Monday, 16 December 2013

Under the olive tree...

I am presenting on this blog varies aspects on my photography. From experiments and tests through my personal projects and exhibitions up to more interesting assignments I have a pleasure to work on. 
We all have own style of work and the way we are the most productive and able to get the best of our knowledge and talent. It is always very personal and depends on many aspects. It concerns not only photographers  but all professions I would say.
As a traditional photographer I appreciate every moment I can slow down and contemplate the scene before recording. Every session takes a time. It has to be planed and properly prepared to eliminate fortuity. It is especially important in case of equipment I am using.
Pressing the shutter release is the final moment. Everything what has to be done in relation to the image is happening before that. After, there is only chemistry…

I am happy enough to work with people who perfectly understand such process most of the time.

Two weeks ago I had a pleasure to work on something completely new for me. I was photographing children yoga classes for Christina Breen (Chroi Yoga),
yoga teacher (trained in Yoga for Children & Families with and Montessori educator.  As you probably remember this is not our first cooperation. Last summer I took two portraits during the event organised also by Christina. /You can have a look at it HERE/
This session was a pure pleasure as it suits very well my style of work which is always in benefits for my client and myself. Christina perfectly understand every visual aspect of type/style of photography i am representing and she has a fantastic approach to it. She can also read images in the way that many photographers wouldn't be able to do so.

I came to see the class some time before session to get an idea how everything looks like and what can I do in there to make the best images possible.

Olive Tree Studio, where this session took a place, is located in the basement of 19th century house. It is a beautiful space for yoga and dance. Due to time of the year however we had not enough daylight I needed for this session even if the windows are relatively large. At the same time I didn’t want to use a flash lamps. I am always trying to avoid it as much as possible once I am outside photography studio. It usually flatten image doesn’t matter how well set it is.  I truly love ambient lighting as it give completely different dynamic of the image. It is also very important for me to achieve as much natural and realistic look of photographed person and place as possible. Subdued light, type of the place and the way how the class was runned by Christina - all of it was beautiful and I wanted to show it that way.
That was a challenge...
In this case the space we were working in had a few spotlights giving really nice ambiance. I spent a while before session to set those lights and direct them properly into space of the room I was going to work in.
The light was still relatively low (for photography) but as most of you know I am always pushing my films at least one or two stops. This time even three. It was just right. We were ready.
Session itself took about 3 hours (including over one hour for classes with some beautiful theatrical elements) and it was really hard work for all of us…myself, Christina, our assistants and first of all for children. They were absolutely fantastic and very cooperative. Many thanks to all of them. Here I must also thank their parents! 

That was the first time I was photographing children (beside my own of course) and it was  wonderful  experience.
Truly amazing event. Christina is a perfect teacher. She has a great contact with all kids. She is also more then kind and at the same time very professional. If any of you reading this article ever thought about yoga class for your child or for yourself - Christina is a person to contact to.

Above images are just an examples showing different stages of that afternoon session.
More of them will be presented soon on Chroi Yoga website. 

Contact details below:


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Technical part:

I was using there 4 cameras in 3 different formats and 3 films at 4 different speeds. Sinar F2 large format camera with Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 lens, Hassleblad 500cm with Planar 80mm 2.8 lens. Canon A-1 with 50mm 1.4 and Canon 6D with 50 1.4 and 35 2 lenses. Yes, I was also using digital camera this time for a few shots but somehow non of them were as good as recorded on film even if this camera is an outstanding performer, especially in low light situations and also during actor head-shots and business portraits in studio.
As for film…a few rolls of beloved TMax 400 exposed at 800, 1600 and 3200, roll of Trix  400 at 800 and for the first time Fomapan 400 4x5 at 400 and also and 1600. It was a test for this film which I never used before. What can I say - I love it!
After first light check I had a plan to shoot all at 3200 but apparently small spotlights properly set gave a couple of stoops better light condition.
All images processed in Xtol 1:1, except Foma 400 and Trix which I souped in Rodinal 1:50. All scanned on great V700 as always. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Joseph Plunkett Tower

Saturday. Beautiful sunny morning. Ballymun. Joseph Plunkett Tower - the last one remaining...
Loaded with cameras and tripods we are going to the second floor of almost empty 15th storey structure.
I am with Jim, who brought me once again into Ballymun and got an access to the Tower. /you can have a look at my previous article related to this place to get a is HERE/
We choose stairs and within no time we are in the front door of one of the three still inhabited flats. 
Doors opens...
Very bright and spacious two bedrooms, large living room with kitchen annex. Nowadays apartments usually not getting even close with size to this one built about 50 years ago. That's the fact.

Living room /fragment/
It's quite warm in there. Half century old underfloor heating still working perfectly. After a while I realized why most of the people who had to leave those flats were so dissapointed. They left behind beautiful memories but also comfortable and secure places. They were surrounded by good neighbours, people who cared, truly friendly and family-like neighbourhood which was mentioned many times by those who had to move away after decades ...

After short conversation with Lisa, owner of the flat, wonderful and very patient person, we took our equipment out of the bags and started to photograph it.
Soon this place will be gone as all original Ballymun flats...
While I was writing this text I got the message from Jim that actually only two families left out of three in Joseph Plunkett Tower...

The Tower consist of 90 flats and was named /as six other/ after the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. It was build as the last one /1967/ and will be demolished as the last one.

On the way back we decided to stay a while within the building and record the maze of corridors and staircase on our negative films. Strong light of winter sun was illuminating everything so well... 
Surrounding emptiness and echo bouncing from concrete walls, ceiling and floor was the only strange feeling. It also emphasized mystery of that situation.

Corridor on the ground floor
Just before we left, on the main gate we've met Bernie Rehill on her way back from shopping /photograph below/. Bernie, retired from Ballymun Library was mentioned third person living in the Tower. She is moving to the new place now.

...How much time left? Months? Weeks? 
Lisa will move probably soon. The same will happen with the last family we had no chance to meet.  I am convinced that these people will find themselves and happiness in new reality. The question is how long it takes...
All of it it's a part of history, disappearing part of it good or bad? 
I am not the one to judge. The future will give the answer.

I would like to thank Lisa for showing us her place, Jim for all his help and companion and also Bernie for posing and great chat. Really appreciate that.

Equipment used:

Sinar F2 large format camera 4x5 with Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 150mm 5.6 lens, Hasselblad 500cm with Distagon 50mm 4 and Planar 80mm 2.8 lenses. Film? Fomapan 100 4x5 exposed at ISO 64, couple of rolls of TMax 400 exposed at 3200 and 1600.