Burlesque In Underland : The Queen's Croquet Ground

It sometimes pays off to think of the bigger picture when taking shots. Except this time I wasn't thinking... this was a fortunate occurrence. 

I was asked to shoot for Burlesque In Underland at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club. I arrived just before doors opened and met up with producer and to take my usual seat for the event. With me were my Canon 70d, Canon 550d as backup with lenses 24-104 f4 and the 10-20mm f3.5. 

While people were filtering in to take their seats the host asked if I could move position to accommodate extra visitors. No problem I thought my 24-105 can still.. oh OK, that is now a bit close. I only moved a little way forward but the 24mm end meant I would be closer to the performers than I really needed. The 70d has what is called a 'crop sensor' so when the focal indicator on the lens reads 24mm it is actually an equivalent of 38mm. Not so wide angle.

Lucky I had my wide angle with me then! On the 70d the 10-20mm would actually be 16-32mm which gave me a nice wide angle of view at the 16mm end and enough to have the performer framed nicely at 32mm.

This also had an unexpected and welcome occurrence. When the performer was very close up to me it would give a type of perspective that I would not have got with the 24-105mm. It helped created some interesting fish eye type shots!

Marnie Scarlet

There was no interval this time, the show jumped from one act to the next, which caught me off guard when I noticed I was down to 50 shots remaining on my card and had to quickly swap them out.

The lighting was better but again I had to wait for performers to be in a certain area of the lighting to get a good shot. All shots were delivered well within my self imposed 24 hour time limit. Yay me!

Ella The Great

Flamingo Girls

Coco Nobel

Mysti Vine

Mercury

Kheski Kobler

Lilly Snatchdragon

Bawdsville presents - Other Creatures

Once again I find myself arriving to shoot a show far too early again. Out with the phone.. nearest chicken shop this time please. Ahh there is one close. I was due to shoot for Bawdsville at the Ram Jam Club in Kingston. So munching on chicken I checked my kit for the third time since I left home. It would be most embarrassing turning up at a show with out a camera,  I'm not a good sketch artist!

I met with the host Unruly Scrumptious to have a quick chat about where best to stand. There was also a couple of people who were there to video the show too, so I had a quick chat with them to see where wished to record from. Compared to other venues, this is a more intimate performing area and more darker than I am used to. However there is always a sufficient amount of light in the center area of stage so shots were timed to get the best of each performance.

Pi the Mime

Pi the Mime

Good Ness Gracious

Good Ness Gracious

Ophelie Frenchkiss

Ophelie Frenchkiss

Kimberley OddSocks and Andy Van der Graaf

Kimberley OddSocks and Andy Van der Graaf

Lewis G Burton

Lewis G Burton

Ernesto Sarezale

Ernesto Sarezale

Tuesday Laveau

Tuesday Laveau

Unruly Scrumptious

Unruly Scrumptious

Down the middle of the area was a clear space between the seats where the performers would walk to the stage. I shot along this line as there would be little chance of anyone getting in the way.The usual work duo of the Canon 70d and the Canon 24-105 f4 L lens were with me and helped to capture some great shots. These of course were delivered within 24 hours via a Dropbox link. 

Thanks to Unruly Scrumptions for asking me to shoot!

You can find Bawdsville at https://www.facebook.com/Bawdsville/

 

A Shade of Rouge

I had some time to go and see Briar Rouge recently to do a quick photo shoot. We choose a small local park five minutes from Hitchen station. Hitchen is only thirty minutes from Kings Cross so I was able to view new things from the window like rolling fields and sheep. These sheep were either circus performers or they just liked getting on top of each other for some reason....

Pulled into Hitchen and consulted Google Maps and headed towards the park. The wrong way... oh great start. Arriving at the park I noticed something that Google Maps didn't show me. The cluster of trees I thought were dense turned out to have a fence stopping any further progress. This was fortunate as this would have taken me up to the train lines and a large number of volts to the legs would not be nice.

I received a text from Briar confirming she was on her way so I did a quick look around for viable places. The first thing was a willow tree with a path behind it. This was a good place to start as we would then walk around the edge of the park looking for area to shoot in.

Urtica dioica

Pink Chiffon

Pink Chiffon

Briar arrived and we had a quick discussion about the cloths and accessories she had bought with her. Briar was already dressed in pink chiffon dress and a red hat so we started with that. I like red as its a contrast to most things especially when you are in a large field of green things. I stepped down a few nettles around the tree, one thing you don't want is a model annoyed at you for stepping on a perennial Urtica Dioica. (thanks Wiki). Always look after your model, you want them to smile at you! The sun came out just at the right time for a shot that illuminated the dress.

We moved from location to location, dodging a few dog walkers and managed a few costume changes. I had a three of my lenses with me, the Canon 24-105mm f4Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 and the Canon 50mm f1.8. All three were used with the 50mm f1.8 used for close up shots of Briar's face, the f4 for medium to close shots and the f2.8 for long range shots or when I wanted to really blow out the background.

On occasion I do like to take a few candid shots while the model is getting ready, it can show a different side of the shoot.

Mirror Mirror.. off the wall.

Mirror Mirror.. off the wall.

I allow two hours for a shoot, this allows time for a costume change and enough time to explore the area and utilize as many versions of a shot as you can. Ideas can run out quick if the area is small too. We wrapped in a hour and a half and parted ways. Throughout the shoot Briar showed a lot of experience and suggested areas to shoot in and improvised looks and poses while the shutter was clicking away. Cheers Briar hope to work with you again!

Briar Rouge is a singer and burlesque performer, you can find her website here at http://www.briarrouge.com/

On Fire Again!

Oh yeah I like shooting fire! I was asked to visit the Fire School again. This time of year the area was lighter so in post I took the decision to drop the blacks down to enhance the fire. This is in stark contrast from my first shoot at the school, you can see them here where the shots were a lot brighter but you can see early attempts to darken some of the shots.

Thanks to Red Sarah for inviting me down and please check out The Fire School at http://www.thefireschool.co.uk/

Click on any photo to see full screen then use arrow keys or swipe to move between shots.

~ Neverworld ~

I had been asked to shoot a metal gig in The Unicorn in Camden. I personally have little knowledge of 'metal' but as with other events I have covered this would be the same as, follow the action and look for facial expressions.

I had to look up Heavy Metal... ok so this was going to be loud. As per usual I looked at Google Images for interior shots of The Unicorn. This showed there was a bar at the front and the stage area was at the back. The area in front of the stage is where the audience would be
standing.

I met my contact at Kings Cross and we traveled to the venue together. On arrival I checked out the area and spoke to the AV guy and asked if there was anywhere he didn't want me to stand. It is always good to check in with others that are working on the show in case there are established house rules you need to be aware of. I was told I could go anywhere so I decided to see how the audience would be arranged then work my way around them.

I checked out the lights and it was a mix of reds a purples. This can be corrected in post so for the first performace from Forged In Black, I waited till the lead singer was central to the stage for the optimum lighting. It was loud but not as loud as I thought it was going to be. So
no need for my ear plugs.

My kit for the evening were the 24-105mm f4 and the 10-20mm f3.5. I bought the wide angle after looking at the interior photos, I thought I would be able to capture the full stage from wherever I would be standing at 10mm and also short zoom to 20mm if I found myself close to the stage. I was there to shoot photos for Neverworld, a British metal band, but I used the time before they started to check out how the shots and stage positions would work.

I was fortunate to see that the light set up changed for Neverworlds performance, it was brighter for a start so shutter speeds would be faster. For the first song I used the 10-20mm lens to capture the full stage set up the the 24-105mm for close ups and performer profiles.

There seemed to be a pattern emerging during the set. It was something I noticed during the previous set with Forged In Black. There seems to be three stances that performers use:

Legs apart with the guitar thrust outwards

Legs apart with the guitar thrust outwards

Legs together, guitar thrust upwards

Legs together, guitar thrust upwards

Combination of both but with more hair!

Combination of both but with more hair!

So once I knew this I could anticipate where the performers would be. The one problem I had was the drummer. At any eye level, either standing or crouching there would either be a cymbal, a fret board or lots of hair in the way. I had to wait and again anticipate when he would hit the cymbal so it would move out the way. He did seem to be enjoying himself immensely up there so I did get some great shots.

The editing consisted of reducing the harsh colour cast from the red and green spotlights, then cropping to bring either the performers or action more central to the shot. I was asked to provide black and white shots too, which in Lightroom is easy by creating virtual copies of all
the shots and changing the initial treatment to Black and White.

All shots were then exported and delivered by Dropbox.

You can find Neverworlds website here at www.neverworldmetal.co.uk.

Frontal Lobotomy

Ok, just come out at Stockwell tube station. Out with the phone, start up Google maps and locate the Cavendish Arms. Aha.. ok now find the nearest fish and chip shop.. aha it's two roads away from the CA. Fantastic! 

And that is how I usually start my evening when attending a shoot. I nearly always arrive far to early and decided to get something to eat first.

When asked to shoot somewhere new I always check out the venue before arrival to gauge which lens I need to bring with me. This was the case when I was asked to take shots for Jeu Jeu La Foille in the Cavendish Arms for her one woman show, Frontal Lobotomy. 

I had never shot at the Cavendish Arms before so I ran a quick Google search. When asked to shoot somewhere new I always check out the venue before arrival to gauge which lens I need to bring with me. This was the case when I was asked to take shots for Jeu Jeu La Foille in the Cavendish Arms for her one woman show, Frontal Lobotomy.  

The back room did seem quite large so to be sure I took along Sigmas 24-104mm and 70-200mm. Once I got there it dawned on me that I would not need the 70-200mm as the room was quite small. The shot I saw must have been taken with a wide angle lens. I met Miss LaFoille and had a quick chat about the show, if there were to beany audience interaction and where or where not I was allowed to roam.

I ran a quick test with the two lenses, direct in front and from both sides of the room suggested that the 24-105mm would be perfect. If I used the 70-200mm most of the shots would have been too close. The show wasn't called Frontal Photography!

During the show I noticed that the lighting was consistant from the back to the front of the stage. So taking note of the settings from the previous shots I went full manual control for one of those rare times that I can to ensure consistency across the shots. This means less time in post having to balance one shot from another.

The show was entertaining and at one audience member had the opportunity to be lobotomized.

Please visit Jue Jue La Foille website at: http://www.jeujeulafoille.com/ and Twitter at: https://twitter.com/JeuJeulaFoille

Underland and older Cams...

Evening,

I was asked to shoot at the Looking Glass Cocktail Club in Shoreditch for the Burlesque in Underland show 'Twisted Fairy Tale Burlesque'. I had shot there a few weeks previously and one thing I had noticed. The lack of light. I nearly didn't notice the lack of light due to it being so dark in there.

My problem was that they only two lenses f2,8 and below and my Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 and my canon 50mm f1.8. My Canon 70d is a crop sensor lens so 70mm is actually 112mm. I was sitting in the front row so my shots would have been of nostrils... if I had zoomed to 200mm (320mm) I could have told you what the performer had for lunch.

So I settled on taking my Canon 24-105mm f4 L on the 70d and also bring the 550d out of retirement to use the Sigma 10-20mm f3.5. This would give me a much broader range from where I knew I would be sitting.

Canon 70d 65mm f4 24-70 L 1/100 sec

The shot above was taken with the 70d. I waited till the compare, Mercury, was standing in the sweet spot of light so my shutter speed jumped to 1/100sec.

Canon 550d f3.5 1/30sec

Shooting with the 10-20mm f3.5 was easier. Even though the lens does not have Image Stabilisation, I just had to make sure the shutter speed was 1/30 or more to ensure a sharp shot. The shot above was actually two shots taken with the wide angle and stitched in Lightroom.

Who am I kidding... if I can shoot in the Shadow Lounge I can shoot anywhere!!

 

The Rubyyy Jones Awards

When I first started photography I watched a lot of YouTube videos from other photographers and one piece of advice stuck in my mind. If you would like offer your services to shoot at an event, just ask. So when I saw an event for the Rubyyy Jones Awards I sent a message introducing myself with a link to my website to show off my work. As luck would have it the show needed a photographer! Yay me!

The show was hosted at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where I had shot many times before with Cabaret Roulette so this would be the first time without the familiar faces. I didn't have to worry though, I met Rubyyy and we talked for a while about the show, where I had shot before and got on well.

I had my usual spot in the middle of the room and I managed to move back and fourth around the room for when the singers were static on stage. 

Hope to shoot for you again Rubyyy!

Burlesque in Underland - London Horror Festival

I was invited to shoot for Burlesque in Underland for the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion Theater for a couple of nights. The room was upstairs at the back of the pub, small dark but the lighting was great!

I settled on the middle row so I had a clear view of the floor and performers. I was using my 70d with the 24-105mm f4 again as this seems to be my go to combination these days. I had brought along my 10-20mm f3.5 in case I was positioned near the front but with that I would have got most of the audience and my ears in the shot too.

Both events kicked of with each starting performer dying. The compare arrived for the first one and was instrumental in killing off the second opening performer the next night. You can see that happening in the Psycho homage below.

The stage management were the three bears. There job was to clean up and annoy the compare. There were dancers, an opera singer, a mime, witches, a grinning cat and a very scary rabbit. Something you don't normally find in a pub...

Cheers!

Let there be light.

I was looking on Amazon for a cheap portable light to take with me on night shoots. I settled on a cheap option of the Mcoplus®130 LED Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel. This can take a 9v power supply or 6AA batteries. However it also comes with an adapter to take a camera battery that my Canon 70d uses. It has a rated lifespan of 50000 hours. I better not drop it then.

It has an adapter for the hot-shoe on the camera and a light stand plus can be attached to another panel if I had two of them. The LED's are very very bright and if you look at it for a second they will start burning into your eyeballs. It comes with two diffuse panels soft and orange. Unless you really want to burn your models eyes out I would suggest using the soft panel every time.

So on to the experimenting. After I could see properly again, I joined up with a couple of friends in Regents park to show them how to use side and front lighting plus it gave me a chance to wield my reflector around the place. I found a  recently  planted tree that was held up by a piece of wood which was the right height to balance the LED light. I asked one of friends to stand close to the device with her back to it so the light would illuminate her hair.

In camera settings I set the Exposure compensation to -3ev so the photo would come out dark, but balanced that by popping the flash. So we had front light on the ace while the LED would illuminate the back of the head and the hair. The result is below, it worked a treat. I will be lining up a couple of night shoots to test this out again soon.

Cheers!

Thanks for posing Joanne!

Shooting Bambi in the woods

I contacted Bambi Bang Bang, a burlesque performer who I had taken shots of at a House of Burlesque performance at the Rolling Stock bar. We had met later at Cabaret Roulette a few months later and got chatting about collaborating on a shoot. We met at a park in North London and walked towards a bank of trees. We started off simple with a few poses leaning back against one of the trees. I found that during shoots I tend to ramble on and makes jokes to hopefully make the talent relaxed and comfortable. It worked really well this time as there were many outtakes available!

Moving from the trees we wandered over to a small rise covered in leaves. They were free for the taking, so we used a couple of them for the shot below. Love the eyes in this shot and I must use props more often. Funny thing was we both remarked that they didn't feel like leaves at all.

We moved on from the 'Matrix-glitch' leaves and walked towards the center of the field. I wanted a shot of Bambi lying down looking towards the camera. The shot worked but looking at the shot from the back of the camera which I didn't figure out until post production. When you notice Bambi is not looking directly at the camera then the shot takes on a more sinister tone...ahem..

Bambi is fine really!

Bambi is fine really!

Moving into the center of the a grove of trees I wanted to try out the Brenizer effect. By zooming in to 105mm I focused on Bambi and took many shots around here to make a panoramic. Zooming in like this compressing the background and provides a short depth of field. The shot came out as I wanted and as I was looking at it an idea came to mind. There always seems to be one shot that stands out from each shoot I do that warrants a bit more attention and work. You can see the result below.

Seriously, even God thinks you're a dick..

Seriously, even God thinks you're a dick..

It remains to say that this was a fun shoot, full of laughter, jokes and avoiding the odd squashed apple or two.

Thanks Bambi!


Full Gallery - Click or Tap to enlarge



A Ness in Wonderland

Click/Tap to enlarge

Not having done a shoot in a while I contacted Ness Gracious. I had previously worked with Ness nearly a year ago walking around her local area. This time I wanted to do a set of photos that would tell a story. After confirmation from Ness that she had a selection of summer dresses I thought of trying a 'Alice in Wonderland' style shoot.

We headed towards Stave Hill Ecological Park in Rotherhithe. My backpack was straining as it was carrying the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8. I hadn't used the lens in a while and forgot two things about it. One, the focus speed is sooo fast and Two, it is sooo heavy!

However it did help with compressing the background in the long shot of Ness in the first photo. This was near the base Boot Camp hill a few yards from the Ecological Park. The top of the hill show a fantastic panoramic view. I will be going back to take shots of that view another time.

We moved on, into the Ecological Park and started taking shots of Ness walking around the park. I had ideas of before the shoot of having Ness holding branches back and looking at flowers which worked out well and I was thinking ahead with regards to effects and techniques I could use is post production.

We stopped at a bench next to a pond where Ness took out a book as a prop. From behind us we heared noises that sounded very suspicious. Making a comparativly suspicious comment about the noises made Ness laugh out loud so I quickly snapped off a shot as a memory of the moment. Seconds later a small dog burst from the bushes, he had been playing in a nearby pond. I was still suspicious.

Click/Tap to enlarge

Finally we found a clearing with a large number of purple flowers. While Ness sat down in the grass I moved around finding shots, some directly in front and some with the grass in front to create depth.

Back home and with all the shots in Lightroom I started the culling process. For each 'scene' I had taken a number of shots so I had Lightroom show the group of photos and then remove one at a time until I had the best one left.

The best were moved to a pick folder for further editing.

I enjoyed this shoot, Ness is fun to work with and with a theme to work to meant that I had to think quickly to visualize shots to match the theme. (OK Ness helped with a few).

 Thanks to Ness for being available that day!


Full Gallery - Click or tap to enlarge


Gotta catch them all

While attending the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to shoot the live performances of Cabaret Roulette - Evolution, I fired off a number of shots of a performer called Ruby Wednesday.

Her take on Evolution was of a Pokémon character Eevee who would evolve from one state to another with lip-synced music for each one. It was a great performance and I immediately thought this would make a great composition piece to work on later.

Below are the eight pictures I choose from the set that I thought would work well. I looked for expression and the stance of each to work out the composition. I wanted them to be close together to create the illusion they were all on stage at the same time.

All the shots were loaded into Photoshop as layers. The canvas was extended to create a large wide screen format. Each layers opacity was reduced to 50% so I could where arms and legs would overlap. Once in place the opacity was raised again and the task of masking each one together began. At this point I switch on my music play list and just get on with it. After an hour of brushing, cloning, swearing and two cups of tea I had my result below.

The resolution of the photo was around 13k on the long side but was perfect for a Facebook banner ratio once I added the bars at the top and bottom.

I like doing compositions of live acts, they are a challenge.

JME

Hazy Autumn

Original - Click/Tap to enlarge

Once in a while I go back to older photos and apply newly learned techniques. It is a great way to see how far you have come.

I tend to go through the old photos and think 'What was I thinking??' at the time, I was probably thinking how great it looked.

With the photo to the right, taken at Morden Hall Park in Merton. The bridge you can see is very old and probably dates from when the park was constructed. Morden Hall itself was built around 1770's.

At first glance, I still like how the original looks. But.. it lacked something. Colour for one thing! OK green is nice and the white behind the bridge looks good but to my eyes now it looks flat and bland. Also I wanted the bridge to stand out. From memory this was taken with probably my Canon 18-55 lens which wouldn't have had the depth of field I wanted in this shot.

So I threw the shot into Photoshop and attempted to create a mask to blur out the back portion of the shot, behind the bridge but keep the trees to the left and right of the bridge on the same plane. This was fiddly.. and take a long time. Fortunately I knew that some of the extra work I was planning would mask some of the fiddly bits as I was going for a 'painterly' look. Once the mask was completed, I then used Gaussian Blur to soften the back ground part. If this was done to much then it looked odd and out of place.

The shadows had to be pushed up a little on the left hand side to balance the composition. I used a colour mask to change a lot of the leaves to red and yellow to reduce the large amount of green in the shot. The whites were pumped up to add more light to the background. Finally a layer was added with a white ball to the left hand upper corner, blurred heavily and opacity brought down to around to 20% to create a haze of light.

Hazy Autumn - Click/Tap to enlarge

I am often asked 'Which is you favourite photo?', this is one of the closest one so far.

A look back in Lego

I had almost forgotten I had taken these shots. They are of Star Wars Lego sets carefully selected and posed on my kitchen counter. Taken with either the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 or the Canon 550d with the 50mm f1.8 lens.

They were taken close to when I first started photography.

(Click on the first picture then use the arrow keys to move on)

Andy Van der Graaf

Head Shot!

I was contacted by Andy Van der Graaf who was requesting some simple head shots to be taken. I suggested we meet at Canary Wharf station. I had walked around there a few years back and had found it to be very quiet. Multitudes of tourists in the background do not make a good head shot.

I was looking for a neutral background for our head shot and settled on a marble pillar down by the water front.

Some of them were in shadow so I asked Andy to stand in the light rather than the shade. This was a not to hot March afternoon, the sun was past its zenith but was still very strong. After a few shots the sun was was causing Andy to blink a lot! The shot seen here was taken at 1/4000th of a second!

We took a number of shots then retreated from the sun to a nearby pub where Andy (using Adobe Lightroom on my laptop) chose his favourites for processing and delivery.

Good luck with the head shots Andy!


While we were wandering around Canary Wharf we walked through a corridor connecting one street to another. I immediately saw an opportunity for a photo right there, lots of lines receding into the distance! I asked Andy to pose as near to the centre as possible as I knew which type of editing I would be going for.

Cabaret Roulette

I am very glad to say that I have a long standing relationship with the company of Cabaret Roulette lead by the exquisite Miss Vivacity Bliss.

I first shot for Cabaret Roulette as a guest for the Sci-Fi show at Madam Jo Jo's and for their 1st Birthday Review. This was the show I unleashed the Sigma 70-200mm and it was well worth the expense!

After the closure of Madam Jo Jo's the company has moved to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where they have recently completed their third years performances.

The gallery below is fairly extensive and will continue to grow but I believe that it shows the best aspects of this fantastic show.

I have shot or guested at the following shows:

Addiction, Bill Murray, Corruption, First Birthday Revue, Ghost Stories, Le Chien Noir 2016, Metamorphosis, Myths and Legends, Nightmare, Power, Sci Fi, Super Heroes, Books, Dear Diary, Evolution, Revenge.

 


The Fire School

A long while back I attended a talk with Benjamin von Wong whom, during this talk suggested photographing a mix of what you like. His suggestion was babies and explosions. I got to photograph one of them when I attended the Fire School in East Ham. Not an exploding baby as some of you would have expected of me but more like the combustible type. Balls of fire.

I total get where the von Wong is coming from when he said he liked photographing fire because now I too am hooked. Arriving at the fire school I met up with Red Sarah, the headmistress. I had previously met and photographed her performances at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at Cabaret Roulette and was invited down to take shots of her students.

The Fire School is located in a warehouse with seating at one end and the large stage area in front. I positioned myself at the back seating so I was looking down from behind the audience. Using my 24-104 f4 this gave me clear view of the area with enough zoom to get in close to the performers where needed. As this was my first time here I also brought along the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 strapped to my Canon 550d. Using that lens meant I was very close at 70mm and practically up the performers nose at 200mm. For the majority I stuck with the 24-105.

My experience shooting cabaret and burlesque paid off here as I immediately went back to way of keeping both eyes open, one through the viewfinder the other on the movement's of the performer. This way I could look out at the periphery and watch and anticipate when action shots would occur.

The evening was to showcase the creative work of the Fire School, some of them for the very first time, and some from the professional group. A great mix of fire, dance, burlesque, comedy and special effects.

I enjoyed this event immensely, not only to shoot live performers but to also watch massive fireballs exploding in front of you too! Really glad I caught a number of them.

I now officially state I like photographing fire! Thanks to Red Sarah for inviting me down and please check out The Fire School at http://www.thefireschool.co.uk/


Worth having arms of lead...

Recently I was asked to shoot Burlesque Idol at the Century Club in Shaftsbury Avenue. I was using my Sigma70-200mm f2.8. The heavy lens! After nearly two hours of shooting my arms felt like lead.

During the shoot, one of the performers was Fräulein Litchi Klein. I reviewed the pictures and found one that I made a note of to work on later. The next day after the photos of the whole show were sorted and sent to my contact, I turned my attention to the photo.

Now this is not a bad shot to begin with but there were a number of things that stood out for me that needed changing.

  •     a light flare above the talents head
  •     a line of light opposite the right knee
  •     the audience in front of the talent
  •     the light on the talents face
  •     the background in general

After sorting out the light flare above the head, I then threw the image into Portrait Pro. PP can sometimes exaggerate features so I always tone it down to taste. The first thing was the to clean up the skin, not that there was anything wrong, I was after a certain look. I smoothed out the skin, reduced the shine on the right cheek, even shifted the light source around to the front of the face a little.

The focal point of this photo for me is the expression of the face especially the eyes. The whites of the eyes were brightened and the eyebrows, lashes and lips were darkened and enhanced.

The hair tool was also used. I love this tool as it is similar to the Oil Paint filter in Photoshop CS6. I highlighted the entire head of hair (not the initial area chosen from the program) and ramped up the effect. This filled out the hair and made it more wavy, also added a little bit of purple to match the lipcolour.

You may notice the hair decoration have been changed to little heart shapes. This was from a program I am trialing called Exposure 7. I wont go through each of it features but the one I like is the Bokeh feature. You can de-focus and blur areas while causing the highlights to take on certain shapes, from triangles, hearts and squares among normal aperture lens types.

You are given tools in Exposure 7 to de-focus areas; a circular tool to draw attention to certain areas, a single line type, I suppose this would be good for landscapes and a double line type useful for making tilt shift effect images. Neither of these options worked for me though. So I removed the default and blurred the entire image. Even the talents face was a blur of hearts.

This image was saved with the Portrait Pro version and thrown from a great height into Photoshop as two layers. I then added a black layer mask to the Bokeh image. Then used a soft white brush to bring the Bokeh image back through, therefore being 'selective' about where I wanted the Bokeh effect to appear. This also had the effect of blurring out the audience members quite nicely to as they were a little too sharp in the original photo and tidied up the background too.

The last point that for me was a bit distracting was the streak of light opposite the right knee. This was sorted out by Lightroom using the spot healing brush, covering up the light source with a patch of darker curtain close by. Finely, used an adjustment brush to add vibrancy to thecostume.

Before and After

Fräulein Litchi Klein is a performer who is strongly influenced by dance outside of Burlesque some of these include Blues, Lindy Hop, Dance hall and Tribal Fusion Belly Dance. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lythienco.friedrich

Fast Processing

I thought I would write a quick piece about my processing method. I have been called 'a machine' because of the speed at which I can get photos of the event back to the producer/performers. I don't stop there, I always pick one or two shots from the event and work on them to create a unique piece of art work too.

I am still working after the event has finished. While on the way home I maximize the time by looking through the pictures and grading them by eye. If there is a shot that is blurry or completely missed then it is deleted. No sense in wasting time copying it to the PC if I am only going to delete it soon after. This also reduces the over all amount of shots to be loaded.

The remaining shots are loaded into Adobe Lightroom and again graded. This time I can see in more detail. This time around anything that has to much motion in the hands or legs (which in my opinion spoils a shot) is moved to a Rejected folder. This process is fast as it picks out the best of the crop.

The rejected folder is given the once over, and each is given consideration. If a shot has a good expression or action then it may make the grade and is added to the main group. I then have my picks which are sorted by performer into separate folders. Each is then highlighted and named recursively after its host folder name. I hate giving photos out to performers and producers with the names IMG__ or DCIM_001 etc...

Colour grading is next. Once the white balance is sorted for one shot, I can quickly make the same changes to a group of photos as the lighting rarely changes in a stage performance. This process is done for each group of photos from each performance.

One final check is done on each group of photos. Along the way one or two will catch my eye and I will add them to the Live Show Edits group for later processing.

Then comes the processing to JPEG. All the picked shots are exported to 2000px on the long side to a prepared folder with in my Dropbox location. That way, once the last one has exported I can send the producer/performer the link immediately.

I am a bit of a digital archivist as well so I always keep my work on backups. If the producers/performers loose anything I will still have a copy.

JME