Friday, 30 March 2018

A red kitchen

Hello, happy Easter holidays / bank holiday weekend!

Oops, this is the first time I've properly been behind; not just with the blogging but the actual shooting of challenges too. It's week 14 on Monday and I've only photographed content up to week 11.. hoping to shoot a lot of cool stuff over Easter though.

I've just finished editing a little behind the scenes video from my last selfie at The Hacienda London, which resulted in the image for week 10.

WEEK 10Vision: Selective ColorI know, I know. Yuck. Selective color can be cringeworthy, however, when done right, it brings compelling focus to the subject.
In the past I've been quite vocal about how much I despise selective colour but I've sort of calmed down on that now because if done right, I think it can look quite effective. I'm not by any means saying I 'do it right' because I'm not even sure what that means.
My take on it is if the colour palette in the image is already pretty neutral, specifically monotone, it seems to be easier to get a result which isn't cringeworthy, as the dominant colour pops out naturally in the colour version. I guess these are usually photos which are minimalistic in content, but they don't have to be. I also think it's not great to concentrate the selective colour to skin, ie. change skin to B&W but keep coloured make-up in the original shape of the lips / eyes. If the skin isn't a direct feature of the selective colour, I'm going to say it's fine to change it to B&W.
Part of me doesn't really know what I'm talking about whilst writing this as it all seems to contradict itself.. maybe it's just hard to write, lol. And there are no rights or wrongs really anyway, only what looks good and what looks bad.
You may think my attempt looks hideous, (even though I'm quite pleased with what I ended up with) which is fine(!)

Anyway I was staying at my second home, The Hacienda again and the kitchen is quite monotone.. mostly dark surfaces and stainless steel with bright flashes of red and not much of any other colour. I teemed this background, (I flipping love this kitchen) with a bright red dress I had in my suitcase and came up with a simple set-up of me sat on the worksurface in the dress with the red appliances around me on the same horizon. I knew I wasn't going to cut out the red items specifically to keep red, but make a 'bar' of colour right through the middle of the picture and have the top and bottom bits B&W only.. which is what I ended up with.
The lighting was stark because I kept the grid on the beauty dish - again it's what I wanted as it gave harsh light and starker shadows to match the hardness of the steel pots & pans. I didn't want a soft image.
As you can see in the video below, at first I placed the light side on, but moved it later to a 45 degree angle. My remote shutter release wasn't working that day so I ended up setting the camera on interval timer, (one photo every 5 seconds) and running backwards and forwards to the kitchen.
The camera was way back because I only had an 85mm lens, and I had to do a lot of moving about of the breakfast bar & stools.

Here is the making of the image, start to finish:

And here is the finished image as the image quality of the video is really poor. I'm not sure why as it looked much better whilst working on it in Photoshop. Maybe it's an export problem or maybe it's just my lowly iPad combined with low light not offering good enough quality.

The actual photograph was taken using a Nikon D850, settings: ISO 320, f5, 1/100th sec
Hope you enjoyed this!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The future is female!

It's week 10 and the theme from my all-female photography group is 'bonkers.'
I am with my gorgeous friends, Layla & Eddie in Woolwich and met incredible American actress, Debra Lamb who is staying with them right now. They have the use of some wild and beautiful outfits from designer, Belinda Chorley from Beyond Bridal and the three of us got in on a crazy, colourful selfie, packed full of patterns and textures.

Here are some fun behind the scenes instagram posts from Debra & Layla of our day yesterday..

Please go give them all a follow on instagram!

I set up my portable flash and using the 35mm lens, (f8, ISO 100, 1/100th) fired shots using a remote shutter at first, having lined up the shot with Debra & Layla in place.
Then for some reason, the remote shutter stopped working, so finished the set with the interval camera timer.
I think this finished bonkers shot came from quite early on in the set..
Thanks to such an amazing team.. I can't wait to come back in the summer when Debra is back over from America and we can do this again, as initially I wanted to shoot outside but the weather definitely hasn't been co-operating.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Not forsaking all others, but come to our workshop!

WEEK 9Creative: ForsakenAbandoned and Forgotten were favorites in the past. Let's revisit the idea the idea this year with forsaken.
Finally up to date on blogging and today, (a little late) I shot my photo for Dogwood, week 9.
Camera again on a low tripod, (to make the doors appear taller) with 16-35mm zoom.. I knew I wanted to shoot in my spacious hallway on a wide angle lens and use the space to help the narrative.
I like how the distortion brings the doorfames to lean in towards each other, almost menacing and like I'm cowering from them. The colour tones and doors shut symbolise being left out, abandoned, forsaken.. and I felt the nudity adds to the vulnerability.

I shot this using one flash (portable flash kit - Godox AD360) and a homemade modifier using a couple of items most people already have in their kitchen, which not only created the highlight on the subject (me) but also the darker shadow surrounding me, like metaphorical dark clouds, feelings of being trapped, lost and deserted, which again I felt favoured the brief.

Settings: 24mm, ISO 100, f8, 1/100th sec

If you like the thought of learning new and unique lighting techniques, how to shoot stunning in-camera effects like the above and so much more with the use of every day items, Simon(e) and I are running our super fun 'Lighting Outside The Box' workshop again due to popular demand with a couple of sessions still available for the afternoon only.

The date is Sunday 8th April and the afternoon sessions run 2-6pm (morning is fully booked) ..this workshop is completely exclusive to the beautiful Hacienda Studio, East London.

The groups are kept small, just 4 photographers per session, and the fee is £200 per photographer. This price includes my modelling fee, tuition from Simon who has over 20 years experience in photography, film & television, use of the entire stunning Hacienda location, use of equipment, equal shoot time, refreshments, plus a generous donation to the studio's chosen charity, Shelter From The Storm, for London's homeless.
Please feel free to bring a notebook if you wish to take notes and questions are of course welcome both on the day and indefinitely after the workshop. All participants also go home with a free 'Lighting Outside The Box' modifier!

You can read more about The Hacienda and see some of my previous work there here in one of my earlier posts.

If you like the sound of joining us, please do get in touch and we'd be happy to answer any more questions you may have or book you in.


Baby it's cold outside

My all-female photography challenge group picked a great theme, 'The Cold' for week 9 way before they knew what the weather would be doing.
It's been snowing constantly pretty much all over the UK - I gave up a lie-in one morning last week to grab a selfie before it melted because snow in Angmering literally NEVER happens. Took the opportunity to make this one as easy as possible.
It's amazing how elegant an ugly old weed-infested driveway looks with some sun flare, a lace dress and a bit of snow.

No real interesting set up I'm afraid.. just camera on low tripod on aperture priority with 85mm lens, ISO 100, f3.5..
I set a mini stool up in the frame to sit on and set camera on interval timer, (I broke the lead to my remote shutter release.. have ordered another) ..just ran into shot flinging my boots off. Must have taken 10 shots max after the 'set-up' tests and 10 minutes total outside. These two below made the cut.

It was snowing heavily at the time even when the sun came out, but I added more snow in post using the noise filter and curves on a separate layer so it showed up a bit better. The second photo was naturally warmer in colour tone than the first, so I 'shopped in the fake sun glare behind.
(Click on an image to see larger)

Dress: Oshoplive
Hair: wig

Stepping into the light..

My all-female photograpy group's week 8 theme was 'fear of the unknown'

Acknowledging your fears is hard enough let alone photographing them, so instead of doing that I decided to portray photos symbolising fear of the unknown using light, rather than documenting an actual fear.

"We all get a feel for what we are great at and we all get a feel for the things at which we are not so good. We naturally like to sit in our comfort zone, as this is where we excel."

I think fearing the unknown is a bit like staying in the dark, fearful of what you might see or the truths you might uncover if you make the move to turn into the light..
I found these light patterns on a wall in my house and shot these self portraits whilst taking the opportunity to play with new make-up - a dark reddy brown matte liquid lipstick, and orange-gold eyeshadow palette.
Completely natural light with a 60mm lens & high ISO, letting the D850 do what it does best.

Heath Robinson-inspired zoom bursts

WEEK 8Technical: Zoom BurstBy changing the focal length during long exposure you can add movement to your frame, producing leading lines within your frame.
The 8th week challenge was a technical one I thought would be impossible to achieve as a self portrait once I figured out what I had to do.
Initially, I thought it was to create a photo using a still subject but showing movement by using a slow shutter speed so I thought of using the shower and capturing the motion of running water.. but it wasn't that at all.
Eventually realised what the challenge meant and realised I had to physically zoom in or out while the photo is taken.. somehow whilst being the subject of the photo too, staying true to the self-portrait project.
So I used a 16-35mm zoom and put the tripod above and near to my head on the bed, making sure the window light was behind me so I wouldn't be uplit. Practised the motion of zooming the lens during the exposure first on 'Flump,' a rather inanimate polar bear and in the beginning there were quite a few photos like the following:

When I got the hang of it, I set the camera to take a photo every 5 seconds, set a whole second shutter speed, and first of all started taking photos by manually zooming the lens with my hand behind my head. This didn't look great obviously because my arm reaching for the camera was in the shot, and heavily distorted, so I started thinking about some sort of pulley system / string, (channelling my inner Heath Robinson) to tie around the lens to zoom it in & out without me needing to have my hand on it.

This is where Simon came in handy, (hoorah for prop guys!) because he made a stick from an old wooden spoon, gaffataped it to the lens and I tied some string from the end of the stick to act like a lever. Had to wind the string round another light stand so the physics worked and I didn't just pull the camera on top of me.

I honestly didn't know whether it would work or not - was quite scepical, but it did! And any string that was in the shot in my hand was blurred in the zoom burst, so I don't think you could really see what was going on from the photos alone.

Was very hard to keep my face still to keep it sharp while pulling the string, but I'm really quite happy with these. They're creepy and a bit weird, especially the last shot.

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