Bondage in a new light.

Bond films are supposed to be entertaining hokum, good fun not to be taken seriously, and this is probably reflected in the fact that the films though enormously successful have never won an acting Oscar.  Maybe Dame Judi will put that right.

Skyfall requires just as much suspension of disbelief as many of its predecessors, but it is noticeably better on so many counts.  Craig and Dench have of course played off each other in the previous couple of outings for 007, but add in Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes and you have a cast that can punch their weight just as effectively as the character Daniel Craig plays.

It’s not the plot of the acting that I really want to wax lyrical about though.  The cinematography is outstanding.  From the opening scene where Bond prowls down a shadowy corridor to pause where a small pool of light illuminates only his eyes, the lighting in this film is spectacular.

Is this the photographer in me paying more attention than before?  Probably, but there were so many visual treats in this film; the night scenes in Shanghai, culminating in a brawl in a glass skyscraper where every wall and window gave off shadow and reflection in ever-changing combinations.  Knowing that challenges of lighting reflective surfaces this was superbly done.

And the casino in Macau; presumably a set at Pinewood, but as Bond is arrives by boat the place is a paradise of lanterns mirrored in the black waters outside, and a riot of candle light in the Komodo dragon pit inside.

Then there are the final scenes, played out with the key characters bathed in a pulsating glow from a burning building far across a Scottish moor.

If you haven’t seen it go just for the imagery.  The rest is pretty good too, but hey this is a photography blog.

Today’s portrait is of Tara, one of the students I’ve been working with today.  Good name for a Bond girl that.

Very Scottish Widows!*

In Newcastle today to drop some images off for a client, so I just had enough time to stop in town to give today’s imagery a different backdrop.  With only 20 minutes or so to spare I made for Grey’s Monument, knowing it to be a good location to scout for people to shoot.

It was already wet when I arrived, a fine drizzle that didn’t concern me too much to begin with, but soon developed into a heavier mix of sleet and rain.  Those with sense sought shelter indoors or under hoods and brollies.  This bizarrely dressed promo-girl wore a flag on her back which seemed strangely prescient.

I hunted for an overhanging roof that would allow me to stay outside without risking my camera to the wet stuff.  Whilst initially I wondered if the conditions would allow me to capture something akin to Magnum photographer Trent Parke‘s fantastically backlit shot of pouring rain there was neither the deluge or the light required.  A pity, since there would have been a nice symmetry to recreating an image made by a man born in a different Newcastle.

Instead I found that my new vantage point gave me the opportunity to shoot some slow shutter speed images of the scattering of people that the rain triggered.The wet pavements also provided some great reflections so I took advantage of these and composed a shot with the monument at the heart of it, and then waited for the configuration of passing traffic to complete the composition.  Almost immediately I abandoned this when this mod arrived on his Vespa.  I considered him as today’s portrait but he was more Bradley Walsh than Bradley Wiggins, so I passed on the chance.

Not long afterwards I was doubly rewarded for my patience.  A single pedestrian walking my way completed the composition of the shot I wanted, her outline, elongated by the mirroring of the wet flagstones, echoing the verticality of the stone column whilst her umbrella did the same for the nearby dome.  Result #1 in the bag, but no portrait as yet.Time was up though so I abandoned my dry niche to head back to my car.  Sticking close to the wall and the protection it offered I had an astonishing piece of luck when a young woman in another doorway peered round the corner to see if the rain was abating.  The wet marble facade provided me with a slight reflection, and the coat over her head provided shadow to sculpt her beautiful face.  I wasted no time in asking her to recreate the pose and thankfully Laura agreed, because I love the result.

*Serendipitous trivia; the new Bond film, Skyfall, is released today.  What has that got to do with the shot?  The first woman to front the ad campaigns for the insurance company in the iconic black cloak was Deborah Moore, daughter of Roger Moore in a commercial directed by David Bailey!