Sunday, 28 February 2010

L3 Home studio Shoot

We finally managed to get the studio shoot underway with Kimberly our model for the next two hours, she was very punctual and arrived with a couple of bags full with clothes and accessories and a folder of ideas (always a good idea) Pip was the Roadie, (an extra pair of hand and advice is alway appreciated, thanks Pip) moving lights taking light meter readings (thanks Eric for the loan of the light meter) and occasionally straightening the odd stray piece of hair. 

I was using my studio flash equipment which are the Interfit EX 150, two 150w flash units with variable modelling and  main flash power setting, two cones a square soft box and a flash through umbrella, synced by a flash sensor and a cable to the camera ,watching out for the tripping hazards, think health and safety! (well I was more concerned about pulling over the units and smashing them) a Lastolite tri-flector and a 5in1 circular reflector with the black light absorbent side fitted.

Paula and the children were were ushered off to the swimming baths to clear the way for Kim (you wouldn't believe how disruptive a 3 and a 5 year old can be!)

Cups of tea were made, plans of sorts were made and Kim was sent upstairs to change and put on some makeup.

The initial setup was with a white muslin background (not sure why it has to be muslin) a soft box up in front of Kim with the Tri-flector bouncing it all back up into her face,  and the second flash flooding the background.

I set the camera (Canon 5D MKII and 24-105mm F4 L) to a shutter speed of 200 to sync with the flash and the shutter, the ISO to 100 for maximum quality. Having pre-set the light meter up for these settings I got Pip to do a light test whilst I activated the flash, this gave me an F stop of 11, which was a just about the right depth of field that I wanted, any more and it would be bringing the background into focus. Kim was positioned on a high stool for comfort, approximately 1/2 meter from the background and I positioned myself about 1 meter in front of Kim, camera in hand not on a tripod, as I was using a faster shutter speed than my focal length of my lens, which also has image stabilisation I wasn't worried about camera shake and I felt this gave me more flexibility.

All was going well so we tried some accessories, which didn't! so off they came, next we tried the black background (my favourite) and a slight change in lighting, moving the background flood the the opposite side of the soft-box positioned high to highlight Kim's hair.

throughout the shoot we were periodically doing micro adjustments to the power setting, flash and reflector positions and each time taking a light meter reading.

After 2 hours we were happy to finish, I had forgot how hard it was to direct someone, Kim was thanked and with a promise to post the discs over to her a farewell was made, Pip also went on her way, I welcomed Paula and the children back in, tided up, moved the furnishings back into the conservatory, then backed up the Photographs. 
Later on I selected a couple to edit, here they are:

f/11.0 - 1/200 - ISO 100 - focal length 60.0 mm Spot metering - Manual setting

f/9.0 - 1/200 - ISO 100 - focal length 32.0 mm Spot metering - Manual setting 

You can notice from this shot that the lightbox I'm using wasn't big enough to put any light on the lower half of kim's jeans, I will have to get extra light or a bigger softbox for full lenght shots.

Next shoot this Friday, same venue, different model with the same name (how Spooky) I going for a modern twist of the Horst P Horst Corset photograph


I'm not sure if we will be able to do this one though?

Just an update, a no show from the model I'll have to reschedule for another day.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

1.1 - L3 Statement of Intent and style direction

Ok here it is! my statements of intent...

The unit I have chosen is Studio Photography 306 within this unit I will need to produce 10 images in two themes (a total of 20 images) they must be coherent with the the themes chosen.

The equipment I will be using will be what is readily available to me, which will be a Canon 5D MKII full frame canera with 21MP sensor which has the ability to take pictures up to 1/8000 second and a usable ISO range from 100 to 6400, I will be setting the ISO to 100 to acheive athe highest quality and as in the name of still life it won't move so I can afford to take long exposures once the camera is positioned on a tripod with the shutter locked up and a remote trigger release, this will remove the chance of vibration or camera movement. I will be using the 'live veiw' mode of the camera and will zoom into the subject then manual focus and no image stabalisation (IS). I have a set of home studio flash equipment which comproses of two light units with modeling lights they have adjustable power settings and stands, one softbox and one flash through umbrella, a 5 in 1 reflector disc, a Lastolite Tri-flector II two speedlites, one set as master and one as slave, the settings can be adjusted from -3 to +3 stop, various card backgrounds, a softbox cube and hopefully a soon to be homemage light table. There may be some image manipulation and for this I will be using a Apple iMac, Adobe CS4 and ``Adobe Bridge to make my selections

My first theme is products, I have chosen this theme to show technical ability in the field of still life and lighting techniques in a studio setting, when I say studio I mean in a controlled lighting environment, the light may be natural or artificial or even a combination of both, aided with reflectors, diffusers or other methods of altering/ controlling the light which could be a snoot, honeycomb grid or a matte black panel that absorbs any stray lights.

Initially I will be taking product shots at my home studio using all of the above lighting equipment and I will also be attempting to use natural lighting with just reflectors diffusing the light further.

The affects I will be attempting to reproduce are shallow depth of field creating a similar effect as the tilt and shift lens, this should better emphasise or draw the veiwer eye to the product or the part I wish them to look at. I will also want to create a shadowless or reduced shadow image again to create a sureal high quality product.

people I will looking into:

Neal Ferris -
Charles Hopkins -
David Zimmerman -
Steve Branstein -
Rob Van Petten -
Thierry Bearzatto -
Tony Arrasmith -

My second theme is fashion pohotography which is linked to my first theme by the fact that the models are wearing a product and advertising them. The reason I have chosen this theme is mainly because it is linking in to the first theme of products

Sunday, 21 February 2010

L3 & London

It's been said before and I'll say it again.... we've been to London seven togs and two shoppers in love. What for I hear you ask?  'Because we can' I answer!, yes but why?

Somebody? I believe it was Steve said lets go on a photography trip, or expedition dependant on view, good idea each of us replied. London he suggested, then promptly went off to the help desk, leaving the seeds of an idea in everyones minds. By the time he had got back it was all arranged all Steve had to do now was turn up and pay!

Eric was the tour guide leading us to the best car parking price this side of Liverpool and circumnavigating the non existent Circle line, first stop Baker Street and a supposedly quick walk to 'The Photographer Gallery' promising us all that every destination was only 20 minutes walk away, which was probably true if you was double timing and not 7 togs taking a photographs of anything that moved or didn't, or Ruth and Steve attempting to get run over at each junction, I can't imagine why they thought cars wouldn't want to use the road? we eventually arrived at our first destination and proceeded to arrange for Rebecca to meet up with us, Eric again master of ceremonies with directions abounding and words like 'head north' and 'just by the alley' needless to say she never got there. Next stop the Portrait Gallery via China Town and for some strange reason Eric took us through what seemed like the red light district? Eric had said previously that he has spent five years living down here, now I know why...  Rebecca in the meantime was zigzagging across London like my daughter doing a dot to dot, finally finding us at the Portrait Gallery which was showing an Irving Penn Exhibition.

We had a quick look round,  I gained a few useful insights into where did portrait photography get its inspiration from... what was before photography? Oils. water colours etc another medium to portray the play of light on a person or object, I suppose the first portrait painters could have been the good old cave men, whoops sorry 'cave people', Yes Sue your right it would have been animal portraits!

Having a greater desire to take photographs rather that look at others about half of us left the Gallery, we headed round the corner, on Steve advice, to the Silver people with some smattering of gold people too! Then onward into the eye of the storm, you know what I mean.... fighting your way through the the masses at the MacDonalds next to the London Eye, of course with the obligatory stops for more photographs.


Once re-energised from the nutritious and healthy photographers staple diet we pressed on to more street performers that were located further along the banks of the Thames, I knew it was the Thames because I recognised it from the  Eastenders program.

We met up with the other group making our number back up to seven, 'The Magnificent Seven'  yes a bit weary and cold by now but magnificent none the less, Somebody did ask the question as to who was  Yul Brynner whilst looking at Eric, but I can't remember at this moment who that was?
A quick discussion entailed as to the next battle plan, again Eric and Steve the main players, a decision was made to head for the Museums The mighty Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Crossing over the Thames heading for the Embankment Tube station presented us with some more photographic opportunities,  some expected and some different, I assume all been done a thousand times before.

And others that have never been taken before!

Once at the Natural History Museum everyone went the different ways with different agendas, I was just interested in the architecture and movement of people, as Steve had set the gauntlet down for the subject of motion in the next BoTPS competition I had to rise to the challenge! and get two in one. 

Having got what I wanted from the Natural, Steve and I decided to go over to the Victoria and Albert Museum which was just over the road literally! Once inside Steve set about getting photographs of statutes and busts, for his digital editing passion saying that this is more like it which made me wonder which bust's he was talking about.  I just wandered around looking for something interesting to photograph.

We attempted to look for the photography section of the museum, as the museum takes up a whole city block it is a rather large museum after a few wrong turns we decided to ask for directions, even after that we still managed to get lost when we eventually found the right way... just as an announcement was made for the museum to close and everyone to make an exit!

So we made our way back to the arranged meeting point at the Natural and waited for the rest to come out.

While we were waiting Steve decided to lie in the gutter with his camera getting some time lapse photographs, all the Japanese tourists were looking at him gone out, I half expected some of them to join him in the gutter to take some of their own photographs! Eventually the rest arrived and we decided to make out way back to the car, again stopping at every opportunity to take a photograph as Eric said it would only take 20 minutes to get where we are going.

At the tube station we we in two minds as to whether we ate in or get something on the go, a pub meal was decided and a pub was duly found but was too busy with no place to sit we came out and brought some sandwiches, much to Eric dismay as he was ready for his nightcap. At the tube station there was still time and opportunity for more photographs, Steve was going for more time lapse and wanted to get the tube train coming into view, the only trouble was he set his camera up pointing the wrong direction,  how we laughed, ho ho.

back at the car we said our cheerio's and scraping the ice of the cars we set off for home and a good rest, bath, drink or what ever else everyone had waiting for them..

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Had the BoTPS internal comp tonight....... Thought they hadn't shown my projected images, good job I didn't make too much of a fuss.... I 'm a total prat!! I'd only sent the email back to myself, they'd not even received them!

Oh well, it give Steve, Steve & Eric a chance as I will miss a months results. I'll just have to console myself with another 1st in the beginners prints.

If your interested here's what you have missed.

Don't suppose I can use these for the next comp with the subject of motion eh! Steve

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

L3 Lastolite School with Mark Cleghorn

Hi all have a look at this tutorial from Lastolite, I get regular updates from Lastolite and it's a great resource. By the way Mark Cleghorn is also a award winning wedding photographer and has published many books one of which I have, another good resource.

Monday, 15 February 2010

L3 Just add water

They say that water adds to any flower image, it adds sparkle and life , so here's a couple I've just done spray a fine mist of water on to the flower and hey presto....

L3 Studio Shots by Alexey Ivanov

Here's a slideshow from one of my Flickr contacts: Alexey Ivanov - Studioxil

I find his photography facinating, trying to work out how he acheives his look. Thankfully he always  puts a setting description on all of his posted photos, which I look at after I've attempted to work it out myself.

Go to his website for more lighting setup info  or

L3 Develop-an-attitude-of-success

Hi all, I use a web photography school by Darren Rowse, I get regular updates on all matters of photography, from techniques to forums to tutorials and tog gear.

Here's a link that might interest ... an atitude for success.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

L3 Macro flower and panels of three - part 2

Here's some more macro shots, needed to use up the flowers and to prove it wasn't a fluke.

I think this is my favourite!

L3 Macro flower and panels of three

Up late again, what to do?  suppose I could do some course work and club work at the same time.

I set up my soft box with a white background first then changing to a black background, I wanted to see how the same object looked with different backgrounds, how would it change the perception of the object.

I decided to keep it simple... a flower. After various attempts at clamping, wedging and leaning the flower I found the best method was to put the stem of the flower into the end of a straw, that way it was more secure and didn't wilt.

Using my Canon 5D MKII, a Sigma 50mm f2.8 DG EX Macro lens and a Canon 580EXII speedlite all mounted on a tripod, Tethered to my IMac and using the Canon software I was able to view the whole proceedings from the comfort of my chair.

Using the camera on a manual setting gave me complete control over all aspect, so I first set my ISO to 100 to ensure low noise and best quality, as I haven't got a light meter I was relying on the in camera metering and review of the picture, checking the histogram to ensure a good exposure. If I was using studio flash I would have set the shutter speed first (good practice) as told by Mr Steve!, However  as I was not using Studio flash but my speedlite  I wasn't bound by shutter speeds and as I was using a macro lens I wanted maximum depth of field, my Sigma lens is capable of f45 so I set it to that. I knew that this would greatly decrease the amount of light coming in through the lens due to the extremely small aperture I increased the flash output to +3 stops, I initially tried a few shots on a shutter speed 1/200 second, This was fine for the white background shots but this was coming out a bit under exposed on the black backgrounds, again as discussed earlier in the day in the studio, there was probably more stray light bouncing around on the white background, I opened up the aperture to f36 on the black background which looked all ok on the histogram.

All pictures were opened in camera RAW, editing for white balance, an increase in contrast and saturation for black backgrounds and a reduction in Clarity for the white background giving it a more pastel soft feel. Opened in photoshop adjusted with levels to further whiten the whites and darken the blacks. finally creating a new background layer and copying all three selected flower photos on the the new layer, resizing and saving. 

Here's the finished results two panels photographs ready for the club competition:

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Picture a week for a year

Here are my Pics a week for a year weeks 4 and 5

Week 5 - I took this last night, Imogen decided to climb onto the dining room table when we finished our evening meal and I happened to have my 5D MKII with the canon 50mm f1.8 lens iso 800 at f1/8 set to aperture prioriy

Week 5 - Amelia as always the poser! I think she gets it from her mothers side....! again my 5D MKII and 50mm f1.8 lens on aperature priority

Week 4 - Imogen, forgot to take any pictures while they were awake so next best I took them whilst they were asleep 5D MKII and 24-105mm f4.0 L lens ISO this time 1600 and F8

Week 4 -Amelia same as above

Saturday, 6 February 2010

L3 Table top Vases

Had a go at taking some shots of various vases on a card background

I used my Canon 5d with the 24-105mm f4.0L lens two speedlite flashguns the 580exii on the hot shoe set as the master at +2 and bounced off the ceiling and the 430 exii set as the slave set at -2 pointing down to fill in the back ground. all the pictures have been adjusted, using Adobe Camera RAW, for saturation and the black background has had the black increased

Above is the basic setup I used