First photoshoot. A day in the studio with Sinopa Rin.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter, @computerdan for those that don’t, will know that for the past four weeks I’ve been in the process of arranging some studio time to photograph a professional model who’s arranging a tour of Manchester. You will also be aware that I have been a compete bag of nerves about the whole thing. Emotions up and down like a yo-yo, so far outside of my comfort zone I needed a compass and map to find my way back.

Well Saturday was the big day. Was I nervous? Of course I was.

I arrived at the studio 20 minutes early. As it turns out I was actually an hour and 20 minutes early due to a slight miscommunication issue. The studio owner let me in, and let me have a look around whilst I was waiting. So what to do to amuse myself for 80 minutes? Yup, start taking selfies.



As it happens the time alone in the studio was invaluable. It let me get used to the environment, figure out how to make the lights work, attach and detach the different light modifiers, and just generally get into the swing of things.

Then Rin arrived. I was polite and courteous as always, but more than a little terrified. I told her. No point pretending that I’m Mr Cool Photography Man. Well I needn’t have worried. Rin was an absolute delight. Charming and amusing, she poses with grace and elegance.

Here are some of the results.

"The years will never take awayOur chance to start anewIt's on Push up the level the heavens will fight for me "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily ... is wasteful and rid

I had a session booked with Rin in the morning, and some more time in the afternoon. I’d already written of any chance of getting good images in the morning session. Just use it as a learning experience, getting used to the environment, trying not to drop my camera, remembering how to breathe, that sort of thing. I needn’t have worried as you can see from the images above.

Our morning session finished all too soon. Time for me to return home, calm down, take a valium, and gather my frayed nerves. I downloaded the images from the first session to have a look. Hey, not bad. Not bad at all. There were some good ones. Some really good ones. It turns out that all the money I’ve spent on photography books, time spent reading blog posts and articles, and watching instructional videos on YouTube were a waste of time. The way to get good photos is to get Rin in front of the lens and press the button. Easy.

Time came for the second session. We decided to try some more head shots and fashion images. Like this.

Between the lines of fear and blame you begin to wonder why you

Here she comes now arms dance together in the fall

We spent some time in the “infinity room” at the studio getting these and other images. There was chatting. Lots of chatting. Rin really did put me at ease with her relaxed conversation and the photos I think are great.

We finished off downstairs and headed back up to the main studio area. I had taken the head shots and full length fashion portraits I was after, but we still had time together. I was completely out of ideas. In a desperate attempt to appear creative I said “Girl in a chair?”

... and if I show you my dark side, will you still hold me tonig

... and if I open my heart to you, show you my weakness, what wo

Rin did her stuff and created some incredible poses, always adding that extra touch of dynamism to the images. But now I really am running on empty, creatively speaking.

This is when something magical happened. I found out just what it was like to spend some time in the company of a true creative. Rin took control of the session and idea after idea just flowed from her imagination. Things I would never have thought of, outside any perceived framework I had in my mind.

Me: “Piano?”

Rin: “I’ll climb on top of it.”

Implied piano

Rin then walks outside of the designated studio space and into the reception areas and starts rearranging the furniture, sits on the floor.

Me: “Are we even allowed to be here?”

Rin: “Blow the background out and take a picture.”

The sparkle in your eyes  Keeps me alive

Between the lines of fear and blame you begin to wonder why you


Rin: “Do you have a 50mm lens?”

Me: “Errrmmm, yes ….”

Rin: “Get under the net.”




Rin: “This will look great in black and white”, as she lies prone on the floor, head hiding behind a wall.

Push me to the floor, don't give up until I'm begging you for moI thought that I was going to be spending time with a model. I had no idea I’d also meet a muse, therapist, and a really genuinely lovely person. I would like to thank Rin for helping me create some beautiful photographs, some of the best I’ve ever been involved in capturing, for a wonderful day, but mostly for opening my mind to possibilities.

The best photography tip I’ve ever heard

Early morning light in winter
Early morning light in winter

I read a lot of photography blogs, watch many tutorials on YouTube, own a stack of photography books, and have been known to purchase the occasional photo magazine too. There are lots of hints and tips on how to master composition, develop your own personal style, use the latest techniques, and myriad of other topics. Some of these are very useful, others not so much.

Recently however I have come across the greatest photography tip I’ve ever heard.

Tony Northrup suggested not using a camera bag. Simple as that. No fancy settings, no tricks, nothing technical, no golden ratios. If you are out with your camera, don’t have it in a bag.

I tend to take a camera with me wherever I go. Quite a lot of the time however I’m either to shy or intimidated to go through the rigmarole of opening the bag, taking the camera out, and start shooting. I’ve been to events and functions with my camera and not taken a single shot. Fear, forgetfulness, lethargy, and I don’t know what have often made me just leave the camera safely tucked away inside my bag. Useless.

So the past week I’ve not only taken my camera with me, but also only used the bag for safe transportation. The result? Photographs appeared. I’ve taken more pictures in the past week than I have in the previous three months. I love taking pictures and anything that helps me take more is a good thing.


Tea is always better from a pot

Kiss goodbye

Travelling lovers


Why is this photo so popular?

I took this photograph in January 2012 at Glasgow Central train station.

Each generation has its own books

It shows two women reading. The older of the two is reading a printed book, the younger is reading from a tablet computer. It struck me that this would make an interesting observation on how technology moves on, but things fundamentally remain the same. A brief observation, nothing special.

The photograph has however become my most popular image on photo sharing website Flickr. By some distance too. My photographs usually get about 100 views, sometimes less, and sometimes a few more if it’s a good one. Some of my strangers may achieve three or four hundred views if the rest of the group like them. I’ve taken photographs of professional footballers that may achieve a thousand views, and the few photographs I’ve been lucky enough to have in Flickr’s Explore have reaches two thousand views.

The photography of the two ladies reading has over four thousand views. This I know is not earth shattering, but for me it is unprecedented. It is by far most viewed image but was not explored, is not in a popular group, and doesn’t contain any sports stars.

It’s a mystery.

Minifig Chess-piece

Minifig Chesspiece
Minifig Chess-piece

I don’t play much chess. I know how. The rules are, although seemingly complex at first, easy to learn. The game however is quite a different story. I can count the number of victories against a commuter, set to level 1, on the fingers of one hand. With a couple of fingers left over too. I do however own a chess set, so I decided to take a photograph of it instead. One of my Lego mini figures decided to help out and take the place of a pawn for me. I think she looks right at home.

Trying food photography

Chorizo and mushroom pasta

Food photography is always something I’ve found difficult. This seems an odd thing to say in this day and age where you can’t go into a cafe or restaurant without somebody Instagramming their coffee or uploading an image of their breakfast to Facebook.I guess it’s the styling I struggle with. I’m happy backlighting and adding in fill to the highlights, but making to food look attractive is just not my strong suit. Still, one has to try.

So into the kitchen I went. I prepared some pasta, added chorizo and mushrooms, and made a sauce which was mainly garlic and bitter, but had a good dash of the starchy pasta water which I’m told is the way the Italians do it. This was finished off with a few fresh basil leaves to add a splash of complimentary colour. The result is the photo you see above.

And what was for dessert? Cheesecake, my favourite.

The best camera …

Scottish Sunset

Scottish Sunset

As world famous photographer Chase Jrvis says, the best camera is the one that’s with you. I now understand what he means. I was out at the local shop picking up a few ingredients ready to make dinner when I noticed a great fire in the sky. Mother Nature was treating us to a magical display of colour as the sun set. I didn’t have my “good” camera with me, but I did have my camera phone. I took these pictures with it. I’m very pleased with the results.

Colours of sunset

Colours of sunset

Back on the Stranger trail

Stranger 40 of 100 – Batu

A while ago I started a popular photo project called 100 Strangers. The idea is that you take a portrait of 100 strangers that you meet in life. You have to ask their permission to take the photograph and upload it to the group. There were various reasons I decided to take on this project.

The challenge
Readers of this blog will have seen pictures of Lego, the night sky, landscapes, flowers and other objects that never refuse to have their photograph taken. A stranger is just as likely to say no as yes, or possibly more so.
Pictures of people do have a certain appeal. We are interested in the lives of others.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone
I do enjoy street photography, but I have a certain amount of anonymity with this. I can hide (in plain sight) and have no reason to approach or interact with people other than to steal an photograph as they pass by. With the strangers project I have to interact, I have to speak to people, and I have to ask permission for the photo and to upload it. There is nowhere to hide.
If I do get the chance to take portraits of people I need to be able to set up the camera and the shot without thinking about it. If I’ve take pictures of 100 strangers then I will have had 100 mini unplanned photo sessions which should stand me in good stead when a pre-planned portrait session comes up.

I knew this project would take me a long time to complete. I had no intention of rushing through it in a couple of months. I need to take my time to learn from each stranger, let the lesson sink in, and move on from there.

Of late I have been a little lethargic with the project. Too much time was passing between each stranger. I lost my bottle. That was all up until this week.

I am very glad to report that I am back on track with the project. I met a very interesting young man called Batu, got to know him, asked if he’d let me take his picture, explained the project, and took the shot. This makes me happy. That’s 40 down and 60 to go.

Sunday morning

Coffee cup and opened book in front of a sofa
Coffee and a chapter

A very gentle start to my Sunday morning. A hot cup of coffee and the first chapter of a new book. Perfect.

Ok, this isn’t a new book. It is second hand, recently acquired from the local charity shop. It is Unseen Academicals by one of my all time favourite authors Sir Terry Pratchett. His books are funny and the magical word he has created is a perfect place to put yourself into on a Sunday morning.