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Night Photography blog by Andy Frazer
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Joergen Geerds

Recently I've been trying to combine my interest in night photography with my interest in panorama landscapes. Many photographers have access to PhotoShop CS3, which includes a reasonably good tool to automatically stitch individual frames into panoramas. Although panorama junkies often prefer to use more high-end stitching tools such as PTGui.

Today I stumbled across the site of Joergen Geerds, a New York photographer who specializes in panoramic photography, especially night panoramas of New York City.

(Upper West Side Backyards, by Joergen Geerds)

And in the interest of good karma, Joergen's site also includes a helpful description of his equipment and his working process.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mark Jaremko: Night Photographers and the Critical Mass

Photo Lucidia Critical Mass is an annual photography contest where 175 finalists are selected to compete for one of three book awards. One of the interesting things about the Photo Lucidia programs is the calibre of the jurors. The Critical Mass finalists go on to be judged by 200 of the world's best editors, curators and professionals. Not only can you win a book deal, but you can get your work directly exposed to the biggies in the industry.

The list of this year's finalists has been announced. I noticed at least two night photographers in the list; one is Amanda Friedman (who I blogged about just last week), and the other is Bay Area night photographer Mark Jaremko.

(Photo by Mark Jaremko)

Mark's night photographs often focus on the details in the horizon. He's also a bit of an expert on the comparitive differences of digital cameras at night. When I wrote my long exposure review of the Canon 40D, he called me and immediately asked me to put my new camera in the refrigerator; take a 30-minute dark frame exposure; and send it to him. Regrettably, I never finished that experiment (Sorry, Mark). Mark has often presented this fascinating data some of The Nocturnes night photography workshops in San Francisco.

If there are any other night photographers on the list, please let me know and I'll post it, right here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Amanda Friedman

While reading J. Wesley Brown's blog We Can Shoot Too, I came across the night photography of Amanda Friedman, an L.A.-based editorial photographer. Amanda seems to have an affinity for shooting in the fog at night, which has always been a favorite approach of mine. Keep an eye out for an interview with Amanda on Wesley Brown's blog in the near future.

("The Gorge #3, WA", by Amanda Friedman)

There's quite a bit of great night photography work on her site, so please take the time to check it out. Amanda also has her own blog, which features quite a bit of night landscape and fashion photography.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gerald Forster: Nocturnal

One Bay Area night photographer, who I won't name at the moment, told me that he once placed an ad online for a male and female model to model nude for an outdoor night photography project. At some point in the middle of the shoot, the couple started getting freaky with each other. I don't know if they charged him extra for that. I doubt it because I think this was a T.F.P. arrangement. But I'm not sure.

And that digression brings me to Gerald Forster's new book, Nocturnal:

"In my latest art project Nocturnal I have created intimate, sexually charged scenarios between diverse couples within the context of elaborate and oddly disconcerting landscapes. Each photograph is a nuanced study in the divided nature of human intimacy..."

(Nocturnal #11, by Gerald Forster)

Nocturnal is available from Photo-Eye for $300, and includes one of three limited edition 8"x10" prints from the book.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

J. Wesley Brown

J. Wesley Brown's website features color night photography. Some of his work has a nice Gregory Crewdson feel to it.

(Photo by J. Wesley Brown)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photographing Fire Performers: Part 1 of 3

Last month I photographed three members of the Santa Cruz fire performance troupe Nocturnal Sunshine. The term "fire performers" includes fire spinners, fire dancers, fire swallowers and a host of other fire-based performance arts. Fire performance photography is be a great way to combine night photography with the chance to photograph people and take advantage of the beautiful ambient light from the fire performers' props. The fact that very few people seem to have seriously pursued fire performance photography is also a plus.

The California Bay Area is home to many fire performance groups. This may be because the Bay Area is also home to the annual Burning Man Festival, which features many professional and impromptu fire spinning events. Earlier this year I came across the work of two local fire performance photographers: Wildermar Horwart and Tristan Savatier. I soon started photographing some friends and co-workers who spun fire, then I worked up to public events, such as the Crucible Fire Festival, and eventually to private shoots with local professional troupes.

So, back to Nocturnal Sunshine... the photograph below was taken near the beach. For all of my shots, I used the ambient light from the poi for stationary shots, and added an off-camera flash covered with an amber gel for motion shots (the burning poi rarely give off enough light to shoot faster than about 1/30th of second). Below is an example of a stationary shot using only the light from the fire hoop.

(Rebecca with a Fire Hoop, by Andy Frazer)

I was able to pull this one off at 1/60th at f/1.8 at ISO 200. Below is more of a posed portrait shot of Briana using only the light from the caterpiller on her arms, which I shot at ISO 1600:

(Briana with the Fire Caterpiller, by Andy Frazer)

Below is a shot Julie with a fire umbrella (yeah, I'd never heard of a fire umbrella, either...). Like the earlier shot with the fire hoop, I was able to shoot this at ISO 200 because the umbrella gave off so much light (just count how many burning poi are on her umbrella), although I also added an off-camera flash to open up some of the shadows from the poi.

(Julie with the Fire Umbrella, by Andy Frazer)

The ladies of Nocturnal Sunshine were thoughtful enough to use a special mixture of fuel which burns brighter than normal fire spinning fuel, although it also burns out faster. Since the fuel burns out after about one minute, I found it necessary to shoot with auto exposure and continually check the viewfinder readout and the histogram while I was shooting (neither of which I normally do). When you're photographing people holding fast-burning fuel, you only have a few second to set-up, meter and fiddle with your exposure. Shooting the motion shots with the help of an off-camera flash was, in some ways, even more challenging.

If you enjoy the slow, peaceful pace of night photography, you might want to stick with abandoned buildings under a full moon, or even urban locations. But if you want to try something different, and if you're willing to run yourself ragged after one hour, take a stab at fire performance photography.

In my next blog post, I'll talk about shooting motion shots of fire spinners using an off-camera flash.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lost America Lecture

Troy Paiva will be presenting a lecture of his recent night photography at the San Francisco City College (50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA) on Monday, Oct 20th. The show begins at 6:30pm, and will be held in the Rosenberg Library, Building A-305.

(Necking, by Troy Paiva)

Troy will show many of his photographs, and will discuss, "light painting, abandoned locations and whatever else you want to talk about". The presentation is open to the public (otherwise, I wouldn't be telling you about it).