01. Amber Tutton looking sublime. I shot this using natural light with a Fuji X-T1 and 14mm f/2.8 lens. I wouldn’t usually use such a wide lens at this distance but I wanted to pull in the room behind Amber. The drama of the perspective really harmonises with the diffused effect created by a 1/4 strength Tiffen Black Pro Mist filter. I used a two point lighting strategy with controlled natural light.
Here are 45 pictures I took using my Fuji X-T1 in front of an international cast of top photographers. They are a combination of fashion nude portraits and classical portraits. NSFW after the break. Last week I embarked on a creative event like no other. It was dark, cold but exciting. Jean, of Unique Photography Events had invited me to lead this event in London months ago and I must admit I played hard to get at first. I soon softened when I discovered the models we’d be working with. I agreed to light 6 shooting zones and to give 4 hours of masterclasses over the 2 days.
The Event: A creative shoot experience run by Jean Fernand
The Venue: Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham, London
The Models: Jen Brook, Tillie Feather, Amber Tutton, Vicky Burns, Elle Beth and Debbie Field
Corset Designer: Waisted Creations
Skirt Designer: Elizaberry Couture by Elle Beth
Other garments: Joanne Fleming, Chio Couture and Jean Fernand
Stylist Assistant: Patrice Hall
Make up: Tanya Marie Mcgeever and Jean Fernand
Hair: Dylan McConnachie
Director of Photography: Damien Lovegrove
02. Sometimes the best view is down. The tilting screen of the X-T1 was perfect for this shot of Jen Brook. Natural light
03. Tillie Feather’s dance background shows in her natural pose and delicate use of hands. Lit using natural light.
The format of this 2 day event was a new one for me. Jean and I structured each day of the shoot to start with a two hour masterclass where I showed the delegates how I’d light and shoot each zone of the venue. I made the two masterclasses different to benefit those delegates who attended both days. I started with my Fuji X-T1 on my Gitzo monopod and shot mostly using the 23mm lens and occasionally pulling out the 14mm too. I love using a monopod for winter interior portraits because it allows me to keep the ISO sensible. At 11 am, after the masterclass the 12 delegates paired up and shot each of the 6 models in turn, rotating every 40 minutes or so thought the day. The event worked well because it married the learning process with enough personal shooting time to put the techniques learned into practice.
04. I lit Jen with a Lupolux 650 LED spotlight bare faced. I used the barn doors to create a slash of light on the door and kept the left door open to light Jen. I sat on the floor to pull in the ceiling and to create lines with the design.
05. Jen was lit with one Lupo 1000 LED spotlight on the floor above. I added a Scattergel to create the dapple effect. This ability to create multiple shadows is a wonderful characteristic of Fresnel lenses. I used a Lovegrove inverter at the base of the stand to power the light. This avoided trailing wires and kept the shoot zone safe. I love Jens back combed hair, spiky corset and fabulous skirt, so perfect for the location.
06. I lit Tillie from outside the room with a bare faced Lupolux 1000 spotlight and the room was lit with a Lupo 650 spotlight with an Alto Scattergel. I angled the door to make best use of the studs and panels.
07. Tillie lit by window light. I kept the back of the camera upright to maintain the verticals in the room.
All shoots come with their challenges and at Strawberry Hill House there was no central heating or room lighting, this gave us all a challenge shooting in February. The last hour of each shooting day was in darkness so we had to light every scene. A couple of the delegates brought lights but the main kits were supplied by me. Here is what I rigged:
2x Lupo 1000 LED Fresnel spotlights with Scattergels
2x Lupo 650 LED Fresnel spotlights with Scattergels
1x Westcott 5D continuous softlight with a large octabox
1x Ebay softlight with a small rectangular softball and grid
1x Elinchrom Quadra kit with a Rotalux striplight softbox (50cm x 130cm)
1x Cactus RF60 Speedlight in a 55cm Lastolite Ezybox with grid
1x Cactus RF60 Speedlight in an Elinchrom beauty dish via an Ebay adapter
3x Battery packs for the Lupo lights.
10 lighting stands and a boom arm with a counter weight
08. I partly closed the shutters on the window to create a vertical strip light. The forced composition where Elle is on the right of frame looking out is a personal style trait.
09. I directed Elle to cascade down the step and I shot into the light using the 50-140 zoom lens on my X-T1.
10. Elle sitting in one of the many fantastic fireplaces created by Horace Walpole in the 18th century, Strawberry Hill is internationally famous as Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture.
11. Tillie Feather delicate and almost demur captured on the Fuji 50-140 zoom at f/2.8. Window light. The Tiffen 1/4 Black Pro Mist filter added some halation to the highlights to give a filmic look.
12. I set Amber deep into the room to light her with the distant light from the window. I shot into the darkest part of the room. Contrast is my friend when I want to sit the background to black.
13. Amber is closer to the same window in this shot.
14. I posed Amber on the floor of the library and shot at 90 degrees to the light coming from the window.
15. Tilly is lit here by a single Lupolux 650 with an Alto Scattergel.
16. Debbie looks amazing in this dress. Natural light.
17. Debbie’s profile is classic and reminds me of Sophia Loren. I partly closed down the window shutters to create a striking portrait with high contrast.
18. All the shutters were closed in the ballroom apart from one to create this striking fashion portrait.
19. A delicate pose while checking her look in the mirror. Wow what a dress!
20. Debbie on the upper landing lit by a Lupolux LED 1000 Spotlight with an alto Scattergel. The light was rigged on the floor below but because the Lowel Grand Stand has a decent maximum height of over 3 metres I could still get the light above Debbie.
21. Lighting is the same as above.
22. I used the 14mm lens to shoot Tillie on the second floor landing. When I get hold of the 16mm lens I’ll be able to shoot scenes like this without such extreme perspective.
23. This striking shot of Amber is one of my favourites from the shoot. Lit with the light from a window 5 metres away, behind the camera.
24. Beautiful bones, beautifully lit by the window above.
25. Give us a twirl. Lit with a Lupolux 650.
26. I used the same Lupolux 650 to light Amber here. The Scattergel creates the mood.
27. When I started out shooting weddings I always seemed to complain about radiators ruining backgrounds. Now all I see are picture opportunities. I asked Amber to hitch up the top layers of the dress to show the underskirt layers.
28. Light my fire. We could have done with the heat from the fire but seeing as it was not operational we used it as a shoot spot instead.
29. I love the 3D quality the 35mm standard lens renders. I lit this portrait with a Cactus RF60 in the Lastolight Eazybox.
30. Tillie’s dancing background came in handy for a set of Black Swan inspired images.
33. Elle was lit with windowlight and the background was lit with a Lupolux 650 Spotlight and venetian blind Scattergel.
34. Debbie was lit from two directions with a Lupolux 1000 with Scattergel from the left and a Westcott 5D with Octabox from the right.
36. Debbie in the library.
37. Elle in a dress worn as a skirt. As ballrooms go this is quite ornate.
38. Closing some of the shutters in the ballroom changed the mood of the light considerably.
40. There are small surprise rooms throughout the house. The walls in this room are a deep green and when coupled with a colourful stained glass window I felt mono was the way to go.
41. A simple head shot of Debbie taken using the light from a window.
42. Debbie in the library.
43. Such a striking profile deserves beautiful light.
44. Debbie in the alcove.
45. Debbie in the ballroom. By 5pm we had lost the light so I rigged an Elinchrom Quadra with a Rotalux striplight softbox over Debbie on a boom arm.
Jean Fernand will be running another event at Strawberry Hill House in June with guest photographer Jessica Lark flying in from the United Stated to lead the event. Places are going fast so do drop Jean an email if you want to attend.
I will be running two country house shoot experiences this year in the UK. Visit PassionPhotographyExperiences.com for more information or better still sign up here to our free newsletter to be kept up to date of new events.
Feel free to comment on these pictures or the lights that I use below.