One Hour Photography with Lee Frost for Digital SLR Photography Magazine

Back in 2010 I was reading Digital SLR Photography magazine. I subscribe to this mag because I like the writing style, and respect the various contributors such as Ross Hoddinott and Lee Frost. As I was reading my copy I came across the ‘One Hour Photo’ feature. Now, for those of you who don’t know what this is – it’s where a reader gets to go out with a pro for a couple of hours, gets some invaluable one to one tuition with a pro photographer, takes part in a series of challenges and then gets published in the magazine. Now, I was reading this and thinking to myself ‘Why can’t I take part? Someone always gets published, why shouldn’t it be me?’ and so following the instructions at the end of the article I sent in the vaguest ‘please choose me’ I have ever written!

And about a month later I had an email asking if I’d be available the next week to take part. I said I would, and then I didn’t hear anything again. I assumed that they’d chosen someone else.

And then, at the end of January, out of the blue I had an email from one of the features editors asking me if I was available the next week to go with Lee Frost to Newcastle to take part in a feature photographing night time cityscapes. Newcastle? I live in Leicester! Well, of course I was available! It didn’t matter that I had no holiday days to left to take out of my day job entitlement,  I was going to go and take part – after all, you don’t get this kind of opportunity every day!

So, after some serious bartering with the boss, I managed to arrange a day off in exchange for me working one day on a weekend – fair deal 🙂

The day came and I went to Newcastle to meet Lee. Top, top bloke! The first thing he told me was that this challenge was going to take much less than an hour as the critical period between day and night doesn’t last that long at the beginning of February! He wasn’t wrong! Lee came prepared with examples of the kind of photos I’d be taking on his iPad – which was great for two reasons… a) because I knew what we’d be doing and what was expected of me and b) because it showed just how good the iPad was as a photographers portfolio 😉 (I now have an iPad 2!)

After some brief familiarisation with the Nikon D7000 I was shooting with for the feature (I’m a Canon 5DII user!) we waited for the light to go and then started shooting.

First shot of the evening was at the Pitcher and Piano (shown above) – framing the Sage in the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and using the artificial lighting of the planter and fairy lights in the tree to add a little more interest. Typically, ‘they’ didn’t switch the lights on on the Millennium Bridge as we expected…

As we were short on time, we quickly rushed to the second shot. This time I was briefed to use a telephoto lens to compress perspective and get a classic shot of the bridges over the Tyne.

After this, we quickly moved on to get some photographs of the beautiful Sage building. Unfortunately the clouds had rolled in rather rapidly and completely killed the ambient blue dusk lighting that had given life to the previous two photographs. Still, we made a feature of it and got this photograph, which Lee called his photo of the night…

And then, as soon as we had finished it rained. A lot. Really heavily!

Although Newcastle got damp very quickly it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm nor experience I had that evening. Lee Frost is a fantastic photographer and great tutor who, despite the short timescale we had together, took his time to tutor me and have a good chat with me and help me get some images to be proud of. Lee runs various courses worldwide (as I write he’s on a plane on the way back from Cuba where he’s been leading a course for the past couple of weeks!) and if my single hours experience is anything to go by then his longer courses must be invaluable! I have nothing but gratitude and respect for Lee, and the most sincere thanks to Digital SLR Photography mag for letting me be part of the feature.

If you’ve ever read one of these ‘Reader’s Features’ and fancied giving it a go, but always thought they’d never pick you then just give it a go – I never thought I’d be picked, but I was – and it was an experience I’ll treasure for a long time 🙂

The article is in the May 2011 issue, on stands on the 8th of April 2011 🙂