A serendipitous shoot

Spotted a Steve Lawson update the other day pointing me in the direction of a few tracks on SoundCloud from a fine, fine singer/songwriter called Luke Sital-Singh. I was bowled over, really. Hadn’t heard anything quite so intense and powerful in years. This was the track that blew me away. This, from a guy of 24. Steve, I’ve said this before, but you have amazing taste in music, and your generosity in sharing it is legendary.

So I looked Luke up. And wondered what it would be like to do a shoot with this prodigious talent, in the early stages of what might be an incredible career. Who knows? But if you don’t ask…

Luke agreed to meet, and we messed around yesterday for an hour in some grimy and not-so-grimy bits of Finsbury Park, seeing what we could find.

Here are a few tasters…

First location–finding good contrast lighting, even on a grey afternoon, can be tricky outdoors. But the scaffolding under the railway bridge had possibilities, plus an interesting compositional framing. A splash of flash (manual, 1/32ish power) used on this one. Interesting colour balance note: the strip lighting gave a very yellow cast to the shot. Correcting for this also pulled the natural lighting on the right into a vivid blue. Quite possible to selectively correct just the yellow, but the blues were nice, so stayed.
Exif*: 38mm; ISO 400; f/4.0; 1/50


Just the same location as the last one, but with lots more flash this time, hoping to intensify the light on Luke, and to knock the background into darker shadow. We talked as we set this up about how the moody nature of the music might be expressed with light. Given a Color Efex Pro 4 filter finish, softening some of the flash harshness. I like the unposed hands here.
Exif: 57mm; ISO 400; f/4.0; 1/25


Round to the other side of the scaffolding to catch quite different light and an eerie line of bokeh (the fancy word for blurry shapes out of focus) along the left of the frame. This one was cropped very wide to be used for a website masthead or similar. Small splash of flash, again in manual mode. B/W conversion with Silver Efex Pro 2.
Exif: 58mm; ISO 400; f/4.0; 1/25


A new location, checked out ten minutes before I met Luke. A strong block of textured colour, great for a bold, graphic image. Again (and most out of character for me) a splash of fill flash. Luke was checking the foot positioning I’d indicated him to take–I liked the unforced line of the bowed head, so used it. So often the pose is found, not made.
Exif: 24mm; ISO 400; f/4.0; 1/125


And if the pose can be found, so too can the entire frame. This is a street. People pass by. You let them. Then something interesting might happen. Bit unforgivable, this one: a “reverse Schindler”. The awful habit of crappy wedding photographers to use spot colour on a b/w image, but inverted. Hell, you shouldn’t take these things too seriously, no? It’s a textured Silver Efex conversion on Luke, not just desaturation. (I have some standards.)
Exif: 59mm; ISO 200; f/3.5; 1/200


Five minutes walk through the park to the bridge over the railway. I’d checked this out earlier too, and liked the converging blue and red panels. (Did I mention a bicycle was a great asset in checking out lots of locations very quickly?) Color Efex Pro 4 filter conversion, no flash this time. Normality restored.
Exif: 27mm; ISO 200; f/6.3; 1/80


Back towards the station, on the home straight now. What I really needed was a dark alcove with bright lighting to one side, to bring out an interesting shallow depth-of-field close portrait. But a short alley just off the pavement would do. The 50mm prime (fixed length) lens on for this one, all other frames in this post were taken with the 24-70 zoom. “Film noir” grainy b/w conversion applied using Silver Efex Pro 2.
Exif: 50mm; ISO 200; f/1.4; 1/500


(Clicking on these pictures should open them up in a lightbox–you can then use arrow keys to jump between them.)

*What the Exif notes mean: this is detailed data about how the photo was taken–first, the focal length of the lens, then ISO (the sensitivity of the sensor: low number for bright conditions, high for dark or indoors), then f number (the size of the hole that lets the light into the camera: low = big, high = small), finally the exposure time (how long the shutter is open) in seconds.

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