Monday, 31 May 2010

Scott Kelby's Old School Photo Challenge

And what a challenge it turned out to be!

Agfa Isolette

I take portraits and the occassional building, except when I am in Ireland, then I take lots of building and the occasional portrait, thats just the way it is.

I don't do macro, haven't got the patience for it, can't be bothered with tripods most of the time. But as was part of the 'challenge' I thought I would stretch myself and get the macro lense out. I didn't use a tripod though.

The rules were clear; one ISO, one 'rool' of 24 or 36 shots, one day, wait 24 hours for 'processing' and no photoshopping! Just like back when we used 'film' remember that? And one more thing - no looking at the preview screen.

Setting one ISO wasn't a problem, I set ISO 100, which I then realised I should have set 200, but it was too late. There was a film once that claimed you could do different ISO's on it but I never got to grips with that and it would have been cheating! I fitted this around family stuff over this bank holiday weekend. It was great fun and would recommend it to any and all as a way of connecting with their photography. It makes you think and brought me right back to the film days. I used transparencies mostly back then, so cropping / post develope manipulation never happened. I am used to composing in the camera, at least I thought I was, this gave me a kick in the rear, which is only a good thing! I was tempted to peek, but I am happy to say i didn't.

A great challeng and all for a good cause; the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya. the idea is to donat all or part of what the 'processing cost' would have been if we used film. If you would like to donate, here is their webpage; Springs of Hope.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Whats happening...?

There is never enough time in the day! I don't know if you find that, but I certainly do. So this is what I am up to at the moment.

Men and Fast Jets...
I had the privilege of photographing David as he took a jet flight he won recently. I am currently writing an article that wil go with the photographs, can't say too much yet, but it will be published this summer.

Fast Jets...
Project 52
Project 52 is coming to an end. I have one more shot to tak and then my own portrait to finish it.
It has been a long and exciting journey. I have certainly learnt a lot and met some extraordinary people.

Scott Kelby's Challenge
Scott Kelby has a challenge up on his blog check it out here, its a great cause and if you follow it will it will help others less fortunate than ourselves. Katy and I have our cameras ready and set for 36 shots, no cheating and we're off to a local bike event in the town near us. But its raining at the moment, so we'll have to improvise. Whatever happens we will be shooting and thats always fun.

Head shots.
I am starting a little project just for myself of taking 'dark' headshots; pictures with a twist to them rather like an Edgar Allen Poe story...

So there definitely isn't enough time in the day! How do you plan your  photography?
Have you got enough time in the day?
Thats all for now, take care

Monday, 24 May 2010

Project 52...50

Project 52 is finally drawing to a close. I started out on this journey over a year ago now and I am delighted to be almost at the finishing line.

This is Chris. Chris is a Structural Engineer whom I have worked with on and off over the last eight years or so. A very talented man, he also collects old Rollei cameras!

Chris #1

Chris #2
I have been meaning to photography Chris for the last six months or so and have had to cancel for one reason or another - totally my fault - but we finally managed it just a week ago. Chris works from home in an office he built at the back of his house. Never having seen it before, I was expecting a shed. Wrong. I encountered what is known in Chris' family circle as the Svenhut, christened, so I am told to coinside when it was built and the world cup when Sven Goran Erickson was in charge of England.

Chris #3
The garden itself is amazing with its meandering pathway, water feature (over which there is a bridge)  - . Structural engineer - bridge, fair enough, well manered borders and the odd mature tree. Then a shed camouflaged amongs well tended shrubs. Then two of Chris' inventions. Yes, I did say inventions. One a wind turbine that he built twenty odd years ago, the propellor whittled from timber, and another hydraulic device for splitting logs.

Chris #4
Keep going, straight past another trellis, a vegetable patch, some nettles on the left and there is the Svenhut.
This hut was not only designed as an office but also a darkroom. There are two windows, square, and there are two panels, timber that fit over the windows to block out all light. When not in use they are fitted to the side of the office in line with the windows, it almost looks, well, designed...
Chris #5
The first two shots were taken in the Svenhut. An SB800 was fired at about 1/4 power into a partialy closed reflecting umbrella very close to Chris. The object in his hand in #2 is a slide rule. If you don't know what that is, ask your dad, or your granddad... Shots #3 and #4 were taken on the bridge in the evening sun, which was a little harsh, so we dropped the ambient and then added the SB800 zoomed to 105mm. The last shot shows the Svenhut, with Chris outside. Again the ambient was dropped, a Vivitar 285 was triggered in the office and a bare SB800 was fired from camera left. the camera setting were iso 100, 1/250 at f5.6 and I tweaked the f-stop now and then and the flash power to taste.

Thanks Chris for letting  me into your garden and showing me the way out afterwards... Chris was a great sport and does a great moody look. And, by the way we are still waiting on those structural calcs and the other Chris want his roof drawings!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Follow the Red Shoe... part one

Recently I have been thinking a lot about what my photography is all about; what it means to me, how others perceive it and the message I am trying to get across to my potential clients. When all is said and done; it comes down to Branding and Image. Now, I am not a marketing guru, so no doubt there are buzz words of the moment to describe these things much better than I ever could. And I have to warn you now that this post is a bit of a ramble... But just do what I do; just...

follow the red shoe...

Follow the Red Shoe

The story of the red shoes is told here, I was a guest blogger over on Glyn Dewis' blog and talked about the shot there and the red shoes made an appearance in a Jimmy Choo competition and came runner up. So you could say the shoes were following me around. At this point I must say, they belong to Catherine, my wife. Just to put the record straight, hmmh. But everyone commented on the shots and liked them, so I guess you could say I am now following the red shoes. They have become my signature shot, sort of. You don't want to go limiting yourself, too much. But at this point I realised I needed to pen an identity for what I do.


First an foremost I am a portrait photographer. That's what I do; I love taking photographs of people. Any brand image or logo I devised would have to take that into account. I try to give my portraits an edge, make them different -  don't we all. So any branding must mirror this as well. I did a lot of thinking, sketching ideas, scribbles in many notebooks (I like my notebooks - and spend too much money on them, but don't tell Catherine...) and I realised that the picture that summed up what I wanted to say was the red shoe shot.

So that became my logo. If you are a portrait photographer, a landscape photographer or whatever type of photographer you are, your logo doesn't have to be a person, a mountain, a shutter... it can be, and if that's what you choose, okay. But so many others have chosen the same before you and guess what? so many others will choose the same after you. So be bold, go for something different. I went for the red shoes. These ones are extreme, dynamic, vibrant (that's red for you). They make you look. They make you stare. They are supposed to, especially when worn by a lady, quite.

And they make you think. Logos are meant to stand out. they are meant to shout 'hey look at me!' And if you think for a moment, you will think of loads of logos that at first glance bear no resemblance to the product... or do they?

One of my favourites is the Hairy Baby, they do the most amazing tee shirts in Ireland; all with a joke attached to them; you'll get it if your Irish, otherwise... that's all I'll say...  Have a look at their web site, great fun. What does Hairy baby have to do with tee shirts? Nothing, but their marketing and their product is so good, say 'hairy baby' to an Irishman and they'll probably start laughing.

So the shoes have became my logo which sort of morphed into a signature. But I hope that they become much more than that. I hope they engage peoples emotion; they are sexy and a bit mysterious and have an edge. I want people to think that when they think of my photography. So the photography is anchored to the logo.

In this image I am trying to create, I want to present a united face to the world. So red and black will feature on my website, my blog and any promotional material I might use. And it will be red fading to black, because that's the way I wanted it and it is striking; there is a uniformity about it. Its my signature.

My Website

My Blog

I also have a great interest in Architecture and Ireland and have another blog; Infinite Ireland. Completely different subject, different country, but the blog header is easily recognizable; green fading to black and the font is the same. The message is the same; this is Noel Hannan's photography (yeah, I know my name is on the header...)

Infinite Ireland

But I wanted to link them in another way, so the word 'infinite' was thrown into the mix and there you have it. that's me, and my photographs.

The design of a logo / branding / image is all important because it is a chance for the photographer to stand out from the crowd. It should be distinct, but easily recognizable. A logo should be dynamic, unique and memorable. You want to make sure a client remembers your logo. 

Keep following the Red Shoe...

This is the part of the branding that you can control. What the public perceives, that's the other part. The part that you have to somehow influence.

Keep following...

Keep watching for part two..

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday blog's looking at you.. again

The amount of information out there is truly astounding, and not only that, but its also free.Talented photographers, some experts in their fields, some only starting out, others like myself, hungry to shoot and develop their own style. They all have one thing in common; they blog. And I like reading them. And learning from them.

A fantastic blog with must see tips for lightroom. Another of Scott Kelby's babies by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. Just go there if you use lightroom.

Another great lightroom blog by Sean McCormack, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when David Hobby last came over to the UK in December 2008. Great read, again, full of good information. Definitely worth a visit.

Another photographer, Quoc-Huy, whom I also met at the same Strobist seminar. Great photography and great energy; he was a guest blogger on Glyn Dewis blog a while ago. Well worth a visit.

I just found this blog... I'm playing catch-up with myself! It is a fantastic blog on basically everything you ever wanted to know about a photography business but were afraid to ask! Read it regularly; it is food for thought, the current post is about keywords... good stuff.

Drew Gardner's blog. Fantastic photographer - great location photography. Read this as often as you can.

Another photographer I have only just come across; Paul Pratt, from over in San Francisco. Great moody portraits, lit just the way I like 'em. Real film noir, I am always interested to see what Paul shoots next.

Great wedding photographers, Jaco and Daleen, a husband and wife team that are fantastic wedding photographers. their photographs are full of flair .. not flare... originality and are very contemporary. A real inspiration.

I keep browsing, following links on other photographers website and finding really amazing images taken by really talented photographers. It's just great fun.

If you are in the mood for surfing, check out Glyn Dewis' blog on, he posted a really interesting '... Youtube Follow Friday' in the spirit of the Twitter Follof Friday; great idea Glyn and thanks for the heads up; I'll be subscribing...

Thats all for now, I am working on a post about Branding and Image which will be posted soon...
just follow the red shoe...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Congratulations to Matilda on Her First Holy Communion

This week I had the great honour of photographing Matilda, a little angel, on the occasion of her First Holy Communion. This is a big occasion for a little girl (or boy). Traditionally girls wear a white dress and veil and boys wear their school uniform or blazer - we didn't have a uniform when I made mine, but we did have a blazer. And if I am being honest, I don't remember wearing it other than on that day. The idea here was for Matilda's Mum and Dad to hand out photographs to their guests on the day as a souvenir that could be treasured for ever.

Matilda #1
A First Holy Communion day is a very special day; a modern rite of passage, in a small way maybe, but nevertheless, an extremely important one.

Matilda #2
To capture the actual moment of receiving the Host and Matilda making her First Holy Communion is not practical, and anyway photographs are not allowed during the ceremony. Knowing this, I didn't want to rush taking photographs on the day afterwards when everyone is lavishing attention on Matilda and trying to snap a photo and it's like a paparazzi maul. I wanted this to be a calm and thought out shoot. So we did it four days beforehand. This allowed me to think of the photograph I wanted to achieve and execute it with plenty of time.

On an occasion like this the photographer has two photographs to take; the serene one and the smiling happy one. The day is a special holy day, but it is also a happy one.

Both of these photographs were taken with the same lighting set up; an SB800 at about half power in a shoot through umbrella to camera left. the camera was in manual mode, set to ISO 100 at 1/200 at about f5.6 (which is generally my starting point - I just tweak the setting from there). I did a test shot to check the ambient light level. But I had hit it spot on first time. This allowed me to just keep shooting; if the ambient didn't change. The evening was overcast and the light levels really good for this type of shot, and then all of a sudden the sun came out from behind, fortunately we had the shots I wanted by then. The technique used here is the same one in my previous post The White Dress... One flash, one umbrella.

A big thank you to Matilda for being wonderful  a big congratulations on making your First Holy Communion (and don't worry about the secret password...) Thanks also to Mum and Dad for allowing me to be part of this in some small way.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The White Dress...

I was very fortunate to be invited to attend one of Glyn Dewis' 'taster workshops' last Saturday in High Wycombe and Amersham. He is developing a series of workshops to teach his unique way of portrait photography, check out his website . We started off the morning in the studio, spent a few hours going over the versatility of only using one light and one modifier; in this case an SB800 and an umbrella. We then took that knowledge and brought it outside and shot Catherine in a white dress in Amersham on a very cold afternoon, did I say cold?, I meant absolutely freezing...

Catherine, White Dress #1
Catherine, White Dress #2
I made sure Catherine had a coat to hand between the shots when Glyn was teaching, and also I should say a big thanks to Katy our invaluable VAL (voice activated lightstand) who on more than one occassion saved the SB800 from certain death! And did I mention the cold...?
Catherine, White Dress #2
The set up for these shots is surprisingly simple; a single shoot through umbrella with an SB800 on a lightstand to camera right at about 45 degrees to Catherine. An exposure is first taken for the sky, underexpose by about a stop or so until you like the look, then add in the flash at about half or quarter power. And there you have it. Set the camera on manual and keep shooting.

The day was a great success and a big thanks to Glyn for giving his time, knowledge and experience to the group, to Catherine for posing and bearing the cold and Katy... and I am told there was a rather good portrait taken of an older gentleman... I prefer the ones of Catherine myself!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Project 52 .. 49... Part 2

Meet Christine .. again.
Project 52; Christine
When I first photographed Christine in Lily Hill Park, she told me her other favourite place is in the kitchen. So we arranged another day to shoot her there.

In the shot above Christine is enjoying a healthy dose of Marks and Engels, not always the kind of books you expect in a kitchen, but very apt for Christine (she is something of an expert on Engels...) The shoot was great fun and very quick to set up; one SB800 shot into a reflecting umbrella, half closed.. (for more info on this little terchnique see my good friend Glyn Dewis' blog - ).

But sometimes the set up shot is a keeper...
This was the test shot, taken almost from the hip. I obviously had a slower shutter speed as I can remember the shutter lagging during the shot. But the flash, going off at a really high speed, has frozen Christine where it has fallen on her and the dragging of the shutter created a sort of painterly effect which I really like.

Christine has been one of the easiest people to photograph; she was a great sport. Thanks again Christine.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Catherine; living on the ceiling...

This is Catherine, no stranger to my photography; she puts up with it on an almost daily basis, we're married.

Recently, we had the opportunity to do some shooting in our good friend Paul's house. It is empty at the moment and undergoing major refurbishment. So, in the absence of a studio we headed out there one evening to have a bit of fun.

We have had this shoot in mind for a while now, Catherine in her skyscraper shoes and coloured tights. So off we went.
Catherine pink #1

Catherine blue #1
We had a great laugh and toook quite a lot of shots.
Catherin in pink
Catherine in blue

The lighting was a simple one light set up; an SB800 and about 1/4 power through a white umbrella from camera left at about 45 degrees. The camera was set to manual at 1/250 and about f5.6 or so. I simply did the test shot and then the rest of the shots were all the same. Quick and easy.

Of course when you shoot in an empty house there are bound to be a few problems, such as... no power. And that means no light. Well, you can imagine what happened... we lost track of the time. I only realised this when the camera was starting to struggle with the autofocus. So we had to pack up in twilight, because I forgot to bring a torch, stupid boy. Fortunately the only thing that was left behind was a filter.

I think the constant flashing from the bedroom windows raised a few eyebrows with the neighbours... enough said!

Thanks to Paul for the loan of his house and to Catherine for being my model... again.