Monday, 19 December 2011

You must have a fabulous studio....

From time to time (ok most of the time)  the first thing I am asked  about my images is "what kind of studio do you have?" or "you must have great lights" or "I wish I had your equipment", you get the idea. So I've decided to show you exactly what I use.

  White Tulip 2011

This is an image from my latest series, and if you've been following the blog so far (what do you mean you haven't, man you've missed so much, go check it out now... go on...) you will have seen several others from this new series, including the write up on the coloured dahlia I did.

So what equipment do I use, well starting with the most important and working through to the least it goes something like this.

The light that God, Allah or who ever gives us on a daily basis, some days being better than others.

A flower/object that inspires me.

A black cloth, actually a black shiny piece of fabric, go figure. I still don't know how or why it comes up so black in my images and to be honest with you I don't either need to know or care, it just does, thank you very much.

Black and/or white pieces of stiff card to use as reflectors.

A sturdy tripod.

A computer, we've just recently moved from PC to iMac, that was hell but I keep telling myself it is worth it in the long run, running Photoshop and Lightroom.

An Epson 7800 printer and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 306 for making lovely prints.

And last and least, a camera. When I shot exclusively on 5x4 inch Polaroid Type 55 I used a Horseman LX with a single lens (it's so unimportant to me that I've forgotten what lens). Now I shoot digitally using a Sony A350 with a single lens (50mm Macro, thanks for asking). Why a Sony and not a Canon/Nikon whatever, well because I have Minolta 35mm film cameras and associated lens and couldn't afford to change systems. Personally I find that having too many choices of equipment just gets in the way of taking the picture, hence the one camera/one lens/one film (those days sadly behind me now)/one paper mantra.

Don't believe me, well have a look at this.

That is my setup for shooting the above white tulip. In the background is one of my prints shot on the  Polaroid 20x24 camera  and some other tulips waiting their turn.

Oh crap, I forgot to mention my trusty dining room table and my daughters toy storage boxes.

Hope this helps, feel free to post comments, questions etc.

Enjoy and be well


Friday, 18 November 2011

Christmas present

As Christmas is fast approaching I thought it would be nice to offer a discount on my book "Involuntary Sculptures", so for a limited time it is £30 (plus p&p) instead of £50 (plus p&p)

If you are interested please Email me

I also have a limited selection of 10x8 silver gelatin images from the book printed on Kodak Ektalure Paper which I am offering for £30 each (+p&p), please send me a copy of the image off my website and I will tell you if it is still available. If you would like the book and a print together they are £50 (+ p&p)



Living with your subject

Obviously for the likes of Bailey or Penn this would be a post about the other half but for me it's about how the flowers I photograph live and die in the time it takes me to get a good image. Mostly I am delighted when I achieve a good picture from a bunch of flowers but just once in a while I manage to capture several, here is an example.

This is a Ranunculus in full bloom, which I really like, happy days. So I worked it up in Photoshop, gave it a bit of a crop, squared off the image which is my preferred framing these days, took the background to black, tweaked the contrast and that's pretty much it. 2 days later it's now past it's prime, aren't we all, and I'm thinking better throw them out before I'm instructed to and what do I see but this.....

All of the petals are starting to drag down and the outer (bottom most) petals are showing signs of decay, out comes the camera and we're off again trying to catch that illusive image. This particular one is shot sitting directly on the black cloth which tends to suck a lot of the light out of the bottom of the image conversely making the rest of the image appear to glow. To me the resulting image brings to mind a type of organic pagoda. Back into photoshop I go, blah blah blah, oh and just to clarify, I haven't added that warm glow from the inside that was there. So I've now wangled another reprieve for the flowers and they will be with me for another day or two. Then this presents itself....

At this point the petals have fully opened and are now seemingly curling back in on themselves, the head is barely hanging onto the top of it's stem, hence the downward hanging pose. Once again it is shot on the black cloth sucking the light out of the bottom of the image and making the upper areas glow. Now it really is time to allow them to join the compost heap but not before some of the petals fell off and I tried photographing those. Let's just say those images have, metaphorically, also joined the compost heap.

If you enjoyed this or have any questions please do not hesitate to add a comment or contact me directly

Be well


Friday, 28 October 2011

The fabulous Les Edwards

Having just updated this blog with a portrait of myself, see my profile, taken many years ago by my sister Anne I thought I'd use this opportunity to  include this painting by the incomparable Les Edwards/Edward Miller (check out his fab websites and all will become clear).

Image copyright Les Edwards

Long before there were flowers and fruit, shells and skulls there were portraits. Back in the mid 80's when I first arrived in London I was fortunate enough to be welcomed by the guys and gals of  the British Fantasy Society and became for several years a sort of in-house photographer for them, shooting portraits  of the likes of Clive Barker, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Kim Newman, Nicholas Royle, Stephen Jones, Mark Morris, Conrad Williams, Michael Marshall (Smith) and of course Les. I became friends with many, more than just passing acquaintances with many more but it is Les and his lovely wife Val, hostess extrodinaire, that I became closest to. Les was very kind to do the above portrait  in return for what I  consider a lesser (photographic) portrait of him by myself. It's actually a little freaky sitting here typing this as the original canvas is hanging on the wall to my left, reflected in a huge mirror and in front of me here on the screen, and yes the eyes do follow you.

If any of the above names are new to you I can only suggest you check them out at your earliest convenience, tell 'em I sent you.

Be well and enjoy

Friday, 23 September 2011

Creating an image

For those of you that know me you know I won't do any more than I have to to get an image, so here is probably one of the longest jobs I've done working up an image in photoshop.

The finished image first.

Now how it looked straight from the camera, quite a huge difference, don't you think.

So I cropped it, lifted it from it's background and got rid of the stem, giving me this

Then I dropped in a black back ground.

Then I applied a massive curve change which caused the colours to shift dramatically but not to seem fake, obviously that cat is out of the bag now.

But unfortunately I felt this was too dark so I applied a small adjustment in levels giving us the finished image (again)

I hope this has been of interest, if so do let me know and I might show you another some time

Until then, be well and enjoy


Thursday, 22 September 2011

On fire

For those of you aware of John Blakemores obsession with tulips I thought it about time to confess to my obsession with them also, to that end here is the latest one I have done, enjoy

Friday, 16 September 2011

Coming full circle

The first question I am usually asked by aspiring photographers is "What sort of studio/lights/equipment do I use?". I've thinking about it a lot recently having just started teaching 2 adult education classes in photography. In the good/bad old days of film I used one camera (Horseman LX), one lens (Schneider 135), one film (Polaroid Type 55) and one paper (Kodak Ektalure).

Mushroom (Doh!)

Now I find that I use one camera (Sony Alpha 350), one lens (Sony 50mm Macro), one film (digital) and one paper (Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308). So no matter how much things change they also stay the same (relatively speaking of course).

Golden Tulip

Oh yeah, the one thing I forgot from that list is my fabulous lighting setup, natural diffuse daylight from my kitchen window.

Be well and enjoy

Friday, 9 September 2011

John Blakemore

Most of the time this blog is about my work but once in a while I will include something that means a lot to me and boy does John Blakemore mean a lot to me.

I first came across John's work in a pair of books, The Still Gaze and Inscape. To say the work blew me away is an understatement. It opened my eyes to a complete new way of seeing what a BLACK & WHITE image could be. The reason for the CAPS, well when I looked at John's work I was struck by the idea that the image didn't necessarily need either Black or White. I am fortunate to have been on 2 courses down at Duckspool with John where I learned so much..... oh enough from me check his new book out at Amazon or at the publishers website Dewi Lewis


Thursday, 18 August 2011

What's in a name

After deciding what your work is worth, i.e. putting a price on it, the second most difficult thing for me is the title of an image. Do you go for the unhelpful "untitled" to the really unhelpful descriptive title "shell", "flower" etc. Well for me unless an image presents itself with a title I tend to stick to unhelpful.

So here are a couple of images whose titles presented themselves fully formed, some will say "how obvious" but I think they work very well.

 Dangerous Nipple

Poppy Love

 Dancing Tulips

So there we have it, when a gallery say we've sold another "Dancing Tulip" and need another I know exactly what they are talking about, when they say we've sold "Rose #5" or their even more helpful "Rose" I have to do some digging to fill the order. Ho hum a problem of my own making I hear you say.........

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Poppy #1

Having just returned from a lovely weekend at my mothers house in Ireland, with all of our family, I was struck by how rarely I see my old work as I am so wrapped up in what I am currently working on, I have decided that every once in a while I will feature a golden oldie or two.

I suppose you would call this my first "best seller",  it was featured in the review section of the Times for my first exhibition in Shepherd's Market in London. They didn't actually review my show but they did review  Rankin's latest show. Fortunately for me they ran my image instead of anything from his show, the result of which was that I had seven people turn up over the weekend clutching a copy of the newspaper  wanting to buy the print. At the time it was £200 for a 20x16 inch silver gelatin print, now it retails via the galleries that represent my work for £2000 as there are only 3 left in the original edition of 25 silver gelatin prints. I've heard Rankin recovered from this set back and is doing ok, so I don't feel too bad.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Welcome to my blog

As this is all new to me I thought I'd share some of my latest images of plants which we grew in our own garden (like bloggin, gardening is new to me too)

I would love to hear your thoughts on my work and for all those that follow me here I will be giving away books and things from time to time just to say thanks.

Be well and enjoy, Seamus