So then, yesterday, “A Gambler’s Guide to Dying” (cheerier than it sounds) had its photocall at the Traverse. The usual, stopwatched, 10 minutes, policed by the ever-efficient Cian. Devised, written, performed by Gary McNair, based on his relationship with his grandfather.

Gary McNair, actor in, and writer of, the production

Gary McNair, actor in, and writer of, the production

Back to the Traverse today for “The Christians”, from The Gate Theatre, London,  and “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn. I suspect this will be an important and memorable piece of theatre but, unfortunately, there was no time to tell, as 10 minutes is not sufficient to impart the essence (or any substance) of the production. However, having read Bryony’s posts about the production, I am intending to book to see it. Absolutely loved her last show (and the one before, and the one before, etc!).

Edinburgh, UK. 03.08.2015. "THE CHRISTIANS" opens at the Traverse Theatre, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Picture shows: Lucy Ellinson (Congregant) and William Gaminara (Pastor). Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Edinburgh, UK. 03.08.2015. “THE CHRISTIANS” opens at the Traverse Theatre, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Picture shows: Lucy Ellinson (Congregant) and William Gaminara (Pastor). Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Edinburgh, UK. 03.08.2015. "FAKE IT 'TIL YOU MAKE IT" opens at the Traverse Theatre, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Starring Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn. Directed by Bryony Kimmings. Picture shows: Tim Grayburn. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Edinburgh, UK. 03.08.2015. “FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT” opens at the Traverse Theatre, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Starring Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn. Directed by Bryony Kimmings. Picture shows: Tim Grayburn. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

However, before that, I went to the Pleasance Dome, to meet Pipeline Theatre, from Cornwall, who are making the utterly beautiful, funny and heartbreaking/tearmaking “Spillikin”. Here’s a link so you can find out more:

Spillikin/Pipeline

Suffice it to say, for now, that, in sitting in on a line-run, around a table in the bar in the Pleasance, it was so on-point that I was both laughing and crying, sometimes in the same breath. Can’t wait to see it performed. The set looks fantastic too and I didn’t even mention the Robothespian yet……

Excited!

First photocall of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, henceforth referred to as simply EdFringe, today at the Traverse. A one-hander entitled “Crash”, by Andy Duffy, directed by Emma Callander and starring Jamie Mitchie (Game of Thrones and Humans). The snippets we had were intriguing. Must try and find a space to see the whole piece.

Jamie Mitchie

Jamie Mitchie

Jamie Mitchie

Jamie Mitchie

In the normal course of things, if I photograph a dog, it’s an actor dog, on a stage, in a theatre. Today was a bit different, having been commissioned to do a non-acting dog portrait (or ‘Doge’ portrait, for those of you in on the meme) outside, in the sunshine, on a bit of urban beach near the Tate Modern.

Stage dog

London, UK. 12.03.2014. Pilobolus presents SHADOWLAND at the Peacock Theatre. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

The subject, a Shiba Inu, was blissfully unaware of being the star of a portrait shoot as she excitedly galloped up and down the strip of sand, either pursuing a tennis ball, or digging herself a hole, which filled with water for her to lap up (creative Doge, making a dog bowl!).

London, UK. 06.07.2015. Kiko Braithwaite, a Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. A Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. Kiko Braithwaite, a Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. A Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. Kiko Braithwaite, a Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. A Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. Kiko Braithwaite, a Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. A Shiba Inu, on the river beach by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Suitably tired from her exertions, we repaired to the area outside the Tate Modern, to continue at a more sedate pace, where, in exchange for treats, politely offered a paw for shaking and posed with her owner.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. Kiko Braithwaite, a Shiba Inu, by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

London, UK. 06.07.2015. A Shiba Inu, by the Tate Modern, Bankside. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

She may not be an actor, but she certainly has star quality. Adults and children alike came over to ask about her and stroke her – having a Shiba as a pet must be a bit like being a WAG if they all create this much awe and appreciation in public!

© Jane Hobson. Kiko the Star Doge, outside the Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK.

© Jane Hobson. A Shiba Inu, the Star Doge, outside the Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK.

For a sole trader, you are the brand, so it is especially important to understand your own brand personality and to convey that through the imagery you use throughout your communications, whether online or in traditional, print, media. And when your business is all about Personal Branding, Executive Coaching, and Training & Development, it is even more crucial that your visual imagery practices what you preach. So it was a joy, yesterday, to have the opportunity to help award-winning image professional, Sarah Brummitt, portray her brand image, via business portraiture, at a studio in North London.

Given my background in advertising and brand communications, as a strategist, it’s unsurprising that I bring this experience to the party when shooting business portraiture. Can’t help it! Sarah and I had worked together before, and have had a number of conversations about her business, brand, positioning, target market and her exciting plans for the future, culminating in a planning meeting a couple of weeks ago. Coupled with what she projects herself (she really does walk the talk), this helped us both to arrive at the type and range of shots needed for her business, across web, training materials, emailers, collateral, etc. Not only that, but I had a clear idea of the lighting required and was able to get it set up and perfectly exposed with my gaffer, Robin Brigham, in advance of my client’s arrival on the day of the shoot.

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

 

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

That done, the dressing area was prepped and the kettle put on! (Priorities!). Once Sarah arrived and we reconfirmed what was expected from the shoot, she showed me her outfits and I ran through a few ideas for poses and action shots, we settled into the shoot itself.

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK. Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

We had decided on using continuous lighting, with powerful light sources usually used for film and video, as Sarah needed action shots, pretty much like I would shoot in the theatre, for production photography. Not having to wait for a flash to power back up meant that she could ‘run lines’ from one of her presentations, keeping the flow to make everything look natural.

As I was shooting tethered (i.e. with the camera connected directly to the laptop and into Lightroom, an editing and processing program), to break up the pace of the shoot, and give a welcome break from posing, Sarah and I reviewed each section, before moving on to the next costume change. Whilst this may seem like a long-winded way of doing it, it can actually speed up the reviewing process after the shoot, and the client can be confident that we have what is needed, before leaving the studio.

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

 

At the end of the afternoon, Sarah confirmed that we had everything that we needed and was happy with the results (albeit unedited/processed at this point). So, today was spent in checking that the selected images were sharp and looking out for any other possibles that we may have missed, making contact sheets, and getting them to the client, via Dropbox. Now the wait to see which ones Sarah and her web designer are going to choose! Excited! (I shall update this blogpost when the final selection is made).

Finally, here’s one of yours truly, demonstrating that hard work is enormous fun!

Business portrait shoot, Cross Street Studio, Islington, London, UK.

 

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Having borrowed a D4s from Nikon UK during the Edinburgh Festivals, I thought I’d do a round-up of the Best of the Fest from a (my!) photographic perspective, and see just what a difference the super-high ISO capabilities of the camera made for my work.

Firstly, it was hugely kind of Nikon (thank you Rob and Artur!) to loan me it for so long – a week or so is more usual, apparently. What’s also unusual is that loans are more usually made to those photographers covering large sporting events, such as the Olympics, etc. Given that the Commonwealth Games were overlapping with #EdFringe, this was especially appreciated. Although sport is a great test of the capabilities of this camera, my reasoning was that the type of work that I do, performing arts, was like shooting sport in the dark (especially contemporary dance and contemporary circus), making an even more extreme test of the camera!

And so it was! Although not needing the extremes of high ISO on every job, what was extremely handy was the ability to use a decent shutter speed with a higher ISO that I’d have been happy with on my D3s. The noise control at higher ISOs was especially pleasing, the ‘noise’ being even more akin to very fine ‘grain’ from film days.

So, what was the most extreme test for the camera? Well, it had to be NoFitState’s “Bianco”. The light in the Grand Chapiteau was low and moody, with plenty of haze, for added atmosphere. The performers were swift, strong and daring. The combination meant that I was working, largely, at 16,000 ISO (yes, you read that correctly! I haven’t added a zero by mistake!) and at 1/250th at f2.8. Ideally, the shutter speed would have been higher, and I guess I could have taken the ISO up a tad more to do so, but as this was a commission for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, and I knew, through having tested out such high ISO in the weeks before, that the quality would still be great, I was happier with the combination I had in the examples I am showing here. With the D3s, I’d have been at an even lower shutter speed at 12,800 (top native resolution for that camera).

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

BIANCO, NoFitState Circus, Big Top, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Contemporary circus being particularly fun to photograph, as well as being challenging and providing some great moments to freeze in time, I am also throwing in a couple of photographs from Circa’s show, “Beyond”. Not really at an extreme of the camera’s capability but nice, crisp, flying, shots nonetheless at ISO 3,200, f2.8/3.5 and 1/320th.

Circa, BEYOND, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Circa, BEYOND, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Circa, BEYOND, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Circa, BEYOND, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

The ability to have a higher shutter speed, to freeze movement, was appreciated during photographing Mark Baldwin’s and the Sisters Grimm’s “Inala”, which had its world premiere in Edinburgh, before coming to Sadler’s Wells in London and then on tour a national tour (ongoing). Still up at a high ISO of 10,000 and wide open at f2.8, but fast enough so there was no motion blur.

INALA, Edinburgh Playhouse, EIF, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

INALA, Edinburgh Playhouse, EIF, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

This one made it into the Telegraph to accompany the review.

Inala, Edinburgh Playhouse, EIF  - The Daily Telegraph - 12 Aug

“Inala” provided such a wonderful array of photographic opportunities, it was even more difficult than ever to do a tight edit! Such beauty in colour, shape and composition! And to see/hear it as an audience member was fantastic – who knew Ladysmith Black Mambazo were such great dancers too?!

Akram Khan’s “Gnosis” was also a production which benefited from a higher shutter speed/high ISO combo. This one utilized 16,000 ISO, 1/500th shutter and f 3.2 aperture.

GNOSIS, Akram Khan Company, Kings' Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

GNOSIS, Akram Khan Company, Kings’ Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

As did Pina Bausch’s “Sweet Mambo”. 16,000 ISO, f2.8, 1/500th.

SWEET MAMBO, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Playhouse, Edinburgh International Festival, Scotland, UK.

SWEET MAMBO, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, Playhouse, Edinburgh International Festival, Scotland, UK.

Another commission for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society was of Colette Garrigan’s “Sleeping Beauty” at the French Institue. The fairy tale was given a reality-twist – a Glasgow childhood populated with a real evil stepmother and a handsome Prince with a happily-ever-after (or was there?!). Skilful shadow puppetry gave the eloquent story-telling an eerie atmosphere – who knew how sinister forks could be, for instance?

SLEEPING BEAUTY, French Insitute, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

SLEEPING BEAUTY, French Insitute, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

So those are my D4s highlights from Edinburgh 2014. Further blogposts coming on the Rest of the Fest! In the meantime, if you would like to look at all the galleries, here is a link to the Edinburgh International Festival galleries and here is the link to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe galleries. Enjoy!

All in all, I was sad to see the D4s go home to Nikon. There is no doubt it is a great camera. There is no doubt I want one. There is no doubt that when the light levels get so low and the speed of movement gets so high, that this is the camera to have. When the clicks around you subside and you are the only one left shooting, you know it is in its element. However, at present, the number of situations when this (amazing) benefit would apply, and would result in payment, are not numerous enough to provide financial justification for this £5,200 camera (body only) for this photographer.

Yet.

Sigh.

Having been loaned a D4s by Nikon, to trial during the Edinburgh festival(s), I was keen to get it set up and do a couple of test shoots before taking it up there. Trial runs are always best before getting a new piece of kit out in the field with a commissioned job and your reputation riding on it. Buttons and menus move, sensors respond to light in a different way and, if you are not prepared, these things could throw you off kilter if you are daft enough to use a brand new camera on a job without getting to know it first. I mean, you wouldn’t get on an unknown horse, for the first time, at the starting gate at the Grand National, now would you?!

This week presented a couple of excellent opportunities to put it through its paces. To take it out on the Gallops.

Low light and fast movement are the things that this camera is made for. Usually given to sports photographers to trial, this could be said to be under-testing for its true ability. Contemporary dance, with lighting designed by the likes of the Master of Darkness, Michael Hulls, is probably the ultimate test for a high performance camera like this (it’s essentially shooting sport in the dark, or maybe more like photographing subatomic particles, unlit, where the very fact of observing, changes the direction of travel).

Anyhoo, not having the likes of the ultimate (no light, fast moving) test this week, I did get two great opportunities to see how it handled under ‘normal’ (for dance/theatre) conditions.

English National Ballet’s “Coppelia” was the first chance I had to use it. Married to the 70 – 200mm, it felt both familiar and strange. The sound of the shutter is certainly different. No quieter, even in quiet mode (shakes fist at Nikon). The sound shouldn’t really matter, but it does, in an environment where the noise can disturb the subject and those around. (There was an amusing incident recently where a member of the audience at a dress rehearsal came over to the whole corps of photographers, there to shoot for the press/publicity, to ask for their shutter sounds to be turned off as we were disturbing his appreciation of the opera. N.b. if you don’t understand the subtleties of that then 1. You can’t turn a shutter ‘sound’ off (unless you turn the camera off) It’s a mechanical sound. 2. We were doing our job of work, invited because we are published in the right media, to help generate ticket sales. 3. He got in for free, to watch. 4. Publicity means ticket sales – no ticket sales, no next dress rehearsal). Top tip, if you are easily distracted by camera clicks, buy a ticket for a performance.

I digress.

It was an utter pleasure to be able to set shutter speed to a fast-enough level to know you are able to freeze(ish) motion, whilst not sacrificing quality to high ISO. Usually, it’s a real balancing act, with most calculations being based on shooting wide open (f2.8) at the slowest you can handhold for the focal length (and often below) at the highest ISO your camera will do before disintegrating like something being teleported. Yes, you can use a tripod/monopod, and I occasionally do, but this means you lose agility/responsiveness (and most of the pictures end up as landscape!). So, the results weren’t any better, on this occasion. Not in terms of output, anyway. But there was more peace-of-mind about getting a sharp shot at speed. COPPELIA, ENB, Coliseum, London, UK. COPPELIA, ENB, Coliseum, London, UK. COPPELIA, ENB, Coliseum, London, UK.

Colour is another thing. The new sensor seems to handle colour in a very different way to the D3s. I am still getting to grips with that (which is a feat in itself if you don’t have two identical cameras to shoot with!).

The second test was with a production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with (as the title of the blogpost suggests) Gillian Anderson. No low-light advantage over the D3s here, though I did appreciate the slightly larger sensor size. At 16mb, it allows a little leeway on framing, when there’s a whacking great revolve trying to take your legs out from under you and you need to get far enough back to get the shot without being dead-legged. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, with Gillian Anderson, Young Vic, London, UK.

What I didn’t appreciate was the number of thieving barstewards who stole my work (screengrabbed, complete with copyright watermark) for their blogs. Yes, it is illegal. Yes, it harms my livelihood. Yes, I shall pursue legal recourse if you haven’t removed it within the next week. The Truth Is Out There!