John

This amazing man has been a minor inspiration to me for years. I have known John a little professionally for a decade or more, and I have always found him to be charismatic, charming and amazingly well dressed. I recall once meeting him in Glasgow in passing and he was wearing an amazing corduroy suit that should have made him look like an open university lecturer from circa 1975, but on John it looked amazing. This is a view I have heard expressed by everyone who knows him; he has style. On Monday evening, I met John and my friend Jay, and we wandered the West-End of Glasgow grabbing some portraits of John in some local haunts; I couldn’t be happier with the results. This first one is outside the greenhouses of the botanical gardens; I love the Russian Minaret feel about the background, and how it provides a contrasting background in the Glasgow dusk for John.

This one has a lovely vintage film processing. Did I mention that I covet John’s jacket? (Did I type that aloud)!

This close up shows John’s amazing eyes. The green background nicely mirrors the colour.

This one was the only one I took with my Olympus 45mm f1.8 prime wide open. Still in the botanical gardens, I loved the pathway receding behind John and wanted to compress the distance and maximise the shallow depth of field. I love the lens and this picture shows how sharp and lovely it is even in very low light and wide open at f1.8

Back to a street off Byres Road and these (utterly wasteful and so not green) gas flames provided an intriguing background for John. If I’m honest, I was really thinking about a square crop if possible, but it doesn’t really work and it illustrates the reality that grabbing portraits spontaneously is a balance between experience and compositional knowledge and “making the best” while people trust you to control the composition. I do love this, but I can see the compromises in it. What made it difficult is that the “flames” weren’t symmetrically placed in front of the door. John’s head had to be positioned in the doorway because the door frame grew out of his head otherwise and the flames had to flank him, but it leaves dead content to the right of the image; I am being very analytical though!

This is just lovely though. The entrance to the Hillhead Book Club provides some very unusual and diffuse light. Flash off for this one, and it is a lovely illustration of just how good and useable my Olympus OM-D 10 is even in low light. This is at ISO 3200 and it is just fine despite the size of the micro-four thirds sensor. I could use this camera for just about anything with a decent fast prime.

This is Ashton Lane where I recently bumped into John again. This is just a lovely, genuine portrait of John in a favourite place of his.

This last one was actually the first picture (or first few) that I took on Monday. We all met in Nardini’s cafe in Byres Road for a coffee, and before wandering off to do the portraits, I loved the wall art and noticed the resonances with Kohn’s jumper. He kindly agreed to 3 or 4 grab shots with off-board flash and he was very shy about the photographs but he trusted me and got on with it. You would imagine that anyone so stylish and well dressed would love the camera, but truthfully John is Modest and unused to being photographed; he is very shy here, but the picture works well anyway.

 

This session was an amazing learning experience for me. I have done many portrait sessions, although most of them with my Canon DSLRs and a fair sized bag to carry a few prime lenses, a large off-board flash as well as the camera itself. I rocked up for this session with a tiny messenger bag, with a camera inset in it. I had my Olympus OMD-10 mk2 body, a 17mm f1.8, 25mm f1.8, 45mm f1.8 and a standard zoom and standard telephoto zoom; I still had space for a Nissin flashgun with remote triggering direct from camera! I still feel uneasy and at the last hour considered grabbing my Canon 5D mK2 and large primes, but I am beginning to trust this amazing camera system and decided to trust my growing body of experiences with it. I was thrilled with its size, low light ability, off board flash  and reasonable depth of field and bokeh. I could shoot a wedding with this camera, and that is saying something!

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