Rant No1.

Sometimes I  can’t help myself.  I got into a discussion with a Facebook group regarding use of images. The group in question is the page of a fairly respectable company in the tourist industry. They used a image of the Forth rail bridge  to adorn their page, and due to an error on their part didn’t give that person credit. To  cut a long story short, the photographer managed to prove they were the creator of the image and everything was sorted.

A couple of points here. Nothing new, I know, but it shows how easy  it  is for folk to take images without giving credit. Especially annoying when a commercial company uses an image for their own purposes. Mistakes happen, and the group in question resolved the issue and issued an apology. With the advancement of technology and availability of high quality equipment many amateur photographers can take pictures professionals would be pleased with. Making or using a watermark isn’t that hard, but is always worth doing.

Second point, and something that is more insidious, is the notion that companies often will now look to use amateur photographers to gain images without paying for them. The thing that irked me most about the Facebook group’s response was they were doing the photographer a service by using their image, giving them credit and therefore exposure. True, but at the end of the day, they are still getting a great image for nothing, zilch. No expense, no effort. Of course it is nice to have your work recognised, but at the end of the day companies which can afford it and have marketing budgets can use this simply to save money. A credit in the small print of a website or brochure is scant reward for a carefully crafted image.

A few years ago I looked at entering a competition with a multi national hotel chain. There was a prize of course, but on reading the terms and conditions it appeared that the photographer was giving the image to the chain. Copyright remained with the photographer but in return for a weekend break (At times and locations decided by the chain) the photographer gave up all control and by entering and agreeing the to the T and C their image could be used how and whenever the chain liked and altered however they saw fit.  It was in effect giving over the image and the hotel was getting it pretty much for free. I posted on a few forums to see if others thought this was a bit of a cheek, and although most agreed, there were quite a few who said if you don’t like it, don’t enter. Fair enough, I suppose, but to me it is giving away something for nothing, especially to a multi national who can well afford to pay for it. How much did these people really value what they do?

I saw recently on another group a newspaper company Johnstone Press, who are a big player here in the UK were making many of their staff photographers redundant. They could get good quality images from the members of the public of incidents and events. Such is the technology available in a modern phone. I thought that was a damn shame. People who are experienced, trained and invested in their skills losing their jobs. I like the idea of citizen journalists and blogs are great. I also think there is a place for professional journalists, Newspapers and media using readers pictures, when a staff photographer isn’t there is fine. But when it replaces them, what does that do for photography?

Think of the great photo journalists  Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau to mention a few. Google them and you will see some truly iconic images that has shaped journalism and how we view the world.

I think if we give away our images too cheaply, or for nothing. If we drive out the professional photographer then photography, the media and the world are a poorer place.

HDR, you either love it or hate it.

H.D.R High dynamic range is a technique where several exposures are blended together to bring out highlights and details that may normally be hidden by a correctly exposed image. Normally 3 to 5 images are taken with some deliberately over and under exposed.  Using a programme like Photomatix you can achieve several different effects. This is a shot of the main hall at Kelvingrove Art Galleries in Glasgow where these floating heads are a popular subject for pictures. I broke the cardinal rule of HDR photography here by not using a tripod, but reasonably pleased with the result. A tripod is used to make sure all the images taken at different exposures are of exactly the same scene. Any movement is captured as a kind of ghostly image, which may not be pleasing. I leant on the balcony which runs around the first floor of the galleries to get some kind of support. It isn’t pin sharp but not to bad. H.D.R probably  is best used when done sparingly and can produce some stunning results.  The Kelvingrove art galleries is a wonderful art gallery and museum, free to visit and has some stunning works of art. Well worth a visit if you are visiting Glasgow. Remember to take your camera and tripod too!kelvingroveheads

Low Key lighting.

TMPS

True Modelling by Iolaire Photography Jan 2013 

On Monday I had the pleasure working with True Modelling and experimenting  with low key lighting, inspired by the film noir films of the 40s and 50s. Low Key lighting is a technique which utilises one primary strong light to create a harsh strong lighting that conveys a dark, moody and even threatening atmosphere to the photographs. I mainly used only this one light source and a reflector to eliminate unwanted shadows, and it was definitely a hit or miss type of shoot, but produced a few images that I really liked.

femme fatale[1] A classic Low Key lighting effect

It really is a hot or miss sort of thing as the primary source of lighting is very specific, moving the model, or even asking them to change pose means moving the light. Not using a soft box also means using a reflector to provide the right amount of fill in light without destroying the sought after effect.

TM2_edited-1

True Modelling by Iolaire Photography Jan 2013

There were on occasions I did use the soft box to provide fill in, like in the picture above. In photography like lots of aspects of life it is the mistakes and times when things go wrong that are the most valuable; and this shoot was no exception. My model for the night was great, gave the shoot a lot of thought beforehand and her look was fantastic. It is something I  will come back to in the future and got me to really think about lighting.

Purestorm

Purestorm isn’t as much fun as it used to be. I came back to using the site a couple of months after a short hiatus, but reading the posts, things seemed to have changed.

It used to be a laugh, but recently there seems to be a proliferation of threads about what annoys you about a tog or a model.  A couple of models have reported quite horrible and upsetting personal attacks albeit via the messenger system.  Some posters take delight in belittling or insulting the opinions of others. I know there will always things that rile us or that we disagree with, but surely we are all adult enough to employ civility and grace to those with who we are in disagreement. At points it has been childish and as far as I can see it is generated by togs rather than models.

The general chat and off topic forums are the worst. The majority of posters are decent and often thoughtful people, but there are a few characters that make me groan inwardly. So I tend to avoid it now. Bitchiness is never an attractive trait in either sex.

It would not be fair to tar everyone with the same brush. In the short time since I began to photograph models the togs that I have met in person have been great, encouraging and friendly. But it is a shame that I really feel I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the forums.  Oh well….

Welcome

Iolaire is the Scot’s Gaelic for eagle, a beautiful but elusive bird that inhabits the highlands of Scotland. I picked this title as it reflects what I want to put here. Things where there may be beauty therein, but it maybe elusive. Iolaire is also associated in the Islands with one of the greatest maritime tragedies in peace time. It was the name of a an admiralty yacht that was taking servicemen to the Hebridean island of Lewis and Harris when it struck rocks just outside of Stornoway harbour in 1918. Over 200 fathers, sons, brothers and husbands were lost.  A  terrible tragedy for a fragile island community that already had suffered a great toll after the carnage of the first world war.

It seems to me that beauty, elusiveness and tragedy are concepts that often are intertwined. In my images, thoughts and words I hope to reflect that and seek out that beauty.