Thursday, 10 December 2009

A lil something to whet the appetite!


I recently shot the food for the Jan/Feb edition of Home Plus Scotland magazine.  This is the second time Braehead Cook School have supplied the recipes for the mag and there’s another one coming up.  The first shoot at the school gave me some lighting and styling probs but this time I had added to my props kit and I was already aware of the lighting so it went great.  Also had Tom’s help this time round.  It’s always great to have someone else to bounce ideas around with.

I’m working on a food styling post which will be up shortly-ish.  Like any type of photography the styling can make or break a food shot.  Styling is an art form in itself and I’m no food stylist but I wanted to put up a post just showing what I think about when I take food shots.  However, as it’s late and that’s not ready for posting I thought I’d just share a few of  the shots from the shoot.

So here you go…







The all new Home Plus Scotland website will be up early next week with loads of back-dated content so once it’s up I’ll link to it so you can hopefully get the recipes for a lot of the food shots I’ve posted before.  Tom and I can confirm that the food is fantastic!

Ian :)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

House on the (windy) hill!


Just wanted to post a couple of photographs from a very recent house shoot we did for Home Plus.  Just finished processing the set and I really can’t decide which of these two I like the best!

The house was at the top of a hill and it was a very wild night up there, hence the title.

The top picture is obviously focused on the thistle motif with the distant lights slightly out of focus, while the picture below is the opposite.


I do like both and have applied more editing than I have in the files being submitted to the mag, but I still can’t decide which I like most, so if anyone has any opinions feel free to leave them in the comments :)

It’s really late though so perhaps I’ll see them differently in the morning!  I’ll post a few more shots from the shoot soon.


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Strobist fun!


The other day I shot the picture for Home Plus Scotland’s ‘Designer profile’ article again.  I’ve shot the last few of these and it’s always an enjoyable challenge because we like to try for something a little bit ‘edgy’, especially for a homes and interiors type magazine.  I also had the pleasure of Tom’s company along on this shoot.  It’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and Tom’s knowledge of photography is awesome. If you haven’t read his blog then you really should.

Small flashes are just made for this kind of thing and thanks mostly to David Hobby of ‘Strobist’ fame I love using them!  This job was to photograph Brian Hinnigan who is one side of the husband and wife team of Hinnigan Fabrics.  They are based in the Scottish borders and produce all sorts of really contemporary fabrics and we had the opportunity to shoot this picture in the old mill where the fabrics are created.

It was fairly dark with lots of cool looking machinery (well, cool looking to a daft photographer like me who would probably lose a hand in ten seconds if he was left alone in there!).  When you’re using small flashes like this then the low ambient is perfect.  The shot above is the main shot that the editor has chosen for the full page image which is the usual format for this article.

The shot uses two flashes, one through a softbox fairly high to camera left, while the second is on the floor to camera right.  The softbox is lighting Brian while the floor flash is lighting the threads.  I kind of wish I’d added a third behind just for a blip of rim light but I do like the slightly ‘dark’ look of it.

I did use a third flash in the image below to light the background a bit.  It was shot through a brolly for a bit of diffusion. I also moved Brian along a bit mainly to get more string but also to avoid the pole that was running right through the middle of the shot.  In the end, I had to clone it out as we wanted to go with the picture above.


At the time I quite liked the string shadows across Brian’s face but after living with the images for a few days I definitely preferred the top one.  Here’s another couple from the shoot.


You can see on the photograph above we moved the brolly to the right a touch to feather the light off because it looked a bit too strong.


This photo was shot with a softbox cam right quite high which gave enough light onto the background fabric as well.  I was standing on a (rather rickety) step ladder.

And lastly this one which was actually the first composition we tried…


I loved the look of this machine and as soon as we went in I knew I had to try for this shot.  It’s just a bit of a shame that all the spools of thread are on the other side.  There’s a few red ones there too but the composition wouldn’t have worked from that side.  We lit this one with the softbox cam right again, another flash camera left pointing through the machine to light up the spools and we did use a third to light the drum at the back but I can’t actually remember if we used it in this photo, doh!

I shot mainly portrait shape because the usual format is for a full page portrait and questions on the other page, like this.   But I was also thinking of a double page spread (DPS) possibility so I always shoot a few of both, just in case.  The shot above might work as a DPS but we’d have to add a faded black panel over the left page to fit the text on.  I might try it and see how it looks.  Worst thing about working with your own images in layouts is that you can endlessly tweak them to death.

Thanks for reading!
Ian :)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A wee walk up the Pentlands and some snaps!


I’ve neglected the blog a bit recently, mainly because I’ve been really busy and not had much of a chance to sort through all my processing.  I have a couple of posts in the works but I wanted to post a few landscapes I took at the weekend during a hike up the Pentlands.

I’ve been concentrating so much on work that I haven’t taken the camera out just for fun in months, so even though the extra weight in my rucksack nearly killed me, I made a point of taking the D300 and a few lenses with me, and I’m glad I did as we had a fantastic day for it!

So here’s a few pics from oop the hills, we went over Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill and Scald Law (which should be Scald mountain as far as I’m concerned!!).  This is all part of my ‘getting fit’ plan so expect to see more from hillwalks around here :)






Above is Scald Law!




One of my bro in law who is considerably fitter than me.


And lastly a pic of a fellow photographer, although I think he’d hiked up specifically for some shots.  I think he was waiting for some more dramatic light.  Usually a sure fire bet in November in Scotland but this day was beautiful, you can’t win em all I suppose.


If you’d like to see these larger you can check out the flickr set here


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Cosima’s World….and some food!


With Home Plus Scotland magazine’s Nov/Dec issue hot off the press I thought I’d post up a few pics from one of the house shoots I have in this issue.  It’s one of my favourite shoots and It’s not so much a house shoot as a showcase for a very talented interior designer and ceramicist called Cosima…and this is her world :)

As you can see by the shot above we ended up with so many nice ‘detail’ shots that the editor Leah wanted to try a montage for the leader page.  I had the chance to design it with her which is always great but it’s always a double-edged sword when working on a design with your own pictures, but I think we’re both really chuffed with how it came out :)

Here’s a few more from the article…






Cosima’s portrait at her desk :)  The house was mostly shot with natural light but I wanted this shot to be quite bright to suit the pinks and blues of the room so I had to use a slightly longer shutter speed to almost blow the windows out (it was quite an overcast, dull and rainy day) and I used a softbox quite high to camera right to fill in the shadows and get the catchlights in Cosima’s eyes.  Really happy with this shot but I wish I’d kept a bit more detail in the desk!


Finally, here’s the food shots from Braehead Food School, well it’s the leader page for the food section…

HP Nov 09_food

Hope you liked the pics, as always Home Plus Scotland is always worth picking up :)


Sunday, 4 October 2009

A different kind of lighting!


It’s not the usual kind of lighting I’m into but I had the pleasure of shooting a few pictures for The Meadows Lamp Gallery in Marchmont, Edinburgh recently.  It’s such a lovely shop and I could have spent hours in there, but unfortunately I only had about half an hour.

Still I’m really happy with the shots I got and the one above is my fave :)  Here’s a couple of other detail shots…



Ian :)

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Souper reflector!


Haven’t had much of a chance to update the blog recently so I thought I’d put up this post about how I often use a wee reflector for food shots.  The shot above isn’t anything to do with that though, I was just really happy with it :)  I had noticed the reflections of the blinds in the glass partition and I knew I wanted to use them somehow.

I placed a flash with a Honl grid on  just out of the frame camera left pointing at the subject’s face and another bare flash on the floor behind him pointing up.  I did have to clone out a hotspot just above him but other than that there’s minimal pp on this one.  I used my trusty Sigma 150 macro lens which I find is a great lens for portraits!

Anyway, here’s the picture of the soup that we will be most likely running in Home Plus Scotland…


The specular highlight on the soup (the bright reflection on the surface) was deliberately placed to give a visual indicator of the ‘texture’ of the soup.  I used only natural light here as there was a small window camera left and without the reflector the soup looked quite ‘flat’ and not as appetising.  My first attempt with the reflector was this…


The specular highlight just isn’t prominent enough for me and basically looked like an accident, so I angled it to get more of a direct reflection to get this…


For me this was too much and it made the soup look much thicker than it actually was.  So after another adjustment I got the picture I was happy with.  The main reflector I use is just a gold coloured cake board that I bought from Asda for under £1.  They are brilliant because you can get different colours and they are easy to carry around and replace.  I know many studio based food photographers use small mirrors but as I travel about and shoot food on location these cake board things are ideal.

I’m looking to expand my food kit soon by adding more props.  Trip to Ikea beckons I think!  Or if anyone has any tips on cheap props I’m all ears :)


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Home Plus Scotland food ‘taster’!


Just another wee ‘taster’ (excuse the pun!) from an upcoming Home Plus Scotland (HPS) magazine feature.  HPS are changing the food pages to make more of a food ‘section’ and so the fantastic chefs at the Braehead Cook School have agreed to help us out with recipes etc.  HPS are going down the route of more seasonal ingredients which is a great idea.  Anyway, had a long but good shoot today and if anyone’s looking for a nice day out or even a present with a difference I can totally recommend the cook school courses (I’ve been on one and plan to go again!).

Here’s a couple more pics from today…




I used mostly natural light today although I was tempted to get out the softbox, but I made do with a small gold reflector which is great for adding a touch of specular light.  For example, I used it just out of the frame on the above shot of the chocolate sauce.  Without it the light on the chocolate looked a bit dull and boring.  It also added a bit of nice highlights to the edge of the slate.  I shot this composition because the chocolate mirrors the slate edge a bit.

Once the feature has run I’ll probably upload a small set to flickr and post a link here for anyone who’s interested.

Ian :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Home Plus Scotland sneak peak!


Just a sneak peak for a house shoot we did for Home Plus Scotland magazine the other day.  It was a lovely house with a lovely owner.  It’s also been styled by an interior designer that we’ve never featured before and it’s always nice to meet new people in the business.  I thought I would post just a few of the ‘detail’ shots as a wee taster for any of the HPS readers that might be tuning in…




I actually didn’t use any lights on this shoot as it was a pretty miserable day outside with loads of cloud and rain.  Luckily there were plenty of large windows to let the light in and the clouds gave me quite a nice soft, even light which is my preferred kind of light for interiors.

The full shoot has some lovely images, particularly the kitchen, so be sure to pick up a copy of Home Plus when it comes out (middle of next month I believe!).


Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Water drop shots


Had a terrible week and I needed something to take my mind off things, so I thought I’d try some water drop shots.  After about 300 shots I had at least three that I liked.  I quite like the shot above because it’s not clear that the whole cd is under water, and it’s like the music is exploding from within, well at least that’s how I see it.

The other two are…



These are processed way more contrasty than my normal stuff but it' seemed to suit the pics.