NOVA Halo - Inter Galactic Space Angel

Its not every day that I get to meet an Inter Galactic Space Angel but the other week I think I did just that. A year ago I had the pleasure of watching Nova Halo play at the Water Rats in North London after shooting a cabaret show.

It was Nova who contacted me about collaborating on a piece of space art after seeing a space themed picture I had created of ZeeZee Stardust. I can do better than that I thought and invited Nova down to a studio to try out a green screen set up with a number of her costumes.

The date coincided with another green screen shoot I had planned and was easy to fit in on the day. I had only shot green screen once before with Jack Stark for The Why Not Institute, and decided it was high time I tried my composite skills once again.

As usual I was early to the venue and waited for Nova to arrive. I of course looked up to the skies to see the space ship land but she arrived in disguise. However I suspect the suitcase may have been a teleportation device. We chatted for a few minutes while we waited to be let in to the studio. This was the first time I had hired this studio so it was all new for me too. Once we were settled and Nova had changed we started taking pictures.

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This is my absolute favourite outfit from the shoot, love the frills and the neck piece. Still can’t place the time period I’m thinking this is from…

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As you can see there is a theme running though the set of photos, I had started experimenting with planets and space art recently so this was an easy extension of that work. I tried to have a strong colour in each shot, yellow copper and rust for these three and blue and red for those below.

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One thing to note is as Nova was wearing space based silvery boots they easily reflected the green of the green screen she was standing on! One quick adjustment layer and they were back to silver… ish. Will have to work on that next time.

My absolute favourite shot is the red one. I love the broken planet and the look on Nova face suggested that this was the plan after all.


'The voice of a fantasian siren surfing the waves of a synth/dream/chamber/baroque pop and progressive/space rock ensemble. Her ethereal soundscape and alluring visuals serve a transcendental experience for the audience.' You can find Nova Halo here ….

…or possibly on Mars…

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Double Trouble

Photo shoot time again and back to Brighton. A windy and cold Brighton but non the less it was a day out for me to see Violet Blaze and to meet Maria for the first time! 

I had hired the Velvet Goldmine Studio in Brighton so we could have somewhere other than the beach as in previous shoots. I wanted a dark area to shoot in as I had bought with me a number of fairy lights to drape around Violet and Maria. The booking was for two hours and I arrived in Brighton an hour and a half early. So I strolled down to the beach, stopping off at a shop to buy a packet of balloons to throw at Maria later. Individual balloons of course, I didn't mean I would be throwing the packet at her. We had only just met and the idea of throwing cheap party decorations at a new friend was not the first thing on my mind.


I don't seem to be able to visit Brighton without taking a shot of the burnt down west pier. There is now a new attraction just opposite called the British Airways i360. I wasn't impressed at ground level to be honest so I may visit again later in the year with the wide angle lens.

I arrived at the studio and met Philippe the owner. We chatted about my work and what the days shoot comprised of and he helped set up for a dark setting. Lights and a tripod were available (didn't have to carry mine!) and there was a small sofa to store my gear on.

Violet and Maria arrived and we set about getting the first few shots. I had sent a shot list to Violet a few days before and we stayed true to it for the most part. I had no idea if the lights would work the way I wanted. They were small led lights on copper wire powered by three AA batteries.  

Light in the Dark

Light in the Dark

Turns out they worked perfectly! I used the flipscreen on the Canon 6d Mk II (a recent purchase) as I was using the Canon 50mm at an apeture of f1.8 and wanted to use the face detection to ensure a sharp shot.



Maria wanted in at this point so I wound the lights around both of them to produce more shots and a possible mild electric shock for both of them. 

After that we turned the main lights back on and got set up for Maria's shoot. The balloons made an appearance this time along with an array of unicorns. Violet was ready to throw the balloons at Maria but we found out that polychloroprene bags inflated with air are not very aerodynamic at all... no matter how brightly coloured they are. So the shot below is a composite of about five frames.

Balloons are hard to throw

Balloons are hard to throw

I have no idea what was going on here...

I have no idea what was going on here...

Things got silly after the balloon throwing with piggy backs, hugs, kisses and basic insanity.

The unicorns went on to form a boy band...

The unicorns went on to form a boy band...

Double Trouble

Double Trouble

Nurse! She is out of bed again!

Nurse! She is out of bed again!

Sorry I just don't know how this happened...

Sorry I just don't know how this happened...

The two hours flew by and it was time to tidy up. The balloons were unfortunately put down. Once they had landed their usefulness was over so they had to go. Lights were packed away, bits of balloon were picked up and we left the studio as we found it.

This was a fun shoot and we will have to do this again!

Wilton's Music Hall - The Study

Since starting this website I have been to one of London's highest points and more recently, one of its lowest. Today took me to one of its oldest, Wilton's Music Hall. Built in 1859 behind a pub and three houses (thanks Wiki). 

I had arranged to meet with Marquissa Darq for a shoot in The Study, this was once two rooms and had a phantom staircase which ends in the ceiling. Well, most staircases end at a ceiling but they mostly continue to the next floor. I had visited the Hall a few weeks prior and made a mental note to make use of the stairs.

I arrived and signed in, was shown to the room and I unpacked and made sure I had everything with me. Marquissa arrived soon after me and we discussed the first shot. I had previously wrote out a shot list of 10 photos that we would try rather than winging it. I had also sent Marquissa some badly drawn stick figures on top of the photos I had taken on my previous visit.

'The Stick Man'

'The Haunting'

From here we set up the next shot, I had to move in to one of the room and shoot through the timbers to get the low angle I needed here. I also brought with me 12 led candles to form a pattern at the bottom of the stairs. To be honest they were not that good as the light was pretty weak. I envisioned that smoke would be rising from the central candle so this was digitally added in post. 

Continuing on with the Gothic theme I wanted a sort of 'dark bride' image, with a sort of 'risen from the grave' look. Wearing a black bodice and small top hat Marquissa was holding a small head band with a red flower as I forgot to buy a bunch of dead stalks with me. I had remembered everything else! This shot was de-saturated apart from the red and purple colour.

'The Summoning'


Coming from a Cabaret background I wanted to do a few shot for Maquissa based on the film 1966 film Cabaret! We were not in Germany, we didn't have the right stool and we hat a Top Hat not a Bowler Hat, but we had a go anyway.

The first shot I had deliberately angled 90 degrees as I have seen many couch shots like this but not one that has been tilted like this. The second shot was taken against the window with the light streaming in, I have blurred out the bench in post production. The third shot used the now more diffused light as the Sun had moved on and light was fading a little. These three photos make up the lyrics to the opening song from Cabaret! 'Willkommen! And bienvenue! Welcome!'




As the light was fading fast we had to work quick through the last set of shots.The shot below had Marquissa standing away from the wall and holding up a black lace scarf to her eyes. This provided not only a contrast to the head piece but also to the lighter wall.

'Trust in me....'

The last two shots were done in the last 25 minutes we had of our time in the Study. The head piece worn by Marquissa reminded me of old bathing caps worn many years ago, the green and blue make me think of the sea, let alone the gloves looking like coral. So for this shot I had introduced a blue/green under the sea type tint.

The last shot of the day had Marquissa sat at the table in the second room of the Study. As soon as I saw the area I knew the shot I wanted. In the room is a table which I imagined was a poker table, Marquissa put her hair up and put a couple of feathers at the back. To me this made her resemble a girl working the tables on a classic American Riverboat Casino. You can just make out the pile of poker chips on the table behind the winning hand.... I'm sure that is a legitimate winning hand in poker....



We finished on time with 10 minutes allocated to clearing up. I made sure the furniture was back in place as was found and the inner door was held back with the door stop. We walked back down to sign out and there was a selfie involved before Marquissa headed off home. 

Considering the time we had in the Study versus the diversity of shots created I think we did pretty well. There were other events going on in the spaces around, we heard the occasional foot steps from above us but on the whole the room and surrounding area was very quiet.

I hope to return to Wilton's Music Hall sometime soon!

Good Ness Gracious

I contacted a performer Ness Gracious, and asked if she was available for a quick shoot? She said she was so I jumped on to the East London Line up to Rotherhithe station. Ness arrived on time and we walked towards the Thames. The weather wasn't on our side so I had earlier suggested Ness brings an umbrella. Turns out we used it as a prop during the times when it was really windy.

While Ness was posing with the North bank of the Thames behind her I could see that where ever I pointed the camera there was always a crane in view! Still I had to set fire to the stunt umbrella that had taken a bit of a beating by the end of the session.

We moved on to a local park where a children's play area and a band stand were made use of. We dodged a couple of squirrels and a friendly dog too. I had spotted a small cafe close to the edge of the park and thought it was nearly time to call it a day. While kicking a few leaves around I asked Ness to gather some up and throw them in the air while I try to capture them in mid flight.

We had a few goes at it as many of the leaves had their own ideas when it came to gravity and decided to get in front of Ness's face. In the end I managed to stitch a few shots together to make one composition. After which we had a cup of tea in the cafe and called it a day.

I learned from this shoot that asking performers to model can be advantage. There are very used to being in the public view so shooting around town is not a problem and, like with Ness, needed very little directing. Roll on Summer, lets do this again!