Shoot, shoot something simple

It’s lucky, I suppose, that I’m not very good at particularly regular blogging. It means that you folk, who have foolishly stuck my RSS feed in your Google Reader (or whatever software you use; does anyone use anything other than Google Reader these days?) don’t actually expect that much of me. As a result, anything I do post comes as a pleasant surprise to you. Q.E.D. Still, I feel I owe you an update, because I’ve been away for a bit in the physical as well as electronic sense.

Those of you who have followed me for a while will know that when I’m not photographering I do software development work for Canonical, the commercial backer of Ubuntu (incidentally, Ubuntu rocks, you should use it). Recently I was asked if I’d attend the Ubuntu Developer Summit for the next release of Ubuntu, Quantal Quetzal. When I found out that it was going to be held in Oakland, CA, I jumped at the chance – the Bay Area is one of my favourite places in the world, and I could hardly refuse such a polite request.

Knowing that I was going to be out there for a couple of weeks, and also knowing by now that having to go that long without doing a proper shoot would drive me mad, I concocted a plan to stave off insanity: I would offer to update the corporate headshots of my colleagues who were out there with me.

In the end I shot 27 individuals over a week and a bit, weekends not included. We kept things short; 15-or-so minutes per person. After some experimentation I found  that the easiest way to get a shot that I loved was to have a laugh and shoot the breeze with my subjects; the best shots came from the un-moments between us, the bits in a conversation just after we’d been laughing and joking.

I had a great time, reaffirmed some friendships and forged some new ones in the process. Here’s a slideshow of the headshots I made during UDS; I hope that I’ll be able to continue working on the collection as time goes by – there’s a lot of interesting characters in Canonical – but we’ll have to wait and see.

For the technically inclined, here are the details of the lighting setup:

Created with The Online Lighting Diagram Creator, http://www.lightingdiagrams.com/

I could only fly with relatively minimal gear, so I kept it simple: One speedlight on the backdrop at f/8, one through a Westcott double-fold umbrella at f/4 on the subject. I kept my ISO around 400 most of the time to save on battery power a bit. The backdrop was either a projector screen or a white canvas board which was part of the stage in the summit’s plenary room.