1. This shot of Katy was from Day two of our feature rich agenda. It was lit with a pair of Lupo HMI spotlights and my Venetian blind MK2. One of my delegates asked “Can you gel up a Lupo”? I said “let’s do it.” In my TV days we used to light shadows with a complimentary colour so I showed how that’s done too. (The walls are white).
Two fabulous women delegates, one agenda, two models, a penthouse apartment in Bristol and the Lovegrove studio. What a combination to get this 2011 season off to a bang. This time of year is too cold for me to be out on the streets with my Speedlights creating my usual funky flash stuff so I’m concentrating my shoot training at interior locations and in the studio.
I was asked to teach the fundamentals of finding and using light by my delegates and I had been allocated two days in the diary to get the process started. I must add at this point my delegates are no ordinary start up photographers, these women are super fabulous, full of energy and absolutely destined for stardom. Their determination, fun and ability to learn at a blistering pace kept me on my toes. It was such a previlage and an experience I will certainly never forget. I’m sure at some point pictures will circulate on the net showing just what a riot we had :)
The process started in December with a business 1:1 training session in the bar at the Paddington Hilton, (where I am known to the staff. Haha). During the breaks we discussed picture styles, genres and shared inspiration sources. I took my delegates inspiration pictures and conjured up some mood boards on my iPad. We wanted to shoot boudoir without the dark sexual connotation, without, as Ann Widdecombe famously put it “Something of the night about him” when describing Michael Howard.
Blaise my PA set about finding us a shoot location and she came up trumps. We hired a penthouse apartment overlooking the Bristol waterfront. The girls made it their home for the two nights and we got to shoot there throughout day too. Great planning with attention to detail always pays off and Blaise is brilliant at it.
09.30 came and Georgina and I arrived at the apartment. By 09.45 we were shooting. I had never seen the place before so while Georgina was changing I went on a recce with the girls to see where we were going to shoot. I found great light and great backgrounds but not necessarily together. So we made a plan, and got to work in one of the bedrooms. The light was fabulous for January. The low angle sun was melting the frost on the balcony and scooted through the Venetian blinds. I had my own Venetian blind in my Think Tank Logistics Manager lighting bag but it was not needed. The bag contained a pair of Lupo lights and in the end we used ambient light plus one Lupo and that was it. Sometimes the best lighting decision is to add no light at all and to go with what’s there.
I showed how to plan for the movement of the sun in the room and how to see pictures. The apartment had many opportunities but most were concealed to the unobservant. “It’s not what you look at that matters” I explained “it’s what you see”. We spent the day learning to see, having fun and capturing these pictures of Georgina. Enjoy
2. Shapes, pattern and design were everywhere. Our main task was to isolate them to make interesting pictures.
3. I showed the girls how to shoot beauty into the light. “Always into the light” was a constant theme throughout the two days.
4. I love a lack of eye contact in my work and perhaps I’m a bit obsessed with looking down shots too :)
5. Let em go. Let the highlights blow. Know your camera and trust your screen, was just one part of the learning process.
6. I held my canon 5D mk2 on the ceiling with it attached to my monopod and used a 35mm f/1.4 lens. I pointed it down, guessed my framing and here is the result. It’s a bit of an organic process but it works for me.
7. Tiptoes, body stretch, the open door are all directed elements to make the shot work. By shooting from below I have kept the back of the camera upright and all the uprights in the shot are rendered upright too. I’m not a fan of transform perspective adjustments. I’ve never liked the distorts of large format camera movements too so I try to get my perspectives right in camera.
8. I’ve included some colour images in this set to show you the kind of limited colour gamuts we were working with. Keeping colours simple is a style choice for this genre. A fine art paper printed album or a folio of well made prints would look fabulous all in colour.
9. I love this picture. I took it from the corridor through the open bedroom door. By using a long lens I’ve managed to contain the background to just the bed. The fabulous pattern of light coming through the balcony screen attracted me to this location and I directed the delicate pose.
10. On the left is a Hotpoint fridge freezer in sunlight. I squeezed Georgina into the gap between the fridge and the wall to create the shot. The reflected light off the stainless steel was too wonderful to miss.
11. Anonymity works for me too. I never thought I’d be cutting off heads in my pictures when I started all those years ago.
12. The Venetian blinds were adjusted to create this fabulous pattern.
13. We worked with the light as it presented opportunities.
14. It was time for Lupo. I showed how to use a spotlight to create interesting lighting. Being daylight balanced was a must for the colour images.
15. I opted to shoot in the corridor next to capture some soft light images but we all agreed the punchy hard light images were more our liking.
16. I particularly like this pose set up by one of my delegates.
17. We discussed bright horizons and picture depth as we shot.
18. Keep it simple was a recurring theme.
19. I really do love this image. The pose is right off our mood boards. The iPad is a perfect tool to communicate a picture idea to a customer.
20. The art canvas and the rectangle of light intersect wonderfully.
21. Next we shut the blinds and I showed how to use upstage lighting and create contrasty mono images.
22. Talk was of cheek triangles and getting the exposure spot on. We were all shooting on manual and there is no other way to do it with a shoot like this.
23. Although the intention was to shoot high key both girls loved what I was showing with the Lupo so we carried on with one Lupo for the rest of the shoot.
24. A slash of light from the Lupo is easy to set because the light is continuous.
25. Again this is colour to show what we were shooting. I’m in a toned monochrome phase at the moment. It will pass I expect.
26. We had fun with shadows too. Hard light really does create opportunities if it is used well.
Day one finished in a Mexican bar below the apartment and a review of the techniques was discussed over a San Miguel.
Day two was at my studio, just a 25 minute drive from the apartment. We spent the day exploring the properties of light and shadows. Using hard light and soft light, flash and continuous light. The fabulous Katy McGee was our model and at one point she was the one taking the pictures. The day was full of laughs and surprises. Here are a few of my pictures…
27. One light studio portraits often use more than one light like this shot here that uses two.
28. Shape and form accentuated. The V works so well here.
29. I showed my magic water trick and how to use one continuous light creatively. All the rest of these images were shot with one or two Lupo spotlights.
34. A change of viewpoint always adds interest. I held the camera over my head and shot this frame without looking through the viewfinder.
38. I showed how to shoot sequences for multi frames or multi print album layouts.
39. These shots were lit with just one Lupofitted with a Chimera soft box and egg crate.
If you and a friend or perhaps two friends would like to share a two day shooting workshop with me please email Blaise in the first instance. I can teach most photographic lighting styles and help create a distinctive look for your brand. We have apartments, hotels, country houses and of course our studio available right now. The luxury bristol apartment is well furnished and has two double bedrooms. Please email Blaise for prices and availability.
In the middle of Februrary, Martin Hill and I are off to Spain to polish up our Speedlight work. We are taking 6 Speedlights with Flexs, soft boxes and gels so expect some striking images to get our exterior shooting season off to a good start. It’s way too cold here but we need to practice. Athletes do it so I think we should too.
You can also browse our range of upcoming photography training courses here.
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