Latest Posts

Paris without the landmarks

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Xpro blues and grain from the counter at Cafe Charbon

Photography and travel go hand in hand; there must be few photographers who are immune to the thrill of arriving in a new place and wanting to capture the atmosphere in their own unique way.

How do you do that with a place like Paris? It has been home to some of the world’s most famous and pioneering photographers, and become one of the world’s most photographed locations. You don’t have to have set foot in the city to picture its landmarks.

I was in Paris a few weeks ago to launch an exhibition. There was precious little time for sightseeing, but that wasn’t a problem; it’s not my first time in the city and I’m unlikely to take a better picture of the Eiffel Tower than the ones on the postcards. Instead of turning my camera on the city’s tourist landmarks, I turned it on my friends who’d come along for a weekend in Paris aswell.

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52 Photo Tips #9: Use morning and evening light

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Late afternoon light can make ordinary photos much more impressive

This is the ninth article in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

Most photographers end up shooting the majority of their pics in bright sunlight. No great mystery there – we have our cameras with us when we’re on holiday or out on bright, sunny days. Photography needs light, and these conditions present us with a feast.

But it’s not the best light for photography. Hard, overhead summer sun creates deep black shadows – great, perhaps, if you’re shooting a colourful street scene, but ugly if you’re attempting portraits; the overhead sun creates hard blacks even under eye sockets.

Pro photographers almost never shoot in these conditions unless they can do so in open shade. Instead, they get up early or wait until the sun starts sinking. You should do the same.

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Exhibition: Soundcheck Sessions, Au Chat Noir, Paris, France

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Josh Rouse, taken during a soundcheck in Newcastle, England, in 2006

Last year I hosted my first exhibition of my soundcheck photography project, which I’ve been working on in fits and starts for the last 10 years or so. I live in London, but the exhibition was in a venue with the same name as this blog, the Zorki Photo Café in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The world can be a very small place.

If you find yourself in Paris before the end of March, you can see the second exhibition of this project at a bar called Au Chat Noir in the Parmentier district.

There’s 15 shots of bands including Manic Street Preachers, The National, Franz Ferdinand, The Maccabees and Lambchop. And the Au Chat Noir is just the kind of corner wine bar that brings hordes of tourists to the City of Light; fantastic wine for next to nothing, unpretentious surroundings, the buzz of French conversation. For a few weeks, some of my pics are gracing the walls.

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52 Photo Tips #8: Learn the Sunny 16 rule

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It’s not f16, but it is sunny….the Sunny 16 rule can help you create properly exposed outside pics

This is the eighth article in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

Spare a thought for the film photographers from decades past, learning their way without all the helping hands we take for granted today. Few cameras – except the most expensive – had any kind of meter built in. Photographers, if they had the money, had to make do with handheld meters (if they could afford one) or guess the exposure.

This was easier said than done considering many cheaper cameras had only a few speeds and apertures. Photography with the likes of a Kodak Brownie or an Agfa Clack could feel like guesswork. But there as a simple trick for taking perfectly exposed pics. And it’s something that still works a treat today.

The Sunny 16 rule might be the simplest piece of technical advice you can learn in photography. What’s more, it’s pretty much foolproof.

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52 Photo Tips #7: Try cross-processing

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Agfaphoto Precisa CT100 cross-rpocessed, before I realised the new stuff just isn’t the same…

This is the seventh article in a series in collaboration with Film’s Not Dead.

Cross-processing is one of the easiest film experiments you can try. What it involves is taking a film and getting it developed in the chemicals used for another photographic process.

The most common cross-processing technique is to take slide film (E6 process)and develop it in the chemicals used for colour negatives (C-41). Cross-processing creates warped colours, boosts contrast and adds grain. It’s a process that create incredibly saturated, eye-catching pictures.

In the days long before Instagram, it was cross-processing that made such a star of the humble Lomo LC-A, and spawned the analogue movement Lomography. The Lomo’s saturated lens and tendency to vignette made it perfectly suited to the lurid colours and atmospheric, heightened grain.

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