Newcastle photography

Raising Anchor!

Whilst walking along the beach the other weekend I bumped into this chap raising a land anchor. The land anchor is used to ensure that boats do not float away during the winter months, when strong surges in the estuary may move boats with a traditional anchor.He was very accommodating and allowed me to make a few images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newcastle Street Spice

After photography, food is probably my biggest passion.  It is a major part of my travels and I really appreciate local cuisines (leading to more than one stomach upset).  Last weekend Newcastle hosted the Street Spice festival.  It was a wonderful celebration of street food from around the globe.  There were plenty of tasty treats available and I definitely ate my share.I was there to photograph the event for my own personal enjoyment, as I am inspired by the art of cooking and food in general.  It was a great day.  To find out more about the event and the organisers visit the street spice website

 

Chinese New year celebrations, Newcastle

My main purpose attending the Chinese New year celebrations (apart from having a good time and eating) was to document the day.  There was plenty going on.  There was the Dragon dance celebration, quite the spectacle, and various other exciting things like markets, fun fair and a performance stage.It was a good day out and everyone seemed to be having a great time despite the cold weather.

Thanks for reading. Until next time.

Chinese New Year - Lion Dance

KUNG HEY FAT CHOI!Today I photographed the Chinese New year celebrations in Newcastle.  I didn't have a strict brief as to what I was photographing, just documenting the day. On occasions like this I always try to set myself mini tasks and projects that allow me to focus my efforts.

This is one such mini project.  I knew I wanted to do something around the Lion, which is one of the focal points of the celebration.  The Lion visits establishments and is presented with a lettuce, which is then torn apart and scattered.  This is brings good luck and fortune to the establishment.

 

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I will post more images from the New Year Celebrations.

Photography Exhibition at the Cluny, Newcastle

Just a heads up, I am exhibiting 6 prints from my "In the shadows" Project at the Cluny in the Ouseburn. My prints feature alongside fellow photographers Chris Moody and Dave Park.  We had our opening night on Friday, which was exciting.  The exhibition runs until the 17th February.

My project is an abstract look at forgotten, everyday items that help us in our working lives. Objects that that are often paid no attention, but are integral to work and life in general.  It is a slightly different direction for me, so I would be interested in any feed back on the exhibition. Till next time.

PR Photography in Newcastle: Red Tractor Thank You Tour

In November British Red Tractor Pork Farmers ran a country wide tour to say thank you for the publics continuing support of the british farming industry. On this tour they were handing out free Bacon and Sausage sandwiches to the general public. As their mascot they had found a large red tractor.On the Newcastle and Sunderland leg of their journey I was asked to provide photographs for the event which did involve manoeuvring the aforementioned tractor into places near landmarks for both cities.  My main brief was to photograph the tractor with major landmarks in the background, whilst providing general promotion stills of the day.

All in all it was a fun, if slightly wet and cold, day.  Plus there was plenty of bacon and sausage sandwiches around!

Thanks for reading! For more information and to show your support head over to the Red Tractor site at Lovepork.co.uk

PR for Shepherd Construction

A few weeks ago I was asked to shoot a construction site visit by students of the engineering degree at Northumbria University.So early on a chilly October morning I arrived at the Narec site in Blyth owned by Shepherd Construction. My brief was to follow the students around as they went on the site tour and capture images that were to be used in internal literature.

 

Whilst I was there I was also asked to take a few images of their latest construction project.

On these types of jobs you never fail to learn something and I came away knowing a tiny bit more about construction and the testing of wind turbines.

Bye for now.

Maz on location.

I couple of months ago I was lucky enough to shoot with the beautiful Maz.  She had a couple of outfits that we were looking to shoot and being summer we thought that a location shoot would be great. Well as usual it rained, a lot.We proceeded with the make up with the hope that the rain would clear away, at least enough to shoot something.  We got a lucky break in the weather so rushed down to Heaton Park to shoot at the victorian pavilion.  Maz had brought with her a Vivian Westwood dress which really complimented the location.

We headed back to base as the weather turned again, so we changed the make up, outfit and location.  Another break in the rain saw us out in the back streets of Heaton.

One last change of costume and Make up and we were out again.  The other item that Maz had brought was this very colourful designer jacket.  Viki, our make up artist did a wonderful job creating a different look.

My favourite image of the day came from the first section of the shoot.  I really love fashion images that are set in cafes and luckily for us there is an Italian restaurant (Sambucas).  We asked permission to use their outside tables.  I wanted to create the feeling of the afternoon/evening sun so I put a full cut of CTO (colour temp orange) onto a single speedlite off to camera right.  I blended it with the ambient to give the appearance that the sun was setting over her shoulder.

 

Thanks for reading, as always please contact me with any questions.

Announcing the Photo Hub, Newcastle

A few months back, friend Chris Moody and I, decided to try and put together something that would serve the North East photographic community in various ways.

We were initially lured to the idea of a retail operation combined with a cafe and studio.  So we started running some ideas and more importantly, numbers, and came to the conclusion that this was not feasible or applicable in the current retail market and economic climate.  We threw hundreds of ideas around, but the main idea that stuck was that we wanted it to be a community based project, reacting and adapting to the needs of the local photographic community.

After many discussions and a lot of planning, the Photo Hub was born.  The idea of the Photo Hub was to be constantly moving and incorporating fresh ideas and trends at the drop of a hat.  The Hub was based on online social networking communities.  There are hundreds of photographers who communicate and chat on the various networking sites and the role of the Photo Hub is to bring them together physically.

The aim is to offer support, help, tuition and networking, in a friendly, professional and encouraging environment.  We aim to accommodate photographers who's experience level ranges from beginners all the way through to Professionals and bring them together to chat, have a drink and discuss the various aspects of photography.  Most of all we want the Photo Hub community to dictate and participate in the Hub's future direction.

It all kicked off last Sunday (4th Nov) with our very first event day.  Held at the Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, we held an afternoon of talks and activities.  We were also joined by various suppliers who exhibited their goods and demonstrated the latest in photographic gear.  Big thanks to the guys from Lencarta, Direct Digital Imaging (bringing their Phase One cameras with them)  and Intro 2020 for joining us.  Also thanks to Chris Ireland at completecaptureone.com for supplying our raffle prizes.

Thanks to our guest speakers for some very informative workshops and seminars and for a showcase of some truly inspiring images. Shout out to Phil PuntonJohn PictonMontana Lowery and Mark Pinder.It was an excellent afternoon and the feedback we got from the audience was great.

As part of the Photo Hub we will be holding monthly meets (first one TBC) and every six months we will be holding bigger event like the one at the Star and Shadow.

It's all very exciting for everyone involved. If you would like more information on the Photo Hub, then please visit our facebook page.

Lastly, and most importantly, a big thank you to everyone that came and made the afternoon really enjoyable and worth while event.

 

Nick photoshoot

A few weeks ago I shot with Nick. Nick is a North East model and graphic designer.  I have been aware of Nicks modelling work for some time. The guy is all over the social networks and is a talented designer.   His day job is as Digital Director of Boxmodel digital media, and I have to say they do produce some high quality work.  If you are in the market for a new website or branding then check these guys out.Any way it was his modelling career that caused me to finally meet him one overcast saturday morning.  I managed to drag my assistant with me (my girlfriend, Sian) to meet at 9am.  We started on Newcastle's millennium bridge.

I had Sian holding an Sb900 speedlight with a lastolite ezybox attached.

Nick had riden into town on his old motor bike so we decided to use it as a prop.

Nick had mentioned a street behind the Sage that had been completely covered in graffiti, so we headed up there to utilise some of the colours.

For this last shot I used two flashes and experimented with using coloured gels on the second flash.  I placed it off to the right of the frame to fill in the shadows left by the key light.  I placed a blue gel on it add a certain grungy look to the scene.

 

Thanks for reading, for more information about my photography please visit my homepage.

First Impressions - Panasonic GX1

Well the other day I bought myself a Panasonic GX1.  This is the first time I have owned a Micro four thirds camera.  First of all, why? you probably asking this, why bother?  Well I do a lot of street photography and travel photography.  Sometimes using a big professional camera can be a bit annoying as people look at you suspiciously or notice you before you take the picture.  As much as I try to blend in its hard, with a camera the size of a Nikon D3.  This was my main reason for buying the GX1 (also lugging around a massive camera can be very tiring).I have been interested in the Micro Four thirds system for some time, with the GF1 originally making me think.  I looked into it and I didn't really think the technology was at a point for me to consider it seriously (I must add, I have since seen some really good work taken on a GF1).

The recent advancement in the technology has made me reconsider and after reading up on all the specs and after a lot of thought I decided to take the plunge.  On paper the results should be similar, if not slightly better than the D90 I was using as a back up body.

The main stats for the GX1 is a 16mp sensor, ISO up to 12,800, Full HD video and obviously much more. I'm not all that interested in specs as I like to see real world results, but if you are interested here is the spec list.

Straight out of the box it felt tiny, but reassuringly made. It has a metal chassis, which makes it feel like it will take a bit of abuse.  The hand grip feels really nice and gives it a high end feel.  I bought it with the power zoom, which I am not too sure about yet, but it does make it quite a good size for the equivalent of a 28-84mm zoom.  The main downside is the f5.6 aperture, which will limits use in low light.

Out on the street the camera handled really well, with really fast focusing.  The feature that has really revolutionised my shooting with the D3 is the auto ISO function.  Basically I can set a maximum ISO and set a shutter speed, so when I am in Aperture priority, if i set the shutter speed at 1/60th the camera will adjust the ISO to maintain that shutter speed until it reaches the pre determined max ISO. Sounds complicated but it is simple and a really good feature.  The GX1 has a similar feature , you can set a maximum ISO, say ISO1000, and the camera will change it up and down to reach an exposure, however there is no way setting a minimum shutter speed, not that I have found anyway.  I am therefore not entirely sure what the auto ISO is doing.  In my first outing I found myself shooting one minute at 1/13th at ISO 160 and then shooting at 1/500th at ISO 1000.  Need more reading up on that one.

Looking at the early results, though, i am quite impressed. Even at ISO 1600, noise isn't an issue, especially once it is processed in Lightroom 4.  The power zoom has some odd characteristics and really benefit from a run through DxO optics, before processing.

As a tool for street and photojournalism work the GX1 seems perfectly capable, yes you wouldn't shoot high end advertising campaigns on it, but then thats not the point.  Its small, lightweight, fast focusing and produces good quality files up to ISO 1600.  I will be using it a lot more over the next few weeks so I will report back on any findings.

Here are a few sample images.

If you would like to get in touch or ask questions about the GX1 or anything else please email blog@darrenobrien.co.uk or leave a comment.

Project - No Ball Games

Wandering around a few months ago I was struck by the utter chaos and dirtiness of backstreets in my local area. I found it quite funny how the council and residents/shop owners, spend so much time and money making the fronts of their buildings look so inviting and yet the backstreets and side alleys are left to fend for themselves. This struck me as odd, because in many cases, at least where I live, these streets are quite well used by people, or in some cases the streets are open to the impeccable fronts of other streets.Despite the lack of care and attention paid to such streets and alleys, there two things you are not allowed to in almost all of them, they are "No Parking" and Definitely "No Ball Games!"

This has formed the basis of my project to document the backstreets and alley ways of Newcastle.

 

 

This is on going, long term project.  I will be posting a couple of images at a time to keep you up to date with my project.

 

Wedding supplier collective

Wow, June was a busy month.  A few months back I was asked to be part of a collective of wedding suppliers from the North East.  We organised a shoot to show off everyones products and services. All of which will be listed under the images.I was determined to shoot the images in the style of my normal wedding coverage, so basically only using natural light and one speedlight as required.  The speedlight was used in a mid sized lastolite ezybox.

 

This last image was shot as a Fashion image using two speed lights. One speed light to camera left in the soft box and one lighting the the white tree.

 

The suppliers involved in the shoot were:

Photography: Ti Amo wedding photography (Me)

Venue: Eslington Villa

Dresses: Mia Sposa Bridal and Menswear

Hair: Bespoke Hair by Paula

Make Up: Carley Michelle Hair and Makeup

Jewellery, Headwear and Flowers: Energise Weddings

Venue Decorations: Daisychain Events

Other designers there on the day:

Lifes a Celebration

Lingerie by Annette

Papaver Designs

 

For more information on my wedding photography or to book a consultation please email weddings@tiamophotography.co.uk

Black Swan Fashion

Unfortunately i had to surrender my studio at the end of May, but before I said goodbye I managed to fit in one last shoot.  I was approached by Rachel to shoot her final degree project.  The clothing range, inspired by the current economic situation, was a collection of reversible outfits. One side was white the other black, the idea being that one outfit could be worn during the day and then the other on a night out (although hopefully with a wash in between).The idea was to produce a collection of images based on the Black Swan.  The ballet theme was the obvious choice, with an image showing the white and black side for each outfit.  The series of images had narrative showing the journey from the naive and gentle white side to the more aggressive and stronger dark side.

This selection is taken out of context, they do not keep to the narrative (I did not have enough space).

 

Thanks for reading. Now that things have settled down I promise to update my blog more frequently.

Ciao!

Challenge yourself and improve your portfolio.

It is easy as a photographer to get stuck into a particular shooting subject, whether it be Landscapes, Macro, Wildlife, etc. Sometimes it is good to mix things up a bit and shoot something that does not fit your usual remit.  In my case I have found myself shooting a lot of fashion, obviously working with a lot of models, which I enjoy very much.  However I enjoy all kinds of people photography and really felt that I could do with a bit more variety within my recent work and also give me a bit of a challenge.After having a good think I concluded that my portfolio needed some regular "Joe Public" types, so I decided to head out and do some street portraiture.  Normally this would be done with a 70-200 to capture unguarded moments etc, but this time I went out with my 50mm and grabbed strangers as they walked past.

This really is a fantastic way to meet people and get some images with a bit of variety.  In a couple of hours I have 8 new faces to add to my collection, and I was really taking it easy.  One of my main issues with standard street stuff is that sometimes the background can be busy and distracting, so on this occasion I took the background out of the equation my finding a wall that I liked and setting myself up there.  I then looked for interesting characters as they walked past and approached them.  The thing is with this sort of thing is to keep it real, don't lie to people and tell them your shooting for a piece in National Geographic. I explained that this was a personal project and that sat well with most people.  I also carried small business cards that I ordered from Moo (mini moos) which were handed to everyone. I also took everyones name and email and promised to send them copies of the images.

For this type of shoot it is best to find a shaded area otherwise you end up with too much contrast,  we were shooting on an overcast day here, but we still had to use a diffuser to block out some sun that poked through the clouds.

It can be a real challenge especially if you lack the confidence to just approach people, but after a few yeses you quickly get into the swing, its well worth it.

Thanks for reading.

 

Heddon On-The-Wall Jubilee fun day

If you hadn't noticed there was some big celebration thing going on over the past few days, I know it was easy to miss. I had kept out of the way of most of the celebrations going on for the Queens Jubilee, not because I'm unpatriotic or dislike the queen (I think she has a magnificent collection of hats!). I was just very busy, utilising the long weekend to catch up on paper work and visiting the Newcastle Green Festival (in which they could have incorporated more for the Jubilee, i'm sure the Queen does her bit for the environment).Any way, being English I felt a bit bad for not taking in one part of the Jubilee (apart from the 20 seconds of concert on the telly), plus I was asked to make some submissions to Country Life Magazine for a big spread they are producing for the Jubilee.

After a quick scan of the "Whats on" guides, I decided to visit Heddon On-The-Wall where they were having a Jubilee Fun day.  It was a small affair and was pretty much a normal village fete with extra bunting and flags, but everyone was having fun.

We were lucky for about an hour as the rain held off.

This also gave me an opportunity to test out the Pocket Wizard Flex system in a work situation and I have to say I was really pleased with the performance, I was able to palm my flash onto a stranger to hold quickly whilst I took the pictures and controlled the flash output from my camera.

Thanks for reading, any questions please contact me at blog@darrenobrien.co.uk or leave a comment.  More of my work can be seen on my WEBSITE

New Model, Leika

I was introduced to Leika through a make up artist that I have worked with once or twice. New models offer a challenge that is different to that of an established, more experienced, model. In some ways it is more exciting as you have to work harder than normal to produce the great shots.  Working with a new model means that you, the photographer, has to be that little more creative.  It can be easy to rely on a model to produce the goods without much prompting (even though I nearly always fine tune the final poses to fit my ideas).Leika was a pleasure to work with and soon got into the stride of things, and even took a good dollop of cold weather for the team. She should have a bright modelling future.

To get in the mood we started with some very simple portraits.  I often start the shoot this way, first of all it allows me to talk to the model and familiarise myself with their working style. Most of all it is a good way of breaking the ice, using a lighting set that i know will produce good results straight away.  The last thing I want to do is start the shoot producing images that look terrible (not that I ever do that!)

 

 

 

 

Leika was building a portfolio for a local modelling agency and needed a variety of shots, so we changed up the lighting and went for a few longer shots.  These were taken using speed lights (SB900) and I used the Pocket Wizard flex system to trigger them via ttl. I will write a bit more about this system in a future post, but so far I have been quite impressed.

The first speedlight was fired into a silver reflective umbrella to camera right and a second SB900 was fired into a silver reflector on the floor to provide a nice glowing fill.

We then changed it up and did some shots that showed of Leika's figure a bit more.

We had a bit of spare time at the end of the shoot so decided to brave the weather and head into the cold to see what we could find.  I had spotted this location outside the studio earlier in the day and though that it might make a good image and something else for Leika to add to her portfolio.

Again I used the pocket wizards and an SB900 to light the model whilst underexposing the background.

Thanks for reading, any questions please contact me at info@darrenobrien.co.uk

For more of my work visit my website.

 

 

 

Use available Light!

Over the years I have spoken to many people about the art of portrait taking and specifically the use of flash.  A few people have shown me images with the accompanying statement of "if I had better lights" or "if I had this bit of equipment", "then the shot would have been better".  Well in a lot of cases this is not true.Some people miss the point of portrait taking, they are too interested in lighting, where to put the key light, how many lights should I use etc. Any connection with the subject is lost in amongst the technical babble.  A photograph of an uncomfortable, bored subject is just that, no matter how many lights people throw at them.

This is where the problem lies,  Many people have never taken a thoughtful portrait using just available light, before jumping in with the flash guns.  Whilst doing my travel and documentary work I have honed my skills at taking portraits with just the light available at the time, as it is sometimes too intrusive to bang away with the flash.  This has helped me to understand the value of a portrait, and how different lighting works and how to adapt to different lighting conditions.  I know how my light should look and this is then transferrable into the studio or with using flash.  I can now say to myself, "if the sun was in this position my portrait would look better, but I want to keep the background as it is, so I will introduce my flash here."

As most of you will know I have my own studio (for now), but this has not stopped me from utilising the lovely natural light that is available in the studio and in the corridors.

In a recent shoot with Jade I ventured out into the corridors of the studio building.  I found a nice bank of frosted glass windows that were filling the place with a lovely light.  I used this as key light for most of the shots, but I also took a couple that were filled in using the white wall.  I was shooting with a 70-200mm so i was shooting wide open at f2.8 and occasionally f 5.6,  at iso 400.  For natural light portraits I love shooting wide open as much as possible.

 

 

 

These were taken on my latest shoot with Sithembile, I have already shown the shots taken with the studio lights in my previous post , but these were taken with just the light from the sky lights.  again all taken at f2.8 on my 85mm, at iso 800.  It was an overcast day the windows are frosted so it was really soft light.

 

 

If you are inexperienced with taking portraits, try mastering them using available light and perhaps a reflector. Using flash adds a complication to the equation which just adds to the negative of the experience. Just strip it back to you, your subject and the available light and you will begin to see an improvement in your portraits.  Work with the light, move your subject to get the most out of it, the results can be just as spectacular as using flash.  Check out the work of Steve McCurry, when it comes to using natural light for portraits there are not many better.

Thanks for reading, any question please email me at blog@darrenobrien.co.uk or leave a comment below.

 

For more of my work visit my websiste