Thursday, 1 December 2016

It's the Christmas Month

In the words of Noddy Holder (Slade)
"It's Christmas!"- 
Even though the shops have been rammed with Christmas gifts, decorations, and Ideas, we've also got  the big Christmas ads on TV for the next few weeks.

I've been busy photographing a team of employees of a Veterinarian Surgery for their business website, and greeting board.
Gathering staff members can be a challenge, working around shift patterns, holidays, and sickness, we managed to photograph 90% of the workforce before the end of November.
During that time it occurred to me Christmas was looming where everyone is rushing around sorting their plans that it might be a good opportunity to do the Christmas thing.
I produced some santa  hats and managed to persuade some members to cut some poses for me.
I have to confess it is a little difficult to replicate the Christmas spirit at the beginning of September, but here we are now with just a couple of weeks to go.

The Idea was, instead of rushing around with a weeks to go before Christmas Day, I'd grab some opportunities while I had staff members with me. We tried a bit last year, but it was a little too late.
Great fun getting  members wearing the santa hats with a bit of a pose, in fact it was getting a little popular.

with the business images done I soon created some Christmas style photo greeting photos, making the images a little more seasonal.

Now my client is ready to join in on the Christmas message advertising.

If your interested in something similar then drop me an email, I'll be happy to send a quote 

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ew.. popup that photo-booth

Get Digi Dave to set up a photo booth at a Christmas party for some fun, and laughs

Simple, easy to set up, images processed and put on line to view or purchase.

Email for quote and options.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Playing with light at Cyclocross

From a wedding to playing in the mud again at the East Kent Cyclo Cross event at Discovery Park, Sandwich, Kent.

former Pfizer site in Sandwich, Kent – one of the largest research and development facilities in Europe.

These vday, Discovery Park is home to a host of international companies and organisations with some educational support.

This is the 2nd year East Kent CX have used the facilities to host an event. Using the car parking areas the organisers have been clever in mapping out a technical and demanding circuit.

The day started with good bright sunny, but cold conditions for the youth events, as the Vets and women racing was going on the clouds moved in quick making a bright day very dull.

I had been running around with just a couple of flashguns to just lift the shadows on the riders.

This shot is an example of no flash, with high ISO setting. on first look the image looks ok, you can see Delias face, but overall a bit dull.

Confession, I forgot to switch on the flash as I ran over to the location from the race start, and just instinctively I just started photographing. 

No Flash 

 With the flash on.

Once the earlier races were completed I decided to break out the monolight for the last race of Seniors and juniors.

Returning to a similar position from the earlier races I set up my big mono studio light to the camera's left as the rider exits the tight corner. 
The idea was to wash the rider with enough light without blowing the highlights or over exposing the riders face and shoulders.
Keeping the shutter speed low around 1/160th of a sec, to invoke some motion in the background, using the aperture to help control the contrast of the shot, depth of field is not a big issues as the motion blur scruffs the background making the rider look even sharper.

With a similar setup at a different location from a fast corner I wanted to use a slower shutter speed with the power of the monolight. The ambient day light was dropping fast as the clouds thickened up for rain. with on camera flash the spread of light becomes stronger  making for an unnatural looking photo. Once noticeable problem with on camera flash is the spread of light hitting the rider gets a bit obvious and unnatural looking. 

With this shot to avoid a big pool of light across the ground I set the monolight up on a low light stand, maybe 2 foot from the ground pointing the flash head up towards the sky just slightly so enough light hits the rider from the hips and face at a slight angle pointing in the riders direction, kind of back lighting, but from the side. I do this to reduce the spill of light on the ground and shadows.
Keeping the shutter speed low (1/80th of sec) to increase motion blur, and a steady pan for sharpness on the rider (Glen).

Getting Married at ther Kennels Goodwood

My last wedding of the year was at the the Kennels near Chichester. The Kennels Club is the central place for all of the Estate's Sporting Members, be it horse racing, golf, motor sport, aviation or just good health, and social membership. 

This was going to be the venue for Nigel and Annie's wedding ceremony.
Congratulations to the couple, a brilliant day.

 Firstly I had to pay the bride a visit for some per wedding family portrait photos then dash to the wedding venue to meet the Groom and Best man as they were arriving on an old London bus, then returning to pick up the guests.

A lovely calm day blessed with warm sunshine throughout. 
With the bride arriving we were soon into the ceremony, then the formal shots outside with the nice view across the grounds. As the autumn temperature dropped everyone was ushered into one of the Kennels libraries for some shampers to await the call to the wedding breakfast at 4pm.

The day rounded up with a reception at the Goodwood Hotel a mile from the Kennels Club, basically the otherside of the golf course.

The Reception had a theme of retro 70's or 20's depending on guests interpretation on the invite, whatever the theme the mood was fun and relaxed.

Here was an opportunity to have some fun with the guests with portrait photos, bit like a photo-booth, but without the booth.
I just happened to have a popup black backdrop and some extra lights with a box of hats for effect, to create a small make shift studio.
Once a few guests had a few drinks and were a little relaxed some of them were game for some portrait fun.

It's all about god flash light

So what have I been doing in the last couple of weeks. I feel as though I've been busy, but looking back at the calendar it looks very quiet. After the Mountain bike event at Bettishanger country park I did a quick photo job for for a mobile hairdressing business, she needed something for social media.

The following Sunday was the next round of the London Cyclo Cross. I missed the previous round, but that was covered by a friend and fellow photographer who is dam good.

Sudden venue change for Sunday from Addington near croydon to Bethlem Hospital in Beckenham, with their extensive grounds and open fields it's hard to believe that Croydon is not to far away.

With my preferred style of using off camera flash, I decided to to keep things simple  and just use on camera flash guns so I could move around the the grounds with less gear.
Bethlem has a good mix of open ground to single track wooded areas the kill the natural light by over 60%.

Talking to Huw we were deciding the best options as we had so much creative choice to choose. Stay in the brilliant sunshine  in the open fields or the darkness of the woods, being a flash light photographer it was the dark side calling in the woods.

Wilf keeping focus in a darker section of single track  

As an example of what can be achieved with on camera flash. No blow skin tones in the face, or an over white face that can sometimes happen, and minimal shadows on the ground or on the trees.
This is due to just understanding the power from the flash gun.
I'm not here to educate on how to use on camera flash, youtube and google searching on these topics is the best place, I'm just sharing what is possible and what blows me away.

For this photo it took me a couple of shots to set the camera for an exposure I wanted the set the flash manually to the power I wanted to get the balance. No light meter, no TTL, My cameras histogram was telling me on other test shots that I was under exposing to the last 3rd of the scale, which is what I wanted to maintain a dark background to help hide shadows when I used my flash.
Now it was a case of scaling the power of the flash that would light the rider but not the whole scene. Another test shot to see how things are balancing and away one goes. it still not job done, as each rider tends to take different lines on the trail, as I have everything set manually camera wise the only variable is the riders line as the go past, too close then you blow the riders face, to far away it all plunges into darkness, but that's all part of the challenge to overcome and keep things consistent.

Then were out in the open, no flash needed s I have the biggest form of light available, the sun.
When natural sun light is good it's brilliant, and its free.

Mixing natural light with flash. This is where TTL flash is really good at calculating natural light with flashgun power, and will produce shots like this.

I have to confess that my flash was set to manual power. It's only through experience, and practice rather than mental arithmetic that I can get close to what TTL can do.

Technically it is a good shot, but it is a bit boring these days. Head on shot of a rider that is nice an sharp with the background nicely blurred, but lacking any pozzaz.

This is my favorite kind of shot... "But you've cut the bike off, half the riders missing!"
For me it's not always about the bike, although important. For me it is about the face.
The concentration, the fear, determination, and the effort. You don't always get to see the riders face, always hidden behind glasses, or when time trailing completely covered by aero hats. 
The face helps tell the story of the rider at that point in time, if your a bike rider you know where I'm coming from, there is so much drama in a riders face, whether it is calm or contorted.


Monday, 31 October 2016

MTB Off road Omnium

Thanet Road Club invited me back to Bettishanger Country Park to photograph their go-Ride event.

This was going to be an off road event with a little difference. Thanet RC have bee playing with an idea similar to what you might see at a track cycling events.

Starting off with a one lap off road time trial, using a mountain bike, or a cross bike, the a short mass start mini mountain bike/cyclocross race.
With different categories for the kids, under 12, under 16, juniors, vets, seniors, and, women a lot was packed into 2 hours of off road fun.

For me it was a case of run and gun (photo on the move) as the races were so short there wasn't much time for exploring for interesting shots, being that this was a go ride event for beginners or shy the technical elements were some what reduced.

Thats part of the challenge of what I do, and for those learning to ride off road too.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

And Now It's Back To The Cat

Two month on and our cat is thriving. Everything has to be attacked or investigated in her little world. When she is in play mode you can't get near her, then when shes all tired out she runs to my wife for warmth and comfort.

Although during the day where ever I am in the house she wants to be close by, investigating, waiting, and wanting. It's a;most like having a dog wanting to please you, when you go over to pet her, giver her a stroke, may be a little attention she runs off.