The 2016 Lovegrove in Spain workshop was billed as ‘Valencia’ but we worked in the provinces of Valencia rather than the city itself. The mood was relaxed, the workshop attendees were keen to learn and we shot our hearts out over the three days of the workshop. Claire Rammelkamp and I flew to Spain from Bristol a few days before the workshop and we were met at the airport by Jonathan Knights, our fixer, location scout and transport provider. We recced and practised for two days then drew up a master plan before setting off with the photographers on our three day workshop.
01. A Lupo 1000 was rigged outside the power station to throw light through the grubby overgrown window. I used a Scattergel to break up the light. It is worth noting that I get over 2 hours of use of the LED 1000 on full power from one battery charge.
The styling for this shoot was mainly organised and collated by myself together with a few fabulous dresses provided by Claire. Make up and hair styling was minimalistic and there has been no Photoshop used to nip, tuck or otherwise distort reality. What we have here is a core set of pictures that represent the raw nature of the moments captured. I’ve pulled the tones around a bit in Lightroom using the radial and graduated filters in just the same way that I used to do back in the day in the darkroom using my hands and wands as dodging and burning tools.
02. Claire Rammelkamp stands by the empty switch gear boxes. A few red neon lighting indicator lamps were lit so we took great care to not get zapped. A splash of faint sunlight from a window up high illuminates Claire.
In my Think Tank Retrospective 30 camera bag was a Fuji X-T2 (Pre production), 16mm, 23mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, 56mm, and 90mm lenses. I used Acros or Acros G film simulation for the monochrome conversions and I use Pro Neg S for all the colour images. Sharpness in Lightroom is set to the default 25 and Luminance noise reduction is set at 0.
03. The fabulous doors to the power station let you know just how important this place was back in the day. A lot of bramble clearance and a big push was all we needed to get one of the doors to open. If you don’t try you will never know ;)
04. The turbine hall is still pretty much intact. I lit Claire with the Lupo 1000 and Scattergel.
05. The disused quarry under the cliff is the location for this dramatic shot taken on the recce. We had threatening skies and a dramatic landscape to work with.
06. Another part of the same quarry was ideal for this backlit shot taken on one of the workshop days.
07. Claire loved the flowing nature of my long red dress. I had commissioned the dress to be made in China for my adventure tour of the high deserts in the USA and it served me well here too. I’ll be commissioning more dresses for the 2017 USA workshops. The USA 2017 events have been promoted from adventures to workshops because the recces have been done and the itinerary for each tour has been finely tuned. If you can only get on one of my workshops in your life make it the high deserts of the USA in the wild, wild west. Those events will be career peaks for sure.
08. This abandoned chapel high up on the banks of the river valley was captured with a Samyang 8mm fish eye lens designed for the Fuji X system that I borrowed from one of the photographers. I just positioned myself carefully to get the sun flare. This kind of lens is not my cup of tea but I love the way you can put someone anywhere in the frame and it doesn’t distort or stretch them.
09. Access to our second abandoned power station was easier than the first. The machinery has already been partly dismantled but there was a magical bit of light in the blue room upstairs.
10. This blue room was once an administrative centre for the power station. The light coming through the partly boarded up shutter was fabulous.
11. The shot on the left was taken in the blue room. The windows set into the big power station doors framed Claire beautifully.
12. The gothic sheer top embellished with velvet roses came from Next and Claire wore her hair up in a loose bun to complete the look with the tutu that is just out of shot.
13. On the recce the light was flat but we still checked out the access route through the river to my chosen rock for Claire. The mill building behind Claire was a non starter so we ignored it, preferring to concentrate on the power stations instead.
14. The light was punchy and the reflections were beautiful on the workshop day. Claire wears a houndstooth body with a Bardot neck line that I purchased new on Ebay.
15. The tunnel of love was our next shoot location. This was the shortest of several tunnels. We drove through them all including far longer tunnels where no natural light exists. They were once used for a single track railway line.
16. I like a good cactus and these aloes are no exception.
17. On the workshop day we had changeable lighting as the sun came and went. Shots like these could look great in infra red too.
18. This shot of Claire in the ruined cottage atop a mountain was lit with a Godox 360Ws flash unit that I borrowed from Jonathan Knights. I was so impressed with the power to size ratio that I bought a Godox Wistra 360 mk2 for myself. I’m just waiting for the Fuji HSS firmware to settle down and for Cactus to catch up with their V6 mk2 before putting the combination through its paces and doing a full writeup.
19. We visited a monastery to capture a few shots as you do. I love this timeless look styled by Claire.
20. In the grounds of the monastery I found some perfect foliage for some high key beauty shots. It was hard to see the wood for the trees but I got there in the end. This is one of my favourite sets from our time in Spain.
21. This avenue of plane trees led the way to the monastery. I popped a Cactus behind one of the trees to create a slash of sunlight for Claire.
22. A pile of leaves in the car park was another shoot opportunity.
23. On the way up a mountain we passed this old cottage that is no longer used as a dwelling. I lit Claire with a Cactus RF60 shining through a branch of palm leaves I found lying around. It gives the flash a Scattergel look.
24. I used soft natural light for these shots of Claire.
25. One of my favourite locations was this abandoned brick factory. Getting in was a challenge that needed some thought. I made an impromptu ladder from some palettes and we were over the wall in no time. There was no one around and we left everything as we found it. This kind of urban exploration or urbex as it is called is exciting and rewarding too.
26. Claire stands in the baking sun with sweat running down her back and the moment is intense. I decided to stand back and set her in the industrial landscape.
27. I used a Cactus (top) and natural light (bottom) for these tutu shots of Claire in the brick factory.
28. The factory itself has so many details to capture.
29. In one of the storage shed there were these rather spooky characters.
30. I love to shoot simple intimate close ups wherever I go. The success of a shot like this relies on the connection between photographer and subject.
31. The sun was doing the job that the Cactus did in shot 21 above. Cobbled Spanish streets like this are almost empty after lunch and make great playgrounds for photographers.
32. The 90mm lens did a great job of compressing the perspective here.
33. The houses are unique, the details are very personal and I could spend all day just shooting around town.
34. The play of light on the walls always makes interesting pictures. Shooting into the light (right) is my normal way of doing things.
35. When I saw this woman coming down the road I set up a pose for Claire. The whole shoot in Spain was lifted with fun moments like this.
36. Our last location on one of the workshop days was an olive grove in the ruins of a castle. Here I used the low angle sunlight coming through a tree as the key light.
37. Contre jour lighting never lets me down.
39. A flick of the skirts and a fun moment complete this set.
Thanks go to Jonathan Knights for being amazing on this trip and to Claire Rammelkamp for being a fab, fun, tough model. 2017 is set to be one of the most exciting years for me to date. If you would like to join me on an adventure checkout this website. Likely trips include India, USA, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Iceland among many others. Feel free to comment on these pictures below. I always appreciate your comments, questions and feedback. Regards, Damien.