Centaur

I captured and retouched this for the pure fun of it and because Ive loved the Greek myths since I was a kid.
This image involved a lot of transplanting of hair for the horse and adding a beard and longer hair on my model as it would be ridiculous to have a clean shaven centaur with short gelled hair!


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.

 

 


Keeping The Ambience, Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy

While on a shoot capturing some images for my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” at Withy growers P.H Coates I came across this very dark but atmospheric room.
In it three guys where busy working in the dim light and plenty of banter was being exchanged in their strong Somerset accents especially when I was introduced to them followed by the words photographing you where mentioned!

It wasn’t a Landscape… but the room had a rustic historic charm and bags of atmosphere and I could vision the final image complete with Matthew Godfrey one of the guys who skillfully weaved wicker fences in the room.
The image was going to be a tricky one to attempt to capture in one frame due to the dim light and the fact there where elements I wanted to be visible to help tell the story without over lighting and killing the whole ambience of the place.
It’s one of those moments when seeing the final image and having an extensive knowledge of post production techniques allowed me to harvest all the images I would need then combine them in post without a huge amount of system time.

iPhone 5


Contentment, Bribing Children & Blending The Soul Of A Place

It’s my challenge to myself that even on a family holiday I return with at least one killer image that represents the place and my experience of it.
There was a time in my younger years where I would never relax when away and I’d be running around every day at dawn and dusk shooting like a man possessed.
Over the years my way of working has changed (to the relief of the wife) and I often feel the need of a more challenging and unique way of creating that requires a little more of a planned approach.

Life  Contentment-0253
This image (well some of it) was shot on the Costa Del Sol in Spain during one such family holiday.I had been out with my camera a few times during the week but mainly scouting for inspiration for the killer image.
Was struck me about the area was the amount of people out at both morning and night walking their dogs,running,cycling or on rollerblades simply enjoying the beautiful coast and it’s climate.
The coast was dotted with these striking looking lifeguard towers and clusters of exotic looking Palm trees along the beach that provided shade and a perch for the large colony’s of Parakeets.
Inspiration was gained and I decided I would venture out at daybreak later that week and capture some of these elements and create the image below titled Contenment.
The model is my youngest and cheapest child to bribe for a shoot Ava with my neighbours very photogenic dog Barney who where both captured upon my return home.
Below is a short video of how the image came together in post.


Seamless Hair Transplant “Surveying The Moor”

This image came out of doing a favour for a friend who was setting up a business for house sitting dogs and needed some promotional images of herself with her dog Barney.

Life-0001

It was while on location shooting the portraits that we passed this huge fallen tree and Barney decided to climb on top and the image simply announced itself in front of me.Unfortunately Barney had a bright red harness on and due to sheep being in the vacinity it could not be taken off so it was carefully removed in post making sure to add suitable fine hairs for a seamless result.

The background was a landscape captured on Exmoor and proved a perfect fit with the correct colour grading.

Below is a short video showing how the images all came together in post production.


“Waiting” Blending Passions

Solving problems and getting work completed fast and to the highest quality is what Advertising Photography is all about and something I get huge satisfaction from. Saying that just because something is assigned  does not mean the same principles don’t apply to personal work it just means you are expressing your own creative ideas and solving your own problems to reach the final image.

Centaur

This image titled “Waiting’ blends my love of Greek Mythology together with my passion of the Sea which I’ve lived close to for a large part of my life. It’s a worry really as I’m very consious that many of my images contain the coast in them to the point that I have to avoid placing too many in my Book or on my Website, but you can’t choose what inspires you to create.

Here is a short video of how the images all came together in post production.

 


The Fine Details, Surveying The Moor

I was asked recently to help out a neighbour with some images for a new business venture she was setting up.
The main image needed was a portrait of her with her dog Barney and I had the perfect location in mind that I had found only a week previously.
As with most shoots containing more than one person composition is key especially here where we have a person and a smallish animal that need equal attention in the frame.To do this I used a very large fallen tree that provided a great prop and worked perfectly for the main image required but also provided another unplanned opportunity when Barney decided to climb onto the very top of the trunk.


I very quickly spotted the potential of the scene unfolding and fired off half a dozen frames before he climbed down and the moment was gone.
I knew right there before previewing any images that I had a strong image that could be developed further in post.
I cant explain what it is that that makes a potential image appear in front of me (when many people do not see it ) except to say it’s an unconscious thing perhaps developed (pardon the pun) over the 26 + years of looking through a camera.
The final composite required a lot of retouching to remove the harness that Barney was wearing and to retain all the very fine details I’m obsessed with keeping and seamlessly blending with the background.
Retaining fine details like these takes a lot of work but knowing the image will stand up to the closest of  scrutiny is important.

Barney Post Work

Next I decided to scan through my archives to find the perfect background to compliment the image.
The image I decided to use is one of Exmoor that I had shot a couple of years ago but had never used and provided a perfect fit for the mood I wanted to create.The final image titled “Surveying The Moor” together with a close up of Barney are shown below.


Cabin Crew, A Team Performance

Some composite images just fight you all the way then there are some that just go together effortlessly like they are meant to be that way like the image here.
The model for this shoot is Kate and I have been shooting her on and off for over a decade and for very good reason she is simply brilliant !
This goes beyond simply being great looking and being able to walk or pose correctly without much direction it’s her professionalism,enthusiasm and simply knowing she will turn up and I need not worry about anything model related.
On personal shoots I will often work alone but on this one Dean my good friend and manager of The Monks Yard where I’m based was on hand to assist me where needed which was a big help at times especially shooting a little video footage and ordering the coffee !


Without doubt the post production work was helped enormously by the fact that we had just installed a brand new top of the range mac to replace our very decrepit existing system and it was like a hot knife through butter to use.
So all in all this was a great team effort helped along a little with some up to date computing power and I think it shows in the final image.