October 2015 I took some photos of Freddie for Halloween – his mum carved the pumpkins, brought the outfits and I provided the studio space (my kitchen), the lights and the smoke and took some photos – the results of which can be viewed here: https://renoufdesign.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/day-294-photography-is-about-having-fun/

35 - Pumpkin's with Mia
Freddie and Mia 2017

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Year Two (132) – Themed advertising.

Taking photographs in an interesting location really adds to the mood and feel of the shot, these shots with Jemma were taken in an old warehouse space, with the pre-shoot discussion based on how to create a traditional feel to some beer product shots – highlighting it’s traditional flavours and tastes.

Jemma provide her costume and wig, we had the beer and a very dark location with window light coming in from one side and a small flash to add additional light.

Jemma 1
Themed beer shot, one speedlight

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Year Two (118) – Smokin’

I have photographed smoke a couple of times before… but took the opportunity to capture it again and to see if I could pick up some new tips. Smoke is a great material to photograph, it has a mind of its own and you never quite know where it is going to go, but they make great textures and brushes that you can use to enhance other pictures and images.

This time I took the opportunity to experiment with shutter speeds and to learn from other photographers.. I had the dark background much further away that made it easier .. and I used my 100mm macro leans and a snood on the flash to direct the light. These are some of the different results I achieved:

ISO200, 1/640sec, F7.1
ISO200, 1/640sec, F7.1

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Year Two (28) Food Photography

This week’s themed shoot at the Old Bakery is food photography, I have no idea what is planned as I am unable to tutor this week, so instead I decided I would try an Old Bakery food themed shoot at home and share it instead. There is a really simple post on food photography here – but I had an idea to try something a little bit different.

“The Old Bakery” is the perfect logo for a food photo – so I thought I would create something a little bit different and shoot my food in the dark using my Ipad as the background.

My miniature fairy cakes

These were baked by my 16 year old daughter, I took them in manual mode at ISo100, F2.8, 1/200 sec with window light behind -this is my subject but I wanted to create something different without really using photoshop. One of the photographers who comes to the group commented recently that it was easy for us that knew how to edit, he wanted to get in in camera… so my thought was to capture food creatively in camera with the help of technology, but adding the artwork in camera.

Behind the scenes – not very exciting!

So this is my set up – my dinning room table – my camera on a tripod with a flash trigger on top – a sheet of black paper with glass on top to make a reflection with the cakes on, my ipad with the logo I wanted on, and my flash with the trigger and a homemade snood (a piece of paper rolled round it to create a narrow beam of light).

The challenge was to get the blacks black, the whites white and the cake to show up… I experimented a little and ended up with 1/128th manual flash – ISO 124, F2.4 and 1/20th sec.

Old Bakery Cakes – in camera no editing, except a square crop!

I then took the Old Bakery Image and inverted in (ctrl i) and took the same image again with a white background and changed the crop. The white image added more light to the image so I had to change the settings – I love the clean lines of the end result, and it is amazing that the set up is exactly the same as the above shot. The font is very soft, due to the shallow depth of field, and the light bleeding into each other – but I love it.

Settings ISO100, F2.8, 1/15sec and flash still 1/128th power. The only editing was a different crop and adding a border in photoshop.

Old Bakery Ipad Image

I could not leave it there I had one more idea to try, what happens if you increase the aperture – less light enters the photo, which means that I can increase the shutter speed – which therefore means I can move the Ipad and drag it across the image to use it to paint light into the image – the moving Ipad adds the curving lines, and the flash at the start to the image lightens the cakes. The basic image was just 4 coloured stripes on a black screen.

ISO 100, F20, 4 sec exposure, ISO100 and 1/128th flash, and no editing other than to choose my crop, you can even see where my movement of the ipad was not completely smooth.

Food photography with a moving Ipad background

I am looking forward to seeing what the group photographed and I would love to hear whether you have used your ipad as a image background before … it is definitely something I think would come in useful.

Year Two (15) – Frogs and other reptiles

Another old bakery session, but this time with a twist – one end of the hall was set up with a tether computer, studio lights and props and my end of the hall – I shared the space with John – where we were using glass, speedlites and some natural props I had round up from home.

I had talked to John prior to the shot and I wanted to capture the top and bottom of the frog at the same time… I had an idea to photoshop it together with another image – but that did not get taken…. but I still wanted to experiment and understand more about light. I actually found myself using my light meter successfully to help set the shot up and aim for a variety of experimental looks.

Tree Frog on Glass
Tree Frog on Glass

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Year Two (12) – Studio Photos and focusing

Another studio session with the Old Bakery – the idea tonight being a little bit Marilyn, trying different shots with the same model that we used last time. This time the challenge was for a group of photographers to take turns nicely and not over the flashes and at the same time create a shot that they are happy with.

Studio photography with Lucy - behing the scenes - ISO2000, F5.6, 1/60sec
Studio photography with Lucy – behing the scenes – ISO2000, F5.6, 1/60sec

I was using my light meter – to help work out the correct amount of light needed for the shot and the shutter speed – I need to learn to get it out of my bad more often, as it really can help indicate where the light falls, and what settings to use – much better than the light meter built into the camera. Using the meter helps with understanding what to change with getting the balance right, the choices of course are:

  • ISO – but keeping this as low as possible means better quality images, so ISO 100 or 200 is great for studio shots.
  • F Stop – Depending on the mood of the image, a shallow depth of field or wide aperture lets in more light and creates a different look and feel to a narrow aperture!
  • Shutter Speed – Do I want to freeze movement, or drag the shutter … I’ll explain later…
  • The amount of light – strobes and speedlites do different things – working with a strobe we can turn them up or down to effect the light, whereas with a speedlight we are playing with the light duration.
Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F6.3, 1/250sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F6.3, 1/250sec

Above is one of my initial shots of Lucy – we had a fan blowing her hair to add movement to it, and Lucy was bring let with 2 speed lites in a soft box above which was carefully positioned so the light did not fall on the background.

Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F5.6, 1/25sec – dragging the shutter and photoshop

With a little bit of help from a photographers assistant (there were plenty) we spent some time adding movement to her dress. The dress only went up on one side… behind Lucy, but with the help of photoshop I was able to reflect it on the other side so that it frames her more – not natural … but it gives her the feel of wings I think…

Also with this shot I tried to drag the shutter – this means that I held the shutter open for a longer duration, and used rear sync flash to freeze the movement which was meant that the edges of her dress where it moved quicker are a touch softer!

Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F5.6, 1/160sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F5.6, 1/160sec

There was also a chance to experiment with poses and angles – add a hat, hide her eye and looking down on Lucy and the shot has a different feel, however from a composition point of view – I should have included her hand in the foreground as it is cut off in a less than natural place.

Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F6.3, 1/200sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F6.3, 1/200sec

This shot is a much better crop – Lucy is making eye contact with the camera and you can see she has a great hand of cards – the fact that her hair is wind blown doesn’t matter, but the black gloves almost make her hands disappear.

Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F5.6, 1/160sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F5.6, 1/160sec

Lucy skirt made a great circle on the group -almost framing her, so when I pulled back I was able to capture this.  Positioning of the hands on the wine glass and the shoes had to be considered so that they enhanced rather than distracted the main image. In the shot I was standing looking down on Lucy.

What I had not noticed is that Lucy has now got her hair band on her wrist .. it was not in the earlier shots … but it has now made an appearance – so although I noticed the details at the start of the shoot, you never know when something unexpected is going to change in the scene!

Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F6.3, 1/200sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F6.3, 1/200sec

Getting much lover and a similar shot has a very different feel – here the black glove works to add a dramatic focal point on the white dress, but the hand holding the glass disappears.

Studio photography with Lucy - ISO100, F3.2, 1/160sec
Studio photography with Lucy – ISO100, F3.2, 1/160sec

However moving my feet and standing on a chair and I have another image – this time the gloved hand and the glass is framed within the dress, the wide aperture means that you are drawn to her face – I just wish I had spent more time on getting my focusing right … when you view the image full size – you can see it is slightly off.

There is a great plugin you can get for free for Lightroom – which enables you to see for sure whether you got the focus right or not… and I need to concentrate more with my focusing especially when I am using single point focusing … have you discovered the show focus point plugin?

The above shots all used a black background … we then switched and shot with a really large Hi-Lite background – this was like a huge giant soft box that we put a light inside – the idea was to use it to make a white background and then to soft light the model. We used it though to create a silhouette – just by lighting the background, but amazingly the light shown through the umbrella!

The model is in the same outfit – but now her body shape matters most – the angles her body makes matters – I have composed 5 silhouettes together, added a little color in photoshop so that the balloon which was grey and the drink that was clear matched the umbrella so that the image flowed.

With the couple in the first shot – and the red balloon… the idea of celebration this final image would make a great valentine gift for someone and a striking image to display in a bedroom.

Silhouette shots with Lucy and John against a HiLite background. ISO100, F5.6, 1/200sec

But does the above photo work – no. It  is all about the attention to detail… detail in the shot and detail in the post processing …  I shared the image above with the photographers that attend the shoot for some feedback … as a group we are critiquing each other images and offering feedback …. and at the time of posting this blog – no one noticed that I cropped the foot off of the second silhouette – so below is my final edit with a well known saying added inspired by a friend of mine who has realised how important it is to dance in the rain!

It is all about the details!


Year Two (03) – Studio Creatures

I was back at the Old Bakery photostudio this week with the chance to photograph some stick insects, millipedes, scorpion and giant spider, it was a great evening, but this time I felt much more in control. Continue reading

Day 351 – Christmas Cards

I just had to send homemade Christmas cards to some of my family and friends that have been reading my 365… so this year I made my own, back in November, when I discovered the company that I use to make my cards with had a 20% off sale. I was not quite ready for to get into the Christmas spirit at that point, but it had to be done … I dug into my box of Christmas decorations and hunted out my favorite “the snowmen”. We have always had a snowman hung on our tree since we were first married – 19 plus years ago…

Experimenting with a white background
Experimenting with a white background

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Day 334 – A opportunity to see a photographer at work

I spent an amazing day in a photo studio with 2 members of my local camera club watching them work. I wanted to learn more about lighting and using a studio, and they kindly offered me the opportunity to come along, watch what goes into the starting blocks of creating their award winning images, they put together – they are not just photographers, they are contemporary artists and an amazing amount of thought and creativity goes into the images they put together.

Their photos are amazing – and award winning – they recently got presented with a Photographic Society of American Best of Show Gold Award in the Bregenz salon in Austria – and all their portrait shots tell a story. Please visit their web site – Quality Pixels or follow them of Qualify Pixels Photography on facebook to see some of their stunning work.

The studio space with a grey background
The studio space with a grey background

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