Spain 2015 ~ The recce with Mischkah Scott

May 1, 2015 | Location, Travel | 7 comments


01. Blaise, my PA chose Mischkah for this assignment because of her Mediterranean looks and effortless beauty. She made a great choice. In the pictures above I shot into the light using my Fuji X-T1 and 56mm prime lens. I opened the lens right up and set my exposure with the shutter speed to make the shots sing. I wanted the white dress to be white. I’ve never been an advocate of expose to the left and I never use the highlight warning feature on my camera. There is something magical about the feed forward process of shooting by EVF or LCD on a Fuji. I can take risks without taking risks because I get exactly what I see.

Here are 65 photographs of Mischkah Scott, the story behind them and how they were created. NSFW after the break. Enjoy


02. The first location we recce’d was this abandoned farmhouse just a 15 minute drive out of town. It took a few moments for our eyes to adjust as we explored inside. The cool air, pools of light and flaking textures made this place somewhat magical. It’s so easy to say ‘so what’ in a place like this but once you decode the light patterns, many opportunities present themselves. In September I’ll be showing delegates how to ‘see the light’. The shot top left was taken from the floor to create a ‘figure head’ perspective.  The shot on the right was taken from above to diminish Mischkah. It creates a simple image that reminds me of a parent’s view of their child. There’s a real connection here and that’s the magic of working with a great model. The shot bottom left was taken with the new 16mm lens at f/1.4. It pulls in the background to set the scene.

Recce:Recce /ˈrɛki/[1] is a term used by media production in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, derived from “reconnaissance” in the noun sense and “reconnoitre” in the verb sense. It refers to pre-filming visit to a location to work out its suitability for shooting, including access to necessary facilities and assessment of any potential lighting or sound issues, and is closely related to location scouting.” From Wikipedia.

Model: Mischkah Scott
Location Scout and fixer: César at Scout Location Spain
Cameras: Fuji X-T1 and X100T
Lenses: Fuji XF16mm f/1.4, XF23mm f/1.4, XF35mm f/1.4 and XF56mm f/1.2
Lighting kit: None, not even a reflector

When we return for the workshop in September it will be a balmy 27 degrees with a 3% probability of rain. The UK will be in the grips of Autumn at a chilly 15 degrees.


03. Sometimes there is an unconscious rhythm in photography that makes an image work like the echo of Mischkah’s legs in the flaking plaster behind her in the left shot. The shot on the right has a much darker mood established by Mischkah’s eyes being in the shadows. The slightly sideways glance has a questioning about it and the open body language is confident yet the pose is relaxed. Tension the pose just a bit and the shot becomes challenging, even threatening.


04. We worked on creating looks that reflected emotions from protective to assured. Part of my process of creating portraits is to deliver effective direction. That returns the image the narrative calls for. We soon established a great rapport. The two hour road trip from the airport in Malaga to El Puerto de Sta Maria was valuable shared time.


05. The colour palettes in Spain are often subtle. I’m sure Farrow & Ball popped out here to create ‘Elephant’s Breath’, ‘Mouse’s Back’ and ‘Cornforth White’.


06. The day before I left for Spain I popped into Primark with my daughter on a mission to pick up a couple of items for the shoot. This yellow dress was being avoided by the crowds in the shop but I took a punt as I thought Mischkah’s skin tone would work really well with it and the risk was worth taking. The shot at the top was a moment of inspiration. I went into the cattle shed and saw the picture window. The Cows get a great view. I set Mischkah into position and took the frame using the 23mm lens at f/11 with my X-T1 set to 1/250th second and ISO 200. The shot bottom right was taken in the shed.


07. There is often a strong breeze in this part of Spain and Mischkah’s dress was alive in the field. The cactus shot was a moment of fun. Spiky stuff that!


08. I just had to try a cheeky bum shot. It reminds me of ‘tennis girl’, That Athena poster of the 1970’s. I’m always one for a new viewpoint hence the shot on the right.


09. The Cave, Wow what can I say? Yes it’s dark, cool, and cavernous. The resonance of our voices was amazing and it is the best rave venue I’ve ever been too. The access is all overgrown and difficult to find but with expert guidance from César nothing is too much of a challenge. I took this shot using the new 16mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4. I set ISO 1600 on my Fuji X-T1 and needed 1/15th second to capture the shot. I usually use 4 times the reciprocal of the focal length as my base shutter speed on the Fuji. But from my five attempts at 1/15th second one shot was pin sharp.


10. The top shot here show the extent of the caves. I’m pretty sure they are flooded somewhat in winter. Imaging 100mm of water in here OMG the photographs would be amazing. As they are now in late Spring the caves reminds me of Egypt. There is a special feeling one gets in places like this. I last felt it when my daughter and I spent some time alone in Tutankhamun’s tomb in The Valley Of The Kings.

I travelled to Spain with EasyJet with just hand luggage. In the ultralight Samsonite carry on shell case was my Think Tank Retrospective 7 with my X-T1, X100T, 16mm, 23mm, 35mm, 56mm lenses and the 16-55mm zoom for lens testing. I put a few clothes in for me and a few dresses for Mischkah. When we return In September, for the workshops, I’ll be taking a Lupolux 1000 with Scattergels, a Li-Ion battery pack that can run the LED light for nearly three hours, a couple of lighting stands, a pair of Cactus RF60 Speedlights and a wide ranging wardrobe with many styling items for Mischkah.

On this trip I decided to sharpen my skills using just the available light. I know it sounds odd but popping up a Lupolux makes life easy as anywhere becomes a background. On this trip I was finding the light then finding the shot to utilise it.


11. Always have a plan B. In the very unlikely event there is rain in September we have a couple of sumptuous suites to shoot in at our hotel. I decided to do a couple of morning shoot sessions before we set off for the day.


12. The 56mm lens at f/1.2 is such a great optic. It gives the equivalent depth of field as an 85mm f/1.8  lens on a full frame camera but needs half the light to do it.


13. I’m not expecting to shoot boudoir or many nudes at the workshops in September. That will depend upon the wishes of the delegates, but on the recce I used the opportunity to hone my natural lighting skills. It’s not easy to shoot nudes but with care and by controlling the light in the room using the curtains, magic can happen.


14. Two of my favourite shots from the boudoir sessions. Shooting into the light. I love contrast and I’m so used to creating it with


15. I love to keep things simple and my photographs clutter free.


16. The second bedroom area of my suite had a dramatic monochromatic high contrast design. It’s a perfect place for delicate low contrast images.


17. On day two we ventured into the town of Cadiz with it’s labyrinth of alleyways and narrow streets. César knows a family with a palatial four story townhouse right in the heart of old town next to a tapas bar and a coffee shop. This will be our first location on day two of the workshops. We have access all areas and the house is furnished beautifully with classic Spanish antiques and fixtures.


18. Mischkah brought this delightful petticoat skirt with her from Petticoats a plenty. It is a multi layered skirt that can easily partner a corset. The company are best known for their bridal creations but I’m sure over the next few months I’ll be exploring more of their fabulous creations on my shoots.


19. The potential at this location is endless. I just had natural light to work with and still managed to shoot a fabulous collection of images in the hour or so that we were there. This is the kind of place that will get great benefit from the my Lupolux 1000 spotlight and Scattergel in September.


20. Due to a mix up we left the majority of clothes we had back in the hotel and ended up just shooting this skirt and sheer jacket for this session. The location was a perfect partner for the flamboyance of tulle.


21. Stairs, pillars, marble floors and wrought ironwork painted a crisp white make the perfect backdrop for a fashion nude portrait shoot.


22. The Mansion is another of the striking venues we will have to ourselves in September. The Owner came and unchained the gates, unlocked the doors and let us shoot all afternoon. The extravagant exterior hides an unfinished and austere interior. Walls awaiting plaster, doorways without frames. The windows and shutters are all functional and the concrete floors are solid enough.


23. We opened the shutters just a crack and the sunlight filled the vast rooms.


24. Up on the roof there were other interesting shots to be taken. The white skater dress that I had bought with my daughter last year in Stanley Market, Hong Kong was perfect for this location too.


25. The front facade is North East facing and is flatly lit for the majority of the day. We have access to the extensive grounds on the sunny side of the property and an empty swimming pool too.


26. Art nude as it’s often called is not my genre of choice but I had a go. Give me a pair of Speedlights and I could bring this shot alive. However the delicate tones are growing on me.


27. I’m reserving the beach with it’s shallow lagoons and ruins of a maritime fort for the creative day when we return.


28. On our way back to the airport we stopped off near Marbella to run some lens tests comparing the Fuji XF 16-55mm zoom with the 16mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm prime lenses. You can see the results of my findings and check out the full resolution files here.


29. I just love the yellow dress against the blue sky. The 16mm prime lens was just what I needed to make the most of this scene. In order of the number of frames shot on the trip my lenses of choice were: 56mm, 16mm, 23mm and 35mm. The 56mm and 16mm were way out in front.

Spain gives a lift to your soul. The warmth, sunlight, laid back locals, warm friendly greetings, wonderful coffee, wine, tapas, and the odd beer or two all add to the mix. Everywhere you turn there is a picture to be taken. The visual stimulation is just what we need as photographers. Join Mischkah Scott and I in September for what promises be the trip of a lifetime. All the details of the three day workshop are here.


  1. César

    Fantastic photographs and excellents locations.
    Happy to get your satisfaction finding the perfect spots for you…
    It was a pleasure to work together “Sir”… ;)



  2. Jin

    Really inspiring as usual Damien … I am still learning how to shoot portraits with the XF14mm and it is tough. You make those XF16mm shots look so easy!

  3. Chris Upton

    Wonderful images Damien, super locations and a great model.

    • Damien

      Thanks Chris, It all came together in Spain and we are all set for the workshops in September too :) Cheers, Damien.

  4. Stuart Wood

    Great photography Damien. Love the variety and passion that you put into your work.

    • Damien

      Thank you Stuart.

      Variety keeps me sane and the passion delivers the results because it’s the passion that drives me to practice and go the extra mile.

      Cheers, Damien.


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