Lighting: Lupo Superpanel 30, Godox AD200 pro
Camera kit: Fujifilm GFX50s, GF32-64mm f/4, GF110mm f/2, GF250mm f/4
Camera Support: Novo T20 tripod with Benro G2, Gitzo monopod with RRS
Top: This is a famous view in Tuscany and at first light, there are always several workshop groups milling around waiting for the sunrise. Experience has taught me that 09:45 am in early September is the perfect time to shoot the scene. The first reason is by that time, the sunlight is just scooting down the foreground hill lighting the tops of the olive trees nicely and the second reason is all the earlier groups have long gone giving us the freedom to shoot the location from any angle. This shot was made using a 5 exposure panorama technique with my GFX50s in portrait mode. I stitched the shots together automagically in Adobe Lightroom. I normally overlap by about 20% to give the software something to work with and I find the best results come from using a long lens. In this case, I used the fabulous GF250mm f/4 lens set to f/11. Bottom left: This is a 4 shot panorama using the same technique as above. Bottom right: I visit this chapel every year and I shoot using a different technique each time. This shot of Madeleine was lit with the Godox AD200 pro with the fresnel head.
2. Left and Top: Madeleine out and about in the Tuscany countryside. I used the GF250mm lens wide open at f/4 for these shots to minimise the background and to provide separation. Bottom Right: Madeleine sitting on a wall in Pienza, taken using the GF110mm lens. I don’t carry the 250mm around when I’m shooting on the street. I just have one lens on the camera and one in the bag.
Tuscany is fabulous. I’ve been returning each year to run workshops for over 10 years now and it was only in 2020 where I had to cancel the workshop because of Covid. I still went to Tuscany though, I chose to drive down in my Alfa Romeo visiting the fabulous Alfa Romeo Museo on the way. It was masks and safety first back then. This year, in 2021 things had calmed down and as long as we all had a double vaccination Covid Pass on our Apps we were good to go into restaurants etc. This workshop out in the country felt like normal life once again. I’ll be back in Tuscany one last time in 2022 and you can see the workshop details here. At the time of writing there is just one place left. In 2023 I’ll be moving on to new locations. I have so much of the world yet to see and photograph.
3. We snuck into an open doorway in the local town and found this fabulous bench in the entrance hall. Madeleine was lit with the light from the partly opened door.
4. Pienza always delivers surprises. It’s quite a busy tourist town so I try to find little corners to shoot in like this wonderfully simple set of steps leading up to a grand palace. I bought the dress from an online store in the UK called Nasty Girl. Great name :)
5. This little spot is tucked away out of sight in Seggiano. At 15:45pm the sunlight reflected off a distant building and illuminated this spot. 10 minutes later it was gone. When I do my final location checks the week before workshops I visit places at different times of the day and calculate the ideal time to visit to get the best lighting angles from the sun.
6. Seggiano may not look much at first sight. This scene for instance has concrete tiles on the road surface and cement based render on the walls. The key to making great pictures here is to look beyond the weaknesses and to utilise the wonderful crisp sunlight that Italy gives us.
7. We used the window shutters to control the light on Madeleine. Incidentally, I bought the knickers from a retailer in China as they were cute and perfect for a French scene. I didn’t get round to shooting with them in our French Chateau so I popped them in the car for Tuscany. I knew our villa had a bath like this in one of the bedrooms and it was begging to be shot. Thinking ahead is key to bringing all the elements of a shoot together.
8. Closing the shutters further kept the daylight from the windows out of the camera and concentrated on Madeleine.
9. Splish splash. Top: A ¼ strength Tiffen Black Pro Mist filter gave the window light some welcome halation. GF32-64mm lens. Bottom Left and Right: GF 110mm lens
10. In a secret ravine deep in the woods where two rivers meet lies this pool where once a day the sun penetrates the canopy down into to the water.
11. One of my favourite photographs of 2021.
12. Afternoon sunlight on the streets of Seggiano. Madeleine’s hat and a Bardot skater dress from Boohoo. After a siesta during the hottest part of the day the light came good once more and we followed the slashes of light as they moved around town.
13. This ticks all of my boxes with crisp hard sunlight, dappled shadows, a strong graphic element and a strong pose.
14. The fading sun at the end of the day comes good for punchy portraits.
15. What could possibly go wrong? Haha, I can hear me saying it now. Fun with shadows for the last shot of the day. We made our way back to our villa for pre dinner drinks as the sun set.
16. A couple of shots from the bike shed. I really love the shot on the right; deep and reflective thoughts.
17. The bike is a fixer upper. The bottle was placed for effect.
18. These photographs were taken in the cellar of a farmhouse that I’d love to buy. I lit with Madeleine with the Lupo Superpanel. It runs for hours on its battery. We used it turned down to 9% and set it to 3200k to light our dinner table under the stars. The hat was bought in a street market in Rimini ten years ago and I’ve now retired it. The skirt is something I cobbled together with a bit of tulle.
19. I kept this shot darker to emulate the tonality of the grand master painters.
20. Daylight at 90° and real texture are wonderful condiments to a beautiful portrait.
21. From country girl in rags to Bond girl. Madeleine has the looks. This infinity pool and beach was at our villa so I felt compelled to use it.
As you can see Madeleine is a very versatile model with confidence and beauty. She is a pleasure to shoot with and that is why I have booked her to model for us on my Fuerteventura workshop in April 2022. At the time of writing there are just two places left. Do join us for three days of fun in the sun. Details.