Two portrait shoots today.
Two women artists.
One posed, one candid. One outdoor, one indoor. One established, one upcoming. One close-up, one long lens.
Firstly to King's Cross where the massive redevelopment of the area is allowing for some medium-term installations to take place, in this case a work by Rana Begum which will be on site for 3 or 4 years. Its called No. 700 Reflectors, Cubitt Sq., 2016 and comprises many many reflectors in dramatic patterns on a long wall which zig-zags along the edge of an open space. Shooting in drizzle which gradually hardened to proper rain, I used an ISO of 1600 to give me plenty of depth of field on a very grey day. Although the light was dull it was actually easy to work with -- no harsh shadows. The best photos came after I'd asked her to put her hood up -- suddenly she was framed within both the hood and the background shapes of the installation. A quick, easy, pleasant shoot.
The second shot was of Marina Abramović, who was signing copies of her autobiography Walk Through Walls in the Switch House bookshop at Tate Modern. She was chatting with loyal fans, some of whom had started queuing before the shop opened, even though the event didn't start until noon. She was obviously happy to be chatting to fans and seemed very friendly. However, the lighting was very low in the area where she was sitting but bright behind her -- contrast nightmare! I also had to work at a distance to get candid shots as there was no time in her schedule for a posed portrait.
Using a 200mm lens with the ISO at 4000 I shot at 1/100 sec which risked lens shake but I tried to minimise that by leaning against the tables of book displays in the shop. The aperture was only f2.8 so the depth of field is tiny. Having done quite a few shots from one side, I then moved round and got some with the publicity banner showing the book cover behind her -- I like the effect of her own eyes looking over her shoulders. Actually, in both cases, a large part of the skill in making a good composition is arranging the back-ground so that it works around the foreground subject.
You can clearly see the difference in image quality between shooting at the different ISOs and in Marina Abramović's photos her black top is slightly under-exposed. But I think that despite the technical problems, I managed to catch her and get a quite flattering shot. The rest of my photos of both subjects are with Camera Press.
Anna Watson: photographer, parent, juggler