RSPB Campaign at Highclere Castle

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.

Portrait 1

Establishing shot of of Lord & Lady Carnarvon

Portrait 2

Double page spread shot- right hand side

 

 

Portrait 3

Double page spread shot- Left hand side

 

Lord & Lady Carnarvon in the Wildflower meadow at Highclere

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.

 

 

Family Run Food and Drinks Business Portraits – Session 1

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

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

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.

Hope you like them!

Fitbit and Kaizo PR Shoot

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

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Here is a link to some usage.

http://www.kaizo.co.uk/newsroom/kaizo/walkinglunchworkinglunch/attachment/fitbit-walking-lunch-crossing-london-bridge/

 

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

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 #Moet Hennessy..

It is always nice when a new client calls and books you, especially when it is a big luxury brand like Moet Hennessy. They want me to not only take stills but also shoot video for them (which i am not ashamed to say is quite a new thing for me…). The shoot was straight forward to capture the Moet Hennessy pop up stores limited edition Champagne Rose. Lots of detail shots, close ups, branding in the background etc. I came away with a great range of shots, one of my favourite was quite a simple shot but very effective. It shows branding, image depth, the right colour tone for the Rose limited edition bottles and it’s a strong image as the whole frame is filled with content yet doesn’t look busy  (and a nice shallow depth of field which i love too). The end result may be that this is used for a larger marketing of the Moet Brand, which would be great, sometimes images can be taken to a different level of usage without even this being a forethought. Apologies for the lack of dots above the e in Moet… the french would crucify me for that!!.

Moet1