Archive for October, 2013

Fantastic day in the studio with a semi-pro model trying out several different portrait styles and a myriad of lighting techniques. Got myself a final image for No.10 in my interpretations section of images though this will stay under wraps until very close to the date required owing to it’s potential sensitive nature to some viewers.

A whole selection of portrait images were taken for the models hobby with which she was most happy, even pre post production. I must admit that since completing my studio lighting set up giving me 5 x 750 Pros, a boom arm for that all important hair lighting, plus additional lighting modifiers things have become a lot more slicker whilst lighting position and power alterations take place.

Used my 24-70 for the whole shoot duration and controlled the lighting to f/8 at all times. Yes it would have been easier to just meter and alter the f/stop but I wanted to maintain the depth of field in all the images just as a challenge to myself. My continuing efforts in learning and understanding of the Inverse Square Law within the studio is enabling me to make well educated adjustments to lighting which when re-metered 99% of the time came out at f/8.

One of the images from the day is below. Minor PP, plus some desaturation, created the exact effect to the image that the model wanted. There is some obvious further PP required to bring the image to an acceptable standard though and the model was made aware of this. Outline blend to background being the main issue along with sequins and general outfit corrections. My main annoyance was that I had made a very basic mistake allowing light spill onto the black background. Whilst easy to rectify I really should be getting this right first time and attention to the basics must not be forgotten.

And the technicals are 55mm, 1/125th, f/8 and ISO 100.


4 Nov 2013 – Update

Spent some time on the image cleaning up the blending of the model and background and colours. I also replaced the missing sequins from the straps. The elasticated “V” in the small of her back has also been removed. Though this is supposed to be there for expansion purposes I feel the image benefits from the cloning out.

I decided to complete and show her two copies of the same image. One was coloured as shot in the studio with the second being desaturated by 70%. I preferred the desaturated version yet she preferred the full colour version which serves me right for showing her the two images. She had originally preffered the desaturated version.  I had briefly looked at completing an enhanced colour and vibrance version but it just looked silly and out of place against the black background. The model wanted a low key subdued image and the added colour and vibrance did nothing to enhance the image in any way.

This is the image the client decided on.


This however was my preferred version with the 70% desaturation.


Couldn’t believe my eyes today at breakfast. Having left my egg & toast unattended on the dining room table for just a few moments I returned to find this little fella helping himself to his own portion. Couldn’t believe his cheek so took the photo before sending him on his way.

On a serious note this just screamed for a Slinkachu image. It’s been strange with all the situations that have arisen where I have thought that a specific Slinkachu model would make a great image. Sadly with the cost of the models to create an excellent cross section for different situations is not feasable just for a single Uni image.

Grabbed the camera and using just the poor morning light through the dining room window I captured this.

100mm macro, f/5, 1/80th & ISO 2500



Posted: October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

A fun day photographing the local club championships today on behalf of the Hull High Fliers Club for whom I am the official photographer.

I decided to take 2 lenses with me for the event, namely my 24-70 2.8ii and 70-200 2.8 IS. This would give me a fully flexible approach to capturing images at different angles. With the younger competitors to 70-200 is the obvious choice as this enables me to stand well clear of the trampolines to discretely capture their moment. With the seniors confidence on the trampoline and their ability to ignore me being up close for a more dramatic angle the 24-70 is a wonderfully versatile lens. The images I got from the mat side are certainly the ones competitors and their family prefer. Many of these close images were around the 50mm mark and again I was wondering if a 50mm f/1.2 would have justified it’s cost allowing the extra light for speed with obvious ISO reduction.

The lighting at the Bonus Arena in Hull is atrocious at best. Several of the sodium lights were out as usual but as I couldn’t surround the mats with candles I had to make do with exceptionally high ISO’s. Anything under 1/500th when they are spinning just leaves a blur but a lower speed of 1/250th will catch someone in that moment of pause in an up/down moment. Deciding what speed to go with determined the images I sought at the time. Most were also caught at 1 stop over exposed owing to the lighting issues.

It’s the Yorkshire finals soon and I just hope the venue has fully operational lighting on the day to assist me in my mission.

On a positive note our club came out on top.

One of the seniors in full flight.


50mm, 1/500th, f/2.8 & ISO 12800.

And another senior.


57mm, 1/500th, f/2.8 & ISO 12800

And one final image which I just like for the symmetry. All very even and caught at just the right time at just the right angle.


One thing I did find was the use of a step ladder would have been useful. With the seniors and the height they execute their routines at, the capturing of the individual moves is relatively easy both close up and at distance. With the juniors however the operate at a much lower height and very close to the bed. As the beds are a good 5 foot off the floor and surrounded by padding of up to another foot in height at the bed ends capturing some of the under 9’s truly airborne was difficult. A simple 3 step A style ladder would have given me that little extra height for this purpose.

Took full advantage of the lull in the weather to develop the idea I have for this particular image. Created exactly what I wanted to yet upon returning home found my DoF, even at f/14, on the macro to have still left the signs out of focus. All I need to do then is increase my DoF and make sure that the signs remain on the same focal plane as the men and loo.

So this is nearly the image I wanted.

100mm Macro, 1/13th sec, f/14 and ISO 100.


And this is a wide shot in the roadworks just for scale purposes.


Back again later I think to make minor adjustments if the rain holds off.

Well I’ve popped back after lunch as the wind is increasing, the clouds darkening and all things weather wise not looking too favourable for Slinkachu shooting opportunities. With the weather forecast for the next several days being poor I felt that this needed to be done now.

Changed a couple of things with the set up and image content. Changed one of the figures which I felt better complimented the man with the jack hammer. Also decided to bring a few micro picks and shovels in to give the illusion of more workmen around though not actually in the image.

So the final image from this shoot I’m actually happy with.

Image details are 100mm Macro, 1/5th sec, f/20 and ISO 100.

My camera was sat on the floor with the lens supported, at the hood, by a small rock to allow the slow shutter speed.


And the overview image for scale purposes.



Ok so a few hours have passed and I think I actually prefer this image. f/25 rather than the f/20 of the previous picture I personally think it’s just a tad sharper all round. Anyway this gets the nod for me.


Got myself a boom arm for the studio today and decided to have a play. As usual I accost one of my family to suffer the indignity of sitting in the studio whilst I test new equipment out. I’d rather do this than have a paying customer posing for images sat watching me calculate exposure values and mutter about Inverse Square Law effects during their shoot. Took quite a few images though at one point in my “lets just try this….” thought and application process my daughter adopted a prayer position. I paused for a moment and then took the shot anyway. Thinking she was just bored and messing whilst I adjusted things I asked her what she was doing. Opening one eye and looking straight at me she replied “Praying for the people of the world to be safe”. Lost for words I gave her a hug.

The prayer image.


And a few of the others though they didn’t compress too well, for web, in PS or the reduction process for this 4 in 1 montage.



All the above images were taken with my new 24-70mm 2.8ii, at various focal lengths, 1/125th sec, ISO 100 and metered with a Sekonic L308s. Lighting was a mix of 3, 4 or 5 Bowens 750 Pro’s using beauty dish, brollies, soft boxes, 60 deg reflectors and honeycombs. Various lighting setups were used to simply see what permutations of lighting could be used with which modifier to achieve different results. Some were truly awful, some ok and a few I actually liked. I still find it beneficial to look at my first year studio stuff in a critical way which is not too difficult to do. What I thought was good is actually not that good at all. This does however warm me to the fact that I am actually learning something whilst doing my degree.

My daughter is off school today, as the teachers amazingly need a training day on the day before half term, so might convince her to get back in the studio and practice some hair/rim lighting. She has the most shiny blonde hair I have come across, in a studio setting, which represents a superb challenge in attaining the correct balance of light for her hair without blowing it out.

Finally got the white duck eggs today and went back into the studio. More time spent actually balancing the egg than actually taking the pictures. Simple 3 point lighting used but as a duck egg is smooth opposed to the far greater textured chicken egg the egg turned out as a white outline. Only underexposing the egg helped with this but then the egg wasn’t white so no point in that.

Three that I liked…..




Following the duck egg I moved onto my first Slinkachu shot and kept it simple with a chocolate marshmallow tea cake. Used this as an idea for scale and effect as my main image is destined to be in some roadworks if the weather will be nice for a change.

One was taken on the box and the other on one of my studio stools.



All these images were taken using a 100mm macro lens to aid in the clarity of such close up work.

A few funny ideas on the “red ball” but finding it difficult to source a large ball at a low price.

22nd Oct 2013

Had some time on my hands today so decided to give a couple of ideas a go. Firstly with an egg and cutlery. Ideally I wanted a white egg but after visiting Asda, Morrisons & Tesco it would appear I need a duck egg which non of them sell. Off to Waitrose if I decide to pursue this avenue as I was reliably informed you can get them there.

As these were simply “ideas” I didn’t go to town on the lighting and indeed decided to not light the face of the egg as I looked at it. Used 2 lights at opposing sides about 30 degrees to the rear. This obviously left a dark shadow to the front of the egg which I wanted to alter the depth of via lighting movement whilst still retaining some natural texture of the egg.

Decided to accompany the egg with a few forks. The first thing I noticed upon viewing the images is brand new forks should be used with a macro lens. Amazed at the scratches & damage to them.




Next came the coloured pencils┬áidea. Simple, effective and certainly with visual impact I quite like these. Not sure it’s good enough or indeed inventive enough for my final 6 interpretations yet my mind may change. Again with a macro lens the dust and minor anomalies of the pencils is clear to see. A bit of PS though would cure this quickly enough.



Totally Irrelevant Post

Posted: October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

My wife Lisa today ran the Birmingham 13 mile half marathon in memory of her close friend, Kevin, who died after crossing the finish line this time last year. I was unable to attend but some kind person caught her crossing the “Start Line”. Such a serious lady it’s why I love her so much…


Fashion outfits & food

Posted: October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Excellent conversation with my designer today about the outfits and where she is at with the designs. Several drawings available for me to view when I’m ready with everything very positive and on the front foot.

Spoke with the cafe on Friday and they have had some ideas on possibly improving the presentation of the food whilst still retaining the cafe feel. It is still my belief that a slice of their home made cheesecake will be the eventual final candidate for any image submitted.

Just had a conversation with a rock god of mine who has allowed me to shoot two of his local shows in a months time.

I’ve sent several emails out to various venues offering my services and then directly to performers who I like or feel would gives images worth looking at. Got a polite email from this chap asking a few further details about myself and requested a few sample images. popped those over to him and bingo I’m hired. I have full access for the day at both venues so my University Photo Essay is now sorted.

With my essay subject being a lead singer I included the following two images which I took at Hull’s freedom Festival. The band were ‘The Struts’ with a lead singer, a young chap called Luke Spiller, who certainly commanded the stage and woke a previously lacklustre crowd. It would appear that the sheer cheek of my request along with these images made the decision easy.