21 May Embocraft – Unassuming Local Heroes and Low Light Photography
Embocraft and Low Light Photography
Embocraft are the the local South African heroes who are empowering local entrepreneurs with skills training. Making portraits of these amazing people was a bit difficult due to the low and very extreme lighting conditions involved and required low light photography techniques.
What is Embocraft
Situated just up the road from the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust / Woza Moya. Embocraft was started in 1986 to alleviate poverty in the surrounding areas. They do this by conducting skills training to help local entrepreneurs develop and launch their own craft businesses. Training offered there is in sewing, basic computer skills and the internet, welding and screen printing. Work is assessed as they go and feedback given to help improve where appropriate. They are the local heroes who are empowering local entrepreneurs.
Embocraft Sewing Class
As well as these, there is a conference room for hire and a shop where Woza Moya / Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust also have their products for sale.
We had the privilege of Goodness showing us around and we were free to make our own images. There was a sewing class and a welding class going on at the time. The lighting conditions in the welding class particularly called for low light photography techniques.
The classes are product based and the entrepreneurs learn how to make clothing, bags and kitchen accessories. As they go along, they receive feedback from their tutors. There was an excitement amongst those where they were able to learn something that would really benefit them and bring in an income.
Thandi inspecting some work – Embocraft Sewing Class
The main issue we had with photographing was with the welding. It was very dark in that area and then we had the problem of the bright light of the ‘sparks’ in contrast necessitating us to pump up the ISO and using other low light photography techniques. Once finished though, it can give a very striking image. If we exposed for the welder before he started welding, then the image would be totally overexposed when the bright welding sparks kicked in.
One way around this is to set your camera to Auto and then compensate using the exposure compensation buttons. What we did though, was to shoot manually. We took a reading from the scene and then stopped down a few stops to compensate for the light from the welding. We then did a test to see how much we needed to change it. The final resulting images look very dark, but with some Raw adjustments, we were able to pull back a lot of the details whilst still keeping and showing details in the welding sparks. See our tutorial on exposure compensation and how you can do all this in Raw.
Welding class at Embocraft
Welding class at Embocraft – necessitated low light photography techniques
Embocraft is another model example of the way that South Africans have found to help one another in tough times. It is staffed by people who care deeply about what they do and although money is always needed to make these organisations run, it is secondary to the well-being of everyone involved.