I went to see my friend Jyoti the other day.  He is one the most interesting people I suspect I will ever have the privilege to meet, but unfortunately I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like due to me moving away for university.

Aside from being a musician, which is probably what he’s best known for (he’s the guy from White Town), he’s also a prolific photographer and skilled portraitist.  We met through the Derby Flickr group back in 2005 or so, and tend to get sucked into geeky photo-tech conversations whenever we meet.  He’s recently started playing around with new ways of lighting for portraits, but rather than going down the currently-popular ‘strobist‘ route, he’s decided to try out different ways to use constant light sources.

Jyoti has a Canon macro ringflash but, unhappy with the results that it produces for portraits, he decided to make his own ‘full-size’ version using a bent metal clothes hanger and some LED fairy lights.  He’s got some amazing results with it – check out this set of portraits of Toppy, and this set of Nat – and was kind enough to let me have a play with it whilst I was round.

(Click the images above to enlarge)

It produces a really interesting quality of light, especially for something so cheap to make.  I’ve used the ringflash at uni a couple of times, and the light from this isn’t really comparable.  I suspect that this is for the most part due to the distance I was using it at – the ringflash at uni is powered by a 3000 watt quad-pack, which at this sort of close range probably wouldn’t be practical (I try to avoid, you know, melting peoples’ faces off).  50mm wasn’t the most flattering perspective to use at this sort of range (still fancy getting an 85/1.8), and ƒ1.6 was probably a bit excessive as well (notice how parts of Jyoti’s face, even on very close planes, swim in and out of focus) but, hey, I was just playing around.  I love the weirdness of the reflections in Jyoti’s glasses in the last image… wasn’t expecting that.

On a slightly unrelated note, we also went on a walk around the fields near to where Jyoti lives, where I took some more photos:

My shadow

Jyoti's Shoes

For those of you who are interested, I’ve upgraded Adobe Lightroom to the recently-released Version 4, and the above two photographs were taken at ISO 25,600, with luminance noise reduction in Lightroom set to just 20/100.  How incredible is that?