Jennah Bell

This weekend Jennah Bell performed once again at Ajuma beach in Zandvoort. Last year she brought a complete band and I photographed her not only at the beach but in the studio as well. It was a great introduction to a very talented singer and she even used one of the photos on her sound cloud.

This year it was just Jennah with her guitar, wooing us till sunset. Last year I shot everything with the Monochrom, but this time I brought the M240. The atmosphere was great and even though I really love my black & whites, her red dress screamed for some color pictures as well. As the backdrop was nearly monochrome, it worked out really great!

When you buy the Nik software suite, which I did to get my favourite black & white program Silver Efex Pro, you get a bunch of other programs as well. Of course you need to practice ( I certainly do) but as you can see in the picture above, Color Efex Pro works pretty well.

While I was exploring, I also tried Analog Efex Pro as well. It really soots the atmosphere that the beach had at the moment Jennah was performing. The light leaks module enhances the low sun that was coming in. For this shoot I actually like it the most!

With my new EVF2, the electric view finder for the M240, I could take some nice low viewpoints to shoot from. I love this little gadget and it helps me to even shoot more creatively. 

Of course I still used some black & white as well… I couldn’t resist. It’s fun to play around with the Nik suite and search for the effect that come closest to the moments I experienced being there!

My Movie from danielmaissan on Vimeo.

This video is about My Movie

In a museum

On my birthday, the 10th of April, they told me that from the 15th of May, my pictures will be on display in a museum. Nine pictures from the series I shot for the Abrazos foundation in Peru, are part of an exhibition in museum Het Dolhuys in my hometown Haarlem. Last week we upgraded the exhibition even more to twelve pictures. The exhibition will be there till early September.

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From the same series another twelve photos are being exhibited in the Dr Leo Kannerhuis. This is a centre for autism in the Netherlands. Also ten pictures will be printed as a set of postcards we can sell. 

As I told you in the first newsletter an other exhibition is planned at the end of the year in “De Gang” gallery, again in Haarlem. This exhibition is tricky as the  photos for this one still have to be made.
The radio event “Serious Request” is organised in Haarlem this year as well, right at the time I will exhibiting my photos. Of course I’m going to combine these to events. 

And then there is the possibility for an exhibition of pictures  Joshua and I made during our time in Kenya. If this will happen, it will happen in San Fransisco. Fingers crossed!

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No Selfies…

Normally I’m not in a picture that often, but because there was a second photographer with me in Nairobi and  the people at PeaceTones also were enthusiastic photographers, I suddenly got very well documented. Here are some nice ones. The first is accompanied by the picture I took ​​myself at the very time Ruha Devanesan, Director of Peace Tones, took a photo of me.
 



 

These two shots were taken by Joshua, the San Francisco photographer that joined us as well. One is made ​​with his Sony RX1 and the other with Instagram on his Iphone.





 

Photo/video workshop

One of the things Joshua and I have done in Nairobi is a video/photo workshop with some of the musicians. Peace Tones received five Flip cameras as a donation from Cisco. The older generation Flipcams work on AA batteries, which is very practical for the areas we’re working in. As the workshop attendees had little to no experience, it was just the basics we could teach them. Of course Flip cameras only do video, but some of their phones also shoot photo and because we only stuck with the basics, we could deal with both video and photo.

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A quick lesson in composition (rule of thirds), tips to keep the camera steady and how to zoom and pan gently. But probably the most important thing we taught them was: how do you deal with the light. So we shot in front of a window, to see how you can deal with back light and silhouette  We shot outside in the shade or in direct sunlight, to see what hard and soft shadows do. We even temporarily created a reflector with our posters to show them how that worked and how to soften the hard shadows that appear in direct sunlight. It’s fun to explain some of the things you’ve been doing on automatic pilot for a while. It actually makes you realise why you do the things in a certain manner or order. 

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It was amazing how eager and inquisitive the musicians were. They recorded everything.  The idea behind teaching these musicians about videography is that, in the future, they will be able to make videos and photos to promote their music. This way they can create a wider fan base and the work of Peace Tones is not only limited to the weeks we were there, but it can continue.

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this photo was taken by Joshua

Color vs Monochrome

As you all probably know by now, I love my black & white. The Monochrom gives me huge satisfaction every time. Tones are amazing, sharpness is unreal and it delivers the dramatic effect I love. It’s perfect for telling the story with no distractions of color what so ever. For example this short story on one of the people that auditioned this weekend in Kibera, one of the slums the projects of PeaceTones are held. His fluorescent pink shirt would have been a huge distraction. (in my opinion)

But I also brought the M240. First of all, I really wanted to bring two cameras. What would I be doing in Nairobi if I had only one and for some reason it would break down? But it’s nice to be able to shoot some video too. Check my next newsletter for that. Also, sometimes there is a situation where color becomes (part of) the story. For quite some time I’ve been avoiding those moments, or maybe I just didn’t see them. By using Instagram quite often this past week, I have rediscovered color again and I’m loving it. Don’t get me wrong, black & white still has my preference, but at least I’m allowing color in again. These few photo’s were taken in Babandogo, a different slum where we also organised some of the auditions. As I still like to do some postproduction, I’ve also been introduced to “Color effex pro” which works really nice once you’ve got it down. It’s in the same software package as “Silver effex pro” made by Nik software.   

Dynamic range

So it’s been five days already. Shooting here is quite hard I found out. During the day, light outside is very hard and bright, but shadows are nearly black. I find myself shooting at 1/4000 of a second and still having to stop down to f5.6 or even f8. A lot of the project on the other hand; meetings, rehearsals and video shooting, happens indoors. Then all of a sudden everything is dark. With only one light or a tiny window lighting the place, I find myself shooting at 1/30 or even 1/15 of a second with full opened lens and ISO sometimes up to 2000 or 2500.

The hardest part is when you’re shooting from the outside in or the inside out. The difference is huge and I have to pull all strings to manage and have detail in both. Still the Monochrom is doing an amazing job. Looking at my histogram, I try to shoot with the emphasis on the right side (opposed to what I was used to with my dSLR). As I can get some details back in the dark areas, but if some area is burned out, it’ll stay white and detail is completely lost.

Because of those bizar differences between light and dark, postproduction takes a bit more as wel. Some photo’s I had to shoot with certain settings so I wouldn’t have burned out areas, while the actual subject would then appear to be completely black (for example inside the house). In lightroom I would have to boost the black parts, sometimes with even 2 stops, to get the result I wanted. Sometimes that would meen using noise reduction, but to my surprise the Monochrom did deliver every time!

It’s also good to be here with Joshua, a photographer from San Francisco, who is a huge inspiration. Watching him work and studying his work, made me look at things with a different eye again. Daring to go for unusual angles and with a different perspective, I feel that I again can take things to a next level.

But of course there are also the shots you just want to take because they are there… When you have two Kenyan bands together in this old deserted building, you just have to make a group shot… This is where the 24mm Elmar again proved itself very useful!

First days in Nairobi

So I’m in Kenya now. The crowd funding worked and I have to thank some people for that… First of all Klein Haarlem, a foundation supporting young, creative entrepreneurs, for supporting and pushing me to go on this next journey. But also Aad, Marc, Mark, Ruha, Molly, Guy, Cees, Christine, Dean, Wilco, Remco, Laura, Ewoud, Lorette, Renée and of course my mother. 

As you might not have seen the video of the crowd funding or the one of Peacetones, you can check them following the links, to see what we’re going to do the upcoming weeks.

That being said, lets describe my first day. After a 10 hour flight arriving at 3:45 AM the first day was a day of relaxing and arranging some small stuff. Arranging a local sim card didn’t really work out and the festival we were supposed to visit was cancelled at the last minute. Unfortunately we found out by the time we got to the location. 

Also the flat tire that our guide had the day before my arrival was beyond repair. Basically it was a day where everything that could go wrong…. did go wrong. But, for some reason we had fun, the atmosphere was relaxed and we ended up having a wonderful day.

Today was somewhat different. After breakfast, we started with a special visit. Eric Wainaina, one of Kenya’s most famous musicians. We met him at his house and after talking with him he committed to helping Peacetones out with some of the workshops they’re planning in the shantytowns.

In the afternoon we picked up some small video cameras, that were sponsored by a Kenyan security company. Peacetones will donate these to the people joining the musical workshops and tomorrow, Joshua (an American photographer who’s also with us) and I will give a workshop on how to use it. Looking forward to it.

In the afternoon we witnessed a rehearsal of some musicians in Babandogo, one of the shantytowns. During this trip, Transcontinenta was kind enough to provide me a 24 mm Elmar (f3.8), I couldn’t have been more happy that it was in my bag as the room was small end completely filled with people. Even though you’re supposed to use an external viewfinder for this wide angle (which I didn’t bring) it worked like a charm.

After the rehearsal, right during the “golden hour” we walked back through the streets of Babandogo. This is what I love most…. wondering and wandering, talking to the people you meet and taking some great shots.

A crowd funding video from danielmaissan on Vimeo.

In a week and a half, I’ll be traveling to Kenya to help out peacetones.org with their project in the shantytowns of Nairobi. For this I need your help, only to buy a ticket. Check trevolta.com/travels/Peace-Tones-Nairobi-18632 to help me out! Thanks a lot!