Pre Production For Post Production. Composite Lifestyle Shooting.

Tomorrow I have a location lifestyle shoot planned with a couple of models so I thought I’d give a glimpse on how I prepare for some of my shoots.

It can be surprising to some people just how much pre-production can go into even the smallest shoots especially if they are on location.
My shoot tomorrow has it’s own particular added elements that need careful preparation and close attention and that is because the backgrounds have already been captured several months before.
When I travel I often will go out capturing my chosen locations before dawn or dusk for the best light (depending on what I’m after).
If I have a choice I prefer dawn not because I love to get up at 4am (in the summer) but because there is less likely to be any tourists around especially in popular city locations.
Saying that having been a retoucher for 21 years I know some clever techniques to very simply remove people from images in post without the need for any stress while on location if needed.

My models will be captured either in my studio or as is more often the case outside in natural daylight and supplemented with lighting if required.

So for this shoot to be captured and be successfully blended realistically in post-production there are many things that need careful attention. Here are just a few of the basics.

The light quality
Light angle
Light temperature
The surrounding elements and their colour
Camera height
Camera angle (perspective)
Lens focal length (this can be tweaked a little)

As I said these are just a few things that I’m carefully looking at.
To help me with this I create a markup image for quick reference (shown below).

Here are a few samples from a previous shoot.

As you will see in the second picture in the bottom row if possible I’ll always take a snap of myself in the scene.
You have probably already guessed that this gives me a great reference when I shoot my models to how the light in the scene should be interacting on them even if it’s not a pretty picture!

So one question you may ask is why go to so much trouble why not shoot the models in situ like many photographers?
Well, I first should add I’m definitely not against doing it all in camera and often do however there is a multitude of reasons why it might not always be possible.
The main one is simply the logistics of getting models, stylist, makeup artist and the many other people that make up a production crew to a particular location at a certain time.
For me, it’s partly the above plus, of course, the substantial costs involved as some of these images are purely self-funded portfolio pieces so budgets can be naturally tight.
The other more personal reason is it enables me the luxury of more time to concentrate on capturing the changing light and various angles the locations has to offer with more flexibility.

It was interesting to read that Lord Litchfield towards the latter end of his career shot in a similar way.
As far as the post-production is concerned there is, of course, some work (and cost involved)  pulling all the elements together but then how often these days does an image not have some retouching applied before being published? If planned and executed correctly the image can often come together remarkably quickly.

As I said above I’m quite happy working and doing it all in camera and have done so many times but for me working this way provides a flexible alternative providing it’s planned accordingly.

 

 

Tomorrow I have a location lifestyle shoot planned with a couple of models so I thought I’d give a glimpse on how I prepare for some of my shoots.

It can be surprising to some people just how much pre-production can go into even the smallest shoots especially if they are on location.
My shoot tomorrow has it’s own particular added elements that need careful preparation and close attention and that is because the backgrounds have already been captured several months before.
When I travel I often will go out capturing my chosen locations before dawn or dusk for the best light (depending on what I’m after).
If I have a choice I prefer dawn not because I love to get up at 4am (in the summer) but because there is less likely to be any tourists around especially in popular city locations.
Saying that having been a retoucher for 21 years I know some clever techniques to very simply remove people from images in post without the need for any stress while on location if needed.

My models will be captured either in my studio or as is more often the case outside in natural daylight and supplemented with lighting if required.

So for this shoot to be captured and be successfully blended realistically in post-production there are many things that need careful attention. Here are just a few of the basics.

The light quality
Light angle
Light temperature
The surrounding elements and their colour
Camera height
Camera angle (perspective)
Lens focal length (this can be tweaked a little)

As I said these are just a few things that I’m carefully looking at.
To help me with this I create a markup image for quick reference (shown below).

Here are a few samples from a previous shoot.

As you will see in the second picture in the bottom row if possible I’ll always take a snap of myself in the scene.
You have probably already guessed that this gives me a great reference when I shoot my models to how the light in the scene should be interacting on them even if it’s not a pretty picture!

So one question you may ask is why go to so much trouble why not shoot the models in situ like many photographers?
Well, I first should add I’m definitely not against doing it all in camera and often do however there is a multitude of reasons why it might not always be possible.
The main one is simply the logistics of getting models, stylist, makeup artist and the many other people that make up a production crew to a particular location at a certain time.
For me, it’s partly the above plus, of course, the substantial costs involved as some of these images are purely self-funded portfolio pieces so budgets can be naturally tight.
The other more personal reason is it enables me the luxury of more time to concentrate on capturing the changing light and various angles the locations has to offer with more flexibility.

It was interesting to read that Lord Litchfield towards the latter end of his career shot in a similar way.
As far as the post-production is concerned there is, of course, some work (and cost involved)  pulling all the elements together but then how often these days does an image not have some retouching applied before being published? If planned and executed correctly the image can often come together remarkably quickly.

As I said above I’m quite happy working and doing it all in camera and have done so many times but for me working this way provides a flexible alternative providing it’s planned accordingly.

 

Download Sample Book Here
Luxurious Interiors View Here

St Paul’s Chapel And Post Production Ironing.

Last week I finally got around to shooting some models to be able to complete several images I had captured from my latest trip to Greece.
Casting the right models for a shoot together with right styling is always something that needs careful consideration to work well.
On top of that because this image was a composite the actual photography needed very careful planning as lighting, light quality, perspective, colour amongst many other things all needs to come together for the final image to work seamlessly.

 

Shooting Plan Mark Up

 

Even with all the best planning however the odd curve ball can still pop up. Despite preparation the night before one of the models shirts got a little creased on route to the shoot.
Normally this would not had been an issue except the studio iron decided to retire itself ! Fortunately I knew a digital solution and with the schedule being tight I decided this would be a better than have a delay acquiring another iron.

The background image was captured pre dawn and created from around 27 frames stitched together in post to allow for a more pleasing perspective with a 41mm lens and deliver a wider dynamic range.
I decided during the final stages of the composite to change the colour of the female models top from blue to a more contrasting orange to help draw the viewers eye to the models.


Repurposing Images With The Parallax 3D Technique

I’m always looking to be able to offer clients more bang for their buck especially when budgets are tight.
Repurposing existing stills into 3D engaging (actually 2.5D to be precise)  motion clips is one way to offer more value and provide engaging content for website and social media channels.
Best results are always to be had by planning with the end result in mind and shooting with the following Parallax technique is no exception.
However, it’s still possible to take an existing image and produce some incredible results.
The first sample below was captured for my client Mimecast and is a fairly straightforward still image from a business lifestyle production shot on location in London.

With a little post-production and 3D rendering, it was possible to repurpose the image into a simple and eye-catching image asset.

This image was a little more involved and shot with the Parallax technique in mind which allowed a little more scope for creating some depth and motion.

 Again this one lent itself perfectly to a Parallax effect keep an eye out for a couple of subtle movements towards the end of the movie.

You can view more motion work here


Pre Christmas Summer Shoots

A few weeks leading into Christmas assignment work quietened down enough to catch up on some long overdue personal work.
Shooting a summer themed Travel Lifestyle in December is not ideal for summer clad models for obvious reasons but needs must.
I prefer when compositing images of natural daylight lit scenes to use daylight as my main source if possible and add any other strobe lighting to this.
In short, if I need to replicate daylight on my subject to match a scene then I use daylight rather than try and recreate it in a warm cosy studio!
Great for the integrity of the image not so great if your a model being asked to pretend it’s 32 degrees and it’s actually minus 2 and wearing a slinky evening dress.
Needless to say, I worked quickly (in my thermals) to avoid too much discomfort for her.
I have to say Lilliana my model did not moan once and was fabulous to work with and I think the final images work beautifully.
Have a great Christmas everyone.

Travel Lifestyle Rhodes Old Town Greece

 

 

 

 

 

Fornells Menorca Spain.


Papilio Portraits & Interiors

I’m generally not known as an interior photographer but like most photographic genres I’ve probably at some point done it but just don’t advertise or claim to specialise in it.
In the case of Interior Design company Papilo they contacted me as they required some tricky interiors capturing and knew with my post production knowledge I could possibly help capture what they required.
Steve & Matt Papilo’s directors also explained they needed some corporate portraits that also would showcase their interior design style at the same time.

The idea for the portraits where pretty much dictated by the location so we finalised everything on the day of the shoot.
I decided once I had seen the interior that the approach should be a composite image to allow for maximum flexability.

The shoot went without any issues and so with time to spare decided on another alternative both shown below.

Corporate Portraits For Papilio Interiors Of Steve And Matt And Clients Kitchen Frome

Corporate Portraits For Papilio Interiors Of Steve And Matt And Clients Kitchen Frome

For the interiors we planned to capture the rooms when the exterior ambient light was at the correct angle and intensity.
This was to allow enough daylight to illuminate albeit very dimly through any visible windows.

Capturing all of the lighting intensities and dark surfaces required some care but I’m pleased to say Papilio where very happy with the results.

Steve Garland Papilio Interiors Shoot Ban Hill Barn

Steve Garland Papilio Interiors Shoot Ban Hill Barn

 

Steve Garland Papilio Interiors Shoot Ban Hill Barn


Seeing Double For Stonar

A few weeks ago I received a call from Ice House Design In Bath which is always exciting as Ive had some lovely briefs from them in the past.
It turned out this call was to chat about another interesting brief titled ” Whoever You Want To Be” for a private school in Bath called Stonar.
The concept was to show the wide variety of activities and opportunities the school offed by showing the same students repeated in the image but in other outfits.
After a brief chat about what I thought might be the best solution to getting the job shot and retouched Jack from Ice House explained about the rather tight deadlines that needed to be met.
The completion dates required happened to be bang in the middle of one of the busiest periods I’ve known as well a a family holiday but a doable schedule was drawn up and the job was booked in.

The shoot itself was shot on location at a beautiful 18th century Georgian mansion called Hartham Park close to Bath.
Upon arrival on the shoot day It seemed every corner of Haytham’s interior offered me another photographic opportunity and the phrase “Kid Candy Shop” comes to mind.
Finally though myself and Les the creative director narrowed it down two rooms that fitted the brief perfectly and the job was completed within our allotted time.

A few days (and early hours) in post was needed to meet a couple of the deadlines but the whole job went together without any drama and more importantly the client & agency where very pleased with the results.

Published-Stonar-Bus

Published-Stonar-BathMag

Published-Stonar-BathLife-Upright


A Black Sheet And A Shaded Barn, Capturing Jock The Diver

A year or so ago I was snapping pictures my kids while they where exploring rock pools on a small Cornish beach.
I was pretty engrossed with capturing the best shots I could on my iPhone while not dropping it into the water again (yes I destroyed the last one this way) when suddenly a dark dressed figure appeared between the rocks heading for the water.
The guy was all geared up in a wetsuit but not for surfing for diving complete with tanks and spearfish and I remember thinking what a great image this could make amongst the towering rocks.
A year or so on we revisited the area and I decided to return to the beach to capture it and create the image that had inspired me.
Capturing the background was pretty uneventful and my hopes that there might be an amazing coincidence and the diver might turn up faded along with the beautiful light.
No matter, part of the fun creating composite images is tracking down people to photograph so I hit the web and contacted several local Diving clubs and shops seeking a suitable willing model.
I eventually got chatting to Mike “Jock” Stewart who teaches people to dive not far from my studio base. After chatting for a while he explained to me I may not want to use him as he was 66 years old and retired !…I explained even without having met him that he would probably be perfect.
Yes I could have hired the kit and got a young attractive model but how much more interesting to have someone passionate about their sport with years of experience and many tales to tell.
A time was arranged to shoot the next day and I set off to get a few things needed like a bag of sand to help add the small details needed to complete the composite.
Like with all composite images there are several things that need careful thought before shooting like perspective,colour of the surroundings,focus and of course matching the quality and direction of light.

At this point I should show you an impressive shot of the interior of our beautiful old Hamstone Barn stuffed with lighting and grips..but in reality a black sheet from Asda and the open shade of a disused farm barn was all that was needed to blend and match the lighting to the background scene.
Not all that impressive I agree but I knew this would give the best result, after all why try and re create daylight in the studio when with a little manipulation you can have the real thing
2015-06-16 15.21.48

2015-06-16 15.21.27

The shoot went like clockwork and Jock was a pleasure to work with and quite happy to have water,oil and sand thrown over him !
The 3 completed images came together seamlessly in post production partly due to some careful pre planning and plenty of post production knowledge.

Life-Jock The Diver

Life-Diver-Previewing The Captures

Diver Images Of Mike “Jock” Stewart At Monks Yard.


Contentment

It’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago I was with the family sunning ourselves in 24 degrees in sunny Spain.Although a family holiday I as always took along my cameras,tripod etc and ventured out several times at dawn during the week to capture some images that represented the location as I was experiencing it. The Costa Del Sol is a lovely area of Spain with beautiful beaches and people out enjoying the warm climate either cycling or running often with their dogs in tow.The image I created below shows the beach,palm trees and one of the several lifeguard towers that occupy the beaches. The final element was to photograph the lifestyle image upon my return to the UK which completes the outdoor family lifestyle of the Costa’s.The final image shown here ended up combining 11 separate images and retains details as fine as dog hairs which is always a time consuming but hugely important element in all of the work I create.

 

Life  Contentment-0253


Willow Weaver

I often find that my background in retouching as well as photography is a huge benefit especially with the unpredictability of location shooting.
This week I returned yet again to Willow growers PH Coates here in Somerset to capture Willow Weaver (well that’s what I call it) Matthew Godfrey.
I was drawn to this dark but atmospheric room on my last visit a few weeks ago and asked if I could return to create the image shown here.
I knew supplementary lighting would be needed to capture Matthew but I also wanted to retain the mood of the room from the blown out glows of the single window to the dark floor covered with pieces of discarded willow.
This is where hard earned knowledge and decades of experience of capturing the best quality camera files and the solutions available in post production come in to their own.
As a result the image came together within a very short space of time in post production and more importantly retained the vision I had for the scene from the time I first saw it a few weeks before.

 

Willow Weaver, Matthew Godfrey