Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Group Shoot


Had a great group shoot kindly arranged by Adam a couple of weeks ago.  I’m just getting around to processing the last of the pics since it’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks for me.  Had a shoot of some sort every day for six days running so I had a mountain of PP work to do.  Really must streamline my workflow!!

Anyway, here’s a wee slideshow of the pics processed so far.  We were a bit photographer heavy (more togs than mods that is, not too many heavy togs, although…) so I missed out on some of the other models but I was lucky enough to fit in a shoot in an underground car park with Zoe who is just a complete natural in front of the camera!

Really enjoyed it and looking forward to the next one, kindly being arranged by Tom…

If you click through to my Flickr page you can get a full screen slideshow with better resolution.


Saturday, 28 March 2009

Location location loc…


It’s been a mad week with a shoot of some sort every day since last Sunday!  It’s been good though as my new year’s resolution this year was to shoot more.  So far so good!

Had a job on to photograph a portrait for a full page regular feature (Artist Focus) that we run.  The brief was to get an ‘edgy’ portrait (thanks Leah!!).  However, I went into this one blind as I hadn’t had time to see the location or do any research on it.  When I arrived I found a very nice but very small shop.  Plus the subject was in the middle of fulfilling a large order so could only give me around half an hour!

Luckily, I noticed that the panels of fabrics and paper at the sides of the shop were on runners and could slide out into the middle of the room.  We pulled a few colourful ones out and placed a cool chair in front of them so the subject would be nicely framed.  Since the shop had large windows that were right behind me I had to stop down to f7.1 to darken the rest of the shop.  I also had to use the 10-20 at around 18 to get the framing I wanted.  I wouldn’t normally use this lens for portraits but I used my spirit level hotshoe thingy to get it dead straight which helps with the distortions.

I set up a flash with a grid on it to camera right pointed at the subject’s face but I think I need a tighter grid as it spilled out a touch more than I wanted.  I also set up another flash behind the chair pointed to the right at the red panel to keep some colour in that part of the frame.  I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a lensbaby so I thought I’d try getting the effect in PS and the shot at the top of this post is the result.  Here’s a copy without the processing…


And here’s a wee shot showing it without the lighting…


Have to admit I was a bit nervous going into this job with no idea of the place but it certainly teaches you to think on your feet.  I had a back-up idea for a nice black & white shot in the alley next door but unfortunately we didn’t have time.

I’ve a couple more posts to stick up soon, including a few pics from Adam’s great group shoot last weekend.  I just haven’t had time to process many of the pics this week!


Thursday, 19 March 2009

The good, the bad and the tasty

The Good…

Had a good day today.  Normally when I do the recipe shots for work it’s either a drive into Edinburgh or Glasgow and a battle to find decent parking not too far away from the restaurant.  But for this issue I had to head oop north a ways to a wee place near Aberfoyle.  Wow it’s beautiful up there and I kept taking mental notes of places to head back to on a day off.

The tasty…

This was a slow roasted venison stew that smelled fantastic.  Stupid me turned down a bowl as I was in a hurry to pack up :(

I can’t post any of the recipes here but once we have our new website up at work we’ll be posting all the recipes from previous editions so I’ll post the link when it’s up.

The bad…

Here’s a wee set-up shot of the ‘sweet’ at the top of the post…

I had the flash set up to add a bit of sparkle to the dishes.  I usually point the brolly away so as to feather the light a bit and further soften any shadows.  Tbh I found the corner of this cool table to have some really nice natural light and so the flash’s addition to the exposure was minimal at best.  I used a combo of 50 1.8 and a 150 2.8 macro which is my normal kit for food shots. 

I know proper studio food shots blow mine out of the water (soup?) but I never have that much time or space, nor can I ask for more than one dish to be made.  It’d be great to get one for getting the light right then a fresh one to shoot.  As you can imagine, when the sweet comes out I have a few mins to get the best shots.  At the very least it’s a good exercise in quickly scouting out a location for good backgrounds/tables/lighting.  You’d be surprised how many great places have crappy looking tables.  I was lucky today as this one worked well.  Still, this shoot took almost two hours in total!  Also had to get shots of the chef etc

Such a nice place with nice people, I’ll def be taking the family up there sometime soon!  Once this has been in the mag I’ll put up a wee post with the layout and links to the place etc etc.


Friday, 13 March 2009

Flashy pad

Had a tricky wee job in Glasgow this week. As some of the feedback we've received at work asked us to feature some smaller homes, our editor opted for a cool flat in the centre of Glasgow. It was tricky because of the smaller rooms with large windows. It was a really bright day outside (unusual for Glasgow I know!) so when exposing for the interior I was getting so much over-exposure in the windows that I was getting flare which not only robbed the image of contrast but also of detail in the lovely wooden flooring.

I've been using flash for interiors more and more recently to keep at least some detail in the windows. It's tricky though (well it is for me) because you really can't just flash the room straight on as you'll get horrible shadows from ornaments or fireplaces, or really anything in the room. Obviously bouncing is the answer but this can introduce colour casts depending on the colours of the walls. I tend to bounce into ceiling joints or corners and in this instance I had 2 white walls and a white ceiling I could use so after messing around with the setup I managed to get the shadows just where I wanted them.

One great place to learn about interiors is this
flickr group. It's mainly large US houses but the members give great feedback and quite a few still use multiple flashes to get an even exposure rather than succumb to the use of HDR. I never seem to get an image I like using HDR for interiors, and whenever I end up looking at a pic and thinking 'wow' it always turned out to have been done using flashes. See, David Hobby hasn't only helped my portraits but also my interiors!!

For example, for this first shot I exposed for the outside as I wanted the blue sky and the tower to be visible and I used a shoot through brolly for the subject (a really sound guy actually).  I’d have preferred to use a gridded flash on this portrait and perhaps one raking across the blinds, but we didn’t have the time as I knew I’d have to wrestle with the flashes for the interiors.

For the livingroom I used two bare flashes bounced behind me into ceiling joints. I wanted a smaller aperture to get a nice sharp image so the flashes were working hard at around half or full power, I can't remember exactly now.  I asked if we could have the telly on since a blank panel of grey is never very purdy and luckily we found Top Gear (not hard as it’s always on Dave).  As our subject is into his cars and has a really cool one himself it was perfect.  I snapped a few then saw this Lambo and made sure I got one with it in.  It think it works pretty well and having met the subject I think it’s pretty appropriate :)_DSC6716

Have a location food shoot on Thursday next week and then a strobist group shoot at the weekend so that should be good!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Cramond shoot with Kayleigh

Had a good shoot on Saturday with a new model, Kayleigh. Despite horrible weather we came away with quite a few really really nice pictures. A friend of mine, Leah, came along to help with styling and Kayleigh’s partner David helped out with lighting. It was a group effort and it was worth it.

Cramond Island is a great location if you can get the weather and the low tide times right. I thought we were going to be lucky since sunset was 6 and we could get to the island a couple of hours before that so I had planned on dropping the ambient easily by a couple of stops and getting some wide angle shots of Kayleigh on the walkway, but alas it was P'ing down and bloody windy too!

We ended up shooting round the back of one of the old sub defense bollards but we used the wind to our advantage :) Also, I used a bit more harsh light that I normally do. Since using a brolly might mean someone taking off and ending up in Leith I opted for a gridded flash and it worked really well. I also found that it worked great for B&W conversions. But I also found that my Cactus triggers aren't as reliable as I thought they were. Bring on the UK radiopopper please!!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Minus 3 photography

We had a nice clear night last night so we headed up to a wee car park at the top of Livingston to try and get some night shots
of my friend's car. I had wanted to go for a series of 30s exposures over the course of an hour so I could stack them into not only a cool picture but also a time lapse movie. Unfortunately we didn't quite have enough time (or body warmth) to last that long and we were having so much fun trying out light painting that we decided to treat this as a test.

I can see the final shot I want in my head and I now know it's possible. I think it's even worth losing a finger or two to frostbite!

So here's a couple of pics. The first was around the 2 and a half minutes exposure mark at f5.6 ISO200. I was using the 10-20 lens. The second was about the 4 and a half minute mark because I'd stopped down to about f8 to get the 'star' effect on the flashes. I just obviously walked around the car with the flash on a light stand (to keep the height similar). I was taking two big steps each flash to try and get the spacing even.

The light in the sky isn't sunset, it's the distant lights of either Livingston or Edinburgh. You could see the faint yellow glow with the naked eye and it just burned in nicely during the exposure. It was enough to add interest but not too much to flare out the stars. Also, for the first picture we used a shoot through brolly and basically popped it about 5 times around the car during the exposure. The brolly gives it a softer look as does 'layering' it by using multiple lower power 'pops'. I think we used 1/4 power on the SB600.

We're quite pleased with how these turned out and will be going back to try the full shoot very soon :) Have to say thanks to Paul for braving the cold and the late night :)

See these bigger on my flickr

or smugmug


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Rained off AGAIN!

Looks like I've been foiled by the weather again. Had hoped to get out and try some star trails/car photos tonight. It was looking fine but then the rain started just like it did last night and now it's chucking it down.

Thought I'd post a recent photo anyway even if it's just of my gorgeous wee boy. We were out in Edinburgh at the weekend and I'm always amazed at how many people you see walking through the gardens with digital cams, especially dslrs. i think it's great that so many people are into photography, digital is just so accessible! The only problem is it's getting harder and harder to be original. I saw about 5 or 6 people all bending down trying to get macros of the tulips!! So Ben decided to try something a bit different, he picked one, tut tut.

Anyway, if all goes to plan I should be able to try some star trails at some point over the next few nights and have a shoot booked for Saturday so I should have some more stuff to post soon.