Friday, 29 April 2011

Hannah Ashlea

The day after the Easter Bank Holiday I had a shoot with Hannah Ashlea, a hard working and versatile model who is London based. I met Hannah at Swindon railway station, and this gave me a chance to chat with her about the planned shoot as we drove to Cheltenham where the studio that we were using is located.

The studio is very large and as the owners had just re-painted the infinity cove, I decided to shoot on a white background, a big change for me as I usually shoot on a black background. My usual lighting worked well with the background, and later on I did experiment with the lighting to good effect.

The first couple of sets were fairly casual in style with Hannah wearing jeans and a vest top. Later she wore a see through top and a translucent blouse that was worn open followed this. At this point I made use of the studio’s wind machine, an overgrown ducted fan, which added another dimension to the images.

About half way through the shoot Hannah then modelled some dresses, two of which were very colourful, and we did some shots in a fashion style, as well as a topless set where she wore a  wrap around skirt and beads.

Finally Hannah did some nude poses, and it was at this point that I modified the lighting, firstly creating a high key look, followed by some semi silhouettes. It was at this point that I did my usual trick and tripped the thermal cut outs on the flash heads, which brought us to a temporary halt until one of them re-set and I continued with yet another lighting set-up.

All in all I felt it was a successful shoot and I am looking forward to working with Hannah again.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

Near to where I live is bluebell wood that I have wanted to photograph for many years, and with the recent warm weather the bluebells are now out and it has coincided with the Easter break and I am able to get to see them at their best, and with not too many people spoiling the experience by getting in the way. I also took the opportunity to shoot with a model, as it seems to be a common theme in the current model and photographer world in the UK.

I took the opportunity to add a couple of days holiday to the long weekend that is Easter and arranged with Miss Lou Lou to model for me on the day. It was organised some time before the day, and I was hoping that the weather would be fine, as it usually is at this time of year. On this day I the weather forecast was excellent, but the reality at 7:00AM was not looking too good.

I met Lou at Swindon station at 8:00AM and we set off for the first location of the day, stopping briefly for the opportunity to grab a breakfast snack from a franchise with a clown called Ronald as an attraction to draw children in through the front door. Location number one was the bluebell wood, locally known as Badbury Clump, a beech wood on the site of an Iron Age hill fort, the main structure of which had been mostly destroyed by Victorian ‘Improvements’. The place is popular with dog walkers and at weekends is often used by people who enjoy running around in medieval costume wielding swords engaged in some form of re-enactment or play-acting.

On arrival I was somewhat despondent as there were a number of cars in the car park, but I need not have worried, as most of the people had gone deep into the surrounding woodland walking their dogs. Lou and I walked around the perimeter of the site and quickly got down to photographing the scenery and Lou, and at the appropriate place I persuaded Lou to go topless for a couple of shots. Continuing our walk around the perimeter of the site many photos were taken in the improving lighting conditions and after less that an hour we moved on back to my place to review the shoot so far and give Lou an opportunity to get changed for location number two.

Location number two was the site of a Monument to Lord Wantage that is on the Ridgeway overlooking the Vale of the White Horse. In an attempt to stop damage to the ancient path, it is closed to motor vehicles in places and this site was one of them, so I had to walk to the monument, which was not too far, but I had not reckoned on my arthritic joints taking umbrage and making walking very painful and requiring me to stop frequently. We finally got to the monument and did a series of shots at the site. There was a Red Kite flying in the area, but it did not get close enough to take a decent photo.

Location number three was at another place on the Ridgeway not far from Waylands Smithy, but on this occasion Lou did another quick change and I photographed her in a field of flowering Oil Seed Rape. As my legs were complaining too much, we did not spend that much time at location number three, and sped off to location number four, my garden.

At my place we downloaded the images and reviewed them, then did the final few more image in my garden. The sunlight was a bit too bright by now, but I still managed to get some images that I hope to do some Photoshop magic with, and I will post them onto my web site in the future.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Another New Model

Last weekend I arranged a shoot with Laura, aka Summer30, who I have worked with many times. Occasionally Laura asks if I will shoot her with one of her many friends, and this time her friend Harriet wanted to have some shots done as well.

On the Saturday morning I drove up to Cheltenham to collect the girls for the shoot, I had hoped to hire a studio in the town but it is very popular and you need to book it well in advance of any shoot, so I then drove all the way back home to use a studio local to me.

Once at the studio the girls headed straight into the cafe next door to the studio, a spare room in a second hand car dealership, and bought coffee for them and myself. I then set about getting the compact studio set up, fortunately the heating was on in the studio, which helped to make the conditions more comfortable all round.

Once in the studio I noted how tall Harriet is, as she seemed to tower over Laura, who is quite tall at five foot eight inches tall. As the studio is small and has a limited ceiling height I could see I was going to have to be on my feet for most of the shoot so that Harriet’s head did not cut across the top of the background. The background that I use at this studio is black velvet, which suits my style o work.

Over the three hours of the shoot we took a wide variety of shots, and Harriet took to modelling with ease, and both were comfortable working together. Laura has had a new tattoo since I last worked with her and I did set up one image to emphasise it. In all a fairly successful shoot, and I hope to work with both girls again soon.


Harriet and Laura

The Tattoo

A Sunday In Oxford

I am a member of the Oxford Photographic Society, which is a very active organisation that has a very varied membership that covers all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Some time ago I attempted to set up a Studio group, and organised a meeting, that unfortunately fell through at the last minute, and I must admit that I lost interest. More recently a new member, Thomas Schoenweitz, has brought the studio group back to life and has organised three meetings in recent months.

For these shoots I have helped by providing a portable background and a lighting set-up, and with the kit that Thomas brought along we have managed to have more than one ‘Studio’ in use. At the last meeting in March we actually had three sets of lights and backgrounds on the go, and it was fortunate that we all had radio triggers to fire the flash units as it would have been somewhat confusing if we had relied on Infra Red triggers as I have done for some time now.

For the last studio group meeting we decided to work with one light set-up, which was fortunate as one of my Elinchrom units decided it was time for the flash tube to fail. Initially we did use single light set-ups, but someone did bring in another light unit that we did uses as an accent hair light, which was used for some lighting sets that I have not used since the 1970’s.

I brought two models with me for the shoot, and Chloe was very much in demand with all those present, and Sasha was also in demand. I managed to photograph four people during the shoot, but I will have to get better organised as I did not take that many photos.




As a footnote, it cost me over £100 to get a new flash tube!