Photographing the zine: a workshop

Updated: Mar 25, 2018

On the 14th of March, we had a workshop with Kate O’Brien, our course technician, about photographing print material. Our workshop started off with a short slide presentation about the various methods and lighting of subject matter, as well as the advantages of using polarized filters when photographing printed material that has a shiny or reflective surfaces. We also discussed methods of presenting print material in the photo frame, and discussed different methods: with hand or with hands, etc


We then moved into studio B for a demonstration of the principles discussed in the lecture. We used a Canon 5D mark III with round polarizing filter that attached to the lens. And used two Bowens studio lights with soft-boxes and two polarizing filters that were attached to a cardboard frame and then attached to the soft-boxes with clips. Kate herself made the filter frames from polarized sheeting she bought online.


After a little discussion, we decided to protograph the zines against a plain white background and a little light ahodow. We also agreed to have hands in the photoframe for the opened pages, but not in the photographs that presented the front and back cover. The camera was mounted on a Manfrotto tripod that allows to position the camera in a downward position and the two softboxes were angled downwards at roughly 90 degrees. We decided to use a colour card at the start of each shoot just in case any colour correction might be needed in the future.


At this point we did a reexamination of the 10 zines we picked out for a curated #archive and did a further edit due to logistical issues that pertained to the size and positioning of some of the larger issues. We now had six zines that we felt would best be presented on a #screen format and could then be presented in #print. We agreed we would shoot the front and back of each issue and two double page samples form inside. Alex was in charge of picking the double sided sample pages and Shane was our ‘hands’ in the images. We set up the camera to be captured on Shane’s Mac, and then we proceeded to take turns to shoot.



Kate O'Connor (2018) Shane moving the pages of the zine for the camera in Studio B



Kate O'Connor (2018) Screen capturing of photo images of zine in Studio B on March 14th



Kate O'Connor (2018) Photo of zine spread


The most laborious and time consuming part was the alignment and placing of each zine in front of the camera, as we wanted all the zines to sit in the same place in the frame, but due to the esoteric nature and different sizes of the zines, we were unable to set up each shoot in the exactly the same position on the white paper and had to course correct with each new zine. Because of the time consuming nature of this exercise, we quickly realise we wouldn’t be able to do our video shoot/cinemagraphs of our zines on the same day as this shoot, so we also booked Studio C for March 20th.


This shoot had different logistical issues as we had to use overhead #lighting rather that studio lighting, and relied on the polarizing filter to the camera to eradicate and potential shine. Again, we used the Manfrotto tripod and the Canon 5D Mark III lens with filter. For this exercise, we edited out collection down to three zines, which we felt would best be better presented in a moving image, as a cinemagraph in gif format has a hard export limit of 500 frames. For this shoot, Laura was out hands and we moved the shoot onto a table to make it easier to page turn in a smooth manner.



Kate O'Connor (2018) Videoing the zines in Studio C on March 20th


All in all, I think the workshop and the resulting studio time and shoot were very successful. I no feel much more confident about the process of documenting archive material. And I feel the resulting documentation material itself was very successful.



Kate O'Connor (2018) Animated gif of zine in Studio B on March 14th

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