Tag Archives: Photography

Lighting setups

The other day I experimented with some lighting setups for studio photography. I got the impulse from a CD that comes along with the Elinchrom lighting equipment, in my case Elinchrom D-Lite 4.

The CD includes two explanatory videos, where a photographer shows in a very simple way various setups which are possible with the two Elinchrom lights as well as some reflectors. The delivery was very good as the guy suggested precise measurements for F-stops, time values, distances from light sources to subject (literally in centimetres) and settings for the light sources themselves, and then showed the results that come out of each specific setup.

It was fun applying this info in practice and as I went along, I noted some tips for myself while experimenting. In this case I didn’t have a model, so I photographed myself.
Continue reading Lighting setups

Visual Acoustics

Watched Visual Acoustics, a wonderful documentary about Julius Shulman (1910-2009), one of the greatest architectural photographers. Even approaching his 100th birthday, he remained amazingly witty and agile (and opinionated). His most famous photographs are of modernist buildings, which he helped the whole world to discover.

I was particularly interested in the way he systematically used the perspective to draw the viewer in. It was in contrast to other architecture photographers, who would often play on emphasising elements of buildings to create a sense of symmetry or to highlight a detail. Shulman, on the other hand, systematically went for these lines gathering from the edges towards some point in the middle square of the photograph. This gave his photos a strong sense of dimension.

Another fascinating aspect was the meticulousness with which he would construct each scene. He would move each object and item of furniture literally by a couple of inches to create the exact effect he desired.

Now I so want to visit Los Angeles, to see these fairytale buildings in its eternal summer.


Today I went to the monthly meeting of Viewfinders, the English-speaking photography club of Brussels.

I joined Viewfinders about a year ago. I find the Club’s meetings consistently inspiring and thought-provoking. Usually the meeting is built around a presentation by one or several photographers of their work and experiences. From time to time, the club also organises challenges and assignments, where members can submit their photos which would compete against each other. During the December meeting for example the theme of the challenge was Night Photography. It was quite refreshing to look at different people’s takes on this subject and to see the preferences of the judge and the public.

This time around the main presentation was by Natalie Hill. Natalie is an English photographer who lives and works in Brussels. I found the most interesting part of her presentation to be some images that she made while living and working in China: a sequence about a native Uyghur rocker from the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, with which I associate particular memories, as well as a striking image of a 22-year wealthy expat enjoying his bath in a flat in a high-rise overlooking Shanghai. Natalie originally studied film and she showed some of her motion work, I particularly liked a very touching ad she made for the Missing Children Europe campaign. The ad is done using Canon 5D Mark II – which again demonstrates the amazing possibilities of this camera.

Lecture by Pinkhassov

A couple of days ago I watched a truly engrossing lecture by Gueorgui Pinkhassov, which he gave in Leica Academie in Moscow, where a number of Magnum photographers spoke. Pinkhassov (I love how his name and surname are transliterated so exotically with Latin letters) is the only Russian-born full member of the Magnum agency. I was so excited by the lecture, I immediately forwarded it to my brother, who is also a photographer.

The lecture itself is in Russian. Below I share some snippets that I found most inspiring.

In a refreshing reversal of the usual order of presentation, he started by showing a lot of his photos quickly, and spoke only afterwards, when the eye was saturated and the viewer craved story. He spoke about his early work and how he was uninterested in reportage, and was rather drawn to the geometry that can be found inside the frame. He experimented at night in his flat with light and geometrical objects, he literally measured angles and lines with a ruler, looking for the right proportion, perhaps the golden ratio.

He further explained how a photo can play two roles:

  • information source, protocol, providing clarity OR
  • a certain sophistication, encoded message, complexity.

The latter, according to him, is art.

These ideas sit very well with me.

In this picture it is not clear in the beginning what exactly is being shown. And yet there is a plot as well as a visual intrigue.

It really touched me how he rejected the populism of bright colours and obvious contrasts, to which we are so used on the internet nowadays, in favour of minimalism, geometry, “fractality” as he called it (and I couldn’t help remembering Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who so likes to apply fractals to every possible situation).

Without compromise, in his photos Pinkhassov stresses the light as the main painting brush in photography, allowing all the rest disappear in shadows.

I later discovered that he virtually doesn’t use Photoshop. Until very recently he photographed using his Canon 5D Mk II directly in jpeg format, as he knew he wouldn’t post process the photos. The reason being, as I understood, not so much the principled resistance to post processing, as simply the lack of skills of working in Photoshop and perhaps the lack of need to do it.

His best work, according to him, is his Tokyo collection.