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Oxford: Giffords Circus, 2017 – part 2

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

When Giffords Circus were here in Oxford last month I tried to do as much backstage photography as I could manage in my limited spare time. Here are some backstage portraits during a performance when we had scorching hot weather. These were difficult to do because obviously I didn’t want to delay anyone so I had to be quick, one shot each, no bracketing exposure, no second chances, one and done. Many thanks to the Giffords performers for being so generous with their time.

[Tech info:] Pentax 67, 105/2.5 lens, Fuji 400H (expired), developed in a Fuji Xpress C41 kit.

Oxford: Town vs Gown Boxing 2015 – part 2

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

It was nice to see some familiar faces at this years’ Town vs Gown Boxing competition at the Oxford Union, especially some of the team from last year who had come to cheer on Oxford. Last year was my first time photographing this event and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived there. This year was very different because this time I had access all areas and I also had last years’ pictures to live up to (which can be seen here and here).

After much deliberation on which cameras and film to take with me I eventually decided that I wanted to make some portraits on medium format but the difficult part was choosing which medium format camera to take. In the end I went for my Mamiya 645 Pro TL because it’s the one that I own with the fastest lens and not only did I want a shallow depth of field but I also knew that the light levels inside the Oxford Union are fairly low. The 80/1.9 lens that I took with me is quite unforgiving when it comes to focussing it at anywhere near to wide open and the focussing screen that came in my camera (I’m not sure if it’s the standard stock screen) is very bright and clear which actually makes it more difficult to tell whether something is in focus or not so the sharpness in some of the shots below is lacking. The Mamiya 645 Pro TL is a nice camera to use but the thing I hate most about it is the shutter release travel feels like it goes on forever which can cause movement of the camera (in my experience) just before the shutter fires. I have a motor-drive for mine which came with the camera but I haven’t used it yet because once you’ve loaded the grip with AA batteries it adds quite a bit of weight to it as well as increasing the overall size.

[Tech info:] Mamiya 645 Pro TL, 80/1.9, Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ISO 1600, processed in Kodak HC110 (1+31) for 16mins.

 

Oxford: Cast & crew of Spilt

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Spilt is a short film written and directed by Alvin Yu and I was asked if I’d like to do some portrait photography while they were filming in Oxford a couple of weeks ago. Due to timing conflicts I was only able to make it to set on their final day of filming after it had gotten dark outside so I made these portraits indoors with the available light (a bulb hanging from the ceiling in the hallway). The crew were setting up for a shot so I had to work quickly, one frame on each person, no re-takes and no second shot. What you see here is the entire roll of film, uncropped. Apologies to any crew members that I didn’t manage to include, hopefully I’ll get you on another project.

[Tech info:] Rolleiflex 2.8F, Zeiss Planar 80mm, Kodak Tri-X 400 rated at ISO 1600, processed in Kodak Xtol 1+1.

Drama: backstage at The Furies – part 2

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

One of the things I enjoy about photographing drama productions is being able to test out films that I wouldn’t usually be able to test out during my lunch hour because they need low light conditions. These shots are from a roll of expired Ilford Delta 400 which I rated at ISO 800 and pushed one stop in the processing. It looks a lot different to the Kodak Double-X that I shot in the same conditions but rated at half the speed. Once again my Yashica Electro 35 proved to be the right camera for the job and I’m becoming a bigger fan of it the more I use it.

[Tech info:] Yashica Electro 35, expired Ilford Delta 400 (ISO 800), pushed one stop in Kodak D76 1+1.

Drama: backstage at The Furies – part 1

Monday, October 20th, 2014

This is the first set of pictures from my time backstage at The Oxford Playhouse while the cast of The Furies were getting ready. There isn’t a lot of space in the dressing rooms so I did my best to keep out of the way while still making pictures – notice my reflection in two of the shots. Before arriving I didn’t know what the light levels were going to be like inside but I wanted to test out some Eastman Kodak Double-X motion picture film (the same type that was used by Spielberg for Schindler’s List) so I took a gamble and rated this roll at ISO 400 which is a 1 stop push from box speed. Overall I’m very pleased with the results considering how much contrast there is in these shots – bright lights and black clothing is a torture test for any film. A quick shout out to Charles Graham, the director, for allowing me access and a big thank you to the cast for being so accommodating which always helps to make my job a little easier.

[Tech info:] Yashica Electro 35, Eastman Kodak Double-X film rated at ISO 400, processed in Kodak HC110 1+31 for 6:30.

Drama: Twelfth Night cast portraits

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Portraits of some of the cast from the Oxford University Dramatic Society production of Twelfth Night which played in the Old Schools Quadrangle, Bodleian Library. These were made five minutes before the audience were allowed in and I’m very grateful to the cast for giving up some of their warm up time. These costumes came from the Royal Shakespeare Company and were amazing when you were up close.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 75/2.8, Fuji Pro 400H film, developed and scanned by Ag Photo lab.

Oxford: Giffords Circus, 2014 – part 2

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Colour portraits of some of the Giffords Circus performers when they were in Oxford last month. They’re such a talented group and very patient with me photographing them back stage during the performances. The light was very different this year to last, it was also quite a bit hotter on most of the days. The sun was beating down for most of the day so I’d take slow film with me but then by early evening heavy clouds would roll in and the light level would drop quite a bit which made things tricky but that’s all part of the fun with film. I find that being challenged keeps things interesting and you pay a lot more attention to the light than you would if you were just changing the ISO in a menu on the back of the camera.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 75/2.8, Fuji Reala (expired), processed and scanned by Ag Photo lab.

Oxford: Waterbird behind-the-scenes – part 1

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Waterbird is a short film directed by Alex Darby which was being filmed in Oxford last week. Alex invited me along to shoot some behind-the-scenes stills during a night shoot in the Westgate car park. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for very much of it but I did manage to shoot a roll of film of some of the cast and crew. More to follow.

[Tech info:] Rolleiflex SL66, 80/2.8 Zeiss Planar, Kodak Tri-X @ ISO800, processed in Kodak HC110 for 9 mins.

Oxford: Mikado rehearsal

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Here are some shots from a rehearsal for The Mikado that I attended a few months ago at New College thanks to the show’s director, Tim Coleman. I had hoped to photograph at the dress rehearsal as well but unfortunately the timings didn’t quite work out. I used this occasion to test out some film that I’ve been struggling with to find a look that I like. The film is Ilford Delta 3200 which is designed for low light photography but finding a developer that produces results that I am very happy with has proven tricky (not least because the film expired 7 years ago and has lost some of its sensitivity) but I think I’ve finally cracked it with a developer named Rodinal. Ironically Rodinal is renowned for increasing grain which is usually the last thing you want with fast film but I like these results and will continue to test with this combination.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 75/2.8, loaded with Ilford Delta 3200 rated at ISO 800, processed in Rodinal 1+25 for 7 mins.

 

Oxford vs Cambridge 107th Varsity Boxing part 1

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

This was a great night at a packed Oxford Town Hall. I struggled with the lack of space back stage to make many pictures, instead I wanted to record the ambience of the venue. In the end Oxford won which was a fantastic end to the night. I have some other shots on a roll in a different camera that I haven’t finished yet but I’ll post those when I have them.

[Tech info:] Rolleiflex 2.8f, 80/2.8 Zeiss Planar, loaded with expired Ilford Delta 3200, processed in Rodinal 1+25.

Oxford: The Benefactor Charity Fashion Show – part 3

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Here are some more images from backstage at The Benefactor Charity Show I was at last week. With these I decided to use one of my favourite films for low light photography – Ilford HP5. All shot in available light. You can see some of the hive of activity that was going on in the main room by the hair and make-up teams. A bit of a surprise was when some of the OUABC boxers turned up to model some boxer shorts. Boxers in boxers, very clever!

[Tech info:] Nikon FM2, 50/1.4D, loaded with Ilford HP5 @ ISO1600, processed in Kodak HC110 1+31.

Oxford: The Benefactor Charity Fashion Show – part 2

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

More backstage shots from The Benefactor Charity Fashion Show that I attended earlier this week. These are all on different film to the first post and you can see a clear difference in terms of both contrast and grain. I’ve found that Kodak Tri-X pushes to ISO 1600 very nicely if you have enough light. The hard thing about trying to photograph backstage at a fashion show is usually the lack of space and time to work in because of all the other things going on – hair, make-up, styling etc. The other hurdle is usually the quality of light you have to work with which tends to be fluorescent tubes in the ceiling which is the case at the Town Hall. It’s all of these challenges that make it exciting and I quite like having to work for my shots. The downside is that during the show the models usually have a minute between outfit changes which makes it impossible to photograph them which can be frustrating when you see lots of amazing outfits flashing past without being able to photograph any of them. You take the rough with the smooth, do the best you can and enjoy the journey. These shots are all from the same roll of film, I only get 15 frames with this medium format camera so it’s not a bad hit rate.

Credits: Hair by Toni & Guy, Oxford. Make-up by Majenta.

[Tech info:] Bronica ETRSi, 80mm/2.8, loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400 (expired) @ ISO1600, processed in HC110 1+31 for 16 mins.

fashion show

fashion show