Vintage Photography

Saturday 7th March I held my first vintage photography workshop in partnership with Chatham Historic Dockyard. With the help of a superb group of re-enactors who braved the cold it turned out to be a very successful day. As organiser I was quite envious of the participants. In fact I did find myself saying at one point "I wish I was doing this workshop". Despite this I did manage to get in a few sneaky shots around the attendees.

We started the day off in the Tarred Yarn Store, which is a restricted area. This was where the participants and re-enactors were first introduced to each other. The image to the right was our line up of re-enactors. This shot was taken on my Canon 7D with a 50 mm prime lens. ISO 400 with an aperture of f5 and shutter speed of 1/100 sec. I used the built in flash on my camera to brighten up the subjects. Post production I have converted to monochrome in Lightroom and added a bit of sepia colouring to give the image an old effect.

So from there we took to the street outside of the Ropery, where yours truly spoke about some of the basic techniques of portrait photography. Firstly thinking about your composition and the story you want your image to tell. Attention to depth of field and aperture is key whilst ensuring maintaining a fairly fast shutter speed of around at least 1/100 sec to prevent any model motion blur. Image to the right I took very quickly as an example to demonstrate how to achieve how a shallow depth of field works well on a close up portrait. To criticise my own work I think a bit of a hair tidy up and slightly different angle (e.g. don't shoot up the models nose) would have worked better. This was taken at ISO400, f5 and 1/500 sec at 75mm on a 70 to 200 mm zoom lens. If this had not been a quick demonstration shot I would have lowered my ISO to go for a slightly better quality image with a little less noise.

One of the participants working with model Jamie Hubbard over a composition/concept idea.

The Drunken gin Lady. Two of our re-enactors from "The Bombed out Refugee" group. Post-production I turned this into a sepia monochrome and also added a slight bit of white vignette in order to give it an old vintage feel to the image.

I love the completely timeless feel to this shot. Louise was genuinely very cold, she could very easily be a modern day refugee or homeless person on the street. I kept the colour in to keep the modern look. Settings for this one were ISO100, f5, 1/100 sec shutter speed at 75mm lens range, with fill in flash to light up her face.

My favourite image of the day. Off camera flash was used to lift the shadows on Ray's face created by the hat. In Post Production I increased the clarity/detail to enhance his facial features.

Workshop participants getting down low. I actually love this action shot, especially the colour co-ordination between the two ladies.

After lunch we moved from victorian to the 1940's era and a trip to our next restricted area, the Spinning Rooms. This was a very challenging lighting situation with low light. Flash was needed to sufficiently light up the models features but maintaining your shutter speed and also getting enough light to capture the machinery is very tricky. The image to the right I kept in colour simply because I love the contrast of the bright colours. The red of the cardigan, the green of the tool box and the blue of the yarn. Settings I used were ISO100, f5, 1/100 sec shutter speed with a speed lite flash gun. I did bring my shadows up in post production using Lightroom to bring out the details of the machinery behind Louise.

I turned this image into monochrome to give it the vintage effect. Notice though that the sepia effect is not so heavy as the previous images and I have not used a white vignette. This is to make the photograph look more as though it was from the later era when photography was starting to become a bit more advanced.

This one I also added in some additional grain to give it a more authentic look. Original was shot at ISO 100. Of course on the day `I could have bumped my ISO up high to achieve the same look but then I would have been stuck with the grain whether I liked it or not. Grain or noise can be re-duced in post-production but it often comes at the cost of reducing the sharpness of your image.

Towards the end of the day we moved back outside again. . Jamie treated us to a bit of a turn on his accordion.

Then we had the grand finale of "The Bombed Out Refugees" complete with barrow.

If your interested in finding out more about any of the techniques I have talked about or want more information on my Workshops and 1 to 1 tuition please email me at


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