Monthly Archives: March 2009

affection in the echo

Hooray!! Click to enlarge

– Rory

home made lighting equipment

I have been trying to teach myself studio lighting for the past while, via a few good sites on the net. The best I have found are strobist and lime. These guys are all using digital cameras these days, but light is light: learning how to light a subject and use light to sculpt your photographs has nothing to do with digital, film, or the camera.

The main source of light in our universe is, of course, the sun. Whether it’s harsh noonday sun, or more likely here in Ireland, the giant softbox of cloud cover, the sun is our main light source. You may think that this is obvious, and that it has nothing to do with studio lighting, but the sun is simply a source of ambient light. When shooting indoors in the evening, electrical lighting is the ambient light. We all regularly use ambient light as our only light source – a lot of people express a preference for this. But we are also all aware, whether subconciously or not, of the affects of this ambient light source.

Students of photography are taught to be aware of the light source. To get your exposure right, what do you need to do? Expose for the shadows. Expose for the highlights. Use the correct film speed. Be aware of how the light is falling on your subject. Try to use the ambient light to add something to your subject. So after a while students will be getting their exposures right, and will start doing mad things, like getting up before dawn to catch that sunrise and the way it sculpts the landscape. Or pushing film to capture night scenes.

At some point we start to think more about light. How can we change the light source? Change the direction of the light? Add to the ambient light? In other words, studio lighting. If you like to photograph people, studio lighting can open a whole new world. It puts the photographer in control. Visualise a scene and light it the way your mind sees it. And of course, you don’t need a studio. The point is that you are learning to control the light – remove some of the ambient, add some flash, think about it, be creative.

So, to get to the point of this post (been a long build up!), since the dawn of photography and cinema, there has been a whole industry building up an array of stuff that you can buy. Reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes, barn doors, snoots, grids, backgrounds, foregrounds, lights, strobes, the list goes on and on. You could spend a fortune and still not make a good photograph (always a problem with photography, actually). Luckily there’s plenty of people in the world who don’t want to or can’t afford all this gear, and recognise that studio lighting is the home of cardboard, gaffer tape, gels, tinfoil and black plastic drinking straws – yep, DIY! You may not be able to build yourself a Hasslebald (even if you do get pretty good results with a shoebox and a pinhole), but you can build an array of studio equipment – hooray!

To get things going, a guy called Jag showed us on his blog page how to build a reflector. See his full instructions here. He went from this

To this

To this

Pretty good! Time to get busy!

Coming soon – Jason’s funky foam bounce flash (seen in action at Padraigs opening night)!

– Rory


This evening Padraig’s solo exhibition, “affection“, opened in the exhibition room in Bishopstown public library. The room was full and there were plenty of red dots against the prints, which was great to see. The prints are beautiful and the exhibition is well worth a visit if you are in the Cork area

– Rory

Another photograph from affection, by Padraig Spillane


Another photograph from affection, by Padraig Spillane. Affection is running from today, Monday 23rd of March until Tuesday the 31st of March at the Bishopstown Library, Wilton, Cork.


Affection is a solo exhibition by CorkAP member Padraig Spillane

this post is not a photo post

!!! This Post is a Grand Slam !!!


Affection is a solo exhibition by CorkAP member Padraig Spillane

“… The theme of Affection is the intimacy created between photographer and subject. The goal of this work is to illuminate the clues of an individual’s identity through gesture, body language, or a certain look.

Affection is running from Monday 23rd of March until Tuesday the 31st of March at the Bishopstown Library, Wilton, Cork. …”

– Padraig Spillane

Click here to visit Padraigs webpage

Printing in the Crawford

Central Park, lake and reflections, NYC. Holga + Kodak film. By Rory O’Toole

Saturday was the second morning spent printing in the darkroom of the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork. It is a fantastic facility, and we are very grateful to Trish and the photography department for making it available to us. The whole group was in on Saturday, so the bonding and feel good factor was high. And plenty of slagging to keep things real! We are preparing for our exhibition in Gallery Nautica in the summer, and the work rate was high.
Although some of us have darkrooms at home, nothing compares with working in a group for a few hours. The company and the chatter is fun, but the encouragement and critique as you work helps you deal with problems that may just leave you frustrated at home. All in all a good morning, and a number more to come before we exhibit.

– Rory

Harry Moore and Malcolm McClay at the Sirius in Cobh

Tonight we went to the opening of the Harry Moore and Malcolm McClay exhibition at the Sirius gallery in Cobh, “A Tale of Two Cities”. This was a documentary project based on the cities of New Orleans and Cork. Harry Moore’s work was by pinhole, and featured views of the city at water level along the river Lee. Malcolm McClay’s work documented New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina, with the sky in each picture being used as space for text, telling the story of many survivors of the disaster. The show was opened by Mick Hannigan, Director – Cork Film Festival and a special performance by band Two Time Polka. Excellent stuff!

camera truck

Shaun Irvine went back to basics, and built himself a very large camera – in a truck. What a great idea. The truck has travelled around Spain and the States. Read more here

The images that he has produced look fantastic. The negatives measure about 7 feet by 3.5 feet! I’d love to see a print

(c) Shaun Irving

– Rory

The Americans

Robert Frank, Funeral—St.Helena, South Carolina, 1955, gelatin silver print

“… On November 7, 1955, the Swiss photographer Robert Frank was arrested in McGehee, Ark. The police, hoping to ferret out a real live Communist, questioned him for four hours because, as they subsequently explained, he was foreign; he was Jewish; his car was “heavily loaded with suitcases, trunks and a number of cameras;” he had “foreign whiskey,” a “foreign box” of candy, and had given his kids “foreign names.”

If the cops were after political liberals, they had the right man. But Frank was an aesthetic subversive, not a Marxist one. At the time of his arrest, he was traveling around the United States on a Guggenheim fellowship, taking pictures for what he described as “a spontaneous record of a man seeing this country for the first time.” …”

Read more – click here

Like film cameras?

Then this website should have you dribbling –

I don’t think about what camera I should use that much. I just pick up the one that looks nicest on the day
— William Eggleston

A pic from the day

Ok Ok, this is a digital image. But just to prove we were there on Sunday morning, and it was bloody cold (see previous post). This was about 8am. Left to right, 5 CorkAP’ers – Sanda, Padraig, Rory, Jason, Brian

Another outing

So early last Sunday morning I rolled out of bed just before five, stumbled into our drizzly hard water shower and closed my eyes again as the water teased the sleep out. I could have slept in the shower. Another four bodies also pulled themselves into the day, and we met an hour later at the side of the road at the end of the Ballincollig bypass. Dumping one car in a pub car park, we drove to An Gearagh near Macroom to photograph the dawn across the still ESB lake with it’s ancient tree stumps poking their heads into the light from the murky depths below. It was cold, but it was beautiful.

No photos to post yet. Maybe tomorrow, if the roll of colour I get back from the chemist has even one gem to match that magical dawn. More to follow ….

– Rory