April Highlights

I can not believe how fast the year is going and how quickly my images are changing and developing as I realise how I love taking photos of people, and creating the images into something a little more… highlights include:

  • Fashion shoot at the beach
  • Puppy photos
  • An invitation to Canon HQ
  • A high Key fashion shoot
  • Children’s photography
  • Teenage fashion shoot
  • Choir photography session and headshots
  • Performance Art Photoshoot
  • Woodland Photography
  • Night Photography with a great group of friends

Sunshine and Teens

Last week I had a photoshoot cancel on me last minute, and I was really disappointed – I had my camera gear sorted, the location planned out and my mind was flowing with creative ideas and then it was not to be as I required a subject.

My teenage daughter came to the rescue and although she does not like me to photograph her she was happy to call a friend who would have loved to be in some shoots, so I took the time to play with my camera with both of them. It was fun, the friend wanted to learn more about modelling and discovered it is not as glamorous as she thought… and my daughter agreed to be in a couple of shots too.

Interestingly both my daughter and I agreed on our favorite image from the shoot – it was her and her friend – the backs of them reaching for the sky, the sky was blown out but it added a lovely airy feel to the image and for both of us it represented happy, carefree sunshine days.

Maria and Beck 9
Happy Days

I have mentioned on several posts, the importance of print – of having a physical photo to remember an event, a memory and a special moment and I decided that I would surprise my daughter with a canvas of this image – I had recently been in contact with Saal Digital and they had offered me a complimentary canvas – so I thought I would surprise my daughter with a treat.

The ordering process with Saal Digital was easy, they will deal direct with clients – and they kept me informed when the image arrived to them and when it was despatched – and despite being based in Germany the canvas arrived securely packed within a week (and this included the Easter break).

The colours matched my edited image well – the yellow’s were bright and vibrant, there was no banding – which is essential if I am recommending a company – the actual wooden frame is made of wood rather than mdf – which means it is less likely to warp, and it had strengtheners to add in the corners – it was also wider than I expected and had tapered edges which added a nice fill to the image.

The client – in this case my daughter, was delighted with the canvas, and she hung it immediately on her bedroom wall. For a teenager I think that is a major score – she was delighted with the surprise.

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Print on my daughters wall.

As a photographer it is definitely a company that I would recommend to my clients – the colours match well with my edit and the quality is great – if a client want to purchase digital files and create their own pictures from those images this would be a great company for them to look at so Saal Digital will be recommended by us in future.

Bluebell Woods

On previous years I have captured photos of Bluebells, and today I was checking out the location for a possible portrait shoot, with only my nifty 50 to hand – and the frustration that this brought really highlighted the importance of anticipating the shot and taking the right equipment or traveling with a full camera bag.

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Bluebell Wood

I love the woodland – but with the nifty 50, I could not zoom in and compress the background, bring the flowers closer together – the dull light of an overcast day though meant great lighting conditions and only very soft shadows.

I focused instead this time of thinking where I would sit subjects within the woodland, how to make the images light and airy… I like a softer style and when I compare the subject with images taken in previous years I can see my composition has improved too!

Bluebells 2017
A bluebell
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Woodland Details
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Bluebells in the Spring

Model Experiments on the Beach

Working with models is for me a great opportunity to experiment with different lighting styles, different looks and techniques whilst on location with a person who has the patient to stand there, to co-operate and to perhaps add interest to the shot.

I have learnt since working with the odd model a few interesting things:

  • Models and photographers don’t appreciate the same thing, photographers are looking at light, at backgrounds, at stories and at what creates a great interest – models often want to look and feel good.
  • If a model’s portfolio has just one facial expression – that could be all they can do, or all that they are happy with – a great model has a portfolio that showcases a range of styles and expressions and is happy to experiment and can often add value to the images with his/her input and ideas.
  • Mature models are often more interesting to work with, they have more stories to tell, more life experience.
  • Being a female photographer is unusual – a lot of models are nervous working with a girl at first, once they relax – it is often great fun, girl friends together and they open up about other photographers they work with, and some have made the model feel uncomfortable…  my personal advice is to get to know the photographer before you shoot naked or part naked – be comfortable with them first, and to be honest if they can’t take flattering images with clothes on… I would not go any further.
  • Models see a lot of photos of themselves – their view of the end image is just their opinion… they are looking for different things, and don’t really appreciate the value of the photographer at times.

These are some experimental shots from a recent beach shoot where I am experimenting with camera style and lighting out and about, the day was overcast, I had a flash on camera with a magmod diffuser and an off camera flash with a yellow gel behind the model. I wanted to capture the warmth of summer (it was March) – add my own touch (the sunglass) and create a shot that was a little different – in processing I added the lens flare and some bokeh.

The lens flare I think is a little too much, I think it does need some more work, but I was please with how you can see her eyes through the tinted glasses – it is an example of a style that I associate with glamour, fashion shoots, and professionals, the model in question does not like it.

Bournemouth Beach 1
ISO 100, F4.5, 1/800 sec – flash rear and in front

Another experiment – it did not quite work, so it is something I want to try again – my focusing is off…  I had a ND8 filter on the camera, it on a tripod and the off camera flash I moved closer to freeze the moment – I was trying to freeze the model and yet create milky water, and movement on the waves – I love the wave… it is a tad over exposed, but it is something I want to try again…. my model had suggested bikini shots but was reluctant to even get wet toes!

I added framing – which I think ruins the image totally and draws you eyes from the subject too … if the image is not sharp enough, no amount of editing will help!

Bournemouth Beach 40
ISO100, F20, 0.4 sec – flash full power

Another experimental shot and edit – this shot is back lit with a yellow gel – it is a little bit strong, but I have included it because I am pleased I have now mastered and understood this technique … here a softer yellow could have added warmth and sunlight behind her.  This is purely an edit in lightroom – but I managed to change the glasses to match the lipstick more, and lighten them to see the eyes.

This close up image also shows the problems that you make have when a model does her on makeup and has her own look – her lipstick is very strong and misses a spot, something which I should edit back in on every image – and is slightly over powering for her skin tones.  It also highlights how a distinctive hair accessory can also restrict the versitily of the shoot – and as photographer, I need to learn to ask the model to change this about themselves if they have long hair, so I can create more variety.

Bournemouth Beach 5
ISO 100, F4.5, 1/800 sec – flash behind and in front

This shot the model loved – for me I can see over exposure, blown highlights on her face and hair, the hairband is blown out – there is a lack of definition. I was experimenting to shoot much lighter than I normally do, and I do like the lighter images – but this to me is too light.  I can see her eye lids, but not her eyes, the model pose is somewhat more intimate – something that would suit a boudoir session, but not really something I associate with a trip to the beach, there is a certain vulnerability about the end result.

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Flash camera left, ISO 100, F5, 1/320 sec

Another one the model said she liked (below)  … it is a lovely low contrast image until your eyes find the hair band, the bright lipstick and the carousel – and they ruin it for me…  I also did not explain here clear enough what I wanted from the image – I suggested the model sat on the pier – all those leading lines – but she sat across them, blocking the horizon – but we had only just met and she had white jeans on!

The goal was to expose for the sky, capture an on location shot, but I think I added too much flash to her face – but her makeup was quite white … I am pleased with the fact that I created a much lighter image than normal – but this really highlights that the backgrounds matter and than I need to explain myself better.

Bournemouth Beach 10
ISO100, F2.8, 1/800 sec

Another  shot the model liked – the hairband and the lipstick over power the image in my opinion – so I need to learn to communicate better, I think this style of lighting would make some great children’s portraits and I can imagine them playing on the beach, building sand castles in the sand – so I am glad I have had a chance to practice.

From a model point of view – there is nice eye contact, her legs look really long, I feel it is a kind of romantic pose ideal for the boyfriend or partner without revealing too much, which goes to highlight how we are all looking for different things in the images we create.

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ISO 100, F5, 1/320 sec – flash directed as model and yellow gel to models right.

My personal favorites from the shoot –  this one – I exposed for the sky, added a touch of flash camera left and on camera diffused… I love the space, the emptyness of the beach, the hint of cleavage, the fact she is looking down and thinking… and I feel there is a hint of a story as you think what is she looking at? It did not make it into the models top 10 choice of images, but all the ones she choose had the same facial expression, and here she was a little bit more relaxed.

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ISO100, F5, 1/320 sec – 63mm zoom

Finally a commercial edit – I have tweaked the colours, added some text, created a vintage postcard feel to the image – inspired by graphic design to create something that could perhaps promote the area…  it is a bit harsh, a bit cheesy – but mass produced on a postcard it would  work!

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ISO100, F5, 1/320 sec – 59mm zoom

And … after model feedback.

I always like to ask the model for feedback after the shoot…. and ask the model to select her favorites from the shoot…. and with this model the feed back was interesting – “The one’s I don’t like is because my eyes were wrong” – so nothing to do with the composition, the lighting, the editing style – more to do with how she looks… and her favorites – she first choose 15, she narrowed it down to 8 and choose one she had previously asked to remove from the collection, and  two she did not select in her original 15….  and they were selected cause “I look relaxed.”

My commercial edit – did not make the model’s initial top 15… but somehow made it in the top 8!! Which highlights my point at the beginning – we are look for different things, even at different times to look for different things… and personal feelings can not come into the creation of photographs.

March 2017 Highlights

February was such a short month, that I never got to finish editing my photos… and March is even more exciting…

  • Various portrait shoots
  • Family location shoots
  • Animal portraits
  • London Shoot
  • Editing for a fellow photographer whom I have trained alongside who could rescue an image.
  • Capturing a Christening
  • Teaching ambient and flash to a group of fellow photographers
  • Exploring new locations

I miss blogging

I have come to the conclusion that I miss blogging. Blogging gave me an excuse to try new ideas, to explain how they worked and push my creativity, I have been incredibly busy taking photos and developing my business but it is crucial to keep experimenting and trying different ways of doing things.

At the weekend, I went to the 2017 photography show – I really enjoyed the speeches, the demos and invested in a new background amongst other things so today I experimented with two lights, some gels, my camera on a tripod and a remote release to take some selfies.

I hate having my photo taken, and by doing selfies it made it really hard to get the right in the perfect location,  but it does enable me to easily see how I cam change the light – hence the descriptions on each image. I had not realised how much back lighting hair can add to an image and how gels can add something special to the image.


The final set above were more of an experiment with rear sync, longer exposures and ambient but something I would like to try in the future, but it is very hard to include partial movement in a selfies with a long shutter duration. 

Anyway that all for now… Should I blog more or just do a monthly update – leave a comment and let me know.

February 2017 – Highlights

So what kind of things have I been up to this month:

  • Weddings
  • Live Music Gig
  • Portrait sessions
  • Event photographer for SF Ball sponsored by Starburst magazine and Horror TV, working with some TV Stars
  • Headshave for Teenage Cancer
  • New Born Photography
  • A comprehensive light training workshop
  • Location scouting
  • Night time photography
  • Spring Flowers at the local church

January 2017 Highlights…

The highlights from January…

  • I am starting a 52 week challenge set by 2 Lil Owls photography studio as I admire there use of textures …. I would like to experiment with them more this year… the blog post will grow during the year… but will not be revealed to the end of the year
  • I am doing a themed post on the theme Green
  • I am once again following “A year with my camera” with Emma, I think she is great for beginners and it is nice to be reminded of the basics.
  • Product photography for a local company whose photographer let them down.
  • Wheelchair friendly portaits
  • A photoshoot at a local college
  • A photoshoot with a 14 day old baby
  • Teaching modelling techniques and being a model
  • Hearing Gav Hoey talk at Highcliffe Camera Club – third or fourth time I have heard him talk, and I love seeing how he takes an image and develops it live – this time round I was amazed at how easy it all seemed – which shows I have come along way.. still discovered something new though!

Year Two – December

I am done… for now…

My journey is not complete, but my view has changed, two years ago I started the blog to develop my photography, learn new skills and share my journey …  now my photography, marketing and design business have taken off, my photography skills are opening up doors to new opportunities and my view point and influences are changing…

I may still share occasional posts, but more often that not I am being involved in commercial work and assignments, so it is best to follow my facebook page – www.facebook.com/RenoufDesign and that is where my focus will be … thanks for sharing my journey….

Highlights from December include:

  • My 2016 theme project on the colour yellow
  • Photographing Christmas
  • More portraits
  • Designs and marketing