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.

Yippie Ikay - 148.jpg
Yippie Ikay - 182.jpg

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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Yippie Ikay - 341.jpg

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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2018-06-03 - Ruby Panther 171.jpg

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.