I have a long running project about craft food/drinks producers that i am working on constantly and after having shot various drinks makers (vodka distillers in Brooklyn, NYC and a champagne makers in Hampshire) i wanted to shoot a brewery and Bath has a fantastic one called The Electric Bear, which has one countless awards already for its ale. I love backlighting subjects anyway so this gave me a chance to do just that. I knew there would be lots of steam/smoke from the various tanks so backlighting it would add more drama. I wanted to capture the whole process from initial brewing to distribution. A lot of the shots were shot wide open to add more flare with a fair bit being retouched to remove branding and lighting stands! I had the luxury of attaching lights to an overhead mezzanine to increase the general light levels and override any tungsten that was floating around, this made my job a lot easier and was almost like shooting in daylight apart from working with my main key light which was the backlight.It was a good chance to try out my new canon 5DSr in a testing environment, lots of steam and heat basically. It worked and performed really well and the quality of the final images were amazing. I have included a few images here and more can be seen through my agency (image source). If you have any questions then feel free to ask .
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 Stevie Ritchie (the guy from the x-Factor) for New! magazine. We were trying to make it fun and festive and keep the lighting clean but with nice highlights and spots to give hair a bit of lift from the background. We found this still of Steve Carell and thought this would work really well..the bright spotlit background, a nice soft light from the side to give a bit of shadow on one side of the face and then a strong hair light…
This is what i came up with. The client loved it and it was a really fun shoot to do. There was very minimal post production as it was shot as is. Maybe few tweaks of saturation and contrast but that was it really.
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 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 commissioned to take a portrait of Salvatore Calabrese for the Mail. He is one of the worlds best (if not the best) cocktail makers and currently heads the bar at Salvatore’s bar, which is inside the playboy club on park lane, London. I had a rough idea how i was going to light it before i got there. I wanted it to be quite contrasty so i cross lit his face with a gridded soft box, this can throw quite a bit of shadow across his opposite side of the face, so a key light (highlight) light was used. I used a standard dish with a medium honeycomb inside to create a spotlight and avoid flooding of light over the bar. This created a nice highlight down his right side of his face.
As most bars can be, there was not much ambient light. To avoid having to raise the ISO too high i had to light the back bar with another head (third head now). A normal bare head would kill the mood so to avoid it looking too lit, i stuck a quarter yellow gel on to give it the same bar feel we had before, but just allowing me to shoot that bit faster and not burn in the ambient.
We did a variety of poses etc, he was quite good when it came to this so it really made my job a lot easier.
Last week i was asked to shoot some stills to promote Fitbit (a nifty bit of kit that allows you to track your steps, calories lost and general activity). The shoot was based on the concept of making the most of your lunch break during work and getting out and being active. We thought we would make it fun so got 6 actors in and dressed them in a mix of suits and luminous sports gear and then hit the streets of London to get some shots…
I kept my kit quite basic for this. I used my usual collection of lenses (12-24mm 70-200L lens and my trusted 24-105L lens) Prophoto 7b pack and head and some shoot through brollies so we could use fill in flash and get generally a cleaner light if required, 5d mark2, pocket wizards. Attached are some of the images