My photography in 2015 by Ed Walker

2015 was a year of development, being published and taking pictures of people playing Pianos. It was also a year of taking what I had learned in an underground car park in Edinburgh and applying it to my street work. It's also the year I move my work from Flickr to Instagram, a much more vibrant community of varied photographers. 15668270273_b13478a539_o

This was the first great picture of 2015 for me, on the Circle Line choosing the right moment to take the picture of this awesome scaffolder. I got on and saw him, hesitated and then someone came and stood in front of him, so I resolved that when they moved I’d shoot, and I did.

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St Pancras has these types of scenes all the time but this couple were really going for it, completely unaware of who was watching. The picture is made by the woman in the background.

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I rarely stand and wait for people but this guy in Kings Cross looked so good I had to capture him, it took a couple of minutes for him to look up from searching for his ticket to notice me.

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This year’s alternative project apart from my street work was St Pancras Piano. When I was commuting every day past the 3 pianos in the station it was clear I needed to take pictures of the wide range of people that played them. Most photographers shot from the back, I chose to shoot from the side. My hashtag #stpancraspiano got picked up by the regular piano players on Instagram and soon lots of photos began to appear by other people using it.

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2015 was also the year I started to shoot for Electronic Sound magazine, an iPad mag for the synth electronic music scene, spanning everything from classic Moog to new artists like Karin Park. I was sent down to the venue and told by Neil Mason, the Commissoning Editor, to just do what I do.

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My street work has become wider, as in I have stepped back and aim to get a little more context to the photo than just a head a shoulders.

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This is my picture of the year. A holiday in Helsingborg in Sweden, a fantastic Air BnB house with a pool, outside eating area and a pizza oven, the lights however were not so good, leading to iPhone lighting and a shot which looks like a Caravaggio painting (and quite possibly a Taylor Wessing entry for 2016).

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Shooting Gary Numan was a highlight of 2015, frantic, very stressful and the time flies by like a blur but the result is a really honest portrait, I daren't ask him if he likes it though.

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New York! The last two months of 2015 have been spent in New York, I came here to shoot and I’ve been very happy with the results. I was so worried about not getting the shots I wanted that I shot outside of my normal comfort zone and went for subjects I never would have gone for in London.

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Times Square is my new favourite place to shoot. With such a varied group of people and lighting to die for it’s perfect for moments like this which look staged but are anything but.

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As I raised my camera to my eye I hesitated thinking that this shot was not going to work. However, with all the other people looking left at the traffic, the couple looking up at the astonishing electronic billboards and the only person actually looking at me is the photographer, I think it kinda worked out.

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The light in New York is amazing, the grid layout means the sun creates amazing shafts of light while leaving the background in almost complete darkness. This well dressed guy was waiting at the lights, holding his coat closed from the November wind, creating a perfectly lit moment of quiet.

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The lighting in and around Times Square creates amazing pools of reds and greens as the adverts wash everyone with colour.

So another year of firsts, new projects, new people, new locations. It feels like I am still working towards something and at the moment I’m enjoying the journey and not worrying too much about the destination.

Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edwalkerphotography/

Gary Numan - Electronic Sound Magazine by Ed Walker

I think the most important thing about shooting someone like Gary Numan is that I feel like I need to slow down. You are obviously nervous about taking a pioneer of electronic music’s picture, but I always feel like I’ve done it too quick. When it’s happening your mind is going 100 miles per hour and you are adapting to your surroundings and making it up as you go along. Next time I’ll try and stop and remember that you need to make the most of the time you have. Even  though I was prepared with my Nikon and Speedlight, Sony and reflector I never got the reflector out and the shots with the Speedlight were not up to scratch because I didn’t think through the situation before it was too late. I even knew what picture I wanted to take and although I got the shot in the end it was a close call. However, each time you learn something new and take away another experience that feeds the up and coming projects…

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Get your copy at www.electronicsound.co.uk

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LoneLady - Electronic Sound Magazine by Ed Walker

LoneLady1 The Barbican is a fantastic venue for pretty much anything they want to do, so a series of gigs in their arts space sound like a fabulous idea, in theory...

Electronic Sound asked me to go to the Barbican to take some pictures of LoneLady, who by her own admission is not really an electronic artist, she sounds to me like a mix of Joy Division and, well actually I don't really know. She was resident in a small studio space near the gallery and in there she had been recording and practicing. The space was packed full of recording equipment, laptops and a big analogue synth. This belonged to another artist on the bill that night, Wrangler, who Electronic Sound asked me to shoot as well.

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When I arrived I met the PR and she told me Julie (LoneLady) was pretty tired and could I make it as quick as possible. When I was introduced to Julie she was quiet and clearly tired and probably nervous about the gig that evening. The lighting in the studio space was just how I like it, low and ambient and there was also a lovely red desk lamp which helped colour the mood too.

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We started by shooting Julie in front of the massive synth which Neil from Electronic Sound had specifically told me to make sure I get a good one of. It's a beautiful wood panelled machine with loads of inputs and knobs and lights so fabulous to shoot someone in front of. I'd been taking pictures of it on it's own and had pointed the red lamp over the top of it to alter the look and when Julie came in to be photographed I left it where it was so it was pointing over her shoulder at me.

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Once we had a few shots in the studio I took her out the the foyer area where there were loads of amazing concrete pillars and rough textures, we shot by the lifts and in front of big signs using the available light. I still need to work on my directing of subjects, I'm so used to getting one or maybe two opportunities to shoot on the street that I forget that with portraiture I can take my time!

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After that Julie went off to rest and Benge from Wrangler came in to be interviewed and I took the opportunity to take some shot of him playing with the synth and a couple of portraits too.

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Once the interview by Danny Turner had been done it was time for their sound check. The space was truly a gallery space with white walls which had projected movies on and in the centre a square plinth which the artists were going to play from. All the equipment was set up and while they were doing their sound check I got some great shots, these turned out to be much better than the actual gig.

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When the evening came around the people started milling into the gallery space something became abundantly clear, this is a gallery and not a music venue, which means there were hardly any lights. Also the PR told me that Wrangler has specifically asked for the lighting to be low. The result was that despite my best efforts I didn't get a single live shot of Wrangler I was happy with. When Lonelady came on the lighting was slightly better meaning I got one or two usable shots but I really wasn't happy with them. In retrospect I should have taken my tripod and in future I will because if I had I might have got something I was a little more happy with.

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The result was that I was very happy with the portraits but not at all happy with the live shots. I should have been more prepared, I am so used to thinking that both my Sony and my Nikon can handle anything that when they can't I am taken by surprise; not next time!

Get your copy of Electronic Sound here!

Karin Park - Electronic Sound Magazine by Ed Walker

ESmag_Karinpark2 Neil Mason is the commissioning editor at Electronic Sound Magazine (electronicsound.co.uk) and approached me about shooting an electronic musician they were featuring called Karin Park. He’s been watching my street work on my Flickr and blog for a while and encouraged me that he wanted me to do a similar style of thing for the feature.

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I went to Olso in Hackney with the writer Danny Turner in the afternoon for the soundcheck and met the band which consisted on Karin Park, her brother David on the drums and bass and Juno on the keyboards. I started off by shooting Karin in her dressing room applying some makeup and chatted briefly to her about her music, I find this kind of interaction hard as it's quite intimidating and the whole patter of a portrait photographer something I’m not used to but as a former model she was an excellent subject, knowing just what to do to give some great close up shots of her in a mirror.

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The sound check was a great place to get all sorts of shots, with the band being completely happy to have me move around them on stage and shoot completely unhindered from all sorts of different angles, they also had a YouTube music channel there shooting some film for a feature which meant that they did full run throughs of a couple of tracks with full lighting. It gave me one of my best shots where Karin was sat on a stool and the lighting guys bathing her in wonderful blue and purple light.

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After the soundcheck was finished we shot quite a few backstage shots in their dressing room and in a small bar area. I found a spot behind the bar which had great lighting and took portraits of David and Juno, testing out a few different settings and getting ready to shoot Karin for what I felt would be a great intimate portrait of an artist just before she went on stage.

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When Karin was ready I asked her if I could get a few shots of her and while she was quite busy and clearly nervous she agreed. She said she didn’t have much time but because I had already shot David and Juno there I was all set up and after only ten shots I said ok; which surprised her. ‘That’s the fastest photo shoot I’ve ever had!’ but she was pleased with the shots I had got of her and so was I.

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The show itself was full of a really enthusiastic audience and I took quite a few shots from in front of the stage. This was the most challenging aspect of the day as getting a great shot of her live with people all around you proves hard. It really goes to show that getting a really fantastic live shot is a lot harder than you would imagine. The lights are moving and changing, Karin was very energetic in her performance and this made it hard for my Nikon and Sony to freeze her in the action. I never use flash and obviously this is not desirable to the artist while they are in full flow so shooting at f1.8 on quite a slow shutter speed makes this challenging and tricky.

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I moved to the sound and lighting booth for some wider shots which encompassed the whole stage and audience and while this made of a couple of interesting shots I can see now why most photographers don’t do this, the intimacy is lost and the shots look a lot less exciting from this far back.

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The performance was fantastic and the new album ‘Apocalypse Pop’ sounded superb live, if you ever get a chance to see her live I would highly recommend it. Make sure you check out the article in Electronic Sound Magazine and I look forward to my next assignment!

You can see even more pictures from this shoot on my flickr page

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Wizard of Oz by Ed Walker

DSC_6780 When I was living in Edinburgh I took some pictures for Ikram Gilani who was putting on a show about the boxing industry as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. The shots were simple as the show was basically a couple of spot lights and a couple of chairs. The lighting really suited my style of photography and you can see the set here.

Brett Hunter was at one of those shows and worked on some post promotion and I shared the pictures with him. This year Brett as part of Bright Ideas CIC was putting on a production of Wizard of Oz for all the local schools in the Lanarkshire area and asked me to come and along and shoot the production.

One of my stipulations was that I would be given full access to every area of the production, I would be able to get on stage during rehearsals and shoot a couple of the public performances. I essentially wanted to shoot in a candid manner but with everyone knowing I was there and giving me that freedom.

I flew up to Glasgow on the Saturday and went straight to the rehearsals which were double interesting because it was the first time some of the cast had met each other and also the entire set was being built at the same time. I wanted to get as much of the build up, backstage and practice as I could and on the first day I shot over 1000 pictures with around 70 being in the final edit that night.

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Astonishingly that one and only run through was all the practice they had and on the Monday morning they had their first performance, I shot lots of backstage stuff and build up and on the first day tried to get more behind the scenes images. On the monday there were two performances, the first was (as you would expect) quite rough with technical issues with sound and almost everything that could go wrong, going wrong. In that kind of environment it’s hard to be sensitive to the panicking stage hands, music and lighting people and actors frantically trying to pull something together when everything around them is not working. To that end I don’t think I got a picture which eloquently illustrated this, only close.

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The afternoon show was 100% better and it was only after this that everyone relaxed. The backstage shots from this afternoon were much easier to shoot as they were certainly more confident in their roles.

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The second day I went out front to shoot the show from the audience's perspective, crouching in the pit and also moving out between the audience. I’ve never really been a fan of music photography where the shooter only gets to take pictures up the nose of the artist from the pit, I also now realise quite how difficult it is to get anything decent from that angle.

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Now that I was familiar with the show and the way it was being performed I could start to think about the set pieces that I wanted to shoot that would give us the promotional type shots that could be used by the production company. I wanted to do family portraits and this is an area I certainly need to improve on, directing people and having the confidence to keep going until I get the shot I want. Knowing people had lunch to get and not wanting to hold up actors is all well and good if you’ve got your shot, I didn’t feel like I devoted enough time to this and the result is good but not spectacular.

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After 4 days I was shattered, it was such hard work being on throughout three days of shooting, most of the time spent on your feet moving from one area to another and constantly looking for a shot whilst managing the multiple cameras was exhausting. Coupled with the editing in the evening, not enough sleep and a few takeouts ment by the time I got home on Tuesday night I was done for. Next time I shall do it differently, take better care of myself and be better prepared.

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St Pancras Pianos by Ed Walker

Between December 14 and the end of January 15 I was walking through St Pancras Station every day. I noticed people playing the three pianos that are along the walkway towards the tube station and after a few days I realised I needed to be taking pictures of them. unnamed (6)

Before my car boot sale pictures I had never worked on a project that had and start and finish, my work was ongoing and I always assumed it would be, but the benefits of a project with a finite life are much clearer to me now. A change of scenery and a different approach is a breath of fresh air after being stuck down those tube tunnels for so long.

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If you Google for them you get hundreds of pictures of people’s backs so I decided to get parallel alongside them to capture them in portrait, it also means they sometimes see me and look over. It’s an interesting angle for shooting these pianists as you also capture the bags and personal items they bring with them, the people watching them and the other commuters walking past; it makes for an great picture.

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It also works quite well for a square format and perfect for an Instagram project. I’ve been experimenting with growing my audience by trying to come up with separate projects for Flickr, Instagram, Google + and soon Pinterest with only Twitter and Facebook the aggregators, so only subscribers to those social networks get to see them all. I’m not sure it’s going to work but personally it annoys me when I get a Facebook post, Tweet and Google + update which all contain the same content, so I’m trying to get away from that.

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So while these pictures are processed in Instagram they are not taken on a phone camera, but on my Sony A6000 and wifi’d over to my phone for processing. This means that I have the original raw files and plan to give them a second life in much higher quality and processed differently in the form of submissions to magazines, exhibitions or a book.

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But back to the pictures themselves, I’ve had an amazing response to them I think because there is a story in each one that leaves the viewer wondering what made this person sit down in the middle of a crowded train station and start to play the piano. Where did they learn, can they play well or just a few notes and where are the going? It’s an extraordinary public place to play the piano and while they might shy away from performing in front of an audience normally maybe they feel like no one is listening, although people do.

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Some of the same people crop up again and again and some people bring sheet music or play off an iPad so they clearly came to play there while many others just simply sat down while they were waiting to get on their train, it’s a fascinating slice of human life.

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I no longer commuter through there so whenever I go into London I have to make sure I grab a few shots as I still feel there are legs in this project and it’s ongoing and shall continue. I hope you like it.

A new me by Ed Walker

So as of the start of February 2015 I’m going freelance, I’ve done this before but for different reasons, this time I’m doing it because I want to readdress the balance in my life and buy back some time. I’ve been a Digital Designer for nearly 20 years, in that time I’ve launched a Print Design company, a Digital Agency, a music dot com, I’ve also worked in e-learning, live music, publishing, finance and, just recently, communication companies. I’ve also been freelance a few times before. But this time it’s different.

Ever since I left my job at Immediate Media a year ago there has been something nagging at me and photography has been a massive part of that. I’ve always thought I was a pretty good designer but never great and I’m ok with that. I’ve never strived to better myself in any extraordinary way, just what was needed at the time and situation I was in. However, when I re-discovered photography that all changed. Suddenly I had found an art form that I was fully comfortable with, I can hear my voice finally, something I never have been able to do with design. When I joined Immediate Media after a month I very nearly left the company because I didn’t feel like I was doing very well and I also watched this video:

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Now I don’t want to make massive wet plate photographs, although that would be cool, but I want to commit myself to my art like this guy is committed to his. I will always have a backup because I can go back to work, what I do is actually very much in demand at the moment and I’m good enough to get a job at reasonably short notice but in many ways I don’t want that, I want no backup, I want it to be this or die.

It’s taken my recent experience with my last job, where the whole company has to hot desk, the equipment is poor and the tech support even poorer, the whole organisation is a mess and no one really cares to make me realise, life is too short for this.

I don’t know why I take the pictures I do, I don’t know what pictures I could take if I had a lot more time to devote to it and that is much more important to me than earning enough money to buy a house. I need to get to the bottom of why I’m so drawn to the images I make and the only thing I really want is to find out how great I could be at making pictures, where that could take me and how much better my life could be as a result.

To do this I’m thinking of doing an MA in Photography, the project needs to represent a further understanding into my process but also look at another aspect of my work and I’m not sure what that could be yet, but I’m working on it. I’m also going to travel and shoot in different places, interested to see the difference in responses and reactions to my style and my approach. It’s going to take a lot of networking, something I really find hard.

The ultimate goal is to find a way through my passion to a satisfactory result. The best thing about that is I have no idea what that result will be, it’s also scary but there is nothing I love more than a clean sheet to start again and make something new. A new me.

Four edits by Ed Walker

There are only a few common pieces of advice I take stock in when it comes to Street Photography. With so many photographers out there trying to come up with regular blog posts you often get bombarded with do’s and don’ts that are just nonsense. But one of them will absolutely improve your photography, edit your work like a beast. I have a process, it’s very simple and it removes a lot of the hand wringing you get when trying to whittle down your work. I call it the four edit process.

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Stage 1. Import

In the import screen don’t just import everything. I used to do that and would carefully go through each image looking for something that I could use in each one. But some shots are not even worth importing and your hard drive will thank you for getting rid of them right at the start. Make the thumbnail size large enough to weed out the missed, out of focus and just plain rubbish shots.

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Stage 2. Process.

Now go through your images and decide which ones to process. If you’ve done stage one really well you should be processing most of the ones you’ve imported because you’ve deemed them worthy to live on your hard drive. The ones you thought might be ok but when looking at them large won’t cut it should be deleted completely.

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Stage 3. Export.

Now of the processed images decide which you will export to jpg and at this stage in Lightroom you could probably lose a couple. Once they are in your folder on your drive open them in your image viewer and go and weed out the ones that aren’t as good as the rest. Be vicious, you’ve got this far so be really strict with yourself and even if you think a picture has potential, if it doesn’t stack up to the others in the folder, leave it behind (but don’t delete it).

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Stage 4. Publish.

My online platform is Flickr, it’s where I put everything and see how it performs. I upload the images to my account but set the visibility to just me. This gives you another opportunity to view them in context with your other images in your photostream and every morning I set a new image to public and post it on my Facebook, Google+ and Twitter streams. The result of this is that some images never get published, they stay in my photostream unseen because I shot something better the next day.

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The result is you publish the very best of your work but you get to contextualise it with the stuff that nearly makes it but not quite, which I think is sometimes the most valuable comparison.

Check out my Flickr page

My photography in 2014 by Ed Walker

13671477385_b6c3802058_k A year of new projects, new cameras and new focal lengths.

During December 2013 and the early part of 2014 I was looking for a new job so my photography took a back seat. I'd also just bought a Fuji X100 and was struggling to get anything other than out of focus rubbish.

I found a role in Edinburgh and moved up there in February and during my first weekend Enna took me to an underground car park in the city centre. We walked down the stairs to level -4 and when we went through the doors I knew I'd found my new project. Taking place, far underground, was a car boot sale.

When I think about my photography it's all based around people standing and waiting on platforms, perfectly lit by spotlights with loads of texture and depth around them. I pull people out of the crowd and freeze them; constantly fascinated by interesting and unusual faces. With my Nikon I'd been getting closer and closer to my subjects on the London Underground but when I bought my Fuji it's focal length was 24mm and the autofocus was much slower. As it turned out the underground car park was perfect for the new camera, I was stepping back and observing so a lightning fast autofocus wasn't always needed, also the wider lens actually brought more to the scene. Each bay was lit by a spotlight and also down the centre of each corridor, this meant that everyone was steeped in light and shadow which made for some excellent shots.

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I went back to the car boot sale every Sunday morning for four months, I played with using my Fuji on numerous settings, took the Nikon a couple of times and eventually bought a Sony A6000 but the best shots were taken on the Fuji on almost auto settings. It brought back my days at Borough Market but enhanced by the months and months on the London Underground building up the nerve to shoot people who were looking straight down the lens of the camera.

After 4 months I felt the project was finished, I’m not sure why but it had come to a close. I used a website called The Newspaper Club to create a newsprint tabloid of the project and had 10 copies made, I sent them to various magazines and in early 2015 my shots will appear in Amateur Photographer.

The Sony did allow me to get back into close up work on Princes Street in Edinburgh, my Lunchtagram project was a combination of the new super fast autofocus on the Sony, it's Wifi function to send a shot directly to my phone and Instagram. I had wanted to get back into using Instagram for a while but never saw much point because the camera on my phone was just not easy to use. When I got the Sony suddenly I could go out at lunchtime and have a shot up on Instagram as soon as I got back to my desk at work in the afternoon.

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During my time at FreeAgent Roan Lavery asked me to take some pictures for him as an Australian magazine called Offscreen was doing a piece on him. They gave us reasonably strict style guides and we shot lots of pictures around the office, in coffee shops and the back streets of Edinburgh. The resulting article and shots looked fantastic. It's also reignited my curiosity in taking portraits.

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Coming back to London in the Autumn ment back on the Tube! I had missed it so much and now my commute involves going through two major stations, St Pancras and Paddington, and using a very busy tube line. Using the 35mm lens on the Sony means my shots have been wider and much more like the car boot shots. I’m hoping to build another portfolio of tube shots that are less portrait and much more about the life of the commute and find some interesting scenes. I’m also looking for another project, something like the car boot sale that I can regularly go to and build up over time.

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So overall this year has been excellent, I feel I’ve grown and expanded my work while still maintaining the overall themes and style.

Car boot sale newspaper by Ed Walker

DSC03495 I’ve been going to the Edinburgh Omni-centre Car Boot Sale every Sunday for about 5 months, in that time I think I must have taken hundreds of pictures but at the start of August I felt that I had come to a natural and logical close to the project.

I’ve been looking around for different types of ways to present my work and for a while I’ve wanted to experiment with a tabloid newspaper format. A company called The Newspaper Club digitally print onto newsprint and in this case I felt the subject matter suited the newspaper format perfectly.

The results are great, naturally the newsprint sucks some of the depth out of the images and I don’t think this is something I’d do on a large scale but as a promotional item to send to magazines and galleries it works perfectly.

Strictly limited to 10 copies, signed and numbered a copy is available for £9.99. If you would like one drop me a line on the contact page.

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Lunchtagram by Ed Walker

14657125090_2b88a7cc7b_o There are two things that really move your photography forward, new technology and a new setting. When I moved to Edinburgh one of the things I was most worried about was the lack of Underground system to shoot my close up portraits on. My photography is based on two elements, low light and close up portraits where the subject doesn’t get time to compose themselves before they realise they are being captured. I had always connected the two together and so I always felt my best work was the mixture of the two.

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When I started shooting in Edinburgh I went to the underground car boot sale for my low light stuff but it wasn’t the sort of environment that I could practice my close up portraiture but then two things happened. I rediscovered Instagram and I bought a new camera, a Sony A6000. It was only the super quick auto focus and WiFi connectivity of the A6000 that allowed me to get back into the close up work.

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Every lunchtime I go out and walk up and down Princes street taking pictures of tourists and locals; practising my technique of walking across their path or quickly darting in front of them to get a close up shot. I love the work of Bruce Gilden but don’t quite have the courage to get right in the face of my subjects like he does yet, however I managed to get some quite impressive shots of the unusual and interesting women who populate the city centre.  It’s not the perfect time of the day to shoot, in the midday sun, but I was surprised by the results.

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Instagram evolved earlier this year to give you much more editing power over your pictures adding vignetting, sharpening and much more control over your colour as well as the standard filters it’s always had, this allowed me to get the type of results I always look for. In addition the WiFi connection between my phone and my camera allowed me to get my pictures into Instagram immediately resulting in an ever growing set that allows me to scratch my itch of close up work once again, let me know what you think.

You can see the full set here

Sony A6000 first thoughts by Ed Walker

So this is not a technical review, specs don’t interest me at all. This is a short piece on my reaction to this camera after one week of using it. If you don’t have time to read it the TL:DR is the Sony A6000 is the best camera I’ve ever used. Edinburgh Car Boot Sale

I’ve been slugging my Nikon D7000 around for three years and it’s heavy and big and cumbersome. The reason I’ve been doing that is that it performs, no other camera I’ve ever used could match it’s autofocus, it’s low light capability and it’s immense battery life.

Edinburgh Waverley Station

For the past 8 months I’ve been struggling, persevering and becoming more and more frustrated with my Fuji X100, a camera which takes amazing pictures but has a glacial autofocus and a dreadful battery life. I experimented with zone focussing but found it just too difficult in low light and I’ve tried slowing down my photography, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I would often go out and shoot, miss shot after shot and find myself cursing it all the way up to the moment the battery died.

The one aspect of the Fuji that I did like was it’s size and weight. Being able to just slip it into my pocket was really appealing so I’ve been looking for something for a while but of all the mirrorless cameras out there I haven’t been able to find one that was the right price coupled with the right performance. I need fast autofocus in low light, it’s what my photography is based on and I can’t compromise on that.

So when the Sony A6000 was announced I read the reviews and after a particularly disappointing evenings shoot with the Fuji I just went ahead and bought it.

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I’ve been shooting with it for a week with the 35mm f1.8 lens and it’s speed, accuracy and image quality has blown me away. The electronic viewfinder is bright and clear, the menus are pretty good compared to even the Nikon (and head and shoulders above the puzzle menus of the Fuji) but it’s the autofocus that really stands out as a stunning feature.

With face recognition switched on it locks onto people so well and so quick that it feels faster than the Nikon and whilst I’m still getting my head around the other focus settings, so far it’s performed amazingly well. I’ve been able to point the camera in someones general direction and it locks onto their face and gives and clear sharp image at f1.8 focussed on their eyes.

The low light outperforms the Fuji with far less grain and even at the lowest light levels the autofocus didn’t even blink.

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Battery life too is great due to some neat power saving tricks like a proximity sensor next to the eyepiece so the electronic viewfinder only comes on when you look through it. I shot for around 3-4 hours without a charge and still had around 30% left however this is all academic because the A6000 uses an Micro USB cable (like Android phones) so you can charge it from your computer, lovely.

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It’s also tiny, with the lens on it’s not quite small enough to put in your coat pocket but taking into account the performance this is still a very compact and light camera which is comfortable to hold and much lighter than my Nikon.

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So it’s only been a week but I’ve decided to go all in and sell my Nikon and lenses, I’m that confident in the abilities of this little camera. I’ve bought a 50mm f1.8 lens to accompany my 35mm and I’m looking forward to combining the wider style shots I’ve been getting at the car boot sale with much more intimate close up portraits, I finally feel like I have the camera that can deliver the performance I need without compromise.

 

New subject, new camera by Ed Walker

One of my concerns about moving the Edinburgh was that my best work has always been in artificial light, tube stations and darker environments. There is something about this ‘stage’ type lighting that I love. Shooting on the London Tube has formed the majority of my work and where was I going to find that in Edinburgh?  Luckily on the first weekend here Enna took me to a car boot sale held on level -4 of the multistory car park in the centre of town; perfect.

Not only had I found a great setting with great lighting but also a subject to explore that was different to my work in London. Now I just had to find a way of shooting it.

I’ve been using the X100 for about 6 months now. It’s pretty much been my only camera and I’ve tried numerous different approached to shooting with it. Each week I’ve been trying a different approach to shooting with widely different results.

Week 1 - Fully Automatic : Dynamic ISO - autofocus - aperture & shutter speed on auto with flash switched off but focus light on.

Really just walking around to see what it was all about and shooting to see peoples reaction and what I could get. The result astounded me.

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Week 2 - Manual - Dynamic ISO - range focus (set to about 2 to 5 metres) aperture set to 2.0 shutter speed around 125

Disaster strikes, I thought I would try and see if I could get better results with a more manual setting but the shots were often out of focus because estimating the distance is hard and also under exposed. So much so that there wasn’t one good shot.

Week 3 - Semi Automatic : Dynamic ISO - Focus set to infinity - aperture & shutter speed on auto with flash switched off.

There is one thing to be said for shooting with the focus set to infinity, fast, instant actually. You can see why in the daylight, where you can set the aperture to f16 this is a solid approach but it’s a lot more difficult in low light, you have to stay very still because the shutter speed plummets.

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Week 4 - Back to fully auto

As you’ll see with the image below with autofocus on twitch shots are really difficult, I came to the conclusion that it was time to see what the Nikon could do.

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Week 5 - Nikon d7000 - 50mm f1.8 - Auto focus but manual everything else. Settings changing shot to shot.

I thought I would try taking the Nikon and seeing if the old girl could outclass the Fuji with my old approach and shooting style. The result was underwhelming. I realised the autofocus on the Nikon was only marginally better than the Fuji and it’s size and weight meant it attracted a lot more attention.

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Week 6 - Fuji X100 - fully auto

So back to the Fuji and while this week was a very poor show (the clocks went forward which I think might have had something to do with it) the same autofocus problems raises their head.

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So what conclusions do I come to? well the Fuji needs more time. You need more to autofocus, and shoot and I can’t manage as many ‘snatch and grab’ shots that the Nikon is better at achieving. But more time isn’t always bad and a new approach is always a good thing for your photography, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Thoughts on my Fuji X100 one month in... by admin

DSCF0062 So this is not a traditional review, I won’t be talking about tech or specs or even pretend I understand all that stuff. This is an account of my experiences with my second hand Fuji X100 after a month of playing with it. However if you want the short answer, it’s awesome (if challenging).

So to say the Fuji X100 is a challenge for my street photography is a little bit of an understatement. My work relies on a split second of engagement with my subject. My Nikon’s autofocus can just about capture the decisive moment I am looking for, the Fuji X100’s autofocus cannot; it’s just too damn slow. To give you an idea of the difference, I think I manage to capture about 25% of the pictures I take with my Nikon, on the Fuji it’s less than 5%

So why did I buy it? Well it was somewhat of an impulse buy. I kept reading reviews of the X100 and the X100s and people praising it’s beautiful image quality, retro looks, great viewfinder and most of all, how great it was for street photography. As the X100s had been on the market a little while the second hand X100 was starting to drop in price and I found an Ebay listing that was just at my sweet spot, I bid and I won it. I knew the autofocus was going to be slow, all the original reviews said so, I’d even played with one in a shop and dismissed it completely. But I still bought it.

So after a couple of days with it I switched to using manual focus, ranging it to about 2 metre, setting the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to auto and seeing how far I got. It took me a few days to even get a shot in focus, nevermind one I liked, however there was one thing that kept me going; it was fast. Faster than my Nikon, silent, it slipped into my jacket pocket and most people reacted differently to it. It’s less intrusive on all counts and eventually I got this shot.

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It almost looks like it’s painted, the flesh tones are beautiful and the depth is amazing. Very pleased, I’ve been gradually moving the focus closer and closer.

Because I am used to using a 50mm on a cropped sensor which makes it about an 80mm it was a massive jump to go down to what is effectively 35mm lens. All my shots with the Fuji have been wider and further back. This is something I need to rectify but it’s also something that I’ve enjoyed. It’s been a breath of fresh air to step back even if in reality I’ve exactly the same distance from my subjects.

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Another advantage of manual focus is that in very low light the AF doesn't hunt and get lost resulting in you missing a shot, you click and go and be damned with what you get. However it means you can get images like this with lovely motion blur.

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So they are all the things I like about it, what don’t I like? The menus are simply horrible, over complicated and baffling. I managed to get the flash to work once, can’t now, not because it doesn’t work but because there is something in the menus that I haven’t discovered. Apart from that (and thats enough, I hate badly designed menus), the battery doesn’t last long enough but worse than poor battery life, it gives you no indication how long you have left before it’s too late. You need two batteries to even make this thing viable. Ergonomically I found it hard to carry before I bought one of the thumb grips. The dial to change the exposure compensation is right on the edge and I’ve turned that by mistake a few times.

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Someone (or rather a committee) at Fuji decided the send this camera out with a stock charger which was too big for the battery and to rectify this by adding a little plastic piece that snaps onto the end of the casing. This is classic corporate stupid and it means you need to be very careful when moving the charger around not to lose this tiny piece. I hope they fixed that in the X100s.

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None of these things are insurmountable and once you have it set up how you want it its a beautiful little camera to have in your pocket. It feels like it has a personality and after one month I can’t even begin to say I’ve got to know it, it took me over a year to learn my D7000 so I predict this will be just as long, however right now it feels good.

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As Ken Rockwell says, no one needs this camera, it’s a luxury but it’s a lovely luxury and even though I’m still not 100% sure that I will completely retire my Nikon for street photography, the Fuji X100 definitely has something special about it.

My photography in 2013 by admin

Borough Market What a horrible year, miserable, frustrating and the biggest let down I think I’ve ever had creatively. It’s 2012’s fault, it was such an amazing year and I expected it to keep going. But it didn’t.

It all start in November when someone took my work apart on Facebook, you can read about that here but in short it put me back six months. I spent the first half of 2013 with my camera in my bag, demoralised and feeling like I’d got it all wrong. Despite some very kind words by people I respected and trusted it was to no avail.

It still haunts me today, a few weeks ago I spoke with a professional photographer who after seemingly being very intrigued by my work became almost similar in the view that it was intrusive and wrong when I said no to her suggestion that I really should talk to my subjects afterwards and explain what I was trying to achieve. I think I’m going to have to live with this from now on. I can’t change the way I am and the interaction I want with the subject is very specific.

So my output this year has been considerably lower, I didn’t enter any exhibitions until the autumn and I’ve had to readdress my approach, what was I doing? why was I doing it? what am I actually trying to achieve? I still don’t really know. My solution was to get back out there and get back on the bus. In fact it’s the only solution, I can only take the pictures I take, if someone doesn’t like them, fine. As I said in my August blog post this isn’t a time limited project, in fact the more time the better because fashion will kick in and these images will start to take on historical importance.

The other thing I did, which I resisted for so long, was to buy a different bit of kit and see if that helped. In truth I was already back on the bus by this time, so maybe this was a gift to myself as well as an investment to try and see how different technology would change my eye and the results. I’m still struggling with it, my second hand Fuji X100, but I love the challenge. For some reason the harder it is to take these pictures the better it feels when you capture something good. I just have to put to the back of my mind the amount of images I’ve missed that I knew I would have got if I had my Nikon in my hand.

So the year has ended better than it started and actually when I look at the crop of shots, they aren’t too bad at all. Not as good as last year but a couple of them show progression and it was nice to be accepted into the Photofusion Salon/13 exhibition for the second year running. Expectations lower, sitting on this bus is maybe what I needed and a reflective year has maybe done me more good that I can, at the moment, see.

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Brixton Village

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Photography on Immediate.co.uk by admin

The new Immediate Media website has just gone live and there is quite a considerable amount of my photography on it, mainly the staff portraits which I have been shooting on and off for the past couple of weeks. This is the first major project I’ve done with pro grade flash kits. I’ve taken over one hundred portraits after having little over a day training. As you can probably imagine it’s been quite a challenge but it’s also been really rewarding because I would have never thought of myself as being able to achieve these kinds of results, nevermind direct the subjects and edit them to be consistent throughout.

I’ve always thought that if I were to attempt portraiture I would attempt to bring some of my street ethos into the studio but with a strict brief like this it’s virtually impossible. Only careful repetition and an almost robot like approach to the technique will give you the results that are needed. One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to do this full time, however it has sparked my interest in how I can actually say something with this completely different setup and relationship between myself and the subject.

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First half of 2013 by admin

After the being exhibited three times last year, featured on the Guardian website and for the first time really finding my feet in an artistic endeavour that was purely mine (and that was being heaped with praise), the first half of 2013 has been a struggle. Late last year, a female friend made a public tirade against me telling me that I was no better than a man who wolf whistles at women down the street. That was one of the nicer things she said, I won’t go into the other details. Whether she really thought this, was having a bad day or even if she was drunk, it got to me. From November last year to the middle of 2013 my rate of pictures dropped dramatically.

Initially I worried about it, well thats the put it mildly. I started thinking about whether it was the right thing to do, whether my approach was wrong, whether it was morally right. The criticism had really got to me. I spoke to lots of people about it, including Gina Glover at Photofusion and she said that I needed to ask myself whether I needed to do it, whether it was my thing and if it wasn’t then find another subject. If it was, then stop thinking about what one person said and just keep doing it.

So this is the first half of 2013’s better output and I think it’s telling, I’m not as close in a lot of pictures. I’m choosing my subjects more carefully and I’ve really tailed off from the commuter pictures. I only feel comfortable taking pictures in situations where women relaxed and I suppose presenting themselves in the way they want to be seen. At the weekends, at festivals and less in situations where they need to be getting somewhere and they don’t need some guy sticking his lens in their face.

So here it is, this is a re-adjustment, a tweaking of my style and while I don’t think it’s quite as edgy as my output from last year I’m hoping that will return in time. I’ve decided to stop concentrating on creating with the intent of being exhibited and looking for praise and really put my efforts into a long term project thats simple and focussed and solid. I want thirty amazing pictures that tell a story of women. I’m not really concerned how long it takes me, I’m imagining it will take me years but I know what I want to say now and I’m going to concentrate on saying it.

You can buy my book "2012, Women" here

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My 2012 by admin

2012 has been a pivotal year in my photography. During the previous two years I had plans to be exhibited and published but up until 2012 it hadn’t come to fruition. There is one main reason for this, I didn’t have my thing. In 2011 I spent a lot of time shooting street, specifically Borough Market, and I think this was training me to get closer. The market gets very cramped and crowded and I was finding that to get the shots I wanted I needed to be quick and close with my subjects, it also allowed me to move on swiftly and over the year I was getting bolder with my shots.

Then in January 2012 I decided to buy a new camera. Due to a banking error (PPI related) I could afford to step up my equipment and was deciding between a D7000 and a D700. A friend had a D7000 and lent it to me to play with before made my decision. The same day I stepped onto a tube at London Bridge and shot the most important image of my life. I caught the eye of a girl in headphones standing 3 feet away from me in a crowded tube carriage and as I raised my camera to my eye, focussed and took one frame. She continued to hold her gaze, she posed for me. As they say that the first reaction colours your whole approach, this couldn’t have been better, if I ever see her again I will thank her because it gave me the courage to get closer, seek eye contact and capture intense, personal images that a lot of people seem to really like.

That shot not only gave me my thing, it set off a year of pictures which would see my work being described by the Guardian Camera Club as ‘stylish and uncompromising’, win places in three separate exhibitions and have a follow up photography review with Gina Glover where she heaped praise on how far I had come in the 12 months since I first showed her my work.

After that first shot I quickly followed it up with a great portrait of another woman, this time on a bus in Brixton and over the coming months I built up half a dozen close up street portraits. Also in May I moved jobs and my commute was extended to take in London Bridge to Angel and it was here that I captured some great images of tube life. The great thing about tube stations is that they are not only platforms but also stages, lit (in London Bridge’s case) by spotlights and full of subjects from every walk of life. It was these images that caught the attention of the Guardian Camera Club who reviewed a portfolio of 6 images that I submitted to their Flickr group.

It was also on Flickr that I submitted some pictures to a competition ran by The Horniman Museum called ‘The London Look Photography Challenge’ and the first image I took in January was selected out of over 300 images to become one of 14 images exhibited in the Museum.

Shortly after that the tube images that II submitted to the London Independent Photographers member show were shortlisted and they chose two to be exhibited in The Strand Gallery near Charing Cross. Then to round off a great year Photofusion in Brixton chose another close up portrait taken on the Victoria Line for their AMPS Salon show in December.

So, a superb year full of discovery, success plus a little bit of criticism for only taking images of women, all of which has led to a short period of reflection and thought about what 2013 will hold. I shall no doubt continue to take close up street portraits but I will almost certainly try and mix it up with more men. I want to continue with tube life images and after a brief experiment with Blurb books I want to launch a number of books on different subjects. In addition to the close up portraits, I have continued to shoot London landscapes, street and also experimented a little with traditional portraiture. I plan to submit my work to a lot more magazines and competitions, and to push my style out to as many different avenues as possible. After seeing what I can achieve in one year, and knowing I could do so much more, I can see a creatively prosperous future for my photography.

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The Shard

Tate Modern

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Sunset over The Shard

Sunrise over London

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London Sunset

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Green Park

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By standers by admin

Sometimes the people I train my camera on don’t see me, it’s becoming a rarer and rarer event because I now stand very close, put my camera to my eye and wait. Even then occasionally they are too engrossed in what they are doing (usually their phones) or I can see that they have noticed my out of the corner of their eye and are determined not to look at me. Then the stars of the pictures become the by standers, they are watching me looking at my intended subject and I very rarely notice them, it’s only afterwards in processing that I will see a face in the background, watching me.

It’s interesting because they are observing me often without considering the fact they might be in the photograph, they might become the key. I don’t know why I need the eyes but there is something that legitimises a picture when I have a set of eyes staring down the lens at me. Maybe my photography is legitimised by viewers and like in my close up portraits where I get a reactions, all I’m looking for is to be seen. It’s something I have been considering for a while, that the photographer is the subject of the photograph and what the viewer sees are people’s reaction to the subject. I’ve never heard of a photographer taking this position before and it’s something I want to explore further.

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My first fashion shoot by admin

It’s that moment when you realise you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, you just have to resort to whatever experience you have gained from the last few years taking pictures without an audience or anyone standing in front of you asking you what to do. I’d said yes to a fashion shoot mainly because I’ve never done one, I work in magazines and I’m trying to get as much experience as I can in as many facets of photography possible. This was a safe environment where I knew the clients quite well, they knew my work and as it was a favour there was considerably less pressure; but there is always that moment when you are there and it’s happening.

I have no experience using lights or flash, to illustrate this I was standing there wondering why the camera wouldn’t go over 250th of a second when the flash was up. Most of you will be facepalming right now but this is the extent of my ignorance. I am busy now watching videos after being advised not to go on a course when I can learn it all online.

So armed with just a reflector, three designers, a makeup artist and a model we went to a run down artist studio in Bermondsey. As the makeup artist was working we scoped out the building and found half a dozen spots where we could get enough light and there was interesting backdrops. There were eleven outfits to shoot and about two hours of light.

The first couple of outfits took far too long, the model was quite stiff and unsure and we weren’t really getting much I was happy with. It took the first hour and a few location changes for the first good images to start to appear and from then on it felt plain sailing. As the sun went down we even got some golden shots with the sun behind and reflected light illuminating the model.

I never quite got the hang of the flash though, but next time.

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