February 2018

London Fashion week Feb 2018 - Jasper Conran London Fashion week Feb 2018 - Jasper Conran

London Fashion Week Feb 2018

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in Photography

The Autumn/Winter collections at London Fashion week 2018 were great fun to photograph.  A host of top designers host catwalk shows and there’s plenty to see from up and coming creatives and younger hopefuls. I particulary dug the contrasting tartan looks of Marta Jakobowski who impressed everybody with a sassy show at the British Fashion Council’s main showspace in The Strand.

Marta Jakobowski

Marta Jakobowski – TArtans

Again at the Main Showspace in The Strand, London-based  designer Bora Aksu presented a variety of looks in a minimalist space and struck a chord with many buyers. No props or backgrounds here – just great use of empty space to showcase design, as with this striped two piece.

For anyone interested i’m shooting with a Canon 5D MKiv –  servo autofocus – 1/500 shutter at f4.5 and 2000 iso.

London Fashion week Feb 2018 - Bora Aksu

London Fashion week Feb 2018 – Bora Aksu

All is calm front of house but backstage and behind the scenes models, stylists, organisers and photographers are running around performing their various tasks. Models are going back and forth from hair to makeup to to styling  – it looks chaotic but it’s structured professional chaos where everyone knows their jobs and is working away as part of a bigger collective team.

As well as being photographed on the catwalk girls are photographed in various stages of preparation and the shots are used for reference, ‘look books’ and publicity. Quite often hair, make up and various creatives need to document their work and a photograph is the only way to do it.

Backstage at London Fashion week Feb 2018

Backstage at London Fashion week Feb 2018 – Temperley

 

The picture above was taken backstage at one of the week’s more surprising venues,  the Seymour leisure Centre in Marylebone.  The sports court there has high vaulted roof space and really gives you a sense of grandeur and ‘place’. The floor is  covered with grey vinyl to eradicate the sports courts markings and matching benched seating is placed around the catwalk. It’s amazing how a creative fashionable space can be manufactured so quickly out of this building. windows in the roof space flood the hall with natural light which is then added to by banks of flood either side of the runway.

London Fashion week Feb 2018 - Alice Temperley

London Fashion week Feb 2018 – Temperley

Back at The Strand, Fyodor Golan were showing off some really striking and colourful creations using bold colours set off against black or plain coloured canvasses. Still on the 70-200mm lens here tracking the model all the way up towards the end of the runway.

London Fashion week Feb 2018 - Fyodor Golan

London Fashion week Feb 2018 – Fyodor Golan

One of the more interesting venues this year was at The National Portrait gallery – where Erdem took over for a morning to show off some delicate florals and heavy use of veils and sheer material to cover the face. Erdem always has a very classy feel that’s effortlessly slick and doesn’t try too hard

Erdem, London Fashion week 2018

Erdem, London Fashion week 2018

Finale for Erdem – and a host of delicate pretty creations swamp the Portrait gallery.

Erdem, London Fashion week 2018

Erdem, London Fashion week 2018

Finally i’m back to Marta Jakobowski – finishing at The Strand with folds, frills, and some attitude.

Marta Jakobowski

Marta Jakobowski – 2018

 

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites Multi-Flash

Multi Flash With Canon Speedlites

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in Dance, Photography, Photography Tutorials

Working with dancers is always fun and i’ve wanted to use the multi-flash feature of Canon Speedlites for some time. When a good pal of mine (and a fine choreographer)  was setting up a new website we both wanted to create some interesting images that referenced dance but also the concept of motion.

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Catching a dancer in a great move or mid-jump makes for a great shot but on this occasion we wanted to unfreeze the dancer as much as we could without resorting to film. The Multi feature on canon Speedlites offer the abilty to strobe away in the darkness and effectively created multiple stills for as long as the camera shutter is open.

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Both number of flashes and frequency can be dialled into the speedlite. The frequency is expressed in Hz – and the minimum level is 1Hz – so the minimum gap between flashes will be one second. You can dial in a lot of flashes but the flash unit and batteries will get very tired so its’ best to stick to around 5 or six flashes.

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Here we have five flashes taken at a rate of 8Hz – which means each of the five images above is 1/8 second apart.

The camera shutter is open for well over a second but the opening of the shutter triggers the start of the flashes.  It’s effectively a single exposure but the flashes take care of what registers on the sensor – so as long as your subject is moving the frame won’t get too messy!

By limiting flashes to a group of just five we were able to capture the start of a move in one frame and the finish of a move in another  – then by overlaying one shot on another we obtained the whole move – without overworking the flash units

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Canon limit the power of the flash when used in multimode to 1/128 of full power. This is so the flash unit doesn’t melt in your hand / implode or break. I’m joking because there’s a fail-safe cut out anyway to prevent this happening but it would be kicking in all the time if the flash power was not limited in this way. The idea is to keep shooting and not have to wait for your flash to recover.

Multi Flash with Canon Speedlites

Multi-Flash

Another way to get more in the frame is simply by using both our dancers at the same time. The picture above is a single frame with five flashes – but two dancers moving away from each other at centre of frame.

Because the shutter is also open for some time a light or torch can also be used to create streaks across frame.

Of course if you then turn a light on the dancers the open shutter creates a motion blur from one movement to the next:

Manually triggered flash

Manually triggered flash with ambient light present

Here we triggered the flash units manually in an attempt to capture the beginning middle and end of a move with motion blur between points. I’m not mad on these sort of pictures  – the motion blur is interesting but the look is cluttered and messy. With some experimentation we could probably do better but we chose instead to concentrate on the multi-flash mode pictures.

I wanted to keep the aperture down to about f9 to keep things sharp and allow the dancer freedom movement. With a flash power of 1/128 though this required a high ISO to compensate and noise was inevitable. This is exacerbated by having a shutter that’s open over a 5 second period of time….. the pictures had a fair degree of noise in them when looked at closely.

I eliminated noise with Niks Dfine2 which is free as a plug in to Photoshop and does the job rather well.

金閣寺 - The Golden Temple, Kyoto 金閣寺 - The Golden Temple, Kyoto

金閣寺 – Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Posted by on Feb 3, 2018 in Japan, Photography, Travel

Kyoto is brimming with temples of all shapes and sizes but one of the visual stand-outs is Kinkaku-ji, also known as The Golden Temple. The official name is Rokuon-ji  (‘ji’ Means temple) but hardly anyone calls it that. ‘Kinkaku-Ji’ translates directly as ‘Golden Temple’ and once you’ve visited it’s easy to see why the name sticks.

It’s a Buddhist Temple situated in fabulous gardens with sculpted paths and traditional gardens. You could easily be stepping back in time as you walk through the grounds and, as is usual for a temple, there’s a great feeling of serenity and peace about the place that gradually seeps into your bones as you stroll around.

There’s a lot of history to the main golden pavilion – it dates from before 1400 and survived intact until it 1950 when it was burnt to the ground by a monk. It was rebuilt (obviously) but the episode shocked Japan and was explored by Yukio Mishima in his novel ‘金閣寺’….. which is usually translated as ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion’. (See Note 1 below).

Back to The Temple…..

I got there very late in the day and just managed to squeeze in before the gates closed at 17:00.  I was pushed for time getting there so took a taxi as the temple itself isn’t very close to any of the metro stations. There are good bus connections – but i can recommend taking a taxi there to save energy and stress then simply taking a bus  or metro home  – especially on a hot humid day in summer when you really want to conserve energy in getting to where you want to be.

 

Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Temple

Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Temple

When you arrive and get through the paying gates you’re quickly presented with the Temple in all its glory. It sits to one side of a central lake known as Kyōko-chi (鏡湖池) – or ‘Mirror Lake’.

I figure i wasn’t there at the best time for photography since the view across the lake at this late hour now took in the setting sun and blew the sky out considerably. I guess if i had a tripod i could have used a reduced exposure on one frame to then brush in later. Tripods are not allowed here though…. and these pictures are single exposures with very little post production.

The Temple looks surreal enough as it is without some kind of hideous HDR treatment … and foliage never responds well to high dynamic ranges. In short  the pictures look surreal enough without any processing so here is The Temple and the Grounds in all its single exposure glory.

Kinkakuji - The Golden Temple

Kinkakuji – The Golden Temple

Admission is 400 Yen  (about £2.50 ) which is very reasonable when compared to similar attractions in Europe and especially The UK where the National Trust charges an arm and a leg to visit old country houses just so its directors can fly around in helicopters, take first class trains tickets and eat croissant all day.

Back to Japan….. Getting to the Temple from Kyoto Centre is not rocket science  – From the main Kyoto Rail Station there are plenty of well sign-posted buses that will bring you here. Kyoto is surrounded on all sides by large hills / mountains and Kinkaku-ji Temple grounds and gardens are placed right at the edge of the north west of the city where it borders the mountains.

Metro stations ‘Kitano Hakubai-Cho’, ‘Tojiin’, and  ‘Omuro Ninnaji’ are are all walkable and all on the same line – the Green ‘Keifuku Dentetsu-Kitano’ Line. You can get to one of these stations via metro and either walk or hail a taxi to the Temple. Every taxi driver knows the big sights of Kyoto and will take you to Kinkaku-ji with ease.

In High season though it can get pretty busy as with many of the main attractions the place is popular with every nationality as well as Japanese folk. In particular you can expect to be competing for a view with coach loads of Chinese tourists hell-bent on the perfect selfie with the Temple in the background. My advice is to let the coach party pass and then stroll  around at your own pace in the gap between large tourists parties. After all being part of a massive throng is not conducive to that feeling of Buddhist serenity and peace you are hoping to experience.

金閣寺 - Kinkaku-ji Golden Temple, Kyoto

金閣寺 – Kinkaku-ji

Walking by the side of the lake and up to the rear of the Temple Pavilion you get a closer view. As you can see here the sun is still strong and in the west  and blowing out the sky. It’s also lighting up the temple pretty spectacularly.

From here you walk through winding gravel paths that snake through the temple complex to reveal a variety of statues, steps, and smaller temples.

Buddhist Offerings

Buddhist Offerings

Coins litter the ground here in an offering to Buddha. There are many smaller such statues and a number of different viewpoints that take in the central lake. The paths and gardens are designed in such a way that new sights are offered up at intervals and the gardens reveal themselves to you gradually as you walk through them.

Steps lead the way

Steps lead the way

A Smaller Temple at Kinkaku-ji

A Smaller Temple at Kinkaku-ji

I was there at a late hour so the smaller temples were closed off – usually you can walk around the Temple pictured above and make an offering. In some ways it’s good to be there at closing time because it does calm down as people exit the complex… however it’s at the cost of some areas being shut. For my 400 Yen though the gardens and Main Temple were more than enough value.

White Snake Pagoda

White Snake Pagoda

Turn a corner and at the centre of the tranquility pond (Anmintaku), and framed by foliage, the stone White Snake Pagoda is revealed. It’s a shrine dedicated to ‘Hakuja’, (白蛇) the White Snake who controls the waters of the complex. At the base of the Pagoda there are four Buddhas – each carved into a face of the square – you can just about make them out here.

Gardens at Kinkakuji - The Golden Temple

Gardens at Kinkaku-ji (金閣) – The Golden Temple

gentle steps

Yet more gentle steps

Walking through the shaded woodland is a real treat, especially early morning or late afternoon when the heat of the day has subsided. Cicadas buzz incessantly here and the humidity makes your clothes stick to your body….this is something photographs can never capture. As a rule Japan is best to visit ‘between the extremes of high summer and deep winter, but whatever time of year you choose – it’s just a matter of adapting your timing to fit the weather. In summer, although the temperature really doesn’t drop too far in the night, it’s still cooler in the mornings, and you can get a lot of walking in before things really heat up.

Lantern Stone at Kinkaku-ji

Lantern Stone

The exit of the temple gardens is an obvious place for Taxi drivers to pick up fares… and you can find a taxi at the exit pretty easily. jump in a cab and make your way back to the centre of town. Kyoto is flanked on both sides (East & West) by rivers; Kamo Gawa (鴨川) to the East and  the broader, less channelled,  Katsura Gawa (桂川) to the West.

I find that that Kamo Gawa and its bridges makes for a great reference point and I often ask to be dropped at a bridge from where i can stroll back downtown along the path that follows the banks of the river. On a hot summers eve you can dip your toes in the cooling waters and folks often have barbecues and picnics here. I can’t think of a better (or cheaper) way to end a day in Kyoto than by dangling your feet in the water and watching the world go by.

鴨川

Kamo River, 鴨川 – Kyoto

If the idea of The Golden temple interests you, there’s a live Picture feed here.

 

 

Notes

1 – Mishima was an interesting guy….. a bit of a hangover from a feudal / warrior  way of thinking with some major hang-ups…. but then who’s perfect? He wrote a gazillion books and plays but I can easily recommend ‘The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea’ – it’s as fresh today as it was when first written and knocks the socks off some modern authors. If you think Ian McEwan invented a style – think again because Mishima was there 50 years before him. You may on the other hand find Mishimas masterpice tetralogy ‘Sea of Fertility’  to be heavy going…..

At least Mishima had the good grace to commit Seppuku after he thought he’d written everything he had to say….. instead of bothering us with crap novels and appearing on late night chat shows.