Thursday, 26 June 2008

How to hijack a photograph

If you are the sort who likes a good prank, or who simply appreciates a good bit of technical thinking for the sake of art, you're going to like this. I got wind of this guy's activities thanks to Strobist (original post here), and I see Chase has also made mention of him too (ah the joys of blogging - watch those stats shoot through the roof, Sir!).

The artist goes by the name of Julius von Bismark; he is Berlin-based and his 'invention' is called "The Fulgerator". What does this contraption do? Well, in a nutshell, it is basically an adapted SLR camera and flash gun device which senses when another camera's flash goes off and then projects an image. Doesn't sound like much hype, huh?

Here's the best bit. It is an unwitting passer-by (often a tourist) who sets the sequence in motion simply by the act of taking their own picture; within a fraction of a second, The Fulgerator lets off a flash, projecting its image onto the scene that the 'subject' is focusing on.

Confusion and amazement then follow (though not necessarily in that order) when they review the image only to find something unexpected.

All is revealed in the video below. Enjoy!

If you like what you see, make sure you also check out Bismark's website for more info.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Top Ten Paul

A quick mention today for my good friend Paul over at Paul Mitchell Art for making it through to the Top Ten Businesses (Southern-region) in the Barclays Trading Places Awards.
Regular readers will recognise his name from this recent GBP Blog post in which he supplied the soundtrack for the video.

I've known Paul for a good few years now, often bouncing ideas off him and sharing my own successes and disappointments. With our creative paths running parallel at times, it's been great to have the support. By default, I've also followed him through his good times as well as the tougher ones.

So it was with pleasure that I took him up on the offer
to attend the Awards Luncheon yesterday. It was a real milestone for Paul, as well as for the other finalists, and recognition well deserved. By all accounts it was a great day out, made all the better by glorious sunshine.

If you can, I would encourage you to take a few minutes to follow the link above, through to Paul's website and check out his award-winning craft.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Goodbye Tradition?

I had a very interesting conversation with a design colleague recently, about the current state of the creative industries as a whole. Don't get me wrong, we weren't sat there cursing and lamenting about 'the good old days' or the fact that our industries have progressed to such a level that - thanks in no small part to the raft of technological developments – things are often inclined to be more complicated now than they need be.

No, we were talking about tradition – or, rather, the traditional ways in which we have gone about our business, both now and in the past. This all came about during a meeting in which I showed him my 'traditional' portfolio (translation – 'printed') and vice versa. It was in many ways a breath of fresh air to see 'actual' pages in an 'actual' portfolio, given that we all seem to default to our websites for showing off our work these days.

I have thought about this for some time now, and spoken to many colleagues across varying industries. And it would appear that there is a shared consensus out there...

Like many others, I have a genuine concern that within the next generation or two, the kids coming out of colleges and universities will have no regard for – or at the very least very little knowledge of – the background to this wonderful art we all photography.

You see, I believe it is so important to have a knowledge of what came before the latest 'technology revolution' because without this we are simply all about the ones and zeros. Learning to understand how light works, f-stops, shutter speeds, how to time your pictures, how to stand back and observe, to get the most out of your subjects - are such things even taught anymore?

I still get great pleasure from diving into a coffee-table book of works by such masters as Weegee, Cartier-Bresson, and McCullin. Whether it be the simple act of looking at other people's work 'for what it is' or as research for inspiration in our own projects – I really do think that taking the time to do this is greatly undervalued. And the concern is that graduates simply do not appreciate this. Or, perhaps, they think that looking at contemporary photographers is enough. This begs the simple but blunt question: just who inspired these contemporaries? Answer: the great photographers from years gone by. As with many walks of life, without inspiration we fulfill merely a small proportion of our potential.

Time and again, I have clients say to me “Well, of course, it's just so easy and convenient these days, what with digital cameras”. True, technology is an important factor in modern professional photography (actually, it can sometimes be a double-edged sword), but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. Far from it.

Cameras and their associated equipment can only take you so far; there is much truth in the old adage that 'it is not the camera but the photographer that makes a picture'. And so, if this is the case, I have to wonder: where does that leave those photographers who have little or no knowledge of photography's glorious past?

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fathers Day, Memories, What The Duck

OK, in my last post, I told you about an online cartoon strip called What The Duck. Well, given that today is Fathers Day, I thought I'd share the strip above (hmm... tedious link, I know, but the word 'Dad' is mentioned!). Anyway, take it for what it is, or feel free to read a little deeper...

Show of hands please, anyone who backs up their photographs. And I don't mean simply copying them from your camera to the computer - we're talking proper '
paranoia-driven, second-guess the future' multiple back-ups here.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people still genuinely believe that their computers will last forever. Never corrupting, never slowing to a grinding halt, these machines are clearly invincible. Apparently. Well, drop us an email and tell me where to sign!

As far as photographs are concerned, never forget - these are visual documents, often showing events which are one-off, unrepeatable times in our lives. They allow us to savour moments and preserve them for future generations. Remember photographic prints? You know, actual 'hard copy', 6"x4" bits of paper you could actually hold in your actual hands and look at without straining your eyes at a computer screen! Increasingly, people are not bothering to get prints made, instead entrusting these memories to a birds-nest of wires and circuitry all neatly packaged in an overheated metal box plugged into the wall.

Fact is, and though it pains me to have to tell you like this, computers can and do go wrong. Badly. And when they do... that's when those same people are suddenly consumed with a rush of blind panic, tears, cursing and, once things have calmed down a bit, regret at having not bothered to back up their pictures sooner. The same scenario holds true for business owners who, frankly, should know better.

Now I'm no computer whizz - far from it - but I do know what it feels like to lose important information from a computer. Which is why we perform multiple backups like our lives depend upon it (actually, in a professional sense, they do!). At the very least, you should be making copies onto CDs or DVDs - seriously, these things cost pennies nowadays (far, far, faaar less than the information they can contain) - and you'd be a fool not to go out to your local computer supply shop today and stock up.

By all means, wait for the 'Big Bang' in the corner of your office or spare room before you decide to take action, but just remember to take a deep breath when the repair guy tells you that he 'might' be able to save your data - and at great cost - but that you should probably prepare for the worst. "Well, of course, you have saved a copy of the important stuff, haven't you...?"

So, take heed of what I have to say. Or don't. At the very least have a look at the cartoon at the top of this post. But one thing I can tell you for sure, from bitter experience, is this: if your computer suddenly takes on the appearance of a pile of scrap metal and your precious pictures are only lodged somewhere in the unrecoverable rubble on the carpet, you'll be kicking yourself for not parting with those pennies.

What The Duck

Sometimes, you just need a little relief from the daily grind. I found just such an escape this week in the form of What The Duck - a fantastic online cartoon strip by Aaron Johnson.

Seems I'm not the only one who appreciates what I see; the site has a massive following, which reaches out into the everyday, right down to the highstreet (see if you can spot a WTD t-shirt next time you check out anything published online by any of the guys listed as WTD Friends).

If you are interested in photography, or simply just like a good cartoon strip, I'd encourage you to go take a look straight away. If you like what you see, you can always subscribe using RSS so that you never miss an edition.

Know of any cool/interesting/weird/wonderful sites out there? Why not tell us about them? Be sure to include your website URL if you have one - hey, we might even give you a plug by way of a thank you, too!

And yes - I will be dropping the odd WTD cartoon into the GBP Blog from time to time.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Marketing Portraits - Set-up and break down

Right then... This is the first video we have produced for the GBP Blog, so please be gentle! As always we're looking to add more and more interesting content here, so do give feedback about what you see... and, of course, tell us what you'd like to see in the future, too.

This video is, quite simply, an illustration of how a shoot can be arranged in any loction, fitting in with the client's working day. The resulting images were to be used in a marketing campaign, both on large vehicles and printed matter.

People often ask us what is involved when setting up a shoot - for example should they come to a studio?/what should they wear?/how long will it take?/how many people will be present? In this instance, our 'studio' was an on-site cafeteria - which we took over for a few hours. Our subjects (7 in total, although only 2 appear in this time-lapse video) were actively on call, so we just grabbed them when the opportunity arose - this actually worked very well, as it often does, and we were only kept waiting for a few short minutes between sitters.

As for the technical stuff - we shot on the usual Nikon cameras, directly hooked up to a Mac. Okay, I admit it, I'm not a Mac user... and that's why you'll see Matt pressing all the buttons on this occasion whilst I take care of the light and, well, simply point at the computer :-)

It's always nice to preview images on a larger screen, as they appear, but in this case it was especially important as the lighting arrangement was very specific and had to be tweaked until it was just right. Speaking of which, 3 Nikon SB-800 speedlights were used, triggered remotely using Pocket Wizards.
Naturally, the video was shot on the trusty G9. Be sure to watch out for the photographs at the end!

Enough talking... on with the show:

Oh, and one last thing - a big 'thank you' to Paul for the backing music. Seriously, you really brought this first video together for us!

For more behind-the-scenes GBP videos, check out us out on YouTube.