NEWS FLASH – Street Photography and New Leica M240

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

An Old(ish) Dog Learns New Tricks

As a busy corporate photographer who works nearly every day there is precious little time to swap notes with other professional photographers if I want to extend my skills.

But I always want to learn new tricks and cover new ground. Like most creative people, I never want to be stuck in a rut.

Which led me to plunging myself firmly in the deep end spending a day devoted to street photography. Street photography is the very opposite of my usual studio and location work. It requires working in a completely different way, putting me in the somewhat scary position of not being able to rigorously control lighting, poses and sets.

Street Photography Session

Through The Photographers Gallery in central London I signed up for a day’s session all about street photography with Matt Stuart. Matt’s a very well-known street photographer who has achieved great success by taking images that capture the quirky and humorous side of London life. It’s down to his skill and often enormous patience that his striking pictures are published around the world.

New Leica M240 Camera

I have been shooting with Leica film rangefinder cameras since the early 90s and have a good set of lenses. But now the digital Leicas have come of age, today these are my equipment of choice for an increasing number of shoots. What’s so good about them? First, their build quality makes Rolex watches look flimsy! The lenses are called ‘brass and glass’ with justification, because that’s all they are made of and they are the sharpest lenses on the market in a compact, virtually indestructible, format.

The camera body too is unusual. Its design means little of the photographer’s face is covered when shooting (unlike an SLR) which is far less intimidating to the subject. Consequently, I can get much closer for better shots that will be sharper and with truer colours compared to the much larger SLR versions. The Leica M has been the camera of choice for street work for years.

I digress, however. Under Matt’s guidance, I tried my hand at two types of street photography. The first involves being in one place and waiting for something special to happen within camera frame.

The second is to walk the streets, spot a likely character and then follow them for a short while to get the best frame from a series of shots.

Sounds easy? It isn’t. No one expects a stranger to take their picture when walking down Oxford Street. It takes a bit of guts to snap people you don’t know from close range. The best way is to shoot quickly, smile and move on.

Once I found my mojo, I could start taking pictures more spontaneously, producing, dare I say it, results that were fresh and eye catching.

I realised the trick is to never put your camera down, or away from your eye, because it requires an enormous act of will to raise it again and continue shooting under such circumstances.

After shooting in the Oxford Street area for a couple of hours, we had to choose which images for Matt to review and critique. With lots of other professional photographers also learning street photography it was great to hear everyone’s feedback and to meet new people, and I’d happily repeat the session because I am sure every time will present new challenges.

Douglas is an absolute delight to work with. Having seen many portraits he has taken, they all seem to capture the spirit of the individual whilst maintaining an element of allure and glamour. I would definitely recommend him - highly in fact. - Client at Corporate Communications Agency, August 2015

Feature in Sony Mirrorless Pro Online Magazine

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

Online feature article about Sony Mirorless cameras Douglas’s images have been chosen to be the hero photographs on the Sony Mirrorless Pro website, along with a précis of his career so far and reasons for the switch to Sony, check it out here – Article about new Sony cameras

Image stabilisation is a great innovation as too is focus peaking and manual focus assist - Douglas, Photographer

NEWS FLASH – Transition to New Sony A7ii cameras

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

New Sony Cameras

Pictured above – One of our cameras is fitted with a Leica 90mm APO Summicron, one of the sharpest portrait lenses made today, designed so that the red, green and blue shades of the spectrum all focus on the same point for maximum clarity of image. The Zeiss 55mm next to it, isnt too shabby either.

New Cameras

We have decided to move to the new Sony mirrorless cameras after trialling them for a few weeks, preferring their image files over the Canon 1DX.

We like the combination of these smaller rugged higher tech camera bodies when used with our amazingly high quality Zeiss and Leica lenses.

What does this mean for you?

First, the software files are higher resolution than ever before, which allows for easier crops and better richer black and white conversions. The lenses are smaller and more compact and very high quality – which together mean more accurate colours and a greater dynamic range – ideal for improving the images in your Annual Reports and other marketing materials.

During the trial, we found that the files need much less tweaking in Photoshop to achieve the optimum image quality. For example, bright pictures of skies retain the detail in the clouds, while darker scenes have richer blacks and other deeper shades. The range of lenses is equal to our current Canon system so lenses from the very wide 15mm through to the super telephoto 300mm lens is available.

Great improvements too can be seen with video on these new cameras with facial recognition and tracking, coupled with 5 axis stabilisation for smooth movements.

So when during a corporate interview a subject might lean forward for emphasis the camera continues to track the face and remain precisely focused even at the shallowest depths of field.

In summary, we believe our introduction of this new family of high quality Sony cameras, and the latest versions of Photoshop, Lightroom and Final Cut-X opens up new possibilities for higher quality images and video for all your photographic requirements.
Lenses and Equipment for Corporate Photography

Do lenses matter?

In short, yes they do. It’s only when you compare images side by side can you see the incredible difference between the kit zoom lens that often come as standard with cameras and lenses altogether in a different league, the very best ones are from Zeiss or Leica. Images produced by equipment from these manufacturers offer unbelievable sharpness from corner to corner, at even the shallowest depths of field.

The clarity is also incredible, in fact almost 3D in its nature, with natural, accurate colours. When you see a whole collection of these images on a website, Annual Report or brochure everything seems to stand out and almost jump off the page!

Leica lenses enjoy an enviable reputation in the photographic world; their build quality and optical clairty is unsurpassed, but it does come at a price. We think the quality of image is worth the cost however.

We believe our introduction of this new family of high quality Sony cameras, and the latest versions of Photoshop, Lightroom and Final Cut-X opens up new possibilities for higher quality images and video for all our client's photographic requirements. Douglas - Lead Photographer

Happy Easter to all our Clients…

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

Happy Easter from Piranha Photography

NEWS FLASH – Old Leica Lenses Resurrected by New Cameras

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

New Sony Mirrorless Camera
Test Sony Camera
New Sony Camera – the A7II Mirrorless SLR

Times change, and technologies improve at an exponential rate, the latest example of this in the photographic world is the Sony A7II mirrorless SLR. Sporting the latest 24megapixel sensor and 5 axis stabilisation on the new Sony/Zeiss lenses.  There is great news too if, like me, you have a line up of expensive but older Leica M lenses, 3 axis stabilisation on ANY lens..Which means crisper, sharper images, with great colour depth at virtually any shutter speed.

We took delivery here of this new slimline camera, an adapter for the Leica M lenses, put on the Leica 35mm F2 Summicron (one of the sharpest lenses ever made) tossed the manual to one side of course and started shooting. Well I was very pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to focus with an older lens with this new hi-tech camera, the clarity and detail is phenomenal – the images have a 3D quality about them, such is the legendary nature of Leica glass.

The new Sony cameras have been a very impressive addition to our collection, they are small, discreet and very high quality, especially when coupled with the famous Leica lenses. - Douglas, Photographer

Backgrounds – Business Portraits require a background check

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha

Business portrait in London

What should we use as a background for a business portrait?

The correct answer is ‘it depends’. It depends on the size of the image and its usage.

A smaller portrait for a website needs a plain, probably white, background. This delivers an uncluttered image and ensures the face is easily distinguishable.

A white background is versatile as it’s also the starting point for a cutout. A cutout requires a series of backgrounds to have already been photographed and, for technical reasons, are shot with the appropriate amount of blur.

The benefit of a cutout means staff and directors can have their portraits taken anywhere – say while away on business – yet they can appear as having been present in the boardroom.

The technology is so good that the image appears completely natural and it’s no wonder that more and more companies are using cutouts. What’s more, all our plain backgrounds are easily portable and can be set up in any office.

Larger profile images, say for pitch documents or website career summaries; work best when the backgrounds provide a sense of place and context. These help the pictures be part of a company narrative and bring corporate documents to life.

Also used by many clients is the ‘working’ portrait option, where we blur the boardroom background to give the impression of the shot being taken during an actual board meeting. When converted to black and white it has a lovely ‘documentary’ quality.

Other background options include standard colours, such as grey or mottled blue, which provide a unified branding. These photographs are used particularly on websites that have plain white backgrounds which then prevents the head appearing to ‘float’ in a sea of white, again giving a natural looking image.

Douglas has an amazing ability to set anyone at ease (even if they don't speak English!) and has always delivered superb results for both my corporate and consumer clients - often at very short notice. He's my first port of call when I need a professional photographer. I can't recommend him highly enough. Client at London PR Agency

Corporate Videos Project for Investor Meeting and Website

Posted in Private Equity Company Photography, Corporate Video for Companies, Websites, Tips and News from Piranha

Corporate Video Filming in London Offices

We  wanted to share with you a recent email from one of our private equity clients after their recent investor presentation, when the videos Piranha had worked on and produced with them were presented –

Dear Sam, Douglas and Adrian,
 
Last week’s investor meeting was the ‘best one yet’ in Simon’s opinion and we certainly received really great feedback from our investors. One chap from the states complimented us on the quality of our video editing. 

Thank you – we get very stressed, we ask for lots of last minute changes and you always deliver a great product and we’ve very grateful.
 
Lunch soon?
 
Kind regards,
Rachel

Marketing Director, Inflexion Private Equity
 
PS. We will soon turn our attention to editing the remaining videos we shot at the end of the year so we can get them onto the website.

“I hate having my photo taken” – a solution for the camera shy

Posted in Corporate Portrait Photography, Tips and News from Piranha

Portrait Photograph for Piranha Newsletter

Do you get nervous having your picture taken?

When it’s for a formal occasion, say a publicity shot for a business launch or an important company document, a nervous client, or at least a camera-shy one, is surprisingly common.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard clients admitting they hate having their photograph taken. I tell them that everyone says that, hoping to reassure them. To which they say ‘but I really do’. Suffice to say, everyone says that too.

We are all used to seeing ourselves brushing our teeth, combing our hair, putting on make up. Of course these are familiar images of ourselves, when reflected in mirrors or perhaps shop windows. But when we have our pictures taken, the image presented by the photographer feels the ‘wrong’ way round and this is why so many are uncomfortable with them.

Fortunately, there are number of things that can help reduce people’s unease when in front of camera.

I always keep the room tidy with a clear path from the door to the place where the person will stand/sit. There is nothing worse than a nervous character having to navigate past bags of intimidating kit, cables and accessories.

An uncluttered shoot stops people feeling like a visit to the dental surgery. 

As a portrait session progresses, I always keep the subject involved in the shoot. They are quickly able to relax when they are active not passive, and very much part of the process, be it when changing posture, their angles to the camera, smiling, not smiling etc.

Many of the shots taken aren’t in the client’s brief, but their value is in getting the subject to relax and to take their mind off the process.

One position and expression is probably all that’s needed to get a good picture, but asking someone to maintain a certain look is unrealistic and only professional models are really ever able to achieve it. 

It’s important not to take long.

From years of experience I know that after a few minutes I will have the best out of the person and extending the shoot won’t improve the results. Also, for business people, time is usually pressing and they will want to be off as soon as possible to their next appointment.

Having your portrait taken for an Annual Report, website or marketing brochure can be a painless, fun and not a drudge, if done professionally.

We aim always to get the best out of each subject no matter how anxious they might be feeling when they walked in.

Great photos and good time had as well. Many thanks indeed. Angela, Client

Merry Christmas from Piranha – 2014

Posted in Tips and News from Piranha


To find out more about Helen and Douglas House please visit their website – http://www.helenanddouglas.org.uk/

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