Behind the Image


It's been a couple of weeks, and as i said in a previous post, i will be writing about my recent shoots with Theater Oberhausen, producing the imagery for their 2018/19 programme.

Well, here comes the first in that series.

The shoot for the theater's new programme involved photographing the permanent cast of the theater in various situations, performing 'other jobs' in the local area. We visited a hospital, funeral parlour, and a kiosk, to name just a few locations.

Most of the shoots were carried out at night, in order to take a look in to what people are doing while the rest of us sleep.

Midnight pizza

Midnight pizza

These shoots presented of course one major challenge; darkness. Something that can be overcome with knowing what you're doing, and a little trickery with lights here and there.

One of the most challenging shoots however was the team photo. All the men and women who work behind the scenes at the theater, who of course deserve their place in the programme, joined by some of the cast who were around on the day.

Photographing 50 plus people and making it look interesting isn't so easy. 

Thankfully, Franca, who i mentioned in a previous post, was on hand with some ideas and some sharp organisational skills!!

The plan was: use the main stage in the theater, bring some props in, and get everyone to lie on the floor in some kind of organised way so it looked like they were doing their usual jobs - or somewhere close!

IMG_6820 2.JPG

From a technical point of view, figuring out how to photograph the stage from directly above was a bit of a sticky point.

Sending the camera up with the lighting rig was the simplest option. Then firing the camera remotely. 

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Instead of using cables to connect the camera to a computer to take the shot, i opted for using my reserve camera, a Canon 6D, and using it's wifi function to connect to my mac and take the shot. Easy right - wrong!

First, the proprietary software which Canon uses to tether the camera remotely is junk! The camera and computer can't see each other automatically like the camera can with Canons smartphone app.  You need to first set up an ad-hoc network on the computer, then try and force the camera to see it. 

When you are finally connected, the connection drops every few seconds. And you can't use more stable software like CaptureOne - or at least, i couldn't get it to work. 

The dropped connection of course could be due to the distance between camera and computer, around 15 meters; but once i had moved myself, and the macbook up into the rafters nearer the camera, the problem continued.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

Franca meanwhile continued to coordinate things down on the stage, with me having to send a screenshot from the macbook over WhatsApp every few seconds. This was of course only possible while the connection to the camera was holding and i was able to see something.

Several test shots later, we were ready to go - and of course, the connection dropped again. Wi-Fi off, Wi-Fi on, close EOS utility, open EOS utility - you get the idea of what a struggle it was!!

We did however get there in the end, and managed to pull an image out with so many things to look at! 


The image features on the inside cover of the new programme, and can be checked out online here!

There'll be more stories about the rest of the shoots coming in the coming weeks! 

Until then... :)

Shooting-day announcement!

Hey everybody!

So, after a bit of thought, planning, testing, and other things, I've decided to hit the road and bring my shoots to somewhere near you!




Next weekend, there's two opportunities for bands, artists, actors and business owners to freshen up their promotional material with some new images at a reduced price!

First up, on Saturday 16th June, i'll be heading to Essen to shoot business portraits. These sessions are aimed at entrepreneurs, self-employed persons, online influences even actors and those that simply wat to spruce up their social media accounts.

These Business Shoot sessions are the perfect way to get yourself in front of camera, in a relaxed atmosphere. Locations are free to choose from; from a leafy park, to your office or favourite coffee shop! You're in charge!



Sunday 17th June brings me back to my roots - music!

If you're in a band, or are a performer in the Cologne area, then this one is for you!

If you need new promo images for your bands website and social media feeds, then drop me a line! 

Again, locations are you're choice, what ever fits your style!

Both shoots are accompanied with a chat before-hand to get the ideas out there and make a plan!

For more info, check out my facebook page. To book, drop me a mail to - it'll be great to see you there!!



In Search of a Street Lamp

I've been pretty busy lately. Who hasn't I hear you say? Busy is good right?

A big chunk of my recent work has come from a new customer. A theater in Oberhausen. How this relationship started is very random - a real case of 'right place right time', but i won't go into that right now.

Part of the process of promoting a production is of course taking pictures of it. Not just of rehearsals, but also a preview photo. An image that the theater can put out into the world to whet the appetite of it's patrons.

Last week, my theater colleagues and I headed out to shoot a promo photo for an upcoming production. 

The location had been found already. Some old workers houses, with street lanterns attached to the wall, to give the photo the feel of the period in which the production is set (WWII).

Problem was, arriving at the location, all of the houses with lamps attached had cars parked nose-to-tail in front of them. An actress in a 1930's costume, in front of a house from the last century with a new mercedes wouldn't really work!

We scouted the area and found a house with no cars, but no lamp!! Time to improvise!!

In the image below, you can see what i'm trying to do: balance the ambient light so that it's still visible a little, bringing in some soft light from across the road to light the subject but not cause to much shadow, and a flash from above mimicking a street lamp similar to the other houses. The next consideration here is keeping the aperture small enough to make the new street lamp look like a burst of light, and not a flash gun, while still achieving some kind of balanced exposure!

Balance the ambient, flash from front with as little shadow as possible, and a street lamp from above - easy right?

Balance the ambient, flash from front with as little shadow as possible, and a street lamp from above - easy right?

The final image below was a bit of a funny one to edit. It's pretty much as it was in camera, from an adjustment point of view not much has happened. Trying to decide what to do with our new street lamp was the problem!

Anna Polke

Anna Polke

I added several vectors of street lamps in photoshop. I even borrowed some street lamps from other images i found on the web. Nothing looked right, or better or more realistic that what came out of the camera.

It almost looks like a street lamp. And the stand it's on is not really dissimilar to the ironwork of the actual lamps on the other houses. 

To the untrained eye, thats looking at the subject, it looks fine. 

To me and you, it's a flash gun on a stand being held above a guys head who's hiding behind the house :)



For more information, click here





Should anyone want to send me a present...

mmmmm... dampness

mmmmm... dampness

Well there it is! The Karma (Sutra). A new drone from GoPro, along with a new camera, the Hero5 were unvield to the public yesterday afternoon!

It flies, it folds, it looks awesome, and it may well have the guys over at DJI worrying!

Apeman is now officially looking for a review copy of this sucker! 

Aerial photography is something that i've been wanting to get in to for a while. The problem is the cost of quality equipment is somewhat prohibitive. For what i shoot, concerts and cars from time to time, such a piece of kit would open up a whole new world and put me ahead of the competition! I need something like this in my life!

Gopro....if you're listening - i have the camera ready to roll for a review!! :)