BURLESQUE BIG SISTER/BROTHER PROJECT - PART 8 : Andromada Mystic

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot.

This months winner was Andromada Mystic and after a few text messages we had sorted a theme as well as props! Andromada had all the props I had in mind, we just needed a date and a location.

I thought about going back to Holland Park as I wanted a wooded area for this shoot but decided to return once again to Wimbledon Common and I am so glad I did! I found an area which I will want to come back to!

This was Queensmere Pond in Wimbledon Common. What you cannot see from Google Maps is it lies in a small valley, you have to trudge down a hill to arrive at the location. Looking back up the hill I could see a wide range of possible shots for another time.

Our theme was of a Goth Vampire Hunter searching for an ancient burial site in the wooded area, finding a relic and meeting her demise.

Who turned the lights out?

We did get some stares from the usual array of dog walkers and one chap was very interested in the photo I had taken above. We also were harassed by a squirrel who was after some food and stamped his feet when I ignored him.

If you don’t feed me I will stamp my feet some more.

If you don’t feed me I will stamp my feet some more.

We shot a few frames by the waters edge while a couple of swans looked on, then we moved further into the woods. No matter where you go the dog walkers will follow you!

I used my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 for this shot to compress the background and to make Andromada stand out. Just beyond this point was a fallen tree with the branches laid around it. This looked like the perfect place for the vampires artifact location. Andromada had brought along a couple of items, notably the necklaces the Goth and Vampire would be wearing in the respective shots. Take a close look at the red jewel….

Batteries are fading in the lamp…

Batteries are fading in the lamp…

Go on… touch it!

Go on… touch it!

At this time the poor goth was meet her end as the jewel was a receptacle for the vampire. Once released the goth was dead. I had planned this shot and Andromada had bought along a small stool for her to stand on.

I locked the camera off on the tripod and composed the shot with Andromada lying on the floor in front of me. Then she changed into the vampire and we positioned the stool close to where the goth had fallen. In Photoshop I could then align the images and merge them together.

That’s better, my back was killing me…

That’s better, my back was killing me…

After this we trudged back to the lake for some more shots but I wanted to take a closeup shot of Andromada as the vampire with her claws out towards the camera. I knew in my head that in post I would whiten the skin to make it look more undead.

Lastly I had noticed that the dress reminded me of Arthurian paintings and wanted to try a shot like that and edit in post later. I had Andromada stand by a tree and caress it. (an odd turn of phrase to be honest), I added some symbolism to it in post.

With that type of location I think Arthurian paintings will be my next project type!

Really need some nail clippers.

Really need some nail clippers.

No trees were harmed in the making of this photo.

No trees were harmed in the making of this photo.

As an after thought to this shoot, I did start a few story board shots so Andromada would get an idea as to what I was looking for.

Thankfully I am a better photographer than I am a sketch artist but they do convey the ideas.

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Arcane symbol Photoshop brushes by http://www.obsidiandawn.com

BURLESQUE BIG SISTER/BROTHER PROJECT - PART 7 : Fleur de Lille

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot.

This months winner is Fleur de Lille! This shoot had a 60’s vibe with a dash of of the 70’s due to the massive building that dominated the skyline.

I had not been to Ladbroke Grove before, sounds like the kind of place that untamed betting shops hang out to eat grass. I walked out of the station and turned left and started to walk up the hill passing a very old church on my right. As usual I was very early so found a shop at the end of the road to buy a bottle of water. Which incidentally I nearly always either forget to bring with me or to drink during the day anyhow.

I met Fleur at the designated meeting place along with her friend Debbie who was showing us around to certain sites we could shoot at. Ian would join us later so for the first time I would like to think we had some personal security guards with us. (Must get some black coats with the word Henchman pasted on the back for next time)

Our first stop.. a post box!

Fleur’s attempt at ventriloquism didn’t work on the post box.

Fleur’s attempt at ventriloquism didn’t work on the post box.

I’m not quite sure of the age of the post box but I had to zoom in on this shot, even though we were going for a 60’s vibe I could’t help but notice all the satellite dishes and modern cars passing by.

Next up was an odd choice, the entrance to a Ladies convenience. Not quite the place I normally focus my creative output on but I like the shot as it lends itself to an older part of London that could have been taken at the 60’s. We did get a few odd looks from the ladies who walked up the stairs to street level.

No one will ever know it was me…

No one will ever know it was me…

Moving on, we passed a man who was looked drunk who tried to model for me and a shop whose name translates to The Dogs Bollocks then up to a bridge over some rail lines. Here was a small area between the road and the residential area. There was a gate guarding nothing so I asked Fleur to stand on this nothing and peer over the fence for the first shot then to stand with her back to the other fence for the next.

The massive tower block you can see behind the fence is Trellick Tower, built in 1972 and designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger. Hopefully not related to a Bond villain but I think the separate tower could be housing a ballistic missile aimed at the Capitalist West. Trellick was our next destination.

Can I have my ball back please?

Can I have my ball back please?

You hold the fence up, I will get some gaffer tape.

You hold the fence up, I will get some gaffer tape.

I do like stairs, they have their ups and downs but they do make a for a nice backdrop at times. As was now with Fleur laughing at something I said. I just had to get the massive concrete building in one of the shots and had Fleur point up towards the main block. Hopefully someone felt we were pointing at them!

No I had not taken my shirt off making Fleur laugh!!

No I had not taken my shirt off making Fleur laugh!!

You! Yes you! Stop THAT!

You! Yes you! Stop THAT!

At this point our security had left for the pub so we wandered around the canal and spotted a mannequin lounging about on someones roof top. You don’t see that everyday. We tried to recruit a few pigeons to model for us but they were all divas and just flew off.

We decided to join our security team in the pub and took a photo on the bridge after we crossed the road. While making use of the pubs outside garden next to the the river I took out my 50mm f1.8 lens which I hadn’t used in a while to take the last shot of Fleur while she was drinking.

This is my favourite twisted piece of metal, all the others are just copying him…

This is my favourite twisted piece of metal, all the others are just copying him…

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Thanks Fleur, really enjoyed the shoot!

BURLESQUE BIG SISTER/BROTHER PROJECT - PART 6 : RED SARAH

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot.

This months winner is Red Sarah! So I packed up my gear and headed to The Fire School!

As usual I arrived early and found Sarah setting up the lights. We had a quick chat about the shots we wanted to get and then I set up my lights. I had with me my new RotoLite Neo 2, an L.E.D unit that can throw out a ton of soft light, run on batteries if needed and can also adjust the temperature of the light if you are wanting to colour balance a shot.

I also had my smaller L.E.D light bank with me that had a slight aqua light tint to it which in some shots provided an ethereal look to the image.

I wanted to shoot through the fire to capture some portrait shots of Sarah in the fantastic hand made scale mail armour. If you look closer your can see not only the lights but also the fire reflecting in her eyes.

This is the best portrait shot of Sarah on the day, I like the twin catch lights of fire in her eyes!

I enjoyed working with Sarah and hope to do this again if it snows!

Check out The Fire School where you can learn amazing Fire skills like fire eating, fire breathing, body burning from safe, experienced and insured professionals.

BURLESQUE BIG SISTER/BROTHER PROJECT - PART 5 : LACEY NOIR

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot.

Photography has taken me to many places and this time it took me to North London, at Cockfosters tube station to meet Lacey Noir. This would be the first time in Cockfosters and I knew nothing of the area so a quick look at Google Maps showed me that there was a footpath just around the corner from the station which led to a large wooded area. We could use that!

Lacry Noir arrived in a red dress which would contrast brilliantly with the greens and browns of the forest. Lacey had also brought her husband along as a 'caddy'. (her words not mine) so as we walked along the path to the forest we chatted about shows and cabaret. The caddy was useful in helping Lacey navigate the slightly muddier areas of the pathway.

The end of the path way opened up to a large vista of the area, lots of grass and a couple of solitary trees around. I had Lacy stand next to one and tried a landscape shot with a lot of contrasting yellows.

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Moving further down the field I noticed a path through a line of trees, I had made a note to try the Brenizer effect, a method where you would create the look of a shallower depth of field than the lens you have can create. I had Lacey stand at the end of the path while I put the camera into manual after taking a reading. I then shot a frame of Lacey then a row above, left and right and one row below where she was standing.

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Further down we could hear lots of children screaming and running about the wooded area, not wanting to disturb them we moved away and found two rows of trees that formed a tunnel effect. Again Lacey was positioned in the middle and we ran through a number of poses. It was at this time we were checking the weather as a very large and ominous cloud had decided to come and see what we were doing.

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Moving further up we found a field of grass, Lacey was also wearing a corset so we took a number of shots with that too. I positioned Lacey a few yards away from the path then knelt down so I was shooting upwards to give the impression she was standing on a a hill.

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With the air growing colder and the wind picking up we finished off with a few portrait shots and headed back.

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I got a message from Lacey saying they had been caught in a downpour before getting home. I was safe on the tube line but it seemed that the ominous cloud had followed me home so I got soaked too!

Burlesque Big Sister/Brother project - Part 4 : ZeeZee Stardust

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot. 

It’s always nice to get a tip for a nice place to shoot, ZeeZee Stardust had this tip for me, Holland Park! I had never been there before so I immediately jumped on Google Maps to check it out. Lots of leafy lanes and gardens to choose from.

We had arranged to meet outside Holland Park tube station which is a short walk from the park. On the way we discussed shows and previous shoots and performances and very soon found ourselves at the park entrance. Almost at once we found our first location. A set of stairs between a set of palm trees.

Best practice though, is to walk around the park noting locations as we went. I was looking for the leafy lanes as I had bought my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens with me and wanted to try getting a shallow depth of field shot with it. We walked past a scattering of people, more than you would find in Wimbledon Common but with less dogs and found our first garden area. Some people had come here to read, others to sleep and one or two to stare into space… the space was staring back..

No this is not a cafe forecourt… honest

No this is not a cafe forecourt… honest

No cafe tables were harmed in the making of this shot..

No cafe tables were harmed in the making of this shot..

ZeeZee changed in to a fantastic dress and we started to take shots. One thing I have noticed, if you are taking photos with a smart phone… no one cares and will walk in front of you, however if you have a massive looking lens in your hand and a model in a fantastic dress then people either move around you or very patiently wait. As soon as I notice anyone waiting I immediately stop and motion for them to go ahead. It is an odd observation..

Walking back through the gardens we chanced upon a small alcove with wooden seating. This has been previously enjoyed and vacated by a member of the public so we were glad we could use it.

ZeeZee sat in the middle and arranged the dress around her and we took a number of shots here, I made a mental note to find out how to create images using the painterly effect. Think I have got it a little here,

Seats six… but I only needed one.

Seats six… but I only needed one.

Surprisingly no splinters were found after this..

Surprisingly no splinters were found after this..

On the way back to the park entrance we passed a cafe in the center of the park. Here there was a small building with a few bushes growing along the wall. I asked ZeeZee to stand with her back to the wall while I moved back for a few shots, again this is with the painterly effect.

Holding the wall up…

Holding the wall up…

Palm trees? In London?

Palm trees? In London?

We then made our way back to the park entrance to the steps with the palm trees. ZeeZee had a white fur stole with her so we used that for the shot above. This too has the painterly effect but with a more blue tone to it and less ‘bloom’.

After a few more shots on a near by bench we called time on the shoot. A good 2 hours!

I think I will be returning to Holland Park for some more shoots in the future so thanks to ZeeZee for the tip!

BURLESQUE BIG SISTER/BROTHER PROJECT - PART 3 : CARMEN MON OXIDE

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot. 

So next up we have Carmen Mon Oxide!

I do like being able to travel to locations where I can shoot with a model, and in this case this was a trip to Clapham Common to meet Carmen Mon Oxide. Carmen was having make up done first so I visited the house close to the common. Carmen had previously sent me photos of the head dress she would be wearing but to see it live was even better!

While I was walking on the main road up to the house I noticed a number of people, coming from the direction of the common, wearing a lot of glitter on their faces. I could hear music in the distance so figured there may be a festival going on, which helped while we were walking around as the passing public thought we were part of the festival.

We started close to a lake and I asked Carman to stand on a small jetty for a few shots. Unfortunately we forgot the shark boots so we took the shots again on the way back.

Hmmm needs a little Photoshop work...

Hmmm needs a little Photoshop work...

Can you see the small edit here?

Can you see the small edit here?

From her we walked on to a grove of trees, past more staring public, and found an clearing with a single tree in the middle. I asked Carmen to stand against the tree and look to her right away from the camera to create the shot below. I had an idea for the shot as soon as I saw the area.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost - American Poet.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost - American Poet.

Needs more green...

Needs more green...

Excellent greenery...

Excellent greenery...

We moved towards where the music was coming from and found a bandstand where Carmen was asked for a couple of selfies with the now adoring public. I took a few shots here but it was a little too public and I was having to wait for people to move out of shot quite a lot so we moved on.

I had my portrait lens with me, the Canon 50mm f1.8. After a quick explanation of the extreme depth of field this can produce Carmen posed for a number of shots where I tried to get sharp focus on the eye. I like the shot below as it also has a rainbow effect which I didn't see when I took the shot on location.

So short the depth of field, the back of the head dress is out of focus...

So short the depth of field, the back of the head dress is out of focus...

Moving back to the lake I asked Carmen to lie down on the jetty so I could get a lower angle shot of the lake in the background. Up until now most had been portrait shots so I wanted one in landscape.

There will be a edit in a minute...

There will be a edit in a minute...

ahh here it is...

ahh here it is...

Heading back home we stopped at a bus stop for an 'out of place' urban shot. We waited until the single waiting passenger had got on the bus so we wouldn't disturb them before taking pictures, the female bus driver did have a bit of a laugh as the bus pulled away.

Yeah.. can I get a taxi please?

Yeah.. can I get a taxi please?

This was a shorter shoot duration than others I have done as this was the only outfit required by Carmen, so after a while the shots would have got a bit similar to each other.

I walked Carmen back home then made my way back to the station past more glittery public....

This was a fun quick shoot and one of the more 'public aware' locations that I have visited. We were not hassled at any point and everyone was either shocked, laughing or wanted a selfie!

I do like the shark boots Carmen!

Burlesque Big Sister/Brother project - Part 2 : Yippee Ikay

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot. 

So next up we have Yippee Ikay!

For this shoot I decided to go back to somewhere I had not been to in a very long time, The Chase Nature Reserve in Dagenham. We had a short walk to the entrance which was very overgrown, I used to live close by to the area, my father used to take myself and my older sister on walks there so I remembered a lot of the topography along with the gravel pits and where the rabbit warrens are situated. 

We walked around taking shots here and there, part of an old building was close to the entrance as well as a glade area where I was set upon by small black ants as I was trying to get a low shot.

After the fight with the ants we walked further west, deeper into the reserve. I recalled there was an iron bridge crossing the District Tube Line, and we headed in that direction. We found that some of the area had been fenced off so we had to walk around it and through a tight pathway with stinging nettles on either side.

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The bridge is an excellent location if you like to grunge up your shots. The metal has a lot of texture to it which Lightroom can bring out using the clarity tool. It made the stairs look very rusted and worn a lot more than it actually was.

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In the above shot I reversed the idea of using the clarity slider. This made the walls a lot smoother and I like the lines of perspective taken your eye to the center with Yippee Ikay breaking the center up. We spent some time on the bridge, dodging the odd dog walker or two and taking a few more shots. 

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On the way back we found a field of horses. Most on them walked off when we approached but one stayed to say hello. The horse did not turn out to be much of a diva and posed very well once it was fed some quality grass. Ours was much greener on our side of the fence.

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I was a little apprehensive about the location of this shoot. Coming up on the bridge I recalled that I hadn't been at this location in close the 30 years. This shoot brought back a lot of memories for me. I am sure the ants wont forget my elbow crashing through their nest in a hurry!

Think I will leave it another 30 years then I might go back again.

Burlesque Big Sister/Brother project - Part 1 : Ruby Panther

I was encouraged to join a group on Facebook, the Burlesque Big Sister/ Brother project, where I could give something back to the community that I have been a part of for a good number of years now. This year I offered a photo shoot per month, winners are selected and I contact them for a date to shoot. 

So first up we have Ruby Panther! 

We met up on an early Sunday morning at Monument station, headed south towards Lower Thames Street for a few street shots above the traffic then headed towards the south end of Cousin Lane. This allows access to the North bank of the Thames. With a bit of luck the tide was out! That's why I choose an early start, it would not have looked good if the pictures showed a soaking wet model floating out the meet one of the passing boats.

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Along this bank, just by the stairs is a cargo hull. I'm not sure what it is called but it was very rusted.. I pushed on it and it did not fall on me so I judged it to be safe. Ruby had on a flowery dress and hat which was in stark contrast to the red hair so I made sure the hair was brought out in the shots.

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The sun was blazing hot so we took a few shots with Ruby gazing out towards the Southwark bridge in the distance. We then retreated to the other side where it was cooler to get a shot between the scull and the  river wall. Ruby had to hold her head up a little here as the sun would create shadows from the holes in the hat, artistic but not what I was looking for.

Further west from the hull, past the bridge, is a small section of tunnels holding up the building above. We moved into here and took some shots using the flash. The shot with the red dress is my favorite from this shoot.

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After a quick drink we moved to the south bank and found our way to another bridge and took this shot with the blue dress using my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens. This is an odd composition where the first third of the shot is taken up by steel girders with Ruby in the middle, then more girders but I think the shot works as the position of the girders should draw you eye in towards Ruby.

This was a successful shoot! I enjoyed the company and the walk around in the blazing hot sunshine.