Making a portrait more moody, with flash and daylight.

A lot of the photography I like seem to be dark and moody portraits, be that movie posters or stills to advertise Big budget TV Shows for example…(Image 1)

The photographer who shot this is actually my favourite photographer out there currently,(plus I used to assist him back in the day), the stills are dark, menacing and have so much life to them you expect them to start talking when you look at the image. The level of Post production here is probably vast, from the outset I look at the lighting, how many heads have been used to light them, (as they were all probably shot individually) probably two heads,(maybe 3 for a hair light on a boom coming down on thier heads slightly from behind), a soft box to the front and right (possibly with grids or egg crates in to make them more directional as well as slightly underexposed) and a hard back light (KEY LIGHT) coming in from behind and high up to create mood. The images look like they have been pushed a bit in contrasts well as desaturated in the skin tones. The usually skin work has been employed, adding or taking away blemishes, cleaning up the eyes etc..Oh and a dropped in background too…all in all, really nice!

My Work

Image 2 (my Shot), I tried to give a similar feel, it can be hard when you are outdoors to re-create a studio shot, but with a good balance of flash and ambient light you can get there or there a-bouts. I desaturated the face, darkened the sides to create more mood in the face and played around with the stubble so to speak, darkening areas and lightening the white bristles. This gives that visceral feel to an image, making it more alive and in the context of this shoot, more grizzly and weather beaten.I used a large scrim (diffuser) off to the right and used more of the ambient daylight. working with the shadows and the softened light I tried to create a darker portrait, letting the left side of the face fall into shadow but with just a spot of light on the left eye. I desaturated the image and also dodged and burned certain areas to create that depth and lifelike quality to the image that I wanted.

Image 3

Image 2

Image 3

Image 3

Image 1.

Image 3 was shot differently to Image 2, I used a light right above camera and very directional, Almost in the territory of a ring Flash, (which blasts light at the subject removing wrinkles, shadow etc). I knew this was a mood killer but as I had the moody ambient shot in the bag I wanted to try a different tack.I wanted a really shallow depth of field too, putting the emphasis on the subject and less on the environment. In post the lighting actually gave me great scope to push the contrast in the images well as working with the subjects features and giving it a different feel. A bit of darkening around the cheekbones and sides and some dodging etc and desaturating I came away with an image I was really happy with.

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

Album Cover Shoot

I was asked by a local singer/songwriter if i could take some shots for his forthcoming album.. obviously I said yes! When constructing the ideas in my head I wanted some atmosphere to the shoot, positivity and generally a bit of mood and movement. The location was in a forest out towards crawley, east sussex and I wanted the images quite warm and with a sunset feel. I used my Bowens Pioneer portable flash, some pocket wizards and my trusty 5DMK2 with a 70-200 mm lens on. I chose this lens as I wanted to shoot on maximum focal length on a shallow depth of field to blow out the background. I got the artist in position and away we went…. I added some warmth to the image by raising the colour temperature of the photo to accentuate the sunset look, upped the contrast and really very little else was done, there were other images in the edit but I felt this was the most natural and in accordance with my initial brief, I felt it met the brief perfectly, there was a bit of motion blur, but I actually preferred that, it gave it a relaxed and non set-up/staged feel.

 

Hope you like it.. enjoy!

 

Album Cover

I was asked by a local singer/songwriter if i could take some shots for his forthcoming album.. obviously I said yes! When constructing the ideas in my head I wanted some atmosphere to the shoot, positivity and generally a bit of mood and movement. The location was in a forest out towards crawley, east sussex and I wanted the images quite warm and with a sunset feel. I used my Bowens Pioneer portable flash, some pocket wizards and my trusty 5DMK2 with a 70-200 mm lens on. I chose this lens as I wanted to shoot on maximum focal length on a shallow depth of field to blow out the background. I got the artist in position and away we went…. I added some warmth to the image by raising the colour temperature of the photo to accentuate the sunset look, upped the contrast and really very little else was done, there were other images in the edit but I felt this was the most natural and in accordance with my initial brief, I felt it met the brief perfectly, there was a bit of motion blur, but I actually preferred that, it gave it a relaxed and non set-up/staged feel.

 

Hope you like it.. enjoy!

 

Album Cover

A shoot for SAB Miller…

SAB Miller are one of the worlds biggest breweries and make some damn tasty lager too… I was asked by them to go out and take informal group portraits of certain divisions of their brewery around the world. This normally wouldn’t be such a logistical problem here in England, but the shoot was in Switzerland and once you are out there you better be sure you have all the relevant kit as the photographic community is not that vast out at Lake Luzern should something go wrong…. thankfully, it didn’t.

I wanted to get away from the staged and rather wooden group shots that can be done too often and make them more personable, friendly and relaxed, no mean feat when you are shooting people who are not used to being in front of the camera. The shoot was in a very nice bar in a very posh hotel and I wanted to portray a sense of enjoyment in the images, basically, give them a beer (one of their own brands of course, Peroni) and let them chat and have fun and interact with each other. The front light was a high diffused flash to give a nice even spread and then balancing that with the ambient bar lighting yet maintaining a quick enough shutter speed as not to get any movement…a few phrases that were used on the shoot were, “if you are going to laugh, can you laugh slower please and more towards the camera…”.

The HR Division of SAB MillerThe end result was great and I got a good series of images, which hopefully captured the group in a positive, fun and energetic light. Enjoy….

#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