Monday, 17 June 2013

I am moving to wordpress

Dear friends who have read this blog,

The blog is now moving to wordpress under a new name - Laura's little things

I am hoping it will be easier to share my ramblings with fellow bloggers and get to know other people. Everything has been moved to the new blog and I'll use the new blog for updates on the Clapham-photo club too.

This was a very exciting first experience into the world of blogging, which I am going to continue.

Don't forget to follow me on the new address and share your thoughts about the new look and posts.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Assisting a photography session - Carlotta Cardana's Mod couples project

I have been looking to assist photographers so that I can get some experience of the real thing, of what photographers do when they are shooting for a project or for a client.

So I have been reading the brixtonblog ( and I follow them on twitter and in one of their features they were talking about an exhibition at the Photofusion gallery, a centre for photography in Brixton. The exhibition featured four photographers all with their particular types of photography.

Photofusion SELECT/13

The one that caught my eye was the series on Mod couples from italian portrait and documentary photographer Carlotta Cardana. I have to admit that I didn't know anything about Mod couples or the Mod sub-culture before this exhibition and actually before meeting Carlotta. There is a website about Mod culture for those interested to learn more (

What I thought when I first read the piece on the Brixton blog was that these couples look very British and also slightly older for their age.

So it happened that I contacted Carlotta and she accepted that I assist her, for another shoot with a Mod couple on Sunday.

I went along and found it very interesting! Carlotta shoots in film and uses a Zenza Bronica camera which has a very different feel. She also uses a light meter which tells her the values to put in the camera for aperture and shutter speed. I found that very useful as you don't have to worry a lot about figuring out the exposure settings. What you need to make sure is that you find the right combination in case the light is strong and the values are different on each side of the subject's face. So generally she was using values between 5.6 and 8 and 125 for shutter speed.

Looking for the right place where to shoot and making sure the subjects were not in the sun was the first thing she did as the day was very bright. She took a few tests using polaroid with me (yeay!!) and then shot a roll of 12 photos in two different locations. In one of them she used a diffuser which I held as where the couple was standing was in the shade.

And that was it. The couple chose themselves the location in Fenton House in Hampstead Heath, a very nice National Trust property with lovely gardens. The whole shooting lasted 30 minutes and preparations before hand about 1 hour. The two Mods were very friendly and we had quite a long chat afterwards about London, how they got into the Mod culture (mainly because of music influences and liking the look of Mods). We even talked about social housing, how can you not talk about that if you live in London?

The whole experience was very positive, I think I learnt quite a bit, not in a technical way but about how to approach things and the session itself and what to be careful about, location, light, put the subjects at ease. There is much more than just photography to this project, there is the human and social side of discovering people.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Blogger or wordpress - which platform should I use?

I spent quite a bit of time tonight trying to figure out if I wanted to move my blog to wordpress or keep it in blogger.

Also I wanted to change the template of the blog and tried many combinations of the 'dynamic views', magazine or timeline being my favourite options. The only problem is that the image I have at the moment of my son, Paris, Tirana and London, an image which is dear to me as those are the people and places I love, doesn't work with dynamic templates. So I tried a new look, without the image, with an almost transparent background and the different template and the result was that it was a new blog. It did look nice and I sort of liked a more 'lifestyle' type of look but again I wasn't sure.

I also tried to export my blog from blogger to wordpress thinking this is going to be easy and followed a tutorial until the point where the guy in the recording started talking about your domain router at which point I switched off.

So I started a number of different things and how many did I achieve? The answer is none. I kept the same template in blogger. What I exported in wordpress doesn't look nice as I need to spend more time choosing the template, colours, background, the image etc, something I don't have anymore. At least not for tonight! All this time spent trying to decide which platform to use I could have used for writing, but I didn't.

So to say the least I feel frustrated! After a day of travelling, doing a presentation, looking after the son, doing the daily evening chores of preparing the lunchbox etc I felt like I wasted what was left of my evening.

So to compensate for that I decided I am going to write my frustrations in a post so that at least I can feel I achieved something. A post about frustration and the time you need to have the perfect blogging platform. Which makes me question all of it as the most important stuff is the writing itself right, rather than the platform and the look of it, the image, the branding etc. I can hear some whispering at the back, 'the image and branding are all important in today's world where hundreds of thousands of blogs are out there looking just perfect and asking for attention'.

But I shouldn't worry just yet, my blog is still new and it looks good (it does right?) and I will be able to develop it further.

So leaving all this behind I am going to reminisce about a beautiful weekend we had in Norfolk at the end of April. An image taken in Blakeney, a lovely town off the Norfolk coast of boats lazily lying on the sand and under the sun. Enjoy!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Clapham photo club meets again with Peter Warrick photographer

So we had our second meeting this time with a different photographer and in the evening, so without the children. And it was great! For one of the mums present it was the time when it all made sense.

Peter's style was a little different and much more relaxed about the technicalities of photography. His rule of thumb was 'liberate your camera' and think about what is around you.

80% is about psychology and 20% is about technical knowledge.

Building a relation of trust is first so that people can express themselves.

Then you think about lighting - you need to make sure your subjects are lit well enough.

Then think about the background and make sure there isn't a lot of distraction - toys, tables, chairs etc. Of course being in a house is synonymous with clatter but there are a few tricks photographers use to avoid distracting backgrounds. Hanging a piece of fabric behind the model is one solution for which you need a hanger (and possibly an assistant...). Or shooting in the doorway where lighting is good as it comes in through an open door. A naturally darker background can be blurred even more by a wide aperture (e.g. 5.6, 2.8) setting.

And finally have your camera settings ready. Last thing to do is expose on your subject to see how much you need to adjust the shutter speed (if you are on aperture priority). Once you are happy with the exposure hold the shutter release button down slightly (the camera will keep the same exposure for as long as you keep the shutter half pressed) and re-frame so that your subject is placed where you want it. And finally shoot! Peter's advice was to use one of the priority modes - for portraits use aperture priority and settings at f5.6 and ISO 400. The only thing to adjust is shutter speed. Alternatively use shutter priority mode and leave your settings ready if you want to turn to that for when children are running for example.

In a way this piece of advice is useful as it makes it easier to shoot without having to worry about all three settings when what you want to do is capture the moment.

And another piece of advice which I particularly liked is 'you make your photo, you don't take it'. This is particularly true as I realise more and more that beautiful images are the fruit of significant effort - good lighting, clear background, interesting angle, expressive subject, good lens, correct settings on the camera, clothes the subject is wearing that can compliment or contrast with the surroundings etc etc. Anything else I have missed?

Anyhow I am enjoying all this learning from amazing photographers - Charlie and Peter so far - that have shared with us their skills and experience.

Peter's presentation is here for those wanting to learn more.

Peter Warrick photographer presentation to Clapham photo club

The assignment on which I haven't progressed at all after Peter's session is to take 150 shots of someone that is allowed to move everything else but their legs. So I need to give that a go, any volunteers??

Here are a few recent pictures I quite like to conclude on this session.

One without much light - taken as the sun made a breakthrough from the clouds and lit the kitchen from the window. The trees out in the garden create a nice soft shadow on the white wall.

 The other is a good example of diffuse light that doesn't create shadows.

Others that want to get involved in our photo-club please do get in touch. We will be planning our next meeting soon.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Photos of a rainy day - the flower power

This is the second part of the photo series from the same weekend down in Devon where we had a Friday afternoon of good weather and a whole rainy Saturday. 

Needles to say it was a long day! But in a way not doing much was quite relaxing and it felt like back in the days where we had no mobiles or techy gadgets and time passed very slowly. 

Luckily for my photography assignment (!) the rain stopped for a short while at the end of the day. So I was able to take a few shots of wet camellia flowers dripping with rain. 

I like this photo of wet flowers and blades of grass with quite visible droplets of rain. The flowers (whose name escapes me) are closed as it's getting near night time.

The profile of the same camellia, looking away. 

Who said a rainy day was void of inspiration?