Sparring, Boxing, Winning

In the last year I have reflected heavily on my photography (some of the reflecting I found so delightful that I shared it here on my blog). There were two main takeaways from all that glucose-sucking brain activity. Number one, my process of taking pictures is too anti-social, in that it basically is too lonely, i.e. I go out alone and shoot rather silent animals or cityscapes. Number two, my interests in photography changed to portraits and so I had to overcome my imaginary shyness and go out and ask people to make nice pictures of them. The results of both sessions are already on the blog, but the most challenging one came last week and has to with (the observant reader of the headline will have arrived at the conclusion already): boxing! (Yes!)

The gym I go to has a focus on mixed martial arts and boxing, so I went to a group of aspiring Balboas to ask whether anyone was kind enough to have me photograph them after a training session, and as good things happen to good people (tell me about it) two actually said yes and… on the day we arranged to meet, they totally forgot about it and did not come. Bummer.

So the owner of the gym stepped up and generously offered himself and some friends to step in, so I could take the images that day. But the odds for good jpegs were raised as he was really about to have a sparring session in the ring and not a leisurely after-training session. So I set up my two flashlights, one bare and one with a softbox, set my camera to f11 and a low iso and got behind the ropes, dashing around madly to avoid being hit by a tall guy being hammered into my corner.

It was good fun, I took around 350 images, many out of focus, some in pitch black darkness as the speedlights could not reload quickly enough between the clicks of the shutter and a good number were really great.

So here they are, the result of my own sparring with creativity and technology, in glorious black and white. Thanks to you guys for letting me shoot you and

Enjoy!

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Bows and arrows

Yesterday I went to a friend who – amongs a wide variety of other things – builds traditional bows and arrows. The idea is craftsmanship, i.e. building the weapons from scratch with traditional materials like horn, sinew, wood and leather, albeit with modern machinery. He has built dozens of bows and scores upon scores of arrows, which are intricately detailed and deadly as f*#@! The sheer beauty of them is fascninating and almost touching. The details in fabrication and painting work on all senses. These bows look great, sound and even smell good. Moreover, there is a sense of danger about them that makes touching them very special.

A modern carbon fiber bow says deadly with more immediacy, but I doubt that it is possible to have the same level of attachment to a modern tool as you can have towards these new, but traditionally crafted arms. The process of making the more complex composite bows takes up months as it takes a lot of time for the animal glue to set.

While it is easy to appreciate these arches of mayhem in person, it is quite hard to photograph them appropriately. This is my first attempt. The idea was to go from overview to detail. Bows (and arrows) are long and pointy constructions that do not lend themselves easily to image formats that are popular at the moment. A panorama might lend itself and I am going to attempt that at a later stage. But for now I tried to present them in the context of the workshop in which they were built, going ever closer to mimic the process of a visitor who first encounters these little marvels of aptitude. In going from form to detail I relied on a single flashgun pointed at the low-hanging white celing, which emulates soft daylight. I guess it works out nicely.

Enjoy!

Portrait session

Recently I had a portrait session with my friend Sascha at my place. I do not have a studio, but a living room with plenty of space for a portrait shoot.

This year I bought all that’s needed for my prosumer needs, two Yongnuo flashlights, an octobox, an umbrella for soft light, a reflector and some other small light modifiers, all in all an investment of under €300, not bad considering that it takes up very little space, works just fine and is a lot of fun to work with. We cleared a wall, set everything up and used my OMD EM1 and Olympus‘ very own and fine prime lenses, the 45mm 1,7 and the 50mm 1,8 – both lenses are super sharp and a joy to work with since they are light and small.

As we’re no models (neither by looks nor desire) we used a book for male photo shoots in order to get some ideas. Actually, we quite shamelessly ripped the images off. But that’s just the way it is. So here are the images, thanks to Sascha at www.senicer.de for taking the images of yours truly.

Enjoy

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Making a portrait session

Some weeks ago I did my first portrait-shoot for a colleague and friend of mine who also happens to be a certified tenor. The images are for his sed-cards, so I aimed for a high degree of professionalism in the process. We booked our assembly hall so we had enough space and power to shoot and set up a basic lighting with white and dark backgrounds as you can see in the images below.

I used my Walimex 150W Studiolight with a shoot-through umbrella, a basic reflector (white and black for both situations) and two Yongnuo 560II speedlights with their wireless controller for the shoot. The lighting setup can also be seen in the image. The goal was to go for a dramatic, yet classy, lighting mood.

For best results I used my Olympus 45mm 1.8 (equals a 90mm f3.6 full-frame lens), which I stopped down to around f5.6 (=f11) to get more depth of field.

 

Once we had set up, we had a fun shoot as Nils is a joy to work with, knows his poses and generally had fun in the process. All in all, we created three moods: classic one-light on white, the same on black with a kick-light or a reflector and some portraits only with the studio lights for a very dramatic mood. We closed the session with a prop, as we happened to have a Steinway Piano standing around(!)

In hindsight I would have wanted to experiment with a couple of more lighting-moods, as my material would have allowed for some more variations, but it all went smoothly anyway. My whole lighting kit costs around €350, which is not a lot considering the range of possibilities you have with that.

 

Enjoy the results!

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