I was asked to shoot portraits for London Communications agency, a client of mine I have worked for for many years now. The portraits were going to have quite a contrasty and slightly desaturated feel (the sort of feel I love putting on my portraits). The light was quite channeled and I used a beauty dish for this off to the side to give some shadow, I initially put a honeycomb grid in but was too harsh even for this shoot so a white shoot through cover was added which was perfect. the background was cleanly lit white and I wanted a clip light on one side of the face. I had an extra head to the side with a brolly and it was about 3/4 of a stop hotter than the from light which gave a nice clip which just lifts the shadow and gives a nice dynamic to the face, this of course had to be poly-boarded off to avoid lens flare as it was shooting back into the lens slightly. Below are a few examples. Yes they are portraits on a white background but it’s nice to make them as interesting as possible and good, strong lighting is the best way. Enjoy!
PS. recently got my hands on the new Lowepro Pro Trekker 450 AW which is an outstanding bag! you can fit so much in it, numerous lenses, 2 bodies, cables for my laptop and hard drives, all the other little extras you can think off for a studio shoot but its also outstanding for outdoors and my landscape work.. it even had a camel back water pouch space for summer shooting.. Genius..!
I was asked to shoot the portraits of Lord and Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle (or Downton Abbey as it has become known) for a new RSPB campaign called ‘Homes for Wildlife’. At Highclere the Carnarvons have taken many measures to attract and develop wildlife in and amongst the grounds of their lovely home. I got to the location early after picking up my asistant at Newbury and set about taking landscapes of the house in the early morning light. It really is a magical place early on as the mist hangs in the valley and all you can hear are the birds gradually waking up and the hum of Bees in the wildflower meadow. I only had an hour with the Carnarovons so I paid the house a visit earlier on in the week to sort out places to shoot in my head. I wanted to keep it simple really, shoot where possible in the shade and use my Profoto with a softbox on to light them. This would mean I could control the daylight on the house (as it was to feature heavily in the images) as well as lighting them in a flattering way. If the house looked overexposed in the background I could either up the power of the flash which meant I had to close down my aperture or increase the shutter speed. As I was shooting on a relatively long lens (this brings the background closer in the frame but can also give a lovely blown out feel too) I had the shutter speed up high on about 200th of a sec anyway and as it was a bright day it meant my flash had to be on a relatively high power to match it otherwise it would be overexposed in the background.
Considering the time we had we managed to rattle off a good selection of portraits and the client was a happy bunny, which is always nice. Below are a few images from the mornings shoots.
Establishing shot of of Lord & Lady Carnarvon
Double page spread shot- right hand side
Double page spread shot- Left hand side
Lord & Lady Carnarvon in the Wildflower meadow at Highclere
Very little in Post was done to the images, a few tweaks of the levels and processing it in my own way and maybe a few blemish removals, but pretty much shot as is in-situ.
Hope you like the images, feel free to read my other blog posts and please do comment if you so wish.
I have started a project in coordination with my agency Image Source to produce a series of portraits of family run and owned business’s who produce food and drinks. This could be Ice cream makers, Cheese producers, or even (as in this instance) Champagne makers. The emphasis is on well made products that have not been tampered with and are made with love! The first of my projects was a Champagne maker called Cottonworth, who are based in Hampshire. The owner was one of two brothers called Hugh. He is young, knowledgable about Fizz production and passionate about what he does. He made an ideal candidate for the project. As he was my first subject (more to follow, so watch this space..)
I have decided to shoot two types of shots and keep them consistent. The first is on a black background with a gridded softbox from the side and a gridded spot at the back to give a key light to lift them from the background a bit. I want the portraits natural in every way, i want the clothes as they are, no grooming with the focus on strong lighting and simplicity. Attached is the Black background shot (image 1)
Hugh Liddell – Cottonworth Champagne and Vineyard
The other images were shot using the location as a backdrop, therefore showing the working environment in the background to give a sense of ownership, See image 2 and 3 below.
Hugh Liddell – Cottonworth Champagne and Vineyard
Hugh Liddell – Cottonworth Champagne and Vineyard
The Last two images were shot in the Golden hour, I wanted the tips of the vines illuminated with warm light and hugh to be softly lit. I used a small of fill light with my profoto from camera left just to give a small trace of detail on his right side.
I was asked to shoot a beauty feature for a large UK newspaper and its beauty section. It was all about lipstick folks.. and how to get that matte look. I wanted to light this shot clean, my last shoot i could go moody and hence i used a beauty dish with a honeycomb insert, but for this i used a large Octa. The Octa itself is used in a number of ways, as a large window light or as a beauty dish (without the outside white diffuser). I used it on order to throw lots of soft light at the model and get an even coverage, i had a white polyboard (reflector) on camera right and a tri-reflector underneath her chin and below camera level to eliminate any slight shadowing under said chin and to a degree between the eyelids and eyebrows which can sometimes be darker than what you want them to be. The background was of course lit to white it out and this was just a couple of heads firing into two polyboards each to spread the light over the white colorama.
There was a little retouching for this shoot, blemish removal, teeth work and a bit of hair work in order to fill gaps etc. She had good skin and that helps massively.
I have been (half way through the job) asked to shoot portraits of all the members of a large investment house in london(about 90 in total). It was the usual white background type affair, but I could light it and tweak it in post to my own specifications. I chose to light the portraits with a soft covered beauty dish above camera and straight on with a silver reflector under the light at about waist height and a silver reflector to the side kicking in a bit of light to the side of the face. I wanted the end result of the portraits to be quite contrasty and punchy so in order to achieve this you can go one of two ways.
Firstly; shoot it contrasty with the lights coming in from the side at 30 degrees keeping it soft yet still giving a nice gentle fall off of light, which is usually enough for portraits of this kind.
Secondly; shoot it flat and push the contrast in post production, but to do this I aways find it easier to slightly under expose and use reflectors to create lighter areas or slightly darker areas, (remembering that a slight shadow on the face once pushed in post becomes main shadow area so cant be too dark beforehand otherwise it will limit just how far it can be pushed afterwards).
I chose the second route….
The results of this are below, although the client wanted them in colour I have added some black and white ones as well. I also slightly desaturated the image and took a touch of green out too. I think they look a little different to most run of the mill work and somehow seems to really work well, giving them really good depth and quality of character.
I was asked to shoot a beauty feature for a large newspaper, the premise was easy enough, white background and a model and I could light it how I wanted. I decided to go directional, by this I mean use a hard light.
My weapon of choice was a Beauty Dish with a honeycomb grid attachment and have this high and left of camera. What I wanted was the magic triangle of light on the rear of the face as you can see from the final shot, yet still be low enough to throw light into the eyes as well without creating shadow under the eyelids.
The background was whited out by a couple of elinchrom heads shooting into white poly boards, they were about a stop hotter than the front light to ensure a nice clean white backdrop and also give the chance of a small bit of bounce back which I like. This gives a softer edge on the skin which can be seen if you look at the right hand side of the models face. There was only really minimal retouching here. A few removals of blemishes and a bit of hair work (cleaning up strays etc), the model had really good skin, coupled with good lighting and great make up it sure does make your day that much easier!
Make up was done by the fantastic Oonagh Connor from the Joy Goodman agency!
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..