Matthew Tosh is becoming one of my regular portrait photography subjects. If you look through my blog you’ll find I’ve photographed him on a number of occasions. Each occasion has introduced an exciting photographic opportunity along with new technical challenges to overcome.
This portrait came about when I saw Mathew mention, on his twitter account @MatthewTosh, he was giving a lecture on the science of pyrotechnics at Bristol University. It was open to anyone & free to attend. Not one to let a possible portrait session & learning experience go to waste I quickly contacted Matthew to see if he’d mind me coming along to photograph the lecture. He agreed & after a bit of a chat I had an outline of his plans for the lecture.
There were a few difficulties immediately apparent that I’d need to overcome; a venue I’d never been to before, as a lecture hall the light might be poor, I had also not see the lecture before, &, as I didn’t want to annoy others watching the lecture, lighting & lines of sight could be a problem. Oh, & when you’re photographing with pyrotechnics – fireworks there is always the twitch factor… Can I twitch my finger fast enough to photograph the “moment”. I planned as much as I could but sometimes you just have to play it by ear.
I shot quite a few shots during the lecture & got some really interesting results, unfortunately not many of them were suitable for display due to the difficult shooting conditions causing various issues including; blur, noise or over/under exposure. However, as soon as I saw this shot I knew… I knew I had something pretty cool with it. It needs to be refined a bit, but that’s something that will have to wait for another photo shoot & I already have loads of ideas for that.
Not only does it work well as a demonstration photograph, but there are elements of it that I just love. Look at how the multiple shadows cast by the little flare fireworks are coloured, then see how thoe shadows rise up behind Matthew to merge with the light spectrum slide on the projector screen above him! How cool is that! There was no Photoshop used to make that happen (I just adjusted contrast a little to make it more prominent), that’s a natural lighting effect.
The shot also mirrors the feel of a couple of paintings that I love by the artist Stuart Luke Gatherer from his “Sins & Virtues” series. This series was also part of the inspiration for this shot of Declan Fleming “The Chemist”.
Now it’s time to think on the portrait & come up with ways to improve it… My mind is already brimming.