Uzbekistan - Making Connections

We have been preparing for tomorrows workshop - at least me here in the hotel during the early part of the day - and later over at The Matter including a brief visit to Brakit who will provide the space for us to work.

This morning I must have struggled for an hour or more to keep the internet open in my room - but it was running slower than a 64kb modem most of the time so I drank tea and gazed at the strange phenomenon taking place in the sky outside my window; clouds.

As the next few days are holidays here in Uzbekistan, Saturday and Sunday were normal working days. So at The Matter I met Jamol and Timur who have been putting things together as well as the interpreter Alex who will be keeping those participants who don't understand English up to speed.

The visit to Brakit, only a short walk from The Matter took us through leafy streets with beautiful run down low level buildings - the old style - as I image was pretty much the norm before the earthquake of 1966 which flattened most of the city. The rebuilt version of Tashkent is very much wider streets and buildings with little character - typical of the Russian style of the time, but like many urban developments around the world the late 1960's wasn't the high point of 20th century architecture.

Inside Brakit the rough exterior is contrasted by clean clear spaces and bold elegant statements. The lighting, the walls, the ambience is great for the creative team that works there. The room where we will be is equipped with projector and being without windows promises a great dark space for presentations.

And so with not much left to do we headed back to the part of town where I live and stopped in for a beer at Rene's favorite bar (still can't remember the name and if it wasn't for the trees I'd be able to read the name from my 8th floor window).

Timur joined us and of course the conversations were mostly about photography, photography and, well - photography. The ubiquitous mobile phones appeared as we sat around the table outside on the street casting their eery brilliant glow as people began to read menus from their LED lights.

So I suddenly got an idea - why not set up three phone lights as a 'studio' setup! With willing voice activated light stands I placed Rene on the hair light - just above and behind Julji who was the willing model. Then Reudi to one side and in front of Julji's face (working on a tight portrait shot) and one more on the other side as the fill. Well its hard to keep voice activated light stands from moving - especially after a few beers - but in any case it was worth a try.

Julji -our willing model
With a rather high ISO at 1600 with F 2.8 on a very dim lit street I wasn't getting any ambient - and I wasn't getting any depth of field either. But it was worth a shot and after six shots and a few rearranged light angles (really in the dark) I got one that was passable.

As I'm checking focus and deciding that one is enough without turning the evening into a lighting workshop, Janis shows me the picture he took on his mobile of the lighting setup behind the scenes! If you look closely you'll see me in the right hand corner with my 70-200mm barely in the frame. And Julji - with her beaming smile lit up by three mobile phones.

The lighting setup - Thanks Janis!

The high-light gathering.
Today is the workshop. Now for breakfast......