I was asked to review two photograph products from www.zor.com, based in Belgium. The products that I am reviewing are one 20 x 30 cm Zor – Alu, an aluminium dibond materiel and one 20 x 30 cm Forex/PVC product. Please note that the image in this post does not showcase the true colour accuracy and quality of the forex print and is for illustration purposes only. I am set up as a portrait photographer and not for reproducing artwork.
Starting with the website…
I found the website easy to navigate and there is plenty of information, including a Q&A section on how to upload your files and what format will give you the best result. Uploading my photos was very easy and the checkout process went through with no hitches at all. An order conformation email was sent to me containing all of my order details including order number and shipping information. When my photos were dispatched I received another email which included information to enable me to track my parcel, a nice touch. Although the website states 3-4 days turnaround, it took 14 days from ordering to receipt. Maybe this is due to ordering from the UK but it is something to allow for when ordering. When the photos arrived, they were well packaged with foam bits on the corners to prevent damage and I felt that this worked very well.
Moving onto the photos, Adobe RGB is the preferred colour space and not sRGB like some labs. They also provide icc colour profiles which you can use in Photoshop (although I could not get them to show up in Lightroom) to proof the colours, something that I would highly recommend you do as there is a noticeable colour shift when you turn on proof preview in Photoshop. After using the proof setup option in Photoshop and brining the colours back into line I found that the colours on the finished products were an extremely good match to my calibrated screen; I use a Spyder device to calibrate my PC monitor. For the dibond I used a photo with muted tones and a splash of red. The tones were handled well although there was a bit of grittiness in the darker clouds in the sky, the shot was taken with a Canon 6d and a 17-40 L f/4 lens at iso 100. Overall though, it is a very pleasing image and people (non photographers)to whom I have shown the print to have fallen in love with it and would love something like this on their wall.
Moving on to the Forex/PVC, for this product I chose a vibrant and colourful image, shot with a Canon 6d and a Canon 85mm f/ 1.8 lens, and again, I proofed and adjusted using the icc profile for this medium. The resulting image on the Forex was equally vibrant and a very good match to my screen. I have also shown this photo to several people and I have had a similarly great response as with the dibond product.
I was very impressed with the quality of the products and the customer service was very good. Zor.com will be a company that I will look to order from in the future. When presenting prints to hang on your or a clients wall, you want the best quality possible and I feel that this company has the potential to fulfil that requirement.
This was taken at a rocky beach bear Bristol, I like the colours of the models hair and the scarf that is flowing around her arm. Taken with a Canon 6d and a Canon 85 mm f/1.8 lens. Zoom lenses can be convenient but I do like to use prime lenses, they get you to think about what you are doing, have a nice shallow depth of field and make you use your feet instead if just standing there and using the zoom to frame.By using your feet, you can discover new angles which you may of otherwise missed.
This shot was taken at Kings Weston House in Bristol. Kings Weston House is a grade 1 listed building and was completer in 1917 and was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and was the home of Edward Southwell. During World War 1 the house was converted to a hospital. In 1935 the house was bought by the Bristol Municipal Charities and leased to the education authorities to be used a s a school. It went on to be Bristol Technical College of Architecture which later went on to be Bath University School for Architecture. During the following years the house was used for a verity of functions including a police training centre. The house is now used for conferences, weddings and private events, there is also a cafe which is open to the public and lovely walks around the surrounding estate.
Dating back to 1766 the Clifton Observatory, which sits on top of the Avon Gorge, gives fantastic views of the suspension bridge and the surrounding ares. The observatory was originally a windmill that was used to grind corn but was later adapted to grind snuff; the Observatory then became known as Snuff Mill.
In 1777 the mill caught fire, this was caused by the sails being left to turn during a gale and the equipment overheating. The mill was then left derelict for about 50 years until a Bristol based artist, William West, rented it for his studio in 1828. William West was responsible for transforming the building into what we see today, he installed a large telescope on top of the mill turning into an observatory. In 1829 the telescope was replaced by convex lens and sloping mirror which is known as the camera obscura; this still works today. Light travels through the lens and is reflected vertically down by the mirror onto a table which gives a true image of the surrounding area.
William west also built a cave below the observatory which leads to a viewing platform in the cliff face about 250 feet above the base of the Gorge. The cave, known as Giant’s cave was opened to the public in 1837 and is still accessible today.
I had the opportunity to do some photography in a local gym, I have never done a fitness style shoot before so I was up for the challenge. Although it looked bright in the gym I had to boost my ISO to 1600 to enable me to get any usable levels of ambient light. I added two speedlights to the mix, one with a shoot through umbrella and one in a small Calumet softbox which I used as a rim light. I used a Canon 6d and a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens. Looking back at some of the shots showed me areas that can be unproved upon but overall I was pleased with my first attempt at this type of shoot. Shooting in a working gym was quite an experience in its self due to the fact that other gym members were busy with their workouts. I will definitely be having another go at this type of shoot.
It’s been a while since I have posted, mainly due to work commitments, but I took some time out to have a walk with the camera. I came across this gentleman who was taking some photos of his prize motorcycle. I ask him if I could take a couple of shots with him on this splendid machine and he was happy to oblige in return for a copy of the photo. I have always liked the idea of street photography but I have also been cautious if not looking like a spy or some bloke creeping around with a camera, hence I haven’t done much of it. Although it is not totally candid, I was able to get a shot of a random stranger and feel comfortable doing it. I am so glad I bit the bullet and went for it and the more I do it the easier street photography will become. One thing I did notice though was that standing in the open with a camera and being totally visible, no one appeared to take a blind bit of notice of me!
Saturday 9th July was Bristol Pride day and as you would expect, there were a lot of colourful characters. There were many performers throughout the day and my daughter is a member of one of the many dance troops that were there. We all met at the well known Tobacco Factory in North Street, Bristol and took a leisurely 20 minute walk to the event, parking there would have been almost impossible. On arrival we discovered that the changing tent hadn’t arrived which left our dancers feeling rather unnerved about the prospect of changing in the open. Fortunately Bristol Community Health came to our rescue ant let us borrow their event tent for 10 minutes so a BIG thank you to them! Despite this minor hiccup the dance routines were amazing and the crowd were fantastic!!!
One of the biggest challenges of taking portraits at mid-day is the harsh light that casts dark shadows under the eyes and chin etc. Add to this the high contrast and you can have a challenge on your hands. There are a few ways to overcome this, one could be to use fill flash to reduce the contrast and “Fill” in the shadows. This can be great if you have got the time to set the ambient and flash exposures manually but this can’t always be practical if you are photographing an event and are constantly on the move. TTL flash can be used but I find that it can be a bit unpredictable at times; the flash can be fooled by very light or dark backgrounds. Another method can be the use of a reflector to bounce light into the shadows, this works well and an assistant can be useful here. For this photo I decided to opt for open shade. I placed the subjects in an area of shade but had plenty of sky available to cast light onto the subjects. The benefit I find to this is that I do not need an assistant, you can readily see the effects of the light on the face and it helps to prevent that horrible squinting that you can get from direct sunlight. So what happens if I can’t find open shade? Well I’ll just have to use one of the other methods or get an assistant to hold the diffuser part of my 5 in 1 reflector between the subject and the sun!!!
So what is your preferred method of shooting at mid-day in harsh sunlight? Should we just stick to one method or is it important to have a few different techniques up our sleeves?
This is a head and shoulders shot of a girl doing an Irish dance. I went for this particular shot to avoid a lot of distraction in the background. It was taken during a dress rehearsal so there were lots of bags etc. on show. This also made for a more dramatic composition. Shot at ISO 6400, f/4 1/400 sec.