Firstly congratulations to Fraser MacMillan for winning December’s Bridges & Crossings Photography Challenge. Don’t forget this month’s ‘Hands’ Challenge winner will be announced at the start of February, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 3rd February to be in with a chance of winning!

Welcome to our regular Expert Advice feature – which this month is by resident photographer Phil Surbey.

Hi everyone – welcome back to the LUMIX community site! And Happy New Year to all of you.

As Max Bygraves famously sang: You Need Hands this month – because that is what the latest Photo Challenge is all about. I want you to take as your theme: HANDS. It’s a nice, easily procured subject to get stuck into for the first Photo Challenge of 2014 and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

You could shoot your own hands, of course. Or, as I did, you could look around for some interesting hands that will bring something extra to your shot. The brief is wide open, in that you can use props or just shoot some plain hands as they come; they can be young or old, black or white, empty or holding something, positioned as you like, clean or dirty, plain or adorned with rings, tattoos or whatever… the choice is yours.

It could be something as familiar as a shot of a hand holding a cup of tea, or a pair of hands rinsing under a running tap. Think about all the things we do with our hands – from gloved, gripping a steering wheel to a self-portrait with your head in your hands, for some emotional impact. The list goes on and on, and of course when it comes to finding the interest in the shot, it is all in the composition, the lighting, depth of focus – all your usual photographer’s tricks. Get out there and enjoy yourselves!

All my illustrative shots for this month were taken using my trusty LUMIX G5 fitted with the 45mm Leica Macro lens. All were taken in RAW, with my camera set to Manual. Let’s look through them and see if there is some inspiration here for your own shoot… or perhaps the theme has already gripped you? You have an idea and are determined to make a fist of it; it’s all in hand, in which case I have to hand it to you… sorry. I’ll stop there – and turn my attention back to these images!

Shot 01. ‘My Hands’

This was taken by my son, Jon, with me holding my new three-week-old granddaughter’s hand. It was shot in daylight – which was coming through my conservatory ceiling. This has given the composition a nicely soft feel overall that is perfect for this type of subject matter.

The aperture was set at 1/125th of second, at f2.8 and ISO 200.


Shots 02. – 05. ‘Muscle Man’

These were all taken at a gym that is pretty much next-door to my studio. I spoke to the owners and got permission to approach one of their gym members, who very kindly agreed to pose in return for me giving him prints of some of my shots. (Remember to always approach potential subjects politely and make such an offer – the worst that can happen is you get told “No”!) I lit him with battery-powered flash heads, 1 x soft box and 1 x fill-in light.

1/125th of a second, at f6.3, ISO 160.





Shots 06. & 07: ‘Pole Dancer’

These were taken in my studio using a specialist hand model, who was modelling a new range of nail paints for a video shoot that Jon was working on. She was kind enough to take part in my little side project for the LUMIX community site, so I literally shot her between Jon’s takes. She was holding onto a chrome wardrobe rail that I’d purchased and the lighting was from 1 x tungsten head through tracing paper.

1/200th of a second at f4, ISO 400.



Hands can be tricky things to shoot – as you may discover, if you have not tackled this particular theme before. Fingers can end up looking like sausages or bunches of bananas, but then that might be just what you’ve decided to go for, of course! Composed and shot well, hands can a great subject to give you an impressive and rewarding photo session.

Why not get your year off to a great start and give it your best shot, then send your best effort in to me? I love nothing more than looking through all your entries – and remember, there are prizes to be won every time! In fact, why not make it your New Year’s resolution to enter the Photo Challenge every month?

Bye for now!


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