Ideas is what I usually write about when explaining photo. You need to have an idea to make your shots more interesting. When I photographed this shot of Kristine Hove Røsok didn’t really have an idea. At school, Norsk Fotofagskole, we had this assignment where we were to shoot an advertisement with a bottle and a person in it. We could do whatever we liked, but one of the main goals was to shoot a nice looking bottle, I thought the assignment was a bit boring and didn’t really want to do it. At that time, I believe it to be late winter, early spring of 2011, the Pepsi Raw was released and I found this bottle to have a nice design to it. Along with quite a few other soft drink bottles, 20 in total, I worked in the studio shooting all these bottles before I had an impulsive photo shoot with Kristine. She had brought some clothes that she liked and we really just photographed for fun. Since I had this bottles in the studio from the earlier work I asked Kristine to do her fashion jumps with the bottles in her hand. Some cutting and pasting in post production I got this “advertisement”.
When photographing glass, that is, bottles, vine glass or other similar objects made of glass, there is some precautions you should keep in mind. First of all, clean the objects of any dust and pick the objects with the less scratches on them. This saves you a lot of time in post production. The other thing is to never light the objects directly, but have the light bounce off reflectors and black cards to make out the details of the glass. High lights such as the one in the middle of this bottle is made by a big Styrofoam board right behind me. Might be you can make out my reflection? The surface of the table you put your object might in some cases be reflected inside the bottle so be sure to have a nice, seamless surface to put your object. The cheap surface is a large piece of paper, the more expensive might be cabinet doors or table tops you can find at IKEA. Easiest way to shoot this kind of shots is to have your camera on a tripod and have only the modeling lamps on, this way you can make out any reflection and almost do a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get).
Photographing portraits is what I have been doing most my time as a professional photographer. I started working in Fovea Skolefoto as a school portrait photographer also photographing kids in kinder garden all across the country. For two seasons I have been doing the same type of photography for a Trondheim based business called Iris Skolefoto. All this time I’ve doing portraits haven’t helped me gained technical experience, but rather experience communicating with the people I have been photographing. Learning different persuasion techniques for getting the facial expressions that I wanted to get, mostly smiling. You meet a lot of different people on the road, from the ones who are so shy wishing for a lightning to strike to those who can’t wait till it is their turn in front of the camera.
As you might have figured out, this is also a photo, a portrait, I shot during my years at Norsk Fotofagskole. This time the assignment was to make a CD-cover for a real or fictional band. And realistic enough, that is some of the projects I am working on today. The band I shot is called Hell Is Repetition. What my plan was was to photograph both portraits and some shots of the band together, the usual stuff you see.
A huge inspiration source for me and this particular shot was Richard Avedon, who you can read more about on his web page www.richardavedon.com. One of his techniques on photographing portraits was to have a big white sheet hung up in the shade and photograph them as they were right in front of it. This gave you plain, white backdrop which gave the subject the entire focus. Much like you see in family portraits and such today. I decided to go for this technique, bought a huge bed sheet and stretched it between two light stands and shot six portraits, two of each band member.
Inspiration is a good source for great ideas. Find some favorite photographers, try to make out what appeals to you in their work and try to replicate. Don’t do a blueprint of what they are doing but add some personal touches. My Richard Avedon-setup was quite cheap, you don’t really need light stands, but you can always tape the bed sheet to the wall.
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, Kung Fu with Kristian Vintervoll and Roy Lyngstad
This is another photo from the years at Norsk Fotofagskole. As one of the first assignments we got during the two years, we had to do a sports portrait whatever style we wanted to do. At that time my comfort zone was flash photography lighting scenes and a lot of dramaturgy. I might have changed my style a bit since then, but still I really like to do these kind of shots the strobist way.
When I first got the assignment I had an idea of photographing students at my gym (TKBK), but I figured I should take it a step further and really go for martial arts with larger and more artistic movements other than just the raw punches that a kick boxer serve. I had also just seen “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, “House of Flying Daggers” and “Kung Fu Panda” that gave me some ideas on how my shot should look like. The only thing that concerned me a bit was that we did not have any bamboo forests or steep mountain sides with a Buddhist monastery on top. The closest I could think of was Kristiansten festning, a fortress from 1685 which is located ontop of a hill overlooking the town center of Trondheim. That would do for this shoot.
Fortunately I knew there was a kung fu gym in town and luckily I knew one of the students there, Kristian Vintervoll, who I asked to do this shoot for with me. He agreed and we meet the following day at the location. He had brought his friend a bag with their pj’s, weapons and his friend Roy Lyngstad. While I was rigging my light I asked them to do their warm up routine so that I get some ideas on what they were able to do and what not, and how I was to compose the shot. The weather forecast that day stated that we should expect thunder and lighting by night fall, giving the skies this perfect, dramatic looking backdrop I had hoped for. We did some shots with the guys sparring, doing high jumps with kicks and other cool stuff, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I asked them to do some poses like you see on the movie posters, they got the idea of what I was looking and we ended up with this shot.
The lighting setup in this photo I had two flashes on each side of the guys as a kicker, rim light or high light, to separate them from the background. A third flash was mounted on the hot shoe on my camera pointing directly at them. This is what I call an almost fail safe light setup. What I did was to meeter the ambient light and got probably a reading around f/8 at 1/125s on ISO400. The next thing was to set my separation lights to expose two stops above the ambient light, and the key light / main light to expose one stop above the ambient light. This darkens the ambient light and exposes the subject properly. The side lights should expose at f/16 at 1/125s on ISO400, and the main light should be f/8 at 1/125s on ISO400. Be sure to just have enough distance on the light on each side and have the same power output so they expose the separation light equally. I fitted white shoot through umbrellas to the separation light to make the light source larger wrapping the light around the subjects with a smoother grading.
When you are photographing, have a plan, depend on a bit of luck as I did with the weather, know your gear. If you don’t have a light meeter you can always take test shots and walk each light down to a decent exposure. I use a light meeter because it is a lot faster than taking one shot at a time adjusting the power output on each flash before testing another one. One of the reasons I started working with Nikon cameras was because of the Creative Light System (CLS) where you can command all flashes on camera instead of having to go to each speedlight and adjusting the output. Using speedlights instead of studio strobes you can be very mobile doing such shoots at remote locations without carrying around heavy equipment and gear. The downsides are that you don’t have any modeling light to see how the image will turn out. To use this system you need to have some insight on how light works and what each setting does. Know your tools. If you can’t afford high end flash units there is always cheaper stuff with less functionality at ebay. The gear I used on this particular shot was 1x Nikon D800 with Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5 – 5.6, 2x Nikon SB-900, 2x white 80″ truculent umbrellas with mounts and 2x light stands.
Yesterday Foto.no published a photo I shot in Marrakesh, Morocco in February 2011. The article is about my old school having an exhibition in Essaouira with previous work of students at Norsk Fotofagskole has shot during their study trip to Morocco, called Ansikter (faces).
Photo: Bjørn Christiansen, Marrakech, Marocco
The two boys on the bicycle was on their way home from school. Even though traffic is unsafe and they both knew the hazardous of cycling this way, I believe the boy hanging around his friend or brother is very confident in him.
Want to see more of my documentary project in Morocco, follow this link: Morocco
Last winter I did a nude photo shoot with a friend of mine in relations to an assignment we got at Norsk Fotofagskole. The task was to photograph a nude girl or woman. The photo I ended up delivering was a picture of my friend lying on the couch with her daughter standing beside her. It didn’t catch on very well for our principal running this course. Not because of the feel or the technical quality, but more the idea of this photo. I believe he had pictured a more clean and sexy photo rather than the breasts, the blurred head and the female genitals.
Anyway, I did not just photograph the one photo to this assignment, but rather quite a few with the mother and child theme. The first photo in this post is my friend and her daughter in front, together, a bit anonymous. And the second photo is just my friend looking straight into my lens. A year earlier, being pregnant I shot the same photo of her. Time has gone by and it is about a year and a half since I shot these pictures, but I think my plan was to give this series a Jock Sturges -feel to them with a personal touch.
This is the photo I delivered for my assignment.
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, Nude Portrait of Mom and Child
This is a video presentation from my nude photography-course. It is called black and white as an contrast on the two series I shot. Might be a bit cliché.
Her is my portfolio. It is a quick and easy version where I have selected a few of my favourite shots from 2010-2011. This morning I had three copies printed at CopyCat in Trondheim and they came out quite nice. CopyCat wasn’t that expensive, 1000NOK or around 175$ for all three, 300g paper, plastic foil on the front and back and spiral-binding. Worth a try if you just want a nice portfolio to show off.
This is the third and last part from my fashion-roadtrip-shoot with Viktoria Konstanse Strand Kvalsvik from Trend Models. A few more days and I have completed two years at Norsk Fotofagskole. The clothes are mainly from MTWTFSS Weekday, Bianco Footwear and BikBok.
I have spent the evening at school printing and preparing three photos for Fokus, the final exhibition on Friday.
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, models: Mats Berglund, Isabel Nilsen and Chris Andre Nordtvedt
This is my composition that I made of five photos. The pictures of the models are shot on green screen in studio, the rest are from different locations in Trondheim. The advertisement is for a fictional carpenter, even though Mats Berglund does work as one on regular basis. The poster was supposed to be a bit heroic, film-poster-look-alike.
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, models: Eileen Kvåle Røst and Kofi Gyimah
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, models: Eileen Kvåle Røst and Kofi Gyimah
These is some of the photos I shot for my exam at Norsk Fotofagskole with the theme “Road Trip”. Models are Eileen K Røst and Kofi Gyimah. The Porsche Boxter is borrowed from Anders S. Rønningen, Trygg Media. Makeup was done by Anniken Tiset. The location is Øysand in Melhus Kommune, just outside Trondheim.
This is my last assignment at Norsk Fotofagskole. The assignment was shooting a fashion catalogue, 10 outfits, all colour, 24 pages including front and back. We were also supposed to make a little art piece using video presenting the clothes.
Today I delivered my final PDF to CopyCat in Trondheim, printing two copies of my magazine. Last night I was finished clipping and editing my little art piece and it came out quite okay.
Behind the Scenes
Storyboards, moodboards and a plan of attack were worked and evaluated in groups with our teacher Geir Terje Nergaard. Some time before Easter I made contact with Maria Nordstrøm Solberg from Modelbureauet Modelbooking, a model booking agency in Århus. She helped me find some models that needed some photos for their portfolio and could do the shoots for free. Stinne Tornøe Frederiksen, a singer in Leaving a Small Town and Stephanie Bäckström fit the catalogue profile I had planned.
Friday before Easter I left Trondheim heading towards Århus, Saturday Mimoza Rrusta, my stylist at the shoot, and I went out looking for clothes and shoes that matched the profile. Mainly looking at stores at Bruuns Galleri in Århus having a tight budget we stuck to Vero Moda, H&M, Bestseller, MbyM and BikBok. As usual Bianco Footwear (Århus) were as kind as to lend me two pair of shoes. Sunday we, Mimoza and I, took the bus to Moesgård Beach scouting the location planning where to shoot and film. Monday we went for a walk to Århus Botaniske Have, not far from where I stayed. The location were not as I had thought it would be, so after the shoot Tuesday, we visited Århus University which worked perfectly as a backdrop for my second shoot.
Tuesday Stinne showed up at around 9 o’clock in the morning ready for make-up and hair. We started shooting at the beach around one and were done around four. The second day we started hair and make-up around noon and were done shooting at the university around six pm. Friday I meet my second model Stephanie in the town centre of Århus, taking the bus to Bellevue Beach around two pm. Mimoza tagged along fixing hair and make-up. This day we concentrated mainly of shooting film for the art piece. That evening I had around 700 images to pick down to 30 for post processing.
Sunday afternoon I arrived back home in Trondheim starting post processing my photos, final touch and stitched together in a PDF were done last night before starting editing the art piece.
Nikon Norge – Nikon D7000
Before I left for Denmark I sent Nikon Norge an email asking them if I could borrow a DSLR with filming capability for testing and for my little art piece. They were as kind as to lend me a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon Nikkor 17-55 f/f2.8 through Camera & Videoteknikk AS. Since I have a Nikon D700 as a main camera and have shot with Nikon the last three years D7000 was fairly easy to operate. Just a little flick of a switch and start the live-view-mode and press the record button. Without a Hoodman Loupe I had some problems focusing, but mounting the camera to a tripod using it as a shoulder-rig I got a bit more stability event though it’s not perfect. I had also some problems with skin-tone in my film-clips, but I figured it was just my novice-experience that was the reason.
Tomorrow at 9 am. we are having the last evaluation before final exam. Four weeks, maybe 80 – 100 photos, 8 – 10 different styles, including fashion, architecture, commercial and portrait.
This easter I spent the time in Århus photographing my last assignment at Norsk Fotofagskole, Fashion Catalog. The model from this particular picture is Stinne Tornøe Frederiksen from Model Booking, makeup and hair was done by Mimoza Rrusta and the location is Moesgård Strand in Århus.
The assignment was shooting at least 10 different outfits in one style, all color. Two photos from each outfit and every outfit was going to be presented in color. Also we had to deliver one 24-page PDF and one hard copy of the catalog and a video presenting the series. Now I’m done post processing all photos and fixing the PDF ready for the print tomorrow.
photo: Bjørn Christiansen, Rita Ottervik på Norsk Fotofagskole
Today Trondheims mayor Rita Ottervik and other political people in the cultural sector were visiting Norsk Fotofagskole. After a short meeting in our auditorium I shot a group picture of the whole gathering. Oscar Stoltenberg Johansen was helping me out testing lights and preparing the prints afterwards. Thank you :)
Last Monday in the lunch hour my model Maria Ishoel Frelsøy, assistant and make-up artist Line Sofie Steinfinsbø had a little video shoot at the rooftop of Trondheim Torg for my fashion project. The preview and the rest of the clip is filmed with Canon 5D Mark II and a 50mm f/1.4. Soundtrack is Soleplassland by Tre Små Kinesere.
Today I received a Nikon D7000 that I got to borrow from Camera & Videoteknikk AS for product testing, mainly the movie capabilities of this DSLR.
Hi and welcome to my blog / portfolio. My name is Bjørn Christiansen I am a 29 year old and live in Trondheim where I currently I work as a freelance photographer shooting fashion, commercial, documentary and portraits. Enjoy my site!