The Battle, the Oak and the Lens.

During July 2017 I was asked to shoot some head shots to promote my friends face painting business, This was to be at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Hatfield House was hosting this years Battle Proms and Folk by the Oak festival, so there would be other things to photograph over the weekend.

The entrance to the fields are directly opposite the station. However as I wandered down to the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field I noticed it was a lot bigger than I thought. Passing across a small dried up river I heard a lot of squeaking to my left. I noticed a ferret chasing down a small rabbit. The rabbit was doing really well until three dogs ran in and then chaos erupted. One dog ran after the now squealing ferret while the other two harassed the rabbit. Things were not great for the rabbit and one of the dogs got hold of it. I suppose it was a sort of 'Battle' so it seemed an omen of sorts.

On the first day, after taking many head shots of children with painted faces and glitter (with parental consent of course), I made my way down to where there was to be a horse display, the riders were dressed as soldiers from wars from Wellington and Napoleon times. They were showing horse riding skills not widely seen in Napoleonic war time. I don't recall hoops and balloons that needed dispatching as enemies of the British Empire during those wars but it made for a good display.

I had one problem though, I was not the first to arrive at the fence so I was about two rows back, I had to make use of the flip screen on the Canon 70d, along with the 24-105mm f4 lens. Finally getting to stand next to the fence in front of the display I found the reach of the 24-105mm lens was not enough as I was by then quite far from the display. I had brought my older lens with me, my Canon 50-250mm. I had not used this for a long time since I had got my Sigma 70-200 f2.8. It did have the reach for some great shots.

Which came in handy as the next display from the Red Devils. I was expecting some satanic ritual but it turned out it was a parachute display team. The plane flew over a couple of times  as they were checking wind speed before the jump and I kept my lens trained on the open door of the plane and managed to take a shot just as the lead jumper let go! Each jumper made it safely to the ground, one carrying a Union Jack flag on his foot.

The highlight, once the day turned into evening was the firing of a World War One cannon. Until that evening, I had not been in the vicinity of a loaded cannon, let alone being in its presence when it get fired. I tried to time my shots to the firing of the cannon and missed completely the first time. I was rocked by other smaller cannons firing off to the left of me. These cannons seemed to have plastic caps on to make the sound louder. This cap would be shredded to bits. These bits would then be wafted by the wind into my face. So a little shell shocked, I wandere back to the face painting stall and took one last photo as the sun set. 

Whatsaface, a professional face painter and make-up artist, with 11 years experience. Worked for many organisations, including local school fêtes, charity days and company corporate events, as well as children’s birthday parties and weddings.

Visit her website

Clowning about...

I was contacted by Jack Stark and was asked to come down and take some shots for The Why Not Institute. These were to be added to the website and used in promotional material.

I traveled to the location, a church hall in Clapham, South London and shocked two old ladies as I walked into the church by mistake. I was quickly ushered out before I burst into flames and found the hall. Met up with Jack and Angela and had a quick chat about the set ups, we were to be joined by Ness Gracious later on. This would be the first time I would be working with people on a green screen, so I had to make sure there was very little green reflections and spill over onto clothing. 

We started with some simple head shots to establish characters, finger pointing (to point at objects on the website) and finished off with holding a large piece of paper which would be filled in at post production.

We then went out side to shoot. We tried to do a series of shots where Jack and Angela were traveling with instruments. One of which was bulky and heavy so we took turns with the large instrument being carried on each others back. As you can see Jack seemed to be either enjoying himself or was experiencing immense back pain.

Look! Its green!

Possible internal hemoraging too.

Getting in to the spirit of clowning I asked if I could throw in a few ideas. I had my 10-20mm f3.5 lens with me which close up can really distort facial features but I was thinking more along the lines of enlarging other features. Jack and Angela sat on the pavement surrounded by the instruments and I crouched down to their level. Instantly the legs and feet expanded due to the wide angle nature of the lens but as the heads were further back they were not distorted. This was also true when Jack pushed his hat towards the lens, it made it look massive!

Large feet..

Massive hat..

Ness Gracious arrived soon after so they all changed into cloths more suited to musicians and we played around with trombones. One of them had the mouth piece missing so in the shot below I asked Jack to shout into it. From then on things got a little insane..


Just insane...

The sun was still shining so we went back outside to shoot more shots with Ness, again they all sat down and I used the 10-20mm and this time asked Angela to point at me. This lens does have a good close focus range and at f3.5 I managed to make the finger sharp and the faces behind burred out. While working with them for the day I noticed how each character interacted with each other. It seemed that Ness' character was more interested in apply her make up than help move the instruments so for the shot below I asked for Angela and Jack to look back at Ness while she looks into her compact.

Look there is a photographer!

Look there is a photographer!

At least someone is helping..

At least someone is helping..

I really enjoyed working on the collaboration and it was good throwing some ideas into the mix. Of course I cant let this go with out doing my own twist with things. I used some of the green screen shots to do some simple portrait work.

Silva (Angela de Castro)

Kiki (Jack Stark)

Kiki (Jack Stark)

Ness (Grace Miller)


The Why Not Institute is the UK’s only organisation totally dedicated to contemporary clowning. They are a community, offering resources, developing performance, and nourishing support networks for clowns and others interested in the approach of its founder, Angela de Castro (as well as that of a growing band of collaborators and associates). The Institute is dynamic, shaping and responding to the resurgence in modern clowning, with a special focus on clowning within theatre traditions.


Hammer and Stone

A friend of mine alerted me to an event going on at the Freemasons Hall in London. They were having a open house day so I decided to go take a look. I of course turned up early, I wanted to beat the crowds. Turning the corner I found the front of the building still closed and about six large motor bikes were parked on the front pavement. 

Beware the rumbling doors!

Beware the rumbling doors!

I stood around ticking off the minutes until the doors opened and when they did the didn't open with wooden creek, no. They rumbled open,loudly. Everyone has heard of stories of Masons and Masonic lodges and things that may or may not happen in them but I was not expecting a large rumbling door to greet me!

After my camera bag was searched I was then given another bag, plastic, which I searched thoroughly. I found a map and information about the building. Typically I ignored the map and wandered to the right up the short steps past the string quartet, which I thought was a nice touch considering the day was a free outing. No drinks though.

I was carrying my Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 wide angle lens. I thought there would be a number of rooms where a wide angle lens would be beneficial. Sometimes the 24-105 f4 just would not cut it.

I wandered in here.

I wandered in here.

A lot of coat racks.

A lot of coat racks.

After being shuffled away from the area I was not supposed to be I climbed the stairs onto the first floor. Here there were stalls showing the various activities the Freemasons offer. Behind me I found a three pane, stained glass window. I took shots with the 10-20mm lens to get all of it in. Moving through the stalls I moved towards the Grand Temple.

This was impressive,it can hold around 1700 people as well as golden thrones to sit on. Standing on the checked floor I found myself directly under what looked like the night sky in fabric form. It is called the Celestial Sky. Around the top is a decorated border, one of which is a representation of the Ark of the Covenant. I wasn't carrying a representation of a fedora and bullwhip so I couldn't make off with it. Instead I took a few shots of the thrones and headed out.

A room of thrones

A room of thrones

Euclid and Pythagoras

Euclid and Pythagoras

Soloman and Hirim

Soloman and Hirim

More thrones

More thrones

Helios the sun god

Helios the sun god

Saint George and the Dragon

Saint George and the Dragon

Walking into the drawing room I saw something I was not expecting... a race track. One of the attendants handed me the white controller and we had a quick race with another visitor. It was a close race, I was holding my own until graciously accepted defeat and rammed my car into the visitor car to end the race.

Not quite the winning car...

Not quite the winning car...

For the next hour I wandered around the exhibition room (with another throne), the library and museum where they had on show the ceremonial sword and the original maul which I was told laid the first stone. The Grand Officers Roding Room, Processional Corridor and ended with me exiting the building at Great Queen Street after being told I couldn't take photos in a certain area. Opps!

Multifaceted Gem

Many things can be considered 'hot', people, cloths and of course the large yellow thing in the sky called the Sun. The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star according to Wikipedia. I don't go around name calling solar bodies but today I had other names for the spherical celestial plasma spewer. It was HOT!!

I met up with Ruby Deshabille, a burlesque performer, whom I had shot a couple of times at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for Cabaret Roulette. I wanted to shoot some contrasting shots and Ruby had the very thing, a bright metallic type dress that really stood out against everything.

We moved around the area we had selected to shoot in, a small dock area in Haggerston in East London. There were a few people walking along the banks enjoying the sun, I often wonder what people think when they see me waving a large lens around. When I'm using the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 I can be a considerable distance from the model.

As you can most probably tell I have been working on these shots with bright light in mind. In each I have left some element of light or introduced an even greater element to enhance the photos.

You may also notice that Ruby seemed to have more than one version of the dress she was wearing. This was just down to post processing in Photoshop, targeting the blue dress and changing the hue until I found something I liked.

I especially like the shot below titled 'Stunning in Scarlet'. I read somewhere that a photo can be more interesting if you throw in a splash of red. OK so it is less of a suggestion and more like a slap in the face to all blue dresses in the world but there was enough blue in the shot to begin with.

Ruby Deshabille is a London-based burlesque performer, actress and pin-up model, you can visit her website at

Flaming hot...

It is now June 2017 and the Earth is now tilted towards the Sun so everything is getting hotter. With that in mind I decided to edit one of the shots from recent shoot with Briar Rouge. I took inspiration from her red hat, with the intention of creating a much warmer photo.

First thing I wanted to do was to blur out the background more than my 70-200mm f2.8 Sigma lens could achieve. This was done by creating a selection around Briar then using the Tilt Shift blur tool in Photoshop. If you just make a copy of the picture and then try to blur that layer and mask out the figure you will get a lot of halo marks around the subject. Making a selection can take more time but the effect if much better.

Next up was the colour grading. I wanted to darken the image so any fire and lighting I applied later would show up better. I used the free Greater than Gatsby Photoshop actions to create a darker mood to the image, I chose Giant Peach, Hammer and Strings and Ombre. You can find the free actions at

At this point I was going to add stars and a planet but though better of it as it didn't fit the image to well. Instead I used a couple of frames from a recently purchased animated fire pack and added them in, changing the colour a little using the Hue/Saturation filter. One of the flame bursts had the Radial Blur applied to create a nebula effect in the dead space to the upper right of the frame. A flare shot was added to draw the eye from the top right towards the center of the frame.

From the same animated fire pack I chose a number of frames to add to Birars left side. I applied three flame images and used a mask to remove the fire from her torso. One final colour gradient was added with a red hue to bring out more of a flame look. The white rune around Briars hand and those on her arms were provided from

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


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


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

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

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

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

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: and Twitter at:

Underland and older Cams...


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...


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.


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.


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)