Rosie (Stranger #86/100), London Soho

Street Portait

Having met Khalid and Anna part of me thought about winding up for the day. We’d run my daughter’s dinosaur-themed fourth Birthday party that morning, and it was getting late. My wife and daughter had whizzed off to Dorset with her sister, however, so there was no great reason to head home and there was a neat vibe to Soho that suggested there was another portrait out there.

That would be Rosie, Lois and Silvio. Walking the streets looking for a background that could offer something distinct to the two shot earlier in the day, I met the three of them outside artFix, having a relaxed end of evening chat. Just along from them was a long run of sodium lit roller shutters. I generally try to avoid roller shutters – having only shutter them once before and slightly regretting the way I composed with them back then. In the year that followed, however, I’ve noticed that when you get them with a strong overhead light, and drop them out of focus, you get a kind of cool graphic art feel to them. Rosie’s brown hair and leather jacket would work well with the yellow glow, so having shot a couple of test shots, I turned and made an introduction,

The three of them were all awesome, and happy to be involved. We shot some group photos (I still have lots to learn about nailing these!) then individual shots with the team helping (see comments for pictures of everyone).

Rosie had the unfair advantage of being dressed for the scene, of course, but all the portraits were massive team efforts with reflectors and an umbrella as outlined below.

They were just winding down after night one of Silvio’s Ukrainian film festival. With night two coming, he suggested I come and support his project in return. Well, I did – and it was an extraordinary evening. I’d particularly recommend “Tenderness” by Anastasiya Maksymchuk. It’s not the jolliest flick (!), but is so grippingly perfect and beautifully shot that it transcends happy/sad and just leaves you remembering it as a passage of intense, numbing purity. Check it out!

Thank you Rosie, Lois and Silvio for jumping in with both feet – it was a fantastic encounter and wonderful to work with you. Hope you forgive for the group shots and like the solo portraits!

Info for Strobist;

Single Canon 600EX-RT fired by RT from ST-E3-RT, camera left 30* up and side at 1/128 power, with a clip on diffuser in a 43″ white shoot through umbrella. Lois is actually holding it out slight over Rosie so that it blocks the direct light from the street lamp that is washing the roller shutters with that polluted sodium vapour glow. Anna is holding a small reflector below the frame, and her Silvio has a larger one to camera right, just out of shot.

The umbrella/diffuser combo is really playing well at the moment. I’d run a few months shooting with a softbox at night – and my settings for the DOF I want with sharp shutter speed and ISO (f/3.2 with (almost invariably 1/80 or 1/100 and ISO 1600) were seeing the flash overexpose at 1/128 (minimum power). The umbrella wastes a lot more light, and the diffusers loses some more, and I’m getting much better exposures than the more efficient softbox could deliver.

Some of the people that kindly commented on my last few shots noted the amount of kit used. Oddly, it doesn’t feel like too much! You’ve got the reflectors in a bag, and then the light stand. I’ve attached a lot of hair elastics and carabiner clips to my bag, so it’s easy to put the umbrella on there when it’s not being used. As each thing is doing something important to the shot, you don’t ever feel like you have too much with you, and, whilst you’ll never be as nimble as someone with a Fuji and a pair of Converse, well – it’s just about knowing what you need to shoot what you’re trying to shoot, and the consequent trade offs at play.

This is portrait #86 of my 100 Strangers Project – check out the group page and get involved.

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