one of the centres where the Orange Order were parading throughout Northern Ireland on the 12th July.  On the day I surprisingly took very few exposures but this image is one that stuck in my mind.  It’s not a particularly well composed image and it was taken early in the day before the parade started.  So why did I take?

There were several reasons, firstly I noticed the cowboy boots, the lyrics to ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra came to mind!  Another reason for seeing this picture was the fact that nearly everyone else in the scene is standing and the main subject is sitting, so there is a certain juxtaposition.  The fact that the heads of the people standing are cut off help the viewer to concentrate on the main figure.  I lowered my position when making the image so that I was almost at the same level, obviously the person saw me take the image which has not spoiled the photograph.

This image conveys a relaxed atmosphere in anticipation for the parade yet to commence. Probably the dominant feeling was …will it stay dry?  In actual fact it did stay dry until around 5pm!  There is nothing threatening or decisive conveyed by the image, unlike many images of Orange Order parades that you will find in the media.

Photographs are a powerful means for conveying messages and you are really depending on the honesty of the photographer.  In this case Clough was really about a family day out and meeting up with friends.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission 

Considerations for a portrait shot

Many photographers specialise in portraiture photography, I am not one of these but recently I was asked to take a portrait for a candidate who will be standing in Northern Ireland’s local government elections in May this year.

In agreeing to do this I set out to achieve several objectives.  As the image will be used in election literature which will be designed by a graphic designer I decided that a plain white backdrop would be desirable, allowing the designer to manipulate the image more easily. This led to the second decision for the shot; what type of lighting to set up.  High key lighting was the only sensible choice and to avoid shadows creating a sinister element even lighting was created with one speedlite shot through an umbrella slightly left of the camera and a second speedlite to illuminate the backdrop.

With the backdrop and lighting sorted we moved on to the posed shots.  Out of a series of images I have selected the one below.  Taken from a lower view point and with arms folded it makes the candidate look thoughtful and serious.  We will see which images his campaign managers select!

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.  

Environmental Portraits

Having concentrated on mainly documentary, editorial and event photography I welcome the opportunity to stray into other areas.  Recently while photographing the oat harvest at a farm near Tandragee Co Armagh I included shots of the farmer and his delightful children.

I have included four images in this blog, three of which were taken on an overcast morning with fine drizzle.  As it turned out the light produced in these conditions, augmented with 20% flash from a soft box, produced pleasing results.  In effect the weather conditions produced a beautiful soft light.

The final image was taken a few days later in early evening, again with an overcast sky. This time no soft box was used yet the light produced great skin tones and even a slight catch-light in the child’s eyes.

White's Oats Shoot White's Oats Shoot While's Oats Shoot White's Oats Shoot

During the fine drizzle shoot I nearly decided not to continue as the children were getting wet.  However persisting on this occasion taught me to be always ready to take advantage of quality light.  In photography above all else light is king!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Monochrome Retro Look!

I attended a walking tour of Garvagh, a small town in Co Londonderry, organised by the Friends pf Schomberg House. The town is steeped in local history and there were two excellent guides on hand to explain the points of significance.  There is also a small museum which is well worth a visit.

I took many photographs through out my visit but inside the museum I took the opportunity of using an old fashioned telephone box, remember the ‘press button A, press button B’ type?  If you don’t your too young!  This provided an excellent prop for a bit of portrait photography.  In this photograph the grand master of the Orange Order did the honours!

Friends of Schomberg outing to Garvagh

The image was taken in RAW format but I decided to render it in monochrome for a couple of reasons.  As the telephone box was the old fashioned type I thought that monochrome was appropriate and secondly the image is a little grainy, so I think it works for these reasons.  The photograph could have been taken in the 1960s!

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.

Monastic locational portraits

Portrait photography is not a discipline in which I would see myself having any particular skills, so the opportunity to try out a few photographic techniques is welcomed.  Two sites were visited, Inch Abbey and Grey Abbey, both Cistercian Abbeys built by John de Courcy around 1100 AD.

From a small number of exposures taken which were based on similar compositions I have selected four. In trying to make them more interesting I used height and selective focus.  I also wanted the background to be interesting, but not to dominate the scene, so a shallow depth of field was utilised.  In three of the four images the subject was located at the edge of the frame and looking in different directions suggesting a certain mystery.

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f4.0, 1/400th second

 

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f4.0, 1/500th second

 

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f2.8, 1/500th second

 

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f2.8, 1/640th second

In one sense I was trying to make the subject become part of the stone structure.  In only one image, the third, is the subject looking at me.  Asking the question do these images capture the essence of the person being photographed?  If you can answer yes then I think you have succeeded. 

All photographs were taken using a Fujifilm X Pro 1 camera fitted with a 35mm lens.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission.