Gift vouchers for photography courses

Nitin Gandhi shooting silhouettes and the light reflecting off the tilesGift vouchers for photography courses

A voucher for one of my street courses or a one-to-one learning day is the perfect gift for any photographer of any experience level. There’s no greater feeling than making progress in something you love, or in finding the answers to the questions that have been bothering you for ages.

Whether you pick a street day or a personal day the recipient of your gift will love you for ever, and every time they take a good picture from that day on they’ll remember your kindness and your thoughtful gift.

You can find details of my day courses and night courses on their respective information pages. You can find details about my personal one-to-one courses here, but in short they are designed precisely around the needs of the student and their level of experience or area of interest – so every one is different. They start with a chat on the phone so I can find out what is needed, and it ends with an assessment of the pictures taken on the day – with hints and tips on how they could be better, and what has worked brilliantly.

My aim is always happy and fulfilled students, who know they have learnt a lot and that they’ve had an excellent and enjoyable day. These courses change the way students think about photography, their cameras and the way they see everyday scenes. I aim to make them life-changing.

Gift vouchers are posted to you along with one of my greeting cards, so you can write your own message inside. The price of the voucher reflects the cost of the course.

Street photography courses cost £180

Personal one-to-one days cost £499

Just go to my students’ picture gallery, and read the comments they’ve posted on the day courses page if you want to know what people think.

To buy a voucher email us stating the course you’d like to buy, and we’ll get in touch straight away to sort out the details.

Damien

 

 

Gift Vouchers display image

 

Photographing light – when the subject isn’t an object

Light, No Light

When we talk about pictures we are taking, have taken or are going to take, most often we do so in terms of what that picture is of. We talk about that amazing giraffe, or the beautiful river winding through the landscape, the smiling child or the delicate flower. We rarely describe a picture by explaining the way the light was at that moment. And yet light is the most important element of any photograph, so perhaps that is what we should be talking about and when we go shooting that’s what we should be actively seeking out.
I shot this picture because I liked the way the morning sun was reflecting from the side of a modern office building in London, creating these coloured stripes on the pavement. It was the stripes and their colour that made me stop, and they inspired me to take the picture. The stripes aren’t an object, but they are the subject of the picture.

An added element

These pretty coloured bands are enough on their own to make a picture – an abstract set of lines bending from one side of the frame to the other – but I wanted to add some human life to the scene for scale and extra interest. I noticed that as people entered or left the lit patch they cast their shadow across the stripes, making a shape perpendicular to the flow of the scene, and creating a number of intersections that drew the eye.
I waited for the right person, with the right shape, to walk into the right place in the scene, and was reasonably quickly rewarded by this girl strolling into the area that cast her shadow between the green stripes, over the more brightly lit and colourless zone. Her shadow fits perfectly, and as her head’s shadow entered the frame her feet, with the catch-lights on her shoes, were preparing to make their way out. Everything came together in a cocktail of luck, anticipation, planning and patience.

Exposing for the more important tones

Stripes levels. Damien DemolderTo make the most of the colours of the light I had to take control of the camera’s exposure system. To the camera this is a dark scene that needs lightening. To my brain it was a scene in which the lightest areas needed to be a more moderate brightness so that the colours wouldn’t bleach out. I had to make a dramatic adjustment with the camera’s exposure compensation feature, turning the brightness down to -1.7EV. I have black in the scene, and there are light tones that are close to white. Although the picture looks very dark there are actually few real blacks and the histogram shows tones right up to 252.

It is a picture of light, and the exposure has to take that into account. Your camera is designed to take pictures of cats, humans, trees and buildings, so when you want it to just shoot light you need to take full control and tell it very clearly how to do it. Your brain is much bigger than your camera’s so don’t allow your camera to take charge of the situation.

Join me for a street photography class and learn first-hand how to take pictures like this. Choose between daytime classes and classes in the evening and into the night. For details see my street photography workshops page.

Samsung NX20 with the 30mm lens.

 

Stripes black display. Damien Demolder

This frame shows the areas of the image that are completely black

Green reflected light, by Damien Demolder

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Silhouette of a running girl – Exposure, coincidence and making your own luck

Running womanSilhouette of a running girl  – Exposure, coincidence and making your own luck

A silhouette can be a powerful graphic element in a photograph, but to work well it needs the right background so it can stand out and the right exposure to make it just dark enough. When we create silhouettes we reduce the scene we are photographing to just a collection of shapes, lines and edges, so we also need to be careful that they all interact well with each other and that they don’t overlap when they shouldn’t.

This is a picture I took one sunny morning on the pathway that leads to the north side of the Millennium Bridge in London. The sun was streaming between two buildings and creating a river of very bright light in the generally shady alleyway. What struck me at the time was the immense contrast between the area that was lit and that which wasn’t. As people walked to the bridge I could see that they were crossing from the two extremes – one minute light up by the sun and the next in the shadow of the building. By positioning myself at an angle to the path of the light I could get a view of the people in the shade while they were still passing part of the background that was still alight.

Pre-visualisation

Thinking about the shot I wanted I determined that I should expose for the light levels on the sunlit part of the wall, as this would render the shaded part of the scene very dark. Exposing for the shaded area would obviously render the lit wall very over exposed and much too bright. If I let the camera do its own thing it would have made shade just a little bit dark and the light area a bit too bright. You have to take control in this kind of situation, know what the camera is going to do, and then set your exposure yourself. For this shot I set the exposure about 2EV darker than the camera would have done – because I wanted the shade to be black and the wall to bit a fraction too dark so the colour of the brickwork would become saturated and powerful.

I had to wait for people to cross from the light into the shade to take the shot. The area in which they could be to make this work was actually pretty small – probably about six foot – and they needed to be a particular distance from that background wall to be framed nicely. What complicated things more is that to get a completely clean outline they would also need to have cleared the triangular shadow created by the smaller wall on the right of the frame. As you can guess, I had to wait some time to get a person in exactly the right spot – even though it is a very busy area.

The right person

I also needed the right person. Someone with a distinctive outline that would give visual clues to what they were carrying, where they were going or what sort of person they were. I shot a few business people – singles worked and pair became confused very easily – and everything depended on the pose they were in when they hit that exact spot where the picture would work.

I saw this girl running quickly towards the magic paving slab, and with fingers crossed pressed the shutter when she got there. And I was delighted when the preview arrived on the screen. Her pose couldn’t have been better had I posed her myself, and her feet landed perfectly to be in the shadow but without being lost in the darkness. She had just cleared the triangular shadow and there is a comfortable space in front of her for her to travel into before she hits the wall of darkness.

Coincidences

The picture works because of all the coincidences that came together to make the shot. The position of the girl and her pose, and well as the position of the sun and the type of the light – I shot again the next day in overcast conditions to show how reliant the success was on the exact weather at the time.

That everything came together was a stroke of luck, but it was luck I waited for and luck I helped to make for myself. I spotted the potential and waited for the right person to be in the right position. That person may not have come along at all, but I did what I could and hoped for the best – and it happened. A fisherman will put himself in the best spot on a good river and use the right bait, but only luck will bring the fish, and it’s the same with this kind of shot. This fish just happened to have its hair up and trainers on!

Samsung NX20 with 30mm lens.

You could shoot pictures like this too. Find out how on one of my photography workshops.

See me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/demolder
Follow me on Twitter at @damiendemolder

Damien Demolder street photography

 

 

 

 

Multi-coloured artificial light for atmosphere – white balance and metering

Man at the bottom of Tower 42 in London, in the morning

artificial light for atmosphere –
white balance and metering

You don’t have to travel to the city to come across a wide range of different coloured artificial light sources, or to make the most of the multi-coloured displays they put on for the photographer. Unless you live in the middle of a field with no electricity in your hut, and no fire either, you will come across artificial light every day. These are lights such as street lights, the neon of the chip shop window, the warm glow of a domestic bulb or the green fluorescents on the office floor.  Your camera will render their illumination in different hues, and they play a very large part in your emotional response to the night or the place. In fact, there won’t be a night where an artificial light source doesn’t cast it orange, yellow, green or cool blue rays upon you, the sky or the place you happen to be.

There are so many different types of light that camera manufacturers can’t possibly make a white balance setting for each one. Your auto white balance will help you to get rid of some of the caste, but if you are interested in photographing what you see, and in showing the viewer what a certain place is like at night, it is a much better idea to think not about neutralising these colours but about making the most of them. And to do that you should always shoot with your white balance set to ‘daylight’ or the sun symbol. Your eyes and brain see using their own daylight white balance mode, and for your camera to see what you see this is the only setting to use.

In this shot I’ve used the colours of the lights in the scene to create a stage-like and slightly mysterious atmosphere. Remembering that photography is about photographing the light and not just the objects in front of the camera, I set my exposure to capture the colours. While the person in the middle of the scene is important as the eye-anchor, we don’t need to see what he really looks like – his silhouette is enough. The real reason he is in silhouette is that I dialled in a -0.3EV of exposure compensation to ‘under-expose’ the lights, which in turn increased the saturation and strength of their colours. And that is an important point. Left to think for itself the camera would have created a much lighter exposure and the colours would be much weaker and washed out.

Leading lines and colours

I was lucky here that it is not only the lines of the place that lead us into the scene, but also the graduation of colour from the warmth of the foreground and the railings, via the lighter yellow/greens of the middle ground, to the cool blue/white of the gap in the centre of the frame. Our eyes are drawn to cooler colours more quickly, and the warm surroundings only get looked at once the main attention-grabber has been dealt with.

I am pleased with this shot because the message it delivers is very clear and there are a number of elements that lead us to the same conclusion. There is only one place you can look when you first see the picture, as the passage of the lines, the structure of the place and the colours of the lights take you straight to the strong clear lines of the neatly posing human situated on the left-hand vertical third of the frame. He is looking out of the frame, creating a tension that you have to notice – even though he occupies a tiny section of the image area.

The scene looks to me like a still from a spy movie, so I cropped the photo to 16:9 widescreen proportions to deliver the viewer a subconscious sense of being at the cinema.

Black and white morning shot at the base of Tower 42 in LondonThe picture does work in black and white, as it has enough graphic character to remain strong and compelling, but in colour the sense of atmosphere, mystery and tension is so much greater and the scene ends up being far more interesting.

Canon PowerShot S95, f/3.5@1/125sec and ISO 3200

Learn more about this subject on one of my Street Photography at Night classes

See me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/demolder and follow me Twitter feed at @damiendemolder

Student gallery from the one day London street photography course

Student gallery from the one day

London street photography course

The gallery shown here is made up of pictures taken by students during Damien’s one day street photography course that is held in London. Each student is asked to load his or her best three shots from the day, and visitors can add their complements in the comments section.

These pictures will give prospective students an idea of the sort of quality they can hope to achieve by the end of the day, and remember those who come on this course are of very mixed experience when they arrive.

This is an intensive learning course and Damien packs in a lot in the single day. Students get time to create their own work and express themselves as individuals, as well as considering the help and advice that Damien freely gives.

You can find out more about this course on the One Day London Street Photography information page

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If you have been on this course please feel free to add three of your best pictures from the day, using this uploader below. Size your images to 800 pixels in the longest dimension first.
‘[ngg_uploader id=1]’

Street photography – long shadows and shooting at night

Street photography –
long shadows and shooting at night

An evening shooting by the light of the setting sun, and then the multi-coloured lights of the city after dark

£180 How to book

Join Damien for an evening of photography by the light of the street lamps and shop windows. Starting as the sun falls in the sky to create those magical long shadows and then working into the dark with the orange of the city streets and the multi-coloured lights of neon displays we’ll catch the varied and romantic atmosphere of London at night. Damien will teach you how to spy a good subject to start with, and then we’ll explore exposure and white balance as well, of course, as composition, timing and communicating the emotions of a world after dark.

As with the daytime street classes, these night shoots are about learning and being taught. Damien will spend time with each participant and will ensure that you get the attention, information and inspiration you need to create stunning images.

Who is it for?

As there is such a high degree of one-to-one time on these courses they will suit photographers of any ability and experience. You may have just bought your first camera or you might have been taking pictures for years, it doesn’t matter. Members of the group are encouraged to learn from each other’s unique vision as well as from the instruction and guidance that I will deliver.

Broad itinerary

The itinerary for the evening will depend on a number of factors, including the weather, the time of year and what is happening in London at the time (road works, building refurbishment etc). In broad terms though, we will meet-up before sunset, usually around 4pm, and then, after a brief chat about the shoot and what everyone expects and wants, we’ll visit a number of locations to talk through the ways in which they can be photographed.

There will be a brief stop for a snack and then the group will work on until about 9pm when we retire to review the pictures taken during the event. This is a group review session during which group members get the chance to see how the others tackled the same tasks. It is always amazing to see the range of different angles and viewpoints, and it’s often surprising to see who comes out with the best shots. It’s not a competition, of course, but beginners sometimes get great satisfaction from their shock high-ranking and success.

In all though these are fun events devoted to learning something new about something you enjoy very much. There is no pressure, and advice and guidance are given in a very friendly and supportive way. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and I’m more than happy to discuss basic concepts, kit choice, photographic techniques and advanced practice.

How to book

I run these courses frequently. Using the calendar in the top right of the page you will be able to see on which day of each month there is a course. Click the date to see the details and if you’d like to book email me. I’ll be able to tell you whether the course you want is available, and give you payment instructions.

Places available for these dates:

Thursday 11th December 4pm -10pm in Central LondonSold out

Thursday 29th January 2015 4pm-10pm in Central London

Thursday 12th February 2015 4pm-10pm in Central London

 

Follow Damien on Twitter and on Facebook

 

Smoking in the sunshine – reading the exposure

Man smoking in the sun, Fujifilm X-Pro1This is one of those everyday scenes – man steps out for a cigarette and loses himself in thought. (Or stares blankly ahead with his mind completely switched off, perhaps.) It’s a situation that’s played out thousands of times a day in towns and cities all over the world, but this one made me stop to take a picture for two simple reasons – the curve of the part of the building the man is standing under, and the sun streaking up the street and showing off that curve so well.

I was lucky here. I didn’t have to wait for someone to come and occupy the right place in the scene, as he was already standing there waiting for the right person to see the potential. I love that curve and the way the side-on light defines its roundness and the texture of the material it is made from. What works so well is that it is set against the shaded area, and thus it stands out and makes its statement nice and clearly.

The main issue I was faced with here was that of exposure. The hard contrast between the lightest areas and the deep shadow at the top of the frame meant I had to concentrate for a second to read what was going on. The most important area is nearly always going to be the person’s face, but here we have the consideration of the almost-white concrete of the curve too. I didn’t want that to burn out, but I also wanted to show that it is nearly white. The camera would look at all that shadow and open itself up to allow more light in, but I guessed that the power of those highlights might just balance things out. I would normally have exposure compensation set to -0.3EV, but on this occasion I reckoned the multi-pattern metering would sort things out on its own.

I wanted a shallow depth of field and so opened the lens to f/2 – as wide as it would go, and the shutter set itself to 1/4000sec.

The man is set in to the left-hand third of the frame and I allowed the curve to sweep close to that left edge and then come gliding back in again. Shifting my position I slotted the smoker inside the curve, in a way to contain him, and then filled the rest of the shot with the funky white-on-black graphics on the glass.

The upright format suited the breadth of the action, and allows the pavement at the base and the deep infinite shadow at the top to demonstrate depth. And that emphasised depth forces the curve and the man to pounce out of the picture in to viewers’ eyes.

Exposure has to be a conscious decision and, especially when working in sunny conditions like this, can’t be left to the camera to work out for you. You have to read the scene and determine what the camera will see and what it will do. Then you choose to over ride it, or let it get on with it. The most important thing though, is that you thought it through and made that choice yourself. Then the picture can be yours, and not belong to the camera.

 

Fujifilm X-Pro1, 35mm f/2 lens at f/2. 1/4000sec @ ISO 200

Come on a street photography course with me in London. Follow the link for more information.

 

 

Street Photography Courses in London – Full Day

Man on smoke break, Fuji Finepix X Pro1London street photography one-day courses

Improve your seeing and photography skills in a single informative and entertaining day. Suitable for all levels

£180 How to book

See our previous students’ pictures in the London street photography gallery at the bottom of this page.

Join me for a full day of tuition and make some serious strides forward with your street photography skills. Groups are kept very small (5-6 people) so each individual gets lots of one-to-one time and learning levels are high.

These aren’t the sort of days where you are left to wonder aimlessly with your camera. These are courses that concentrate on introducing new concepts, developing new ways of seeing and polishing existing skills.

During the day you’ll learn how to identify a good location, and then discover how to work it to find the best angles and to optimise its potential. We’ll talk composition, exposure and lighting, as well as timing, lenses and focusing – and what makes one of those magical decisive moments.

Who is it for?

As there is such a high degree of one-to-one time on these courses they will suit photographers of any ability and experience. You may have just bought your first camera or you might have been taking pictures for years, it doesn’t matter. Members of the group are encouraged to learn from each other’s unique vision as well as from the instruction and guidance that I will deliver.

Broad itinerary

The itinerary of the day will depend on a number of factors, including the weather, the time of year and what is happening in London at the time (road works, building refurbishment etc). In broad terms though, we will meet-up mid-morning, usually 11am, and then, after a brief chat about the day and what everyone expects and wants, we’ll visit a number of locations to talk through the ways in which they can be photographed.

There will be a brief stop for lunch and then the group will work on until about 4pm when we retire to review the pictures taken during the day. This is a group review session during which group members get the chance to see how the others tackled the same tasks. It is always amazing to see the range of different angles and viewpoints, and it’s often surprising to see who comes out with the best shots. It’s not a competition, of course, but beginners sometimes get great satisfaction from their shock high-ranking and success. The day will finish at about 5pm.

In all though these are fun days devoted to learning something new about something you enjoy very much. There is no pressure, and advice and guidance are given in a very friendly and supportive way. There is no such thing as a stupid question, and I’m more than happy to discuss basic concepts, kit choice, photographic techniques and advanced practice.

How to book

I run these courses once a month. Using the calendar in the top right of the page you will be able to see on which day of each month there is a course. Click the date to see the details and if you’d like to book email me. I’ll be able to tell you whether the course you want is available, and give you payment instructions. You can also visit my photography workshops page that lists upcoming classes.

Have a look at some of the pictures taken by
photographers who have been on this course and
watch this video of a day with the Fuji X-Pro1 I did for Fujifilm UK

Student Gallery

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If you have been on this course please feel free to add three of our best pictures from the day, using this uploader below
‘[ngg_uploader id=1]’

 

 

 

 

The power of eye contact – Dean looks up

Boy looking up at first communion

Catching the attention

I had been asked to take pictures at a First Holy Communion by the father of the boy in this picture. I’d done all the usual shots and had more than enough pictures to keep daddy happy. With the job safely covered I was able to hunt out some different angles, and to take a few risks that may or may not have paid off.
I’d reckoned the organ loft would produce a few good pictures anyway, as I could get the children posing for the congregation at the end of the service, and get that wider view to include the families and guests crowding round to give a fuller account of the story. I used a focal length to just include the kids at first, as I wanted to catch some of their excitement and their interactions with each other. For many of them this was the first special occasion in which they had been the centre point, so they were buzzing.
As I framed the group the boy in the middle, who was my subject, looked up and saw me above him. As his eyes met the lens I checked the focus was right on him and I took the shot. All I got was the one frame, as he quickly reverted to facing forward at the crowd of other picture takers.
I hadn’t known that he would look up, and if he hadn’t I’d have just got some nice pictures of the whole environment, but because I was there and ready, when he did look up I got a picture that I couldn’t have prayed for.
His eye contact demonstrates how we react to other humans. The eyes make us look at him first, and we find it hard to look away for a while. We do, and we investigate all the other things that are going on in the frame, but the first and the last things any viewer will see are those eyes. They are only small in the picture, but their power is undeniable.
As usual I shot this in colour, and converted the file to black and white using the Channel Mixer. The more detailed channel is always green, and its more moderate contrast suits this subject very well. I tempered the bias to green with a touch of red and some noisy blue, but the green channel accounted for 80% of the information.

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