Tower Bridge and the Shard building, London

I was shooting for a client a few months ago and wanted to capture the new Shard building as well as Tower Bridge. I knew I would need my tripod (I never take a landscape without a tripod) and possibly a few Graduated ND filters. I wanted the lights of the city to come on so I had to wait…..

An hour and a half later, the lights came on, it got a lot colder and i was just at the right moment where the blue of the sky was dark enough that it would still come through after a long exposure. I wanted the Thames to turn to mist and the lights of the cars to streak over the bridge. It turned out to be about a 2 minute exposure, which i think worked fine.I Also used a ND8 filter to cut the light down.

It was also one of those rare images for me that did not require hardly any post work to it. Usually I prefer to capture it all in camera, that goes for my portrait work too, photographers have become too reliant on CS5 and forgotten that you can (with enough knowledge and patience) get it right in camera. Not sure what I will do this image yet, one for the wall and possibly one for my agency, hope you like it!

Sorry for the copyright writing.. hope it doesn’t detract from the image..Tower Bridge and the Shard

Album Cover Shoot Day2

The second day of my album cover shoot was about getting a more relaxed feel to the images. As the singer I was shooting is predominantly a blues singer, I thought we would try and recreate an American run down Mid-West type feel…(if that makes sense). The difficulty came with trying to find somewhere that looked like the Mid-West… on the south coast of England. Eventually we found just the place, Newhaven Train Yard, a wonderful location with broken down wooden railway carriages, long wispy grass and haylofts (or so we tried to make them look). I wanted the images very moody and atmospheric but also quite relaxed and not too forced.

Image 1 was at the start of the day and we got a really nice look going on straight off the bat. I actually had a flash head off to the right which was also where the sun was coming up from. I wanted to work with the sun but slightly overpower it so the shadows would darken down around him and the daylight was not too strong against the carriage.

In post I wanted the images more contrasty, so before the images were processed I upped the contrast slightly. In post, I highlighted just the singer’s face and again added more contrast to bring it out and make it punchier.

I wanted a slight reference to the music, but not make it so obvious and forced, which you see a lot in music magazines (the obligatory guitar glued to the chest), having it down by his side and slightly obscured by the grass was a more subtle choice and something you don’t pick up straight away).

Image 1.

Image 1

The second shot we used was a stripped down version, no suit jacket, just a nice white shirt, I wanted it more relaxed and contemplative, a caught moment as opposed to a staged shot (which of course it was). This was shot using just daylight, the sun was behind the “hay loft” so it meant there was plenty of ambient light around and it was quite soft too which was important for the image.

The post work was much the same as it was above, more contrast to the image as a whole and then I selected just the face and added more contrast to it. I also wanted to bring out the stubble slightly so I dodged the white bristles and burned the black ones, a similar trick I use for my landscapes. Overall, I was very pleased with them and more importantly so was my client….(which is really the only thing that matters in photography!).

Image 2.

Image 2

Landscapes for St Katharine’s Dock

A regular client of mine asked me to get involved on the photography side of things for the recently bought St Katharine’s Dock which sits hidden in the shadow of Tower bridge and a near stones throw from the new Shard building as well as other iconic buildings like the Gherkin. It is a real hidden gem of a place as it really feels tucked out of the way from the hustle of London. The task was to shoot landscapes of the dock at various times of the day, but preferably when the sun was shining and the sky was at its bluest, nobody likes a dreary grey London!

One of the biggest challenges with shooting buildings and water together is often that the reflections are at least 2 stops darker than the buildings being reflected… This throws up a few problems and a number of subsequent solutions can be utilised..

1. You can either bracket your images, taking the best above ground exposure and the best below ground exposure and marrying then up, this can be tricky as it means a lot of post production and sometimes just not feasible if there isn’t a clean horizon line which, in my case there wasn’t.

OR

2. You can use Graduated ND (Neutral Density) filters. This for me was the best solution, it meant i could darken down the top half  and make it look both natural and it would all be done in camera (the less post the better, the problem with digital photography compared to film is over reliance on Photoshop).

This was how i proceeded with the landscapes, using a variety of grades of filter (ND Grad 0.6 and a ND Grad 0.3 and sometimes a combination of the two) a camera cloth to throw over the camera to assess exposures, which can be tricky in bright sunlight, a firm tripod and a cable release).

Below is one of the images… enjoy.St Katharine's Dock Landscape ecample

#Landscapes 1

Americana8

A recent trip to California meant I was fortunate enough to go to Yosemite, one of the most stunning places in the world and if (like me) you are a fan of landscape photography then its a veritable mecca. I tried to do justice to one of the most famous landscape photographers who have gone before me, Ansel Adams. For this shot it was all split really, between what was going on above the water and what as going on in the reflections. I shot this image as two separate exposures and spliced them together. The water itself was quite murky so the exposure would have naturally been darker so by doing a few brackets I got the right exposure for the image. Whenever I try and shoot a landscape I try and make it as three dimensional as possible, for black and white images this is done by trying to build up the tonality of the image. Like the master printers gone before me, you dodge and burn areas to enhance the image and for me this shot was no different. I worked on the lighter and darker areas till i was satisfied the print was enhanced to the point where it was visually more impressive yet didn’t have a overly worked feel to it. Hope you like the results..

A shoot for a PR firm..

This was a shoot for a new Client, they wanted to convey the sense of freedom associated with new software that meant large volumes of ring binders could be a thing of the past as it was all accessible on the iPad. The ideas was a simple one, to convey this visually in still life format as well as a shot with a “model” posing with it (model1b). The light for this was relatively straight forward, a soft light at the front and a couple of heads to clean up the background to free up shadows. The still life (Image1a), was just a little flash to clean up the front and a soft light at the back to balance the light from the front and back. The screen was included in the background so the client could drop in a screen shot onto the iPad as well as the TV to convey the usability of the product.

Image1a

Image1a

AXA Portrait Shoot

A couple of weeks ago saw me shooting for the lovely folks at AXA Rosenburg, a San Francisco based company started by a hippy over 20 years ago. Like a lot of start ups in that era it has done rather well… in the same ilk as Apple, Microsoft etc. The shoot was 6 portraits of high flying employees.  The style that they wanted was very much a shallow depth of field with a blown out background. For a shoot like this I try and shoot on F2.8 on a long lens (between 160mm to 200mm), This allows me to get a maximum (or should that be minimum) depth of field. For the majority of the portraits I tried to balance the daylight with the flash which was positioned above the camera on a boom (see image 1) and a reflector below the camera out of shot to try and flick some light up into the eyes as well as under the chin. There were two locations for the shoot and due to a bizarre and overly sophisticated fire alarm system I could not use flash, so daylight it was. There was a lot of green flying around so there was a bit of post to do on the image by removing green from it, but the end result was great, a nice portrait that wasn’t too corporate. (See  image2). Sometimes shooting in a room with lots of glass can be tricky due to the reflections you can get but as long as you use egg crates in the soft box, a polarising filter or you simply burn out the window light this usually isn’t a problem.

Image 2

Image 2

Image 1

Image 1

When the weather is wrong it’s actually right…

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

For me, I love taking landscapes in unusual weather conditions. Living by the sea means that we get a lot of sea frets. One minute its sunny the next you can’t see more than 50 feet… perfect time to take out your camera. I have been wanting a shot of the pier for a few years, but didn’t want the cliched sunset photos, or starlings swarming over the roof and I had been waiting for this fret for a while. I went down to the front with my tripod and camera a this shot was amongst the first i took. There were a few people about on the pier and seagulls in the sea, but i removed all signs of life, I just thought it was more in keeping with the fogs surrounding it, ghostly and deserted. But all in all, it was pretty much as is. One of my favourite landscapes I’ve taken and a good memento from my time living in Brighton.