welcome

I have been taking photographs for as long as I can remember. It gives me a reason to travel, a opportunity for adventure and way of cataloging life as it passes us by.

At university I was able to explore filmmaking as well, and I produced a number of short films, screened in New York, Edinburgh and London. Since my time at university I developed a interest in the post production process and specifically visual effects. Returning to university in 2011 I wanted to explore the creative opportunities offered by computer based visual effects, and under the guidance of the fantastic Jin Zhi I developed a short film exploring light and it’s visual representation. Since achieving a MSc in Animation and Visualisation I have continued to develop my own body of work, whilst working on commercial and corporate projects across the UK.

We established dp digital media 7 years ago and I have been running productions their for over 5 years now, producing a constant stream of material for clients across Scotland and the UK. We have worked with Aldi, Penta hotels, Serco and extensively with the NHS just to name a few.

On this site though you will find a collection of my personal work, and if you would like to contact me you can at tom@thomashogben.co.uk

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

Camera – Nikon D800 and Canon 5Dmk2

Lens – Nikon 50mm F1.4 and Canon 24-70L F2.8

 

In April last year (2015) I had the opportunity to shoot some jewellery shots for Sarah Marshall, a highly talented young jeweller who was exhibiting at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design show that year. The brief was for it to edgy, dark and focused on the Jewellery. We discussed going for a tri-X style high contrast black and white look, but when I met the model for the shoot it would have been criminal not to make use of her fantastic red hair.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

Sarahs jewellery is actually a mixture of baked porcelain and silver or leather. The work is fantastic and has this kind of bone like look and feel to it. Its very texture rich and the long necklace looked like hanging sail frozen in the wind; in the image above the necklace is solid piece of porcelain, not fabric. It was a interesting texture to shoot as it was extremely matte, with no reflections coming off the lights at all. The trick was to setup the lighting so it picked out the necklace, but still had enough of the model to give the pieces context. We made a concerted effort to hide the eyes in all the shots, as you can’t help but look to the eyes in a image, and the jewellery was the focus.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

The silver in the pieces really picked up the lights well, and stood out sharply against our model. We dressed her down just to a simple black outfit. No distractions. To show of the necklaces we chose to lift the hair and tie it back and up, which although got it out of the way did loose a bit of the red heat from the images. But again, the jewellery is the focus so needed to have its place. Even the small light glint in the eye in the above image really pulls the focus away from the neck, but it felt like it brought it to life a little.. perhaps i should have taken it out in post.. perhaps not.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

The black on black setup was a challenge to get right at first. I didn’t want to loose the arms, and be left just with a floating head, so I wanted to spill a little light around the scene. Too much though and the blackness of the background was lost, to little and the model just faded away to the black. As i was working with Sarah through out the day i also needed to keep the images coming off the back of camera close to what the finals would look like so there were no spurs further down the line. I setup a couple of picture profiles on the D800 and 5Dmk2 that lifted the contrast and crushed the vibrance down which helped. I shot RAW through out though, so i knew i had a fair bit of safety to process the images in post anyway and lift the darks/lights where needed. Having the picture profiles loaded onto the camera before the shoot was a really useful tool when working with Sarah, and something that I have taken away to other shoots to. It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the back of camera when you shoot RAW, so you can really give the client a ‘look’ right there with out having to plug into a monitor or laptop setup, allowing me to move freely round the studio, and not deck myself on cables/tethers.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

Getting in close for some of the detail shots, especially with the earrings, was a real challenge as I wanted to make sure I had nice and clean backgrounds for the pieces. When you get that close up to anyone you can really start to see the pores and hair follicles on the neck.. which could mean hours in photoshop cleaning up the images.. not ideal. Luckily pushing the 5dMk2 right to the 70mm end and shooting wide open at f2.8 meant i could get just enough depth for the earring whilst loosing the neck. I perhaps pushed this a bit far, and actually could have gone to f3.5 to get more of the earring sharp, but at the time it looked all there on camera. One disadvantage to not using a monitor in the studio.

Sarah had a couple of really specific shots thats she wanted to achieve as well, using movement to create these abstract combined images.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery

I went for a more ghost like look for them, and they are much softer than the other images. I shot these with D800 and it gave me files with much more depth, so that when it came to combining i could really pick and choose the areas which came out. It also allowed me to bring back the feet (which was nearly completely lost in the originals). Without the feet the images felt again like a floating body. They really root it to the shot. There is quite a contrast to these motion images to the rest of the shots, which although worked well when exhibited, is perhaps a bit stark when viewed next to each other. In hindsight i could have brought up the vibrance across these and they would have come together better as a complete set, but overall i think the images came together well and reflected Sarah’s fantastic work in a good light.

You can find out more about Sarah’s work here.

Sarah Marshall Jewellery - The Setup

Gran Canaria

Camera: Olympus 35RC

Lens: 42mm f2.8

 

Gran Canraia isn’t the kind of place that I would of immediately put on my hit list of places to visit. The things that immediately come to mind are later in life Brits enjoying ‘all you can carry inside you’ themed buffets and street vendors desperately trying to offload containers worth of Bay Rans, and more recently Scottish superstar Danny MacAskill absolutely smashing it with a great edit shot out there in mid 2015 ( you can see that here https://youtu.be/GL0rbxB9Lqg ). But Scotland is a cruel place in the winter, and Gran Canaria is only 150km from the western sahara so we visited the island in November 2015.. with a game plan of escaping the Scottish winter and trying to eek out every last drop of sun before returning back to day after day of de-icing the car before heading to work.

Gran Canaria - Sea Rocks

We stayed in a lovely little coast side villa (you can see it here on Trip Advisor ..) out of the main town, in amongst a small fishing community. Only a 25 minute walk into the town, it was far enough away to allow you to enjoy a real taste of the island but also have the opportunity to pop to Carrefour for supplies when needed (with ‘Tropical’ Beer at 25p a can you get through it quick..).

Gran Canaria - Houses

The buildings through out the island show the signs of the sea air.
Gran Canaria - Justice House

The ‘house of justice’ or court house could not be more of a contrast to the rest of the city, with its glass gladding throughout.
Gran Canaria - Streets with cars

The towns spiral up the volcanic banks in a patchwork pattern.
Gran Canaria - Captain in the park

The strong marine history, and culture was clear with full navy dress present on more than one occasion.
Gran Canaria - Busker

A busker plays a guitar/piano type instrument in the old town.

The North Sea

Camera: D800
Lens: Nikon 50mm 1.4f

For work I was recently able to travel around the North of Scotland filming on a large marine energy project. In doing this it opened up some just fantastic locations to visit.

The images below were shot on the Isle of Lewis, at the most northern point of the island.

The-Rosk-Island-1

I have seen many photos of waves, and many fantastic images freezing there motion in time.. but to achieve that kind of image i wanted to be much closer to the waves, shooting with a 200mm lens perhaps, which i didn’t have with me on the shoot. Instead i decided to try and focus on the bigger picture, the way the ocean roles and swirls around the rocks. There is so much force in our seas that it is a wonder there is any land left sometimes.

Stornoway-3

I shot with a exposure of around 12 seconds, and as the light was falling rapidly i only required a couple of stops of ND to bring down my exposure to match the duration of the shutter. I invested in a Variable ND for this project as i knew i would be shooting interviews/portraits in some challenging conditions with messy backgrounds. The variable ND allowed me to quickly drop these off, and focus on the job in hand.

Stornoway-2

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the isle of lewis then it really is a little world of its own, I flew up (across?) in the morning. Spent a night there and flew back the following day, but in that time was able to sail out into the north sea and travel right to the tip of the island. I crammed it in, but i am glad i did as it was lovely out there.

Mull

Mull-Day-One-web-8

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Tamron 28mm

A stones throw from the west coast main land, Mull is a island with a lot of character that’s easily within reach for a wee weekend tour. We traveled over to the island via the two small ferries at Corran and then Fishnish, both only 10 minute crossings. These little ferries run all day, back and forth across the bay, and with the weather we had felt more like French alps than the Scottish isles. With the little food kiosks dotted at either end of the ferry stops, and the sales men going door to door of the cars selling ice cream and cold juice.

 

Mull-Day-Two-web-14
The ferrys were full at every crossing, tourism in Mull in clearly still going strong

 

Taking these small ferries also makes you realise how much of a life line these little links are for locals on the islands. In our cue for the Corran ferry, out of the eight or nine cars around half were locals popping back from the shops on the maim land with the other half being tourists from much further afield. The amount of Dutch on road trips out to the isles always surprises me..

 

Mull-Day-One-web-3
Stop when amber light is flashing. The chalk board on the ferry crossing at Fishnnish.
Mull-Day-Two-web-7
The view at Craignure ferry terminal
Mull-Day-One-web-5
The scenic route to Tobermory
Mull-Day-Two-web-13
Big skys looking back over at Mull from the Ferry
Mull-Day-Two-web-10
The light house on the way into Oban
Mull-Day-Two-web-12
Heading across the water to Oban
Mull-Day-One-web-11
Finnan Bay sunset by Iona

I also used the Nikon to shoot a couple of timelpases, which i aim to create a much larger piece to fit in with my on going ‘portrait of the highlands’ project.. which has been napping at the back of a long to do list for quite possibly 3 years…

 

South Queensferry

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon 50mm

I havent been to South Queensferry in quite a few years now, must be about 4 or 5 years, but on the way back from Livingston the other day we dropped by to have a look and shoot a couple of shots with my new camera setup. I bit the bullet and changed from the Fuji X-Pro1 to the Nikon D800, a transition that is larger than I originally thought.

 

South Queensferry Port

 

 

The main difference is the huge dynamic range that the D800 can turn out. You have so much space in post to pull and push these images, which the Fuji could not do. Also ergomatically it is quite a different beast, but the D800 is not as large as i had feared.

 

 

 

South Queensferry Port

 

The weather wasnt to hot, but it was nice and flat so the water had that blanket/sheet type look to which works quite well. The colours down at the port are always interesting to, as you get a mix of the painted boats against the darkness of the water in the wee port area. Compared to the ports along the west coast further north, up by Elie and St Andrews, where we were the other week or two I had forgotten how small this one was. The others were crowded to overflowing.

 

South Queensferry Port

Always need to keep a eye out for a close up when shooting observational wides. Everythings been photographed before so no point in worrying about getting another shot of that bridge..

 

South Queensferry Church

The D800 here really shined allowing me to flatten out the sharp detail across the church, and not to bad on the moire ether..

South Queensferry Church

The main difference is the huge dynamic range that the D800 can turn out. You have so much space in post to pull and push these images, which the Fuji could not do. Also ergomatically it is quite a different beast, but the D800 is not as large as i had feared.

Loch Ness

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1

Lens: Tamron 28mm and 17mm, Fuji XF 35mm and 60mm

 

Loch Ness

 

For the last 3 weeks now I have been working around Loch Ness shooting a commercial for the Destination Loch Ness team. In doing this it has opened up a number of opportunities to shoot some photos as well. I used to live down past the Loch out by Drumnadrochit, so know the north side of the Loch pretty well, but i have never really been round the south side. Theres not really any point to go that way if you stay on the North side, as its quicker to inverness, the roads are better and more direct along the North side.

Loch-Ness-8

So it was a real eye opener to have look along the south side. And i must admit the best views are from over that side. The sun comes up and over, at this time of year anyway, along the northish side of the Loch, giving it a better lighting, where you can either turn and shoot into the hills with the sun down the lens, or with your back to the sun get some sharp views of the Loch.

Loch-Ness-7

Loch-Ness-6

Loch-Ness-5

Loch-Ness-4

The sun was also setting right down behind Fort Augustus as well, making a great orange/red sky in the evening. It took about 8 mins for the sun to actually go from setting to gone. Not long at all.. but from around 6:40pm till 8pm the light was pretty nice.

Loch Ness Scotland

Summer in Wales

Wales-6

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1

Lens: Tamron 28mm

 

In July, after returning from the Algrave we took a trip over to Wales to visit my family. Staying in a small town in the north east of Wales we were surrounded by canals and water ways, many of which were full of long boats. I took my Fuji around with me on the 2 days we had there and snapped a number of pictures, but it wasn’t till the last night that we had some proper weather.

Wales-5

 

The 2 images above were taken from a small medieval fort that was atop of a hill just along from where my family were staying. We walked out to it one night and I was glad we did as the evening sun was at last starting to burn through the over cast weather. We only climbed a short distance up but as we were already up the back of the glen it opened out the landscape in front.

All images i took from up at the fort were shot between f11 and f32 on a 1970s Tamron 28mm using a nikon to fuji adaptor. Working fully manual and using the EVF allowed me to get a relatively good feel for focus, but at f32 this isn’t really a big deal, and all were shot hand held.

Wales-7

 

One of my and my Dad from atop of the hill at the fort.

 

Wales-3

 

The canal works all over the area gave it a really nice character, and we even went on a wee horse pulled canal ride.. very traditional but did give me the opportunity to get some shots from the water looking back into the bridal paths. The worst thing about trying to get a photo that looked quaint was how anyone working on the horse drawn boat rides had to wear full high vis.. for health and safety reasons i assume.. incase the horse goes berserk and required pushing into the water.. One thing it did do though was stand out like a sore thumb in any photos.. In the shot above i waited my time till the high vis was hidden under the bridge before grabbing a snap.

 

Wales-1

It’s a weird place down south sometimes.. Up north there is so much space that people seem happy to let others cross there path but down below the boarder it is as if every inch of land is a guarded treasure that will not be fouled.. unless it is by the owners own command..

Although there is a fair bit of this kind of signage kicking about Dundee recently to.. but thats a story for another day.


Wales-4

Classic British summer time. Folk out on the rocks in sun bathing in the overcast cloud.

 

Light and Sight

Over the course of the last two years I have been developing a short film which explores how light could look if you were able to see it traveling through space. Through discussions with Physicists who specialise in light my film explores the possibility that although science traditionally suggests light moves in straight lines, it could in fact exist in a cloud like structure of waves and particles. This is due to the fact that light photons exist as both a wave and particle at the same time, and how light is constantly refracted through our universe.

I worked mainly in Xsi to produce the simulations, with only minor modelling completed in Maya. The particles are emitted from live action plates which inform the size, colour and speed of the particles emitted, then using secondary non rendered invisible control clouds emitted from a cg environment I shaped the movement of the swarm of light as it collided with the live action plates.

This software allowed for a more intuitive production of simulations than I personally found Maya did, but as with all software programs it came with its limitations. Using real world footage, taken at a relatively remote location was also a challenge to collect but the location was ideal for what I had in mind. The technical challenge of transforming this raw footage in to particle simulations was also a massive hurdle. My calculations showed that I needed in the region of 2,073,600 (1920 x 1080) particles to achieve the transitional image that would allow the move from live action to particle world. The final cached particle simulation actually totalled just over 450,000. Which is why I originally used a particle duplication engine to up this to over the 2,000,000 mark, although I eventually only used these shots as a background padding, softened to remove the flicker which the duplication introduced.

Bringing all of these scenes together in Nuke using, the GPU accelerated render engine Exocortex Fury out of XSi, again allowed me to explore a new area of visual effects, and also helped me to push the look of the film further. The power of compositing applications like Nuke really did surprise me; there is so much capability when working with even half float EXR files to alter them in the comp.

Overall I am proud of the results that I have achieved over the course of this masters, not only in the main film produced, but also in the skills learnt which I can take into new projects now. My best work is still ahead of me, and I look forward to the new challenges that await.