Loïc Magnien Street Photography iPhonography 214

The Vintage Kid Contact Sheet

I have been inspired by Josh White to create this article format. I want to share with you a contact sheet, analyse it, tell you the story behind the shot. The purpose is to share with you the way I make photographs.

I have been to the exhibition of Marie Jacotey at the Hannah Barry Gallery. The place is quite nice : a big white space. The drawback of this place is the 3200K 50Hz industrial neon tubes that are hanging on the ceiling :

The 50 Hz neon frequency is causing the sensor to record this yellowish artefact. You can observe it on the left hand side of the picture. This is particularly annoying when photographing the artwork. I decided to turn this inconvenient into an advantage to make curious shots. There are two shots from this event :

What I like in the first one is the “Guaranteed Fresh” versus the dyed hair of the girl and the neon reflection on Marie’s work aligning with the lines of the bricks on the wall. The second photograph is more about contrast in composition and taming the neon artefact. They work well together, the first one contains the top of the body and the second one the bottom. I recognize I shot several times to make sure I had at least one artefact on the bottom border of the frame.

Why such artefact is always taking place horizontally in landscape frames and vertically in portrait ? This is related to the way our sensors of our DSLR are recording the light. First the front mirror lifts, then the shutter starts to run from the top of the sensor to the bottom of the sensor, i.e horizontally in landscape and vertically in portrait. The size of the artefact depends on the shutter speed and the frequency of the light. The higher the shutter speed, the thinner the artefact for a certain frequency.

Ok, I was playing with this for a while. I saw a kid wearing vintage clothes and playing with a remote controlled 60′s yellow van. Nothing else was yellow in this room but I suddenly stopped the conversation I was having with Astrid – Sorry by the way, I like our conversations – and I seized my camera, set aperture at F/4.0 as optimum between to have a shutter speed between 1/500th and 1/1000th of a second. I knew the size of the artefact would occupy up to 1/3 of the image. I shot 9 times, there is the contact sheet :

I was using my Canon 6D with a 50mm F/1.4 lens. There is what I thought picture per picture :

  • N°1 : First shot, composed with regard to symmetry. I wanted to include some of the furniture to contrast with the white walls. I knew straight away this was a nice shot, you just feel it.
  • N°2 : I made eye contact with the kid, he kept on playing with the van, like an actor, the van was going rear, maybe the movement is perceptible or influenced the eye position of the kid, eventually the artefact is not present enough.
  • N°3 : I kept on shooting just to have several photographs because I had no idea where the artefact was going to be on the image and was centered on this one, not quite good as in the left hand side of the image.
  • N°4 : I managed to reproduce the first shot but the teeth of the kid are not showing and no particular facial expression is distinguishable.
  • N°5 : I tried to get closer to the floor to get another perspective by getting closer to the van level but the 50mm lens was not appropriate to play with perspectives, I should have used a 16mm lens and put the camera as closer to the ground.
  • N°6 : I tried to change composition and focus on the kid without the door frame. The van was no longer in the frame. Fail.
  • N°7 : I step back and as the kid was looking more relax I tried to have another composition including only one side of the door frame but the artefact was overlaying the door frame and there is just too much information on the left hand side of the image compared to the right hand side.
  • N°8 : No artefact.
  • N°9 : Artefact overlaying the van, yellow over yellow, too much color on the same side of the image.

Conclusion, composition had to be symmetrical and include as few furniture as possible so that the eye stay focus on the kid. The yellow artefact could not overlay the van so that their is a color composition. This exclude the N° 2-3-5-6-8-9 from my selection. I was left with N°1-4-7, the ones on the left of the contact sheet. N°1 and 4 were similar, the only difference being the smile of the kid on the N°1. N°7 was OK, but not as good as the first one.

I would like to conclude on this contact sheet by saying that you can produce good photographs by turning an inconvenient situation into a creative challenge. You have to step back, analyse the problem you have with your pictures, find the cause of the problem and try to avoid it or, even better : compose with it. I had a lot of fun taming the light, framing the action and capturing the emotion of the kid while he was playing.

There is the first picture of the contact sheet :

What I like about this picture are the contrasts and composition. There is contrast in light between the kid brown suit, the white walls and the dark furnitures. There is this color and lines composition with the vertical yellowish neon artefact, the door frame and the yellow 60′s van which is inside the diagonal frame made by the pant and its reflection. Another contract is related to time and anachronisme. There is vintage : The 60′s van, the kid suit and the furnitures. There is contemporary : The white walls, the reflective floor and the remote controlled toy. This is the 2015 trend to look like in the good old days !

The kid came to me and said “Hi, My name is Etienne”. I shown him the pictures I made and we talked about his clothes and he explained me that his mother was selling vintage clothes at the Hawk And Dove Vintage shop. I promised Etienne – The Vintage Kid – to send him the pictures, I hope he and Jade will enjoy reading this article someday.