I had some very good news last week. I have received an invitation to be the guest artist for a rather well known exhibit next summer. All expenses paid. That is a première for me, and a pleasant one.
I have been checking out the list of guest photographers that have passed in the previous years of this very same exhibit. … some well known names, some great artists, some who I esteem way above my league. Then doubts started coming up … is my work up to this level, will I not be blown away by the other participants (selected by jurors and curated by someone known in the field of art photography) … It struck me rather hard, to be honest.
Take a deep breath, listen to my wife’s saying ‘you have been asked to be the guest photographer, so what are you still worrying about’ … I guess she’s right, so let’s go, … I enrolled in a mentorship program that starts next week. I had confirmed to this before this invitation came in. To be honest I had no real item to work on, till now. I will use this program to fine-tune my work, discuss my work, discuss the selection of images that will be exposed, maybe prepare a book that will go with the exhibit, … exciting times to come, I will keep you updated.
More great news came in this week, when the organizers of the ‘fashion nudes’ contest run by Normal Magazine (France) contacted me to send them the high resolution files of the images I sent in for the contest. This means I got selected in the pre-selection, and my work will be printed for the final jury. Jippiieeeee!!
One of the images I entered for the contest:
• girl with an attitude •
no I haven’t been to Paris recently, so these images are, well, from a while ago (late 2017), I have published a single image from this trip already, but here is a more complete set. All taken with the Rolleiflex 3.5 TLR, in dark and difficult light this time (interior, winter, …)
What is it that convinces me to shoot film from time to time? I talked about this before, but here’s one other reason, I started thinking about it listening to an vlog about Photokina, and how this is all about gear and how the big brands have missed the revolution on the mirrorless camera’s and now need extra marketing efforts (and lies) to get to pace with the competition etcetera, etcetera. … (Michael Zelbel from goodlightmag)
when shooting analog it makes me feel that I am not running into this treadmill of commercial marketing ‘have to sell’ rush that the mainstream photography world has become since it became a mass-product. Look at the average photography magazine on the book store shelf. Half of the pages will be about new gear that has reached the market, how the latest gear has reached new levels of ‘better’ since the last best camera. How it will improve your photography, become an extension of your eye, and even bring you the ultimate shooting experience. blah blah blah, I have been in marketing for a while myself … The other half will be divided in ‘how to’s’ on the use of the latest software updates to make that perfect camera shot even better, or how to use the latest lighting gear to enhance your vision and creativity. Duh. … If you are lucky, there is a small section in the magazine that will cover large exhibitions, and maybe some portfolio’s from photographers (a couple of pages from the 100+ total number of pages)
I am sure that the Rolleiflex came with its own sauce of marketing blahblah at the time it was launched, but that’s a long time ago and I’m not bothered with it. Even now, new film camera’s are still made, but have you ever seen an add for one? They don’t really push, they wait till you go looking for them and then you’ll find them.
I shoot this antique Rolleiflex camera, with black and white 120 film that exists for ages now, and no accessories. When I use it, I simply can not feel the need to rush to get my images on the web (FB, Insta, … ) because that is literally impossible, with the film needing to be developed. I don’t get stressed on having to recharge batteries, because it has no batteries. I do not have to decide which lens or focal length to use, because it comes with a fixed focal lens that is not removable. I even don’t have to decide to shoot horizontal or vertical, because the image format is square. I can allow myself to just observe my environment, look at what people do, try to capture moments, details, … that come to my attention. If I miss a shot because my gear isn’t up to date, well I missed it, maybe I will be lucky next time. …
long live simplicity (maybe I’m getting old 😉 )
The pictures, with a little word, so you can find out where I’ve been strolling.
the queue for the Irving Penn exhibit that ran in the Grand Palais in Paris
part of the exhibit on Irving Penn
preparing for a kite flight on the Esplanade des Invalides
taking a break from cooking – the chef at Café de Mars – Rue du gros Caillou
plagiarism at Fondation Louis Vuitton
smooth curves architecture by Frank Ghery (Fondation Louis Vuitton)
people enjoying the audio-installation at Fondation Louis Vuitton
Me taking a self portrait at Fondation Louis Vuitton
time to prune the plants maybe? – artisan fleuriste at Rue Vieille-du-Temple
cheers, hope you come back here soon.
If you want to see more images taking with the Rolleiflex in Paris, look here
If you want to re-read a previous article about shooting on film, this is the place: shooting film
Could there be any greater resemblance? The curves of the female body and the smooth shaped hull of a glider. At least I sea beauty in both, I hope you too can appreciate these smooth curvatures.
Taken with the well appreciated approval of the gliders club director, and the willing club-handyman. Somewhere in the Netherlands.
• Smooth curves •
model: Michelle Alba
Canon 5Ds with Sigma 50mm f1.4 A DG
1/500s f/1.8 ISO 100
A rough carpet, a little bit of sun, and a big black curtain to block te rest of it. That is all that was needed for this series with Charisse. I had a bit forgotten about this series, it was made the same day as we did ‘an apple a day’, and I was so fond about that series that this one got a bit lost. Here we go, all images taken with Canon 5Ds and 50mm f1.4 from Sigma.
The settings are very similar between images, shutter speeds varying between 1/400 and 1/500 and aperture f:3,5 or f:4.0. ISO is at 100.
Charisse feels confident enough to generate a series of sensual, intimate poses, and she hardly needs direction, except for keeping the sun ray in the right place on her body and face. The light is hard to manage in this kind of situations, only one rule: measure for the highlights, and don’t care about the shadows. This gave me these nice, contrasty images, with a little room for imagination and mystery. Thank you Charisse, for this very fruitful day!!
• Sunrays •
Want to get a shoot for yourself, contact me now for your life-changing experience!!
the tomatoes need a lot of water in this warm weather don’t they?
second shooting location after • flight club • the garden of the AirBnB where we stayed. Michelle is ready to do some role playing, and gladly gives the gardener a hand.
• taking care of the vegetables •
thanks to Michelle Alba for being my model on this very hot day, in a very hot glasshouse.
thanks to Bas for lending me her garden as a shoot location and for the hospitality all over the weekend.
just a little message to announce a next exhibit participation, a group exhibit with the Zinkae photoclub in Ghent. This time I will be exhibiting not my usual subject ‘women’, but I will propose two series: ‘Turbulence’ and ‘private’ … Private will show a limited series of 3 images about our tendency to shielding ourselves from the outside world, in order to protect the personal living environment. Fences, doors, security camera’s, hedges … etcetera. …
‘Turbulence’ will show 4 images reflecting a personal view on landscape and nature photography. The inherent structures in nature, that seem largely turbulent on a small scale, lead to a certain order on a bigger scale. Disturbed fractals versus clear equations, and how these structures show themselves to us. Brought to you in delicate black and white images.
the invitation for the exhibit:
then what about Crisis?
Well, things are getting tough, and If I want to continue my work as I do now, I will need to cut some costs, or find a new form of income. I am currently working on it, but of course your help would be welcome too. That’s why I have included a Paypal button on the welcome page. You can donate any amount, all is welcome, (I chose 5€ as a standard) and it will help to pay the costs of exhibiting, models, film, travel, … this is the button: (this one is active too 😉 )
The exhibit in Sint-Laureins is still on and running, so you can go take a look, every day, 10-17hrs, till september 2nd.
for your convenience, and for those who like my work but are at this moment not in the possibility to hang a print of a nude woman on the wall of their living room, my work is also available in book format.
I added a page in the main menu, BOOKS where you can order any of my books, I currently have three listed on my page, if you click further to my Blurb bookstore, you may find four.
The books are well printed and well finished, I picked the best suited paper for my work, and a book size that is handy for all.
A present, to someone else or to yourself, an add-on to your book collection, a source of inspiration, or just some support for me, all reasons are good to go shopping today 😉
It’s official, I’ll exhibit the entire summer vacation in the magnificent building of ‘het GODSHUIS’ in Sint-Laureins. Great architecture, great pictures, I hope you find the time to enjoy this exhibit, it is open from June 30th till September 2nd. Every day, from 10am till 5pm. (except when there are large events in the building, you can find their event calendar here: http://www.godshuis.be/nieuws/ )
I will show 21 images, some never exhibited, some bigger than ever before.
You can combine the exhibit with an overnight stay at the location, they offer excellent rooms, there’s a restaurant, wellness, (also bookable without room) tea-room etcetera. The village of Sint-Laureins is also very well situated for a bikers out, or a walk along the canal.
I published a new video to my Vimeo and Youtube channel today, you can see it here:
this is a condensed summary of a 45 minutes session of the shoot day I did with Charisse, you can figure out some of the light situations I make, see which poses get it to the final selection of images, etcetera. Learn by looking 🙂
for your info, all images were shot at f1.6, ISO100, Shutter speed 1/80 or 1/100s.
you can find more details about the reflector panels I use ‘by clicking here’
thanks for watching, if you liked the video, you might as well give it a thumbs up or subscribe to my channel(s)
in my series ‘strolling trough … ‘ a new chapter, coming South from Scotland last summer I had a stop in Cambride, where I shot a couple of rolls of 120 film with my Rolleiflex.
I find the Rolleiflex to be a fairly good camera for street photography. Since you are looking down as a photographer, people don’t really notice you as being one, and you can stay unnoticed a little longer, enhancing the chances of taking a good shot. I got trapped once in this series, you’ll see 🙂
All shot with Kodak TMax 400 film, on a grey day.
Enjoyable time with friends. Not.
Cows on the bike path
And two more shots from a village called Osmotherley, near North York moors National Park (UK), where I camped the night before.
I’ts been about a month that I have the new studio space available, it took me a couple of days to get the walls freshened up (two coats of paint) and a couple of weeks before I got some furniture and props ready and moved in, but I’m about to call it ‘ready’ for work.
I think it probably never be a steady setup, because I want to keep some variation in my images, and variation will probably mean that I will bring in some new stuff from time to time and get rid of some ‘used’ furniture in the same pace.
Some observations so far just in case you think about setting up your own studio space:
• I have windows (large) only on one side of the room. Not easy to work with, so get yourself some large reflectors to bring some light back from the non-window side of the room. I use styrofoam boards 120x180cm, painted black on one side.
• The wooden floor gives me a particular white balance in the space, some warm tone that is not easy to get right all the time.
• Too much light will kill you, or at least will often create overly bright images. I love to work with light and shadow equally, sometimes even more shadow than light. So I bought a large theatre cloth (6x3m) to cover up 2/3 of the windows when needed. I use additional styrofoam boards if needed to cover up even more window area.
• The space has sun-screens, I didn’t even notice when I agreed to rent it. These are great to work with when there’s direct sun falling in. The screens are fine woven, so they create no patterns, and they lower the light level not too much. They help evening out the hard contrasts in sunny situations. They are neutral in color. Perfect!
• The wooden parquet is kind of slippery, very good for moving around mattresses and large carpets without too much of an effort. For furniture I have a wheeled board for easy moving.
• The ceiling is at 2.90m, that is an absolute minimum. I have some curtain rails hanging up, they are kind of permanent, and sometimes they are hindering my viewing angles.
• I have an adjacent stock room, where I can move all unnecessary items (flash lights and their tripods when I don’t need them, drinks, clothing, background system, paint, cleaning materials, … Perfect again!
• I have brought in a large trunk (some kind of monastery huge heavy dark wood piece) that I use for quick storage nearby. It makes your stored stuff invisible, it is useful as a decor piece, there’s always something you might need in a minute, it’s there.
some images taken in the new studio:
2 white walls, a black wall, a wall with plenty of windows, and some creativity …
more to come,
I arrived at Leuven train station at about 11 O’clock, the people from the hotel had guaranteed me that I could do an early check in at about 13:00hrs. That was the time that I had fixed for the model and the make up lady. They pointed me a different building than the adres on the website, about 100 meters further. They gave me the entrance key.
I should ask the cleaning lady to clean my room first. … No it was not cleaned yet, yes, she would take care of it right after she finished a room on the upper floor. (3rd, I was on second) I had the time to get my gear out of the car and have a quick bite.
Fifteen minutes to one, and I’m back at the hotel. I get pointed to my room, it is available …
… at least if you can call this a room, it is more like place for a bed, and half a meter around to manoeuvre around it. How on earth am I going to do a photoshoot here. There’s no room for movement, there is no free wall, and there is no light. It is freezing cold outside so that is no option, even worse, it is a dark grey day.
How to shoot in a really tiny Hotel room, on a dark winter day?
Both the model and the make up lady are more or less on time, so we can start preparing. I get them installed by the window, when the chair is between the bed and the window, there’s no more room to pass besides it. … this promises no good …
No panic though, I’m thinking about the options, outdoors, at 3°C, rather not, … dark corridors in the hotel, no light at all, … public places other than this, … probably not for the sake of clothing changes …
move the beds … move the beds, … are they fitted to the walls, no, that’s great, let’s move the beds: We moved the beds to the ‘entrance hall’ of the room, so we acquired a 3x3meter ‘free space’ to work in, talking about luxury.
(3D rendering below, showing a before and after situation, done by me, I still own and run www.renderhouse.eu remember 🙂
On the far left is the entrance door and hallway, upper left corner, the black chunk taken out of the volume is the bathroom, then the ‘main room’ with two single beds and window at the right, three night reading lamps (one on each side of the bed, one over the small table.)
And look, there’s a heart in the lighting pattern, that was unintended, but definitely good sign. It was Valentine’s day the day before I wrote this post …
It helps having a patient model in such cases. I worked with Pauline several times now, and we’ve got a good mutual understanding. She will express her goals, I will try to relate them to mine and we proceed from there.
I tried using off-camera flashes, but those gave me very hard and overly bright light, with no interesting light patterns.
We ended up using only the reading lights, (one of them can be seen above, next to Pauline) to create some kind of theatrical look, sometimes I used a plastic bag to make the light source a little bigger and hence soften it a bit, but that was our only source of light for these images:
It was rather important to have the lights positioned accurately, as you can see the shadows are really hard, due to the small size of the lights. In the last images I had to tweak the blacks a little in post production, but they came out quite well. The light sources had a really narrow beam, and they gave very little spill within the room.
A couple of hours later, we moved back the beds, nobody noticed anything, me happy, my model happy …
Settings on the first series of images (1/10s f3.5 ISO 400 – Canon 5Ds, Sigma 50mm f1.4 A DG)
Settings on the upright pose with curtain background (1/80s f2.8 ISO 1600, 50mm f1.4 A DG)
Settings on the nudes (1/8 f4.5 ISO1250 – Canon 5Ds with Canon 100mm f2.8 macro IS L)
I was rather surprised how sharp the images came out at 1/10th with no stabilisation 🙂
thank you for reading
quite a while since my last post, great news, exciting changes.
no more doubts
no more last minute panics
no more goosebumps
no more begging other people
I’ve got my own dedicated shooting studio !
I’ve rent a space in my home town, 6 x 11 meters open space, 3m ceiling height … nice oakwood parquet floor, big windows south side …
Started gathering decor elements and painting about two weeks ago, and yesterday I had my first shoot there. It takes a bit of getting used to, where do I have good light, what are the best looking lines, etcetera, but I’ll manage to make this into a fine shooting space!
enjoy this first image of yesterday’s shoot
• inspiration •
thanks Valérie, for being my ‘test’ model in this new space.
thanks Joyce, for being my make up artist,
settings: 1/100 f2.8 ISO250 – Canon 5Ds with Canon 100mm f2.8 L Macro IS
well yeah, next to beauties of the human race, I also tend to have a certain adoration for mechanical beauties. …
Early november I was strolling the Paris Boulevard Beaumarchais, to look for camera shops, both secondhand an new, to see if I could find some information on view camera’s and to look out if there was something else that interested me, when I came across the Harley dealership situated in this same boulevard. I’m not especially fond of this particular brand of motorbikes, but the boulevard seems to have almost as much motorcycle dealerships as it has camera stores. I happen to like both equally 🙂 . I am however quite charmed about the beautiful finish of the Milwaukee brand, with the chrome, the air cooling fins, the valve push rods and so on. This is mechanics and beauty, and it expresses both power and lifestyle.
I just snapped a small detail of just a random bike parked outside, probably a customer’s bike, before or after servicing. It is in that understanding not polished and it has some weather marks on the chrome, let’s say it’s alive.
I took this picture with my Rolleiflex TLR, probably older than the history of the ‘low rider’ Harley Davidson model. Square frame image format, which I like the best. Image shot on Kodak T-Max 400 film, developed in Ilfotec 29 developer.
For the noobs, 107 cubic inches is the cylinder displacement volume of this particular engine, or 1753 cc, in other words, this is a big engine for a motorbike. It has plenty of torque, and as we now from H-D, “more than enough” horsepower.
thank you for watching and reading, come again soon, I have other images from Paris that I would like to show you.
I have invited two people to my studio and did a small analog vs. digital test.
I have, for the first time ever, linked my studio flashes with my old Rolleiflex 6×6 camera, and shot a roll of images with it, next to my Canon 5Ds with 100mm Macro lens.
What about the outcome, is high res digital better than medium format analog?
I think quality wise that is a no-brainer, our new camera’s and lenses are waay, no waaaaaaaay better than the old stuff, they are sharper, AF is spot on every time, they have less grain (or noise) (films shots done on Ilford FP4 Plus 125) and for sure less dust to retouch. Digital is more convenient, more flexible, more secure (with immediate feedback) … it seems to be more of everything.
Then why still use analog? To me it is more fun, more concentration, at the same time more relaxing, it lets you look forward to the results, it’s more challenging, … people react differently when shooting with a 60 year old camera, they are curious, they are amused, wondering what might be the result, … I also find the images to have some sort of ‘alive’ feeling, the out of focus area’s are more interesting, the framing is square by nature, which I love … although the last arguments might all be nostalgia.
Here are the images, the square ones are analog:
Ok, something I wanted to do for a long time:
On some fora, people have been asking how I scan my negatives, actually I’ve quit scanning, and digitise my 6×6 negatives with the Canon 5Ds high resolution camera, and a Canon 100mm Macro lens. For me it is quicker than scanning, I get a RAW negative file to work with, and I had all gear I needed for building a simple setup.
I have been looking for a new scanner for a while, genre Epson V800, but found them to be a little too expensive for my taste and limited use. I already had this Canon 5Ds camera, and I had a Macro lens, so I wanted to give it a try digitising with the camera in stead. I’ve built this setup to do so, (actually writing this blog post has inspired me to make it even better) …
see images below …
• I have two lamps (generic building LED lamps from a DIY store) that I point to the back, where I have a white foam board installed. I don’t care about the white balance because I work with black and white film, so I get rid of all colour anyway.
• At a relatively small distance (30cm – 1 foot) I have a cardboard box, fixed to a base board (same white foam board, cardboard box taped to it), with a hole in the back end, a little bigger than the negatives I am working with. On the inside of the box, I have put a black paper, with a square cut hole in it, to better fit the actual size of the negatives. The front side of the cardboard box is open, and takes the camera.
• I use a negative holder from an old scanner, but I cut the film frame a tad wider, to be able to see the negative’s edges all around. I kept the original diffusor window.
• On the base foam board, I fixed a sort of slot (foam board strip with double sided tape fixing) that holds the bottom of the film holder, between the slot and the cardboard box. On top of the cardboard box, I fixed a second slot, that holds the top edge lid of the film holder, and I slide the film holder in from left to right (right to left on the images)
• I put my camera to fit the film frame (with a little margin all around) and I have my settings to give best quality: ISO100, f8 1/6 sec … I vary shutter speeds based on the negatives I have (sometimes the negatives are a tad under- or overexposed, I try to have as much light as possible in my ‘scans’ without clipping the highlights). Low Iso for the least noise possible, f8 seems to be the limit aperture before diffraction sets in on this camera, shutter speed long enough to get rid of the flickering effect in the lamps. I work on a tripod and with a 2 second interval between mirror lock-up and opening the shutter. (standard available on the Canon 5Ds, to prevent camera shake due to the mirror flipping up)
• I import the images in LR and reverse them by using the tone curve panel. In this same panel I also manage the white and black point settings by moving in the left and right corner point to where the histogram starts/ends, and eventually a lightening or contrast tone curve.
• Then I further develop the image using the standard development panel and local adjustments (that takes the most ‘getting used to’ because all sliders work ‘negative’)
• I remove dust and scratches in photoshop.
the images should clarify a lot:
the complete setup:
the negative holder removed to change the film strip
the back end of the cardboard box, notice the black paper frame on the inside, and the (modified today) film holder slot for top and bottom edge of the film holder.
film holder sliding in place, notice the top ‘tab’ being held by the slot
film holder in place, looking on the diffusor
Lightroom, tone curve for negative-positive conversion
I manage to scan a film of 12 exposures in about 15 minutes, with a resolution of at least 5000×5000 pixels. That is perfectly fine with me, and gives me all film detail, up to the grain in the film.