Carmela Presents…  JOHN FRENCH  – Assignment 2, Task 1

(1.1, 1.2)

A course requirement is that we give a 15 minute presentation, with supporting material on a studio photographer of our choosing.

*Takes a bow*

Without any further ado, I present to you,  the amazing, Mr John French.


I have really enjoyed everyone’s presentations, and have loved finding out more about these influential, and inspiring photographers.

More next week…… 🙂






(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)



Syon Clinic, Gt West Rd. This image has been converted into B&W apart from the architectural detail of the tiles. Whilst I like this image, if I was to change something about it, perhaps I could have pulled back a little to include the top part of the building that has been cut off.


The Hive, by Wolfgang Buttress, Kew Gardens – this stunning installation was built as a short term structure but, a year and a half on is still delighting visitors to the gardens. I love the drama of this beautiful structure.


This shot has been edited to best show the colour of the sky and clouds, and also to  exaggerate the shadows and reflections. I like that there are few colours in the image but that what’s there is very strong.


This sign is on an old and, slightly wobbly building next to the dry dock on Brentford Dock. I love the 1950’s font of the sign, it clearly hasn’t been re-painted and everything else around it has been left to rust and deteriorate. If I were to change something about the image, I might have tried to get the entire sign in.

Disused buses, Brentford Dock

These buses belong to a local company that are renovating them to use as ‘event’ buses. People can hire them for weddings and parties. When finished, these Routemaster buses look beautiful, but these poor ol’ buses are now retired and are waiting patiently for some love and attention. I really like the faded colours and tiny hints of chrome, even the hint of an old advertising poster with the promise of a fun night out. (…it is, I’ve seen it 😉 ) It might have been a nicer image if the sky were blue and the fence were galvanised as opposed to green, but that really was out of my control.




Brentford, Brentford so good they named it once.

An ongoing project this term, was to explore, and photograph within the double page spread on an AtoZ map of our postcode area. We were to make studies and notes showing evidence of our research and investigation.  We’re asked to view our environment with fresh eyes and finally, to select 5 images, and have them printed for our exhibition at the college.

BRENTFORD RESEARCH (1.1,1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

How do I feel about Brentford? I came here from a small village in Hertfordshire, almost 3 years ago.  Our main criteria was to find a together home, with a garden, and within 15 mins of Tripod Carriers workplace. We had friends in the area. Brentford was affordable, and apparently starting to regenerate.

So, What’s the story? What does Brentford say?  In lots of ways, Brentford has so much… Longevity, indeed a huge amount of history, including Julius Caesar, Famous battles, connections to Royalty, and great change during the Industrial revolution.


It was a relatively bright day for the outside shots, so I used a low ISO, but kept a shallow depth of field because I wanted to focus on just a small part of the object I was photographing.

For the interior photo’s,  I used a higher ISO, which varied depending on the level of natural light available, again, I wanted to focus on specific parts of the detail, so varied the focal length, for framing and kept the aperture quite low.

Perhaps it would have been easier for me to take photo’s using my tripod, but I was mindful of a small hoarde of schoolchildren, which meant H&S had to come first, so I settled for resting my camera on various railings, and bars, structures. I was happy with the outcomes of my day in the Kew Steam Museum, well worth a visit.

In my research, I have discovered connections to Charles Dickens, Van Gogh, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Pocahontas even! There are wonderful green spaces, Kew Gardens, Syon Park, Osterley House.




and yet.. It has no heart. Or perhaps it’s just lost it for a while… Brentford has a long standing tradition of boom and bust.   Today, the town centre is desperately run down, and depressing, the shops are almost non-existent. Even in the short time I have been here, more have closed down. For a short while, we had a small, but popular farmer’s market, then politics got involved, and the market was moved out of the way, causing most of the stall holders to give up. The market now consists of just a handful of stalls. People prefer to shop and visit with our wealthier neighbours, Richmond and Chiswick.

There are some beautiful buildings, and stunning architectural details along the Great West Road, and some shockingly run down 50’s shops and towering blocks of flats that need demolishing.


I set out to say something about my postcode, but I love the broken, faded images of decay around Brentford. It was a cold and grey day, but the soft light added something to the coolness of the colours, washng them out, adding to the rundown feel.

What makes me uncomfortable about TW8? There seems to be a lack of community.. Cliques of disparate ethnicities, an undercurrent of racism. One of the few places that seems to bring people together in Brentford, is the football club, which has a large following. The pubs also bring people together, and I discovered that previously, Brentford had a reputation for brawling and drunkness!! Perhaps that’s why we had such a large Magistrates Court, which has now been developed into a snazzy coffee shop?

Brentford has strong transport arteries.. The Thames, The Grand Union Canal, The Great West Road.  All of which brought great wealth in their time, and going forwards, there are plans to create a supercycle highway.



Everyone I have spoken to about this regeneration tells me it’ll never happen.  Brentford has seen these promises before. There have been many attempts to rebuild Brentford.. All of which have failed.  Brentford is now very jaded. Once a bustling, well-to-do Victorian town, there is little evidence of it now.

There are new plans to build and rejuvenate the canal side area, and the south side of the High Street, but there’s a great deal of opposition, and everyone involved seems to be dragging their heels. Nothing has happened yet… People seem to be very sceptical and disapproving. I’m not quite sure what they are afraid of losing?



Thousands of shiny new flats are being built, but there just isn’t the infrastructure to support so many people.  Plans have been approved, land has been compulsory purchased, but it has a very long way to go before Brentford has a thriving community. For the time being Brentford is…

f..5.6 1/25s 45mm ISO500OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For my final photo’s I wanted to recognise this current stagnation whilst celebrating earlier boom periods when Brentford was the site of West London’s water pumping station, and when the Great West Road was bustling with modern factories and future promise.

The images above are some of my favourites from this project, but have not been selected for the final 5 for various reasons. Perhaps they show an interesting detail or texture, but would not be instantly recognisable as descriptive of TW8 to a wider audience.

My next post will show my final 5 images.




I like to move it, move it…..

SHUTTER SPEED – MOVEMENT (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

Along with depth of field, this has been the toughest part of the course for me. I’ve struggled to find ways to portray movement. I can see it in other people’s work, and enjoy it, but capturing it seems to elude me. Perhaps because I’m not the outdoorsy type, and most of my hobbies are slow, quiet things, maybe it’s just not that important to me, who knows?

In my efforts, I’ve stood on every windy corner, in sun, rain and wind. I was even out in a near blizzard with Tripod Carrier, this evening. Both of us shivering with cold and stamping our feet to revive them. Me, behind the lens and he, patiently taking direction in an attempt to capture light and movement. Waving his mobile phone around to make lights trails over the Gillette building. People drove past us, and I wondered what they were thinking…?  Taking photo’s in this weather? Below zero degrees, pitch dark? They must be bl**dy mad!  Well mad probably, but it must be love too. Love of photography for me, and love for me from Tripod Carrier. 😁

There really are only a few photo’s I’ve taken that I can use to explore movement. I know I do need to work on this aspect of my photography skills, and I hope that as the Spring comes, it will bring lighter evenings and the chance of more movement shots, al fresco.  Fortunately, we only need 3 for this assignment. So here we are my chosen 3:

At the beginning of this course, I was still struggling with camera controls, and being able to capture exactly what it was that I wanted to capture.  So, whilst I am still battling with panning techniques, (it’s all still a little bit hit and miss) it is getting easier to portray what I want. Perhaps I have somewhat chickened out by using these images (above) but despite hundreds of ‘failed’ images, I have yet to really succeed with panning and movement techniques. (I’ll persevere with it though…..)


I do, however, think my final shots convey a sense of movement. Perhaps traffic is just not my forte 😉



Update June 2018

Well…. A lot more practice and I’m getting it, I really think I am now!

(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)








NCFE LEVEL 2 PHOTOGRAPHY – Assignment 2  Units 1-4


This week we were rather busy.  As well as our Class presentation, the brief for this assignment was to be able to produce studio photographs, as an advert of a product. One as a still life, and another including a person. We were required to research ideas and concepts, and to present our studio outcomes to an audience, reviewing strengths and weaknesses of our own images.  We had to set up our own studio lighting, record all the light settings and critique our work.

RESEARCH (1.1, 1.2, )

Last month, I visited the orchid exhibition at Kew Gardens twice. I took lots of photo’s of all the gorgeous orchids.


Feeling inspired by all the stunning colours, shapes and details, and the painting on the umbrellas, an idea was beginning to grow…. then, I spotted these lovely cards in a shop.



and I knew what I wanted to do….. I love flowers and having gained my level 1 cert in Floristry, last summer, a concept came to me, and I decided that my ‘outline’ would be that a florist had contacted me to take photos of their work for an advert.

I did a little more research looking at images of flower-y shoes and found this image on Google

(1.1, 1.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2)


these I found on Pinterest (…a frequent visitor there, me 🙂 )

I cannot claim to be a proper florist, and a real florist would most probably laugh me out of their shop but… here’s the story of my effort.

IMAGES (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

Whilst out shopping, last week, the charity shop fairy was with me, and I bought these shoes (for the bargain price of one whole £ 🙂 Love a bargain, me ) Although they were a little bit scruffy, I knew it wouldn’t matter. I had a plan to decorate them with fresh flowers.

20180308_134952 - taken on my mobile phone
silver shoes

One hot glue gun, lots of decapitated flowers, succulents and greenery raided from my garden, and some wire raided from Tripod Carriers shed (He’s away in Denmark.. He’ll never know…Shh…. it’s just our secret 😉  )  A few hours later and my flower shoes were ready….


Getting my shoes to college in one piece, was a bit of a mission.. What with being  dressed up in full 1950’s gear, with a backpack, and a full-to-absolutely-bursting shopping trolley, and with shoe boxes tied up with string. (Not to mention I was already nervous about my class presentation.) But I did it. The shoes, my hairdo and me, all made it in one piece. When I got the shoes out of their boxes, there were lots of very appreciative oohs and ahhh’s from my lovely classmates and tutor which was nice 🙂

(2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2)

I did bring in some dark velvet fabric and some wrapping paper that looked like grass but, I decided that they were not right for the shoot because, the piece of fabric was a little too small, and the paper too shiny. Eventually, I pinched a bit of hessian scrim from the studio and arranged the table with the hessian backcloth. I opted to put my camera on a tripod for stability, rather than go handheld. After a little bit of fidgeting about to get the table into the right position, I set up the lighting rig with two overhead key and secondary lights, situated behind me.  I had to make a few adjustments until we got the light and shadows right.  At one point we discovered the reason my images were coming out a little dark was that my hair bow (yep…50’s outfit) was too close to the light and was diffusing the light from the studio light, lol 🙂 Once we sorted that out, I got some fairly nice shots.  Unfortunately, time constraints meant that I was unable to take the shots with a model.  The flowers are a little too dead now to bring in next time, so I may have to shoot someone else’s product model.


If I could change some things about this shoot, I would have liked more subtle shadows. I would also have liked to have tried a darker background and backdrop, perhaps. In the first image, there is too much of the hessian cloth raw edge visible. But you work with what you have in the studio. As a little side note,  I think I would have altered the flower arrangement to not have had the wire showing on the t-bar, it’s a little bit distracting.


In this next series of images, I changed the lighting and the aperture to control the image but was not entirely happy with the outcome. The images are rather bleached out and the background is untidy. I don’t like the positioning of the shoes. I think I could have used a more focused light or perhaps barn doors to to spotlight the shoes, leaving the background darker.


Obviously the final edit is up to the client, but my final image is the one I would suggest for the advert.

f10 1/100s 45mm ISO100  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Changing the fill light to a higher number gives a nice natural lighting, good flower colour, nice little highlights on the silver shoes. No distracting background., the hessian goes nicely out of focus to the back of the image This image shows the flowers off at their best. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For various reasons, well …I got to play with flowers and take photo’s.😁 I did enjoy this shoot and, it was a really good opportunity to use studio lighting.

I have to miss college next week, due to a friends’ funeral but I’ll be back the following week for the last day of term.










(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)


(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

It’s hard to choose just 3 photo’s when you’ve taken hundreds. It’s quite  difficult to be critical of your own work. Perhaps because photographs are so personal to me, it can be tricky to be objective. I took the photo because I liked ‘it’, whatever it was. In the past it didn’t even really used to matter that much if it wasn’t completely perfect, because I knew what it was, and I had liked it enough to take a photo. But I am sensing a change.

These days, after spending 3 terms now taking photo’s… I think I am beginning to see things differently. I am beginning to see what makes a good photo technically, not just a good photo taken with a good eye, as such, but a new perspective too.  I think my classmates and I all feel we’ve been on a journey, and we’re really doing it… We’re becoming photographers. 🙂

So, after much procrastination, huffing and umm-ing and ahh-ing… and countless trips to the kettle for a hot drink (no biscuits for me though 😦 )

Ta dah!  At last…..

These are my submissions for our Depth of Field assignment.

(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4)

Barbed wire, Brentford Dock OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Teasels, Brentford Dock OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Depth of field f5.6 1/60 31mm ISO200  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nuts and Bolts. Kew Steam Museum, Brentford. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



NCFE LEVEL 2 PHOTOGRAPHY – Assignment 2, Unit 5/Task 2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4

“When I’m gone, you’ll need love to light the shadows on your face…” The Calling.

Studio lighting continued…

Actually, you need light to light the shadows of your face….


It seems there is a lot to learn about studio lighting, since we are into our third week. I am finding it very enjoyable though. We’ve been given another assignment, which is to do a class presentation on a studio photographer of our choosing. Mine is John French (more on that in next week’s blog post. 🙂 )

So, in this post, I shall endeavour to let you know what I have learned so far about studio lighting…

My guide to Studio lighting.

  • The “key light”  shines directly on the subject and is the main light source. It’s  generally the brightest lightest. 
  • A “fill light” is always weaker than the key light. Sometimes called secondary lighting, it’s used to direct shadows, create softness and is generally a diffused source of light.
  • “Hair lights” are typically overhead and slightly behind a subject, hitting the top of the head. Hair lights separate the subject from the background, so that you have definition from the background, hair, and clothes. It’s typically used as the name would suggest, in beauty photography to highlight the hair.
enzo-volpe-hair-make-up - hair lighting
Hair by E.Volpe for Mandy Coakley
  • Rim lights” using rim light lifts the subject from the background by making highlights form along an edge of your subject. It produces a thin line or ‘rim’ of light which appears to cling to the subjects outline.  This can be achieved by blocking off part of the light using barn doors or a reflector, even a piece of card to allow just part of the light.

High and low key lighting

High key is a term used to describe images that are bright and airy, containing little or no shadow.  Images appear fresh, optimistic and upbeat. It’s most often used in film and TV work. Your background should be super white, so introduce extra lighting to purposely highlight the background. High key lighting gives lots of white, and light tones.

high key fashion by Paula Smart - image found on google








helenMirrenhighkey - image found on Goggle
The glorious Helen Mirren.


Low key kind of does what it says on the tin….  It creates mostly dark tone and colour, and can be used to convey energy, drama or atmosphere. Low key creates mainly shadows, and striking contrasts, creating images that are moody, emotive and even mysterious.

12-Low-Key-Lighting-Diagram - image found on google

robinwilliamslowkey - image found on Google
The awesome Robin Williams.

Hard and Soft lighting

Hard and soft lighting controls the ‘mood’ of your image. Hard lighting is a way to bring out drama and character to your subject. Think mean and moody, or bold and intense.


vinnyjones - image found on Google
Vinny Jones. Mean. Very mean (Shh…don’t tell anyone, but actually, I met him and he was a big softie 🙂 )


Audrey Hepburn, by RIchard Avedon - image found on Google
Breathtaking Audrey Hepburn

Soft lighting is gentle and forgiving. Soft and glowy. It spills, bounces and flows over your subject, hiding any imperfections.

When taking portraits, you need to take several things into consideration. Where do  you want the light to be?  What do you want your portrait to say? Will it say as much about you as it does the sitter? What do you want your portrait to show? Drama? Youth? Age? Sex-appeal?  If the portraits are for advertising purposes, are your clients wanting to target, women or men? Youth or wealth?  What quality of light do you want? Hard, soft? Will there be colour or shadows? How much of the environment will you include?  A lot to think about, isn’t it? All of these considerations will potentially affect your lighting set up, and ultimately, your image.

Generally, with portrait photography, if you aim the light directly at your your subject whilst it can be flattering, it doesn’t shape the face, and may ‘plump’ you up. (..perish the thought.) It’s good for people with strong facial features and is useful to fill up all the “hills and valleys” as Ria puts it, or blemishes and wrinkles to you and me (…that’s the one for me, these days folks!)  This style of lighting is often used in beauty photography. But, it can create a rather flat light if you’re not careful. Precision in your lighting is important. Shadows and highlights will give your portrait depth, a more 3 dimensional quality.

Broad and Short Lighting

Two important set ups to use are broad and short lighting

 left = short lighting, right = broad lighting.

Turning the head makes one side closer to the camera than the other, and will create one bright and one shadowed side.  You should be able to see a little of the face on both sides.

Broad lighting:  (subject facing camera)  The shadowed side is furthest from the camera,  The beam of light hits the side of the face that is widest. If your models face is very narrow, or has a feature they don’t want to show, use a broad lighting pattern.

Short lighting:  (subject facing away from camera)  If the shadowed side is closest from the camera it’s called short lighting. The main part of the face is in shadow and only a sliver of the face is lit. Face is in profile. This style of lighting is particularly useful for asymmetric faces. If your model’s face is wide, or round, you can use short lighting to slim it down.

I’m afraid the images here today are not mine, forgetting my camera last week has meant I’ve had to trawl the internet…. and in between getting magically sucked into knitting yarn sites and absorbed by Pinterest, this post has taken me far too long!! My school reports often said, “Carmela is easily distracted.” Hmm…

So, that’s about it for now.


p.s.  How many hands make light work? A watt.   ….Get it? 🙂