“Success happens when preparation meets opportunity”
01. Katy Mcgee out in the desert in the arfternoon sun. I lit Katy with a single Elinchrom Quadra head on a Lovegrove Avenger boom arm. 50mm lens on a Canon 5D mk2 camera.
This adventure was the final stage of the preparation part. Our chance to prove that Fuerteventura is the perfect place for our winter sun location portrait workshop set for January 2013. Martin Hill (AKA Grand Master Flash) and I want to teach how to shoot dramatic portraits in big scenery. Powerfully lit shots that can be recreated on the cliffs of Cornwall, the rolling hills of Wiltshire or the beaches of Lancashire during a UK summer. The sand dunes, volcanoes, ruins, big skies, beaches and lagoons of Fuerteventura proved to be spot on.
02. Katy outside the house of the Colonals. Lit with an Elinchrom Quadra on the Lovegrove Avenger boom arm. Shot using a 21mm lens on my Canon 5D mk2 camera.
Our recce adventure started at Bristol airport on a cold, damp January Saturday. Martin, Katy and myself could hardly hold back the smiles as our journey began. Us lads had packed a great deal of kit into our luggage and weighed in right on the Easy Jet allowance. Katy had the sense to travel light. I used a label machine to mark up my Quadra batteries as NOT LITHIUM to avoid any recalls to the bagage area.
03. I shot this frame using the Skyport trigger sytem for the Elinchrom Quadra on my Fuji X100. I set 1/1000th second and f4 to capture this scene. Katy is sporting an IKEA net curtain, they come in packs of 2.
My check in bag is the amazing Think Tank Logistics Manager with airport security friendly locks. I understand that we will run a major price drop promotion on these very soon so email Blaise if you want to stay informed. Both Martin and I use the Think Tank Airport International carry on bag for our camera kits.
04. It wasn’t always sunny but it was warm. The Quadra kit coped well in all conditions. I used it here at 1/4 power.
Flights from a dozen UK airports take less than 4 hours to reach Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. All the UK flights to the island are on Saturdays and Wednesdays. So it is posible to have a 3 or 4 day mini break as well as trips of a week or more.
05. Katy on an outcrop of volcanic rock. The shot below shows the same frame direct from camera.
06. Martin and I worked together for the first morning session. Here he is holding the stand for my shot. My next role was to assist him for his shot of Katy with the red voile that you will get to see in part 2. Working together like this ensures a degree of cross education that is vital for both our learning processes. 21mm lens on a Canon 5D mk2. 100 ISO, 1/200th second at f/18
It was a balmy 22 degrees when we picked up our hire car. The time zone is the same as the UK so there was no adjusting to do apart from getting used to the longer brighter days and warm evenings. It is quite common to get days of 25 degrees or more in January and rainfall is scarce. Part of the island is desert with the Sahara making further inroads year on year.
07. Even overcast skies can deliver stunning results when good lighting is used. Katy has all the grace and elegance to strike an amazing profile against the skyline. Keeping sand out of the kit was a primary concern when we were shooting on the sand dunes and our zip up Think Tank Airport International bags were perfect for this.
Our first stop on Saturday afternoon was at Mark and Claire’s house in La Oliva. Mark is my brother in law and acted as our fixer while we were on the island. They have lived on Fuerteventura for twenty years and are very well connected. With a welcome glass of rosé and a tour of Google Earth we soon made a recce plan. Katy, Martin and I climbed into Mark’s 4×4 pickup and we explored some fabulous potential shooting locations. Local knowledge is essential to get around the miriad of tracks and roads on the island.
08. We shot ‘figure in the landscape’, a few nudes, some fashion images and some freestyle concept work. Fuerteventura is the perfect creative playground. I lit Katy with an Elinchrom Quadra on a Lovegrove Avenger boom arm as before.
As the light faded we made tracks for our hotel. We were reccomended the fabulous Barcelo hotel in Coralejo and what a great choice. The Barcelo is a marble palace with pools, a health spa and a well apointed bar. Dinner was at one of the many local restaurants.
09. Volcanoes, rock and wind swept sand make the perfect location while the dusky light compliments the tones in the sand and Katy’s skin.
Damien’s kit for the recce
1 Quadra pack, 1 head, 2 batteries, 1 lead
1 small shoot through umbrella
1 Pocket Wizard Plus2 with lead for Quadra
1 580EX Speedlight
1 PW Canon Flex in factory default1 PW Mini in factory default
1 lead for PW Flex to Speedlight
1 Lovegrove Avenger Boom arm
2 Jupiter stands
1 Canon 5D mk2 with 21mm f/2.8 Zeiss, 50mm f/1.2 L and 100mm f/2.8 L lenses
1 Fuji x100 camera as a back up.
1 blower brush for sand in lenses
1 Arctic Butterfly for sensor cleaning
1 Hoodman Loupe
10. A field of cactus lies beyond the building giving the unusual splash of green so noticebly missing on the island. I posed Katy with this dramatic stance and asked her to grip her thighs to add some tension to the image. Lit with an Elinchrom Quadra on a Lovegrove Avenger Boom Arm.
Martin’s kit for the recce
1 Canon 1Ds mk3 camera with 24-70 f/2.8 L and 50mm f/1.2 L lenses
1 Canon 5D mk2 camera as a back up.
2 580 EX2 Speedlights
2 PW Flexs in factory default
1 PW Mini in factory default
2 leads for PW to Speedlights
2 Gemini flash brackets
1 Ezybox with Speedlight bracket and Quadra adapter
2 Arri stands
1 Jupiter stand
1 Lovegrove Avenger Boom arm
1 Arctic Butterfly for sensor cleaning
1 Hoodman Loupe
11. I love doorways.
12. Working with a narrow colour gamut makes a welcome change. Katy’s lipstick leaps out among the warm rich dusty tones.
14. I chose to explore some simple fashion styles while I had the chance. This image looks fabulous on fine art paper. Katy leaps off the page with a remarkable luminosity set against the subtle but heavy dark greys of the surroundings. I lit Katy with a Quadra head on my Lovegrove Avenger boom arm.
15. Lighting as above.
16. The Quadra combined with sunlight makes wonderful pictures.
17. I love the way the Quadra light tails off Katy’s back on the right just before the rim lighting from the sun kicks in. It’s subtleties like this that make the process of learning to light portraits a special one for me.
18. Almost imposible to stand on but fun none the less the wooden twigs make thew shot for me.
19. Windowlight and sublime shadow detail. Katy is a real star, putting up with a lot of demands and embracing the whole picture making process with a great deal of professionalism.
20. I wanted to explore the ratio of negative space and the impact of large amounts of vital shadow detail have on an image. I’m really pleased with the result.
21. “Self Portrait” Lit with an Elinchrom Quadra.
22. Katy with my Fuji X100
23. “On The Beach”
26. Sunsets are a daily occurance on Fuerteventura
27. Straight from camera before the lighting stand with Speedlight was removed and my verticals straightened.
28. Meet Sophie, my neice, Mark and Claire’s daughter. Sophie was itching to have some shots so Martin and I obliged. Sophie who is totally bilingual joined us for most of the three days of shooting :)
30. It seems strange photographing family. I’ve known Sophie almost all her life and was struck by her beauty when she came over for Blaise’s wedding last summer. It was a real prevelige to have a chance to photograph her again.
33. I lit Sophie with an Elinchrom Quadra in a 54cm Ezybox. The distant volcano is a reminder of our location.
35. Sunset and Speedlight
37. I got my Quadra in fashion mode and started shooting sequences. Sophie has real model potential with a confidence and fluidity of movement that can easaily be chanelled.
39. Just a single Speedlight and a bit of imagination was needed for this shot of Sophie.
40. And this is Sophie’s sister Blue. Blue served us dinner in the restaurant on Monday night and joined us for a few hours of shooting on Tuesday. Tourism is the trade of the island.
41. Blue is equally gorgeous and a delight to be with.
45. The last time I photographed Blue and Sophie together was on film way back in the last century.
46. Blue and Sophie in the back of Mark’s pick up. I used on camera flash to light this Bay Watch style shot.
47. Meet Vanessa. Vanessa works in catering with Claire. Vanessa joined us for a few portraits too. I firmly believe that you make your own luck in life.
48. Vanessa and a Speedlight in the late afternoon sun.
49. Vanessa in the camel house :) There are no camels left on the island but this place was a midway point on a trading route. The food troughs are still there.
51. I added a splash of Quadra to liven up the shot. It’s like adding Tabasco to cottage pie, it’s a game changer.
52. Calmness describes a lot of the images I shot. This blog post is just a quarter of my selection. I’ve no idea what to do with the rest of the images. Perhaps I’ll revisit them later in the year. I just love the muted pinks and purples in so many frames.
53. Vanessa bathed in flash and sunlight.
Provisional dates: Thursday 24th and Friday 25th January 2013
Tutors: Martin Hill and Damien Lovegrove
Limited to 12 delegates in 2 groups of 6 for the shooting sessions. The groups will swap tutor and setup every hour throughout the workshop. Evenings will be spent in local restaurants discussing the finer points of photography with like minded togs. The buzz that happens on these overseas training workshops is priceless and the fabulous memories will last a lifetime.
Shooting locations: The Camel Lodge, the House Of The Colonals, remote beaches and lagoons, plus the sand dunes of Correlejo.
Deligates can travel light with just camera and a few lenses as Martin and I will be bringing all the lighting equipment, stands and flash triggers.
Flights and hotels are at their cheapest out of season and during school term time. Nothing is expensive on the island with hotel food and drink prices being considerably cheaper than here in the UK.
The models, styling and genres have yet to be chosen. Provision in the delegate rate of £795 has been made to fly models out from the UK or Germany. Signed up delegates will be able to contribute to the decision making process via a dedicated Facebook group. Each of our overseas trips has it’s own Facebook group where delegates can share pictures and ideas before and after the event.
Payment will be by installment over 10 months leading up to the event.
Many more details are to follow on Monday. Please Email Blaise to register your interest in the first instance. Martin’s amazing set of shots will also be up on the blog by Monday.
Please feel free to discuss these pictures using the comment box below.