Seeing things in a new light (Soton Part II)

This post is really part two of my Southampton journey, but is tied in to the book that I brought with me; Elizabeth Messina‘s The Luminous Portrait*.

For a long time my exposure choices have tended to be dictated by what might be called a “normal” exposure, or even slightly underexposed where this would deliver richer colours. Rarely would I consider overexposure to be a viable option (though as my recent pictures of Jenny show, I would never rule it out).

Perhaps I need to think again. I recently learned that renowned beauty photographer Sue Bryce overexposes all of her work by a full stop, and this is similar to the approach espoused by Messina, though she exposes for the shadows, which then leads to the other tones in her pictures developing a glow.


Inevitably then, I’ve been experimenting with exposure in some of my pictures, but it was with people that I really wanted to try it. Without a muse on hand I returned to street portraiture in the hope of finding what I was looking for, and initially shot Kavya, a young Indian girl, though in hindsight realised that though I’d positioned her to get the benefit of a backlight into her coloured hair, I hadn’t then taken that a step further in getting a brighter result. Contrarily I processed it in monochrome!

On my way to dinner I shot a couple of frames of Jessica, an Eastern European but then accidentally deleted the overexposed version so was forced to try and replicate it in processing which doesn’t seem to have been a great success.

I even resorted to self portraiture for a while in trying to get something more interesting, but it was so hot in my hotel room that I stripped to shorts which then felt a bit weird taking topless pics of myself!   The second has received some critical acclaim from my friend Jane though, so I’ll assume it was worth it.

So here are more Soton images, but with a little more light, and concluding with Damian who I met sitting outside one of the many bars in town that were taking advantage of the lovely weather. Inevitably he was a musician. Just as inevitably I didn’t push the exposure!


*btw – I wouldn’t recommend the book; very little content, spun out by repetition in my opinion. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make a discernible difference. 😊  Still she’s a great photographer.

The Seventh Wave

Sting – Love Is The Seventh Wave

Hearing the weather forecast predicting high winds this morning my intention was to head for the coast in the hope of giant waves breaking over the pier, and more impressively, the lighthouse.  The tide was almost at its high point when I arrived, but there was no sign of monster waves, just more of the bright sunshine that challenged me yesterday.

Still the sun at least provided some backlighting for the spray that the wind was whipping off the wave tops.  This was one of those occasions, in contrast to yesterday, where I think it’s acceptable to have the highlights burn out to pure white as you can see on the left of these images.

Deciding not to go for a portrait in this harsh light I returned later in the afternoon as the sun was starting to set.  It was now at me back as I faced out to sea, giving perfect lighting for the white wave crests and breaking foam.

The sun’s position in the sky had another benefit; casting shadows that revealed the patterns on the sand created by other waves.

Yet it was something else caught by the light that please me most.  A large “cloud” of sea birds, too distant to identify but probably dippers like these, was wheeling about the sky.  Initially impressive for the black shapes they were throwing against the sky’s blue backdrop, as I raised the camera they turned again and the sun caught their pale underbellies in a flash of white.  Sadly their shape disintegrated at the same moment, but they still make a striking sight, like a multitude of stars (though I can’t spot any constellations).

Still no portrait, but as I walked up the shore I spotted a body-boarder retrieving a child’s football from the water, to the delight of his mother.  This was Thomas, still wet from his activity, and with that low sun I had no problem getting that detail into the shot.  (Click on it to enlarge and you’ll see what I mean!)