location shoots

Lucy in Spring

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) With the promise of Spring, and outdoor shoots tantalisingly close, I took a chance recently and invited Lucy Fur down to London to collaborate on my first outdoor shoot of the year. I’ve had fantastic success in the past shooting at a location in North London, first with Kayleigh Lush, and then with Sophia St Villier and Miu last year, and planned to use that again. That it's within walking distance of my house also contributes somewhat to the charm of the place as well…

We had the shoot planned for May 3rd, and in the run up to the shoot, had been anxiously watching the weather. As the day drew closer, it looked like we were going to get the sunshine we needed, but probably not the temperatures. My plan was to start the shoot at around 7.30 am, when chance encounters with dog walkers, etc… to interrupt the shoot are minimised, and the light is best. Unfortunately, the temperatures didn’t look like they were going to be anything like bearable so early in the morning, so we had a leisurely breakfast with my wife, and postponed the start to 10.00 am.

We headed out, and sure enough it was about bearable by the time we reached our location. All of the images here were shot with natural light. All were shot with the sun behind Lucy to get the wonderful rich colours from the trees, with a gold reflector used to bounce light back towards Lucy. I was shooting at around 1.6f , to get the wonderful bokeh (the out of focus bits) in the background. We shot for a couple of hours, by which time the sun was getting to be very warm, and a little too bright to shoot in, but still, it was a very productive couple of hours.

As ever, shooting with Lucy was an enormously enjoyable occasion, and I’d recommend Lucy as a model to any photographer.


(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I get to travel with my day job a fair bit, and I’ve been fortunate to visit some very special places. This past week, though, the trip I took to Kyoto in Japan is probably the most memorable trip I’ve had to date. To be honest, it’s impossible (at least, for me...) to begin to put across in words just how wonderful and special Kyoto is. The old capital of Japan, it has managed to preserve ancient roots, and a real sense of history is everywhere. Probably the closest comparison I could find in Europe would be Rome, where-as with Kyoto-it seems that every street is steeped in thousands of years of history.

For me, I found a real sense of quiet dignity and serenity in Kyoto. In the temples and shrines I managed to visit, the achievements of many hands, hundreds of years ago, is just breathtaking, truly staggering. I’d urge anyone with an opportunity to visit Kyoto to do so in a heartbeat. I hope to return very soon.

Li Zheng in Santa Monica II

Li Zheng
Santa Monica November 2013
(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)
I photographed Li earlier this year, when I was in Los Angeles on a trip. We got some good results, but considering it was June, the weather didn’t play very nice that day. It was warm enough, but we didn’t really get any of the sunshine that you’d usually associate with a California beach shoot. Nevertheless, Li was a wonderful model, and great company. So, when I was fortunate enough to be in Santa Monica once again, this time in November, I dropped Li a mail to see if she’d be free to shoot again. Whilst it’s usually much cooler, and the sun set much earlier in the day in November, it looked like it was going to be at least warm enough, and we’d get the sunset that I wanted. Fortunately for me, Li was free to shoot, and so we arranged to shoot again on Santa Monica beach, this time hopefully with a half decent sunset showing up to keep us company.

As you’ll see from the images, we did indeed get the sunset I was hoping for, and also got some fantastic images as a consequence. Of course, having collaborated with Li earlier in the Summer, I knew I was getting a fantastic model, and some guaranteed great images for certain, but the sunset was pretty much the icing on the cake. We also had the advantage of a much quieter beach, which meant we didn’t have to wait too much for the people also taking advantage of the sunset to walk the beach to get out out the shot. I’ll admit, I still ended up photoshopping a couple out, though...

As ever, it’s surprising just how quickly the sun sets and the light changes when you’re on the clock, and so we had to keep readjusting the lighting, to get the best combination of ensuring that Li was well lit, but that we still captured the essence of the sunset. I also made a point of bringing a ‘head torch’ think-one of those lights you can put on your head like a sweatband-which meant that even though the sun had set, and there was no real natural light to work with, I was still able to get a good focus, and we could carry on shooting. Pretty much all of the darker shots were captured in this way.

Whilst traditional bikini/beach photography isn’t something that I ever imagined that I’d enjoy shooting. Being a typical brit, the idea of shooting with an audience of gawkers isn’t something I’ll ever enjoy. And I’m sure that if I ever showed up on a UK beach with a model like Tricia, Leila or Li, I’m sure I’d have a significant audience pretty quickly. Fortunately, it’s very clear that a bikini shoot on the beach is not an uncommon thing in Santa Monica-it’s just about a mile or so from where Baywatch was shot, for a start-and so the Californians tend to take it all in their stride, and pretty much leave us to shoot in peace.

Strobist bit: For these shoots, particularly when you’re absolutely against the clock, I rely on keeping things very simple, with just one artificial light. I was mostly using a single off-camera flash ‘as it comes’ (I know, apparently not the done thing, but I’m more than happy with the results, to be honest), set high, with a 1/250 exposure, to keep the drama of the sunset, but to prevent it from overexposing the shot completely. For the shots after dark, I was still using a single off camera flash, and later, an orbis ring flash. This is most obvious on the shots from the lifeguard hut, but was also used for those images we shot up from the beach, overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway.

I’ve enjoyed the two opportunities that I’ve had to collaborate with Li, and we’ve already got a couple of ideas for our next, slightly more ambitious shoot at some point in 2014. I’m already looking forward to that, of course.
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Quick note on this image: I’ve just processed this one image into mono so far from this shoot, and I’ve included it here rather than in the main gallery, as I think it sits better on it’s own, in a manner. I may well process more into mono-certainly, I’m delighted with this one…

Lucy Fur and Rayna Terror

Lucy and Rayna

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) If you’ve followed this blog with any regularity, you’ll doubtless know that I’ve photographed Lucy Fur a number of times. Between us, we’ve collaborated on a number of memorable shoots, and got some great images. Separately, and at Lucy’s suggestion, I’d been speaking to Rayna Terror for a good while trying to arrange a shoot.

Lucy is good friends with Rayna, and so after a few emails we decided that a collaborative shoot including the three of us would be great fun, and hopefully give us some great images.

For me, the opportunity to shoot with two such accomplished models was a very special opportunity, and I decided to go for a very special location. Consequently I booked one of the more interesting rooms at a very unusual and unique hotel in London, full of character and style, with some very distinctive rooms. Each of the rooms is more like a movie set than a hotel room, with distinctive styling, and wonderful ‘props’ (or, furniture as it’s usually know). The room we chose for the shoot-as happens quite a lot- was actually a lot smaller than we anticipated, and certainly smaller than it looked on the web site. Damned photographers and their wide angle lenses.

No matter, though, we all agreed the location was going to lend itself to some pretty impressive shots. Once we figured out where to hide all the suitcases and slightly less ‘photogenic’ bits of stuff in the room  (telephone under the bed, television in the bath. Really....) we realised we had a pretty interesting room.

It has to be said, though, that it was one of the hottest days of the year, and that’s in a year of some very hot days already. We opened the window as far as we could, and we had the tiny desk fan cranked up to eleven (I’m surprised it didn’t explode by the end of the shoot-we didn’t switch it off for a moment) and worked with the room door open to allow a little more space and cool air through-much to the surprise and interest of a couple of the other guests. We also used the landing as an impromptu wardrobe, and it was soon filled with suitcases, lingerie and bits of camera equipment.

Whilst the space was pretty small, the room was packed with some great nooks and crannies in which to shoot. Of course, the bed dominated the room, unfortunately, but a fabulous window, some very atmospheric decorating, and various other bits and bobs proved to provide a surprising amount of variety for such a small room. It was also going to be a problem setting up any elaborate lighting-I realised pretty quickly that softboxes were going to be unusable, so I was back to small strobe attachments, and natural light. Fortunately, particularly with the natural light, we managed to get some fabulous shots. The sunlight was pretty harsh, so getting a decent contrast without blowing the highlights was hard, but-for the most part-I think we got the balance about right.

We shot throughout the day, and concluded with a celebratory dinner compliments of Lucy and Rayna. I’ll repeat that, just so that other models can take note: ‘compliments of Lucy and Rayna’.

As for Lucy and Rayna, what can I say? It was a real privilege, and great fun, to collaborate with them on this shoot. They are of course both fantastic and super professional models, and the day actually flew by. I’m delighted with the variety of images I got, and look forward to the next opportunity to collaborate with both Lucy and Rayna. Hopefully on a cooler day and slightly bigger space next time though…

Li Zheng in Santa Monica

Li Zheng
Santa Monica 2013

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I’m fortunate in that I get to travel to some very cool places with my day job. This occasionally offers me the opportunity to shoot in different locations, and do something a little different from my usual shoots. Whether it’s street photography in Tokyo,  or a beach shoot in Santa Monica,  it’s always great to have the opportunity to break out.

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate in the models I’ve managed to collaborate with along the way. When I took the (for me) giant leap of booking a model in Santa Monica two years ago,  I was extremely fortunate to select Trisha Lurie as my co-collaboratee (if that’s even a word). We got some fantastic shots, and they still take pride of place in my portfolio. Equally, shooting with my model friend Miu in Tokyo, which I’ve done a couple of times now, was equally productive. This year, I was again in Santa Monica with a weekend to spare, but with the minimal camera gear. I was to be out in LA for twelve days (most of it working stupidly hard, I can assure you) so there wasn’t much extra room in my luggage.  I decided-at the very last minute-to chuck a single strobe, a lighting stand, foldable softbox and my tiny Fuji x-100 (rather than my Nikon D300s and ridiculously heavy lenses) just in case I got my act together enough to post a casting to Model Mayhem.

Well, I did get my act together, and I’m grateful that I did. I posted a casting for a Santa Monica beach shoot, and as is ever the case with castings in LA, I got an amazing, if not overwhelming response.  Tons of responses, and some amazing models.  I eventually-and believe me, it was extremely hard to select-decided to offer the shoot to Li Zheng, who grew up in New York but who was now living over on the west coast.  Li was gracious enough to accept the shoot, so now it was just a case of waiting for Sunday, and hoping for the bbc promised (if it’s on the bbc, it must be true, right?...) good weather for Santa Monica on Sunday.

Sure enough, the good weather arrived, and after the sun had burned off the usual morning gloom, things were looking great. If anything, I was concerned that the sun was going to be a little too strong, but fortunately, that turned out not to be an issue for us.

The beaches were absolutely packed, of course, so I decided that kicking off the shoot underneath Santa Monica Pier was the way to go again. Underneath the Pier, there are a number of what I guess used to be rowing boats, turned vertically, and kind of buried a bit in the sand (look at the pictures-you’ll get what I mean…) which make a wonderful backdrop for images. And, as Li pointed out during this shoot, they also provide excellent protection from the winds which usually rip round the pier. It may be baking stupid hot out in the sunshine, but if you’re a bikini-clad model stuck in the shade underneath the pier, believe me, it’s not so warm. Fortunately, as well as providing great backdrops, the rowboats protect from the worst of it.

What was new this year is that the location appears to have been discovered by wedding/engagement photographers. In the past, I’ve pretty much had the place to myself, but this year, two other photographers showed up, each with a lovestruck couple in tow, to use exactly the same locations. There was practically a queue at one point to shoot against the two boats there. Still we managed just fine, fortunately, and we got all the shots we needed in the boats. One of the other photographers was good enough to show myself and Li the images he was shooting with his couple, and they were fantastic. He’d come up with an amazing way to light this particularly unique location, and it was one of those ‘punch myself in face’ moments for not thinking of the same lighting. He’d got some wonderful images, and I can’t imagine that his couple would be anything other than thrilled with the results. Certainly, remixing the lighting is something that I plan to do the very next time I get to shoot in Santa Monica. It’ll mean packing two strobes, and a few gels, but boy will it be worth it.

Anyway, back to this weekends shoot. Having shot with the strobe, and got some wonderful images, the sun was setting now, and there was an opportunity to get some natural light shots. I should point out that I’m not exactly super-familiar with my x-100 (something which I clearly need to address, given the super quality of the skin tones and just fabness of the images), but I managed to wrangle it into shooting decent images in natural light. Given the extreme lighting, setting the camera to auto didn’t seem to do the trick-the images were blown out at first-but a few test shots following best guesses for aperture/speed and we were all set, and I ended up getting some shots that I’m very happy with.

Next up, we took a short break, and ended our shoot with the sun now set, the sky getting a little overcast, but one more swimsuit which Li wanted to feature, as she’d not shot in that particular one before. For these images, it was back to artificial lighting, and shooting quickly-it’s pretty cold right by the sea once the sun has gone down-but this spurred us on to capture some of the best images, before calling it a day.

Shooting with Li was a great experience. She’s a very accomplished and capable model, and given the amount of time we shot together, I’ve ended up with an embarrassment of riches, as far as images go. Again, some absolutely fantastic images which doubtless be prominent in my portfolio for a good while to come.

At the time of writing I’ve edited and posted around 10 of the images, and had a fantastic reaction to them, from friends and ‘fans’ both. I’m looking forward to my next trip out to Los Angeles, and the opportunity to shoot with Li again.

And, this wonderful shoot also served as valuable reminder that the dinky little x100 left in my office for months on end is a waste, and I really need to be taking it out more, and learning how to use it properly.

Lucy Fur-Clumsily does it...

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) This shoot was the fourth collaboration between myself and Lucy, and all things considered, it has to be one of the most ill-fated in terms of actually getting going. We’d planned to shoot at Woolhouse Studios in High Barnet, with me travelling from North London, Lucy from out of town. We soon discovered, though, that the weather, and the tubes, trains and buses of London were determined to do their best to stop us shooting. We eventually got to the studio an hour or so late, by way of bus, train, tube and taxi, but not before passing each other on different trains, me heading south, Lucy heading north, and lots of phone calls and texts. The highlight was probably me leaning out of the taxi window yelling “Lucy! Lucy” to the rain sodden Miss Fur dragging her case sullenly along the pavement in High Barnet as we finally managed to be in the same place at the same time.

And, even once we were at Woolhouse, the fun didn’t stop. Two trips to the shops for batteries and supplies were required before we’d even set up the first shot, and throughout the shoot, it’s fair to say that an inordinate amount of clumsiness was on show. I could’ve been stuck in a lift with Sivester Stallone and Jason Statham and told them how crap The Expendables was, and still come away with fewer bruises, I reckon.

Fortunately though, and as ever when I collaborate with Lucy, we’ve come away with some great shots that I’m particularly proud of. Our starting point for this shoot was Hollywood glamour, and Hollywood noir, two themes that I continue to return to. Unfortunately for me, it’s getting to the stage where I want to go the whole hog, and purchase a couple of decent fresnel lamps, Arri’s or Lupo’s, but that’s going to have to wait a while, I suspect... I reckon some dodgy Chinese import fresnels might have to do to start with, until I get the proper hang of it. Anyway, back to the rainy Saturday with Lucy, and our strobist shoot at Woolhouse. We took our inspiration from Hollywood portraits, and movie/publicity stills of the forties. Certainly, we weren’t slavish in copying, but as noted, taken these images as our starting point.

I’ve also been noodling with Aperture adjustments of late, as well, and am pretty happy with the post-production on these images as well. Originally, my intention was to only produce mono images from the shoot, but a good number of the colour finishes I’m very happy with, as well, so I’ve included those here as well. They kind of have a Douglas Sirk feel, in a way, but definitely ‘kind of’. Anyway, hope you like. Lucy and I are both super happy with the results, for sure.

Leila Shennib

Blimey. This shoot was such a long time ago. Still, better late than never, I guess. The images here are from a shoot I did with US model Leila Shannib, on Santa Monica beach, in Summer 2012. This was quite a last minute thing, and I have to say, considering how actually very cold the day was, we got some pretty reasonable shots. We probably shot for around ninety minutes in total, and Leila was a trooper, considering the not fantastic weather. Certainly, I came away with enough shots to make me happy with the day.

Toots and Booty

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) The fabulously named Toots and Booty approached me to do a shoot for their lingerie blog recently. Two friends who found that they have a love for classic lingerie in common, they’ve been blogging about it for quite some time now. This shoot, though, was to put images and faces to the names on the blog. Naturally, the shoot was to be lingerie focussed.

I’ve photographed Booty, or Chloe to give her her proper name, a couple of times before, and got some great images on those shoots. For Toots, though, this would be her first time in front of the camera. I needn’t have worried though-she soon settled into the shoot, and was pretty much a natural.

Rather than a studio setting, I thought that this one would work best in a more natural environment, somewhere that would give more warmth, and a slightly more intimate feeling, that you’d get from a studio setting. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to try Woolhouse Studios in North London. Emma Jane, who runs the studio, is an old friend, so the shoot also provided a chance for a catchup as well.

After some confusion around meeting up (who knew High Barnet Station had two exits. Certainly not the knuckle headed staff on duty that day, it seems...), we eventually got to the studio just a little bit late, and got on with the shoot. The location provided us with a number of good ‘sets’ and and I’m sure I’ll be returning there again soon. Not least, to collect the light stand I left behind, but hey ho…

As for Toots and Booty, well, don’t know about the girls, but I couldn’t have been happier with the shots I got on the day. We photographed a number of different outfits, making full use of the location, and came away with some fabulous images. And, considering it was Toots first time as a model, she did a fantastic job. Indeed, I’m hoping there will be an opportunity to shoot with her again some time very soon.

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Four: Mono Mesh

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)

Despite the shoot being in October last year-six months ago-I'm still mining the treasure trove of great images from my shoot with Kayleigh Lush in Spain. Whilst we were only there a couple of days, pretty much, and we didn't exactly shoot for eighteen hours a day or anything, we did still manage to get a lot of stuff done. I've also managed to get published a couple of times with images from our shoot, which has been great, but as noted, I'm still not finished editing the pictures.

This is a small selection of images from our final afternoon, before heading back to the airport. We took advantage of some great sunshine to grab our last shots in the grounds of the venue. For the images here, we found a nice plain white plaster wall, and set about some shots which I'd already decided were going to be black and white images. As it is, I'm very happy that several of them work as colour images as well, although one of the mono ones is a favourite right now.

As I say, only a small selection of images, but doubtless there'll be more to follow.

Iveta Niklova, at Harwood House, 2011

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)

Whilst I'm sorting images from my latest shoots, I thought it'd be good to do a couple of wibbly wobbly timey wimey blogs, going back into the not too distant past to cover some of my favourite shoots.

I can't remember exactly the circumstances which led to me collaborating with Iveta Niklova on this shoot from Summer 2011. I suspect it was more chance than anything else, but such good fortune on my part, for certain.

The images were taken on a small informal 'communal hire' shoot. Often called group shoots, but most definitely not a traditional group shoot. Effectively, a group of photographers hiring a venue usually far beyond the price of the individual photographers, but enough clubbing together gets you the venue. So it was with Harwood House. I'd been invited, I'd paid my share… and for whatever reason didn't get round to sorting out a model until *much* too late.

No change there, then.

Anyway, I posted on the Mayhem boards with my budget for the day, and was beyond delighted when Iveta said that she was interested. The casting was taken down about five seconds after I read the mail from Iveta-no point at all in looking for anyone else, I was sorted. Iveta will probably not need much of an introduction to most of you. She's a wonderful model, and an absolute joy to work with.

Anyway, we met in Coventry, made our way to Harwood House, arriving a little later than most, and finding a good number of the best shooting spots already bagged. No matter, we'd doubtless be able to get to them later. Instead, we started out in one of the main rooms, with deep red walls. Setting the lights up to ensure a lot of drop off, thus taking the reds even deeper, we set to work. Iveta rattled through poses like there was no tomorrow, and we came away with some great images. The pattern continued throughout the day, in various rooms, but probably some of the most interesting shots were grabbed on the main staircase. So many favourite images from this shoot, and one I'm sure I could continue to mine for images for weeks and months to come. Indeed, a couple of the images here are 'new', in that I've only just edited them. One, the solitary nude image from the shoot, is one I've loved for a while, but the radiator actually annoyed me-it kind of spoiled the image for me. I recall Iveta liked this one on the back of the camera, and now, a year or so on, I've got over the hate of the radiator, so here it is for the first time anywhere.

Anyway, a totally wonderful shoot. I've not shot with Iveta since, but really look forward to the opportunity to do so. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Three: On the Rocks

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) Update part three from my shoot in Spain with Kayleigh Lush.

The friend we were staying with in Spain knew a lot of quiet spots where we'd have no trouble shooting nudes. And, travelling in October doubtless helped, as the beaches were likely to be much quieter than they might be earlier in the season. As we drove down to the beach in the early evening, it looked like we might be out of luck. It was pretty overcast, with very few breaks in the cloud. By the time we reached the beach, things were looking up, and we managed to find ourselves on a wonderful shoreline, beach and rocky outcrops, pretty much deserted, and with sunshine breaking through the clouds.

I'll return to the shots we got on the beach in a future blog, but for the moment, focus on the images we managed on the rocky shore.

Working our way round the headland from the beach, we very quickly found ourselves in a very rocky, but surprisingly accessible, shoreline. Within minutes of starting to explore, we managed to find a great half collapsed building-probably a boat house-right on the shore, and took full advantage of the arch directly overlooking the sea. Kayleigh quickly found a number of ways that the archway could be integrated into the images, becoming an integral part of the shot, rather than just a pretty bit of scenery. We also took full advantage of the more dramatic outcrops we found, with Kayleigh posing dramatically close to the edge of the outcrops as we shot.

Again, another very fruitful shoot, and one which has given me a number of images that I'm very proud of. You can check out the gallery by clicking on the image above.

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Two: Indoors

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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) In October this year, I was lucky enough to travel to Spain for two days with Kayleigh Lush. I have a good friend out there who owns a fabulous converted farmhouse/villa with small apartments, let during the Summer. As this was at the end of the season, there were no guests, and we had the run of the place, including the extensive private grounds.

I probably don't need to mention that Kayleigh is my 'go to' model, who will always be the first person I call if I've got something unusual or experimental in mind. I know that no matter how awry things happen to go on the shoot, or how far off the original intention we veer, I can be sure of coming away from the shoot with images that I'll be delighted with anyway. I've lost count of the number of times we've collaborated on shoots, and on every one, I've had an embarrassment of riches, as far as quality pictures go.

Kayleigh was obviously my first choice when I was given the opportunity to shoot out in Spain, and I was delighted when she agreed. I had plans to shoot a whole load of different things, and in fact, did so. Indeed, it's only now that I'm really starting to work my way through the images. We shot a number of images underwater, which have already been featured in my blog here, and one of which has appeared in Professional Photographer January 2012 edition.

As we were in October, however, we couldn't count on great weather all the time, so one afternoon, given the pretty chilly temperature outside, we decided the best plan was to stay indoors. Fortunately, we had a bit of an idea as to what we wanted to do, and a pretty extensive mood board to refer to.

The images featured on the gallery here are the result of that afternoons shoot. More to follow-I suspect I'm about one quarter of the way through the images so far… And, it's worth saying that one of the images here is one of my favourite images of Kayleigh to date. And that's saying something…

Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part One: Underwater

Kayleigh in Spain Part One: Underwater
I recently visited Spain with my long time collaborator and friend, Kayleigh Lush, to spend a couple of days shooting at a friends place out there. Grant runs a small converted farm house, which he’s extended and developed to provide five guest rooms. It’s usually a naturist place, so it was going to be the perfect venue for our shoot-no hassle, no chance getting any grief for shooting nudes around the grounds.

Given that we would have a private pool to ourselves, and were just ten minutes rom the beautiful coastline of south east Majorca, one of the things I wanted to be sure to try was underwater photography. I looked around at various options-spend two or three hundred on a small waterproof camera, spend a whole lot more on a proper housing and risk throwing my D300s in there, but in the end, I opted for a comparatively cheap option, and using one of my older cameras, a Nikon D60 that’s been sat on a shelf gathering dust for a year or two.

The first thing I had to do was relearn the camera. Considering that at one point I was using the D60 on a weekly basis for at least a year, it’s shocking how much I’d forgotten. And, next to the D300s, just how small and light it felt. Once I’d remastered the basics-it was into the pool, and time to learn a whole lot more stuff. First thing I learned-it’s difficult to focus, frame, shoot *and* stay under water. Kayleigh would throw herself to the bottom of the pool, a second or two later I’d throw myself under, and grab about two or three frames before starting to float up again. After more than a little trial and error, we eventually figured out that the best way to do manage was to have Grant hold me under the water (really….) and to let me up to breathe once Kayleigh surfaced. So the routine was: Kayleigh dives, I throw myself under, trying to focus through the marine case and goggles, frame the shots, Grant holds me under the water, Kayleigh surfaces, Grant lets me surface…. And repeat.

It should also be noted that the pool was freezing. No matter that 16 degrees is a not bad Spring day, 16 degrees on a pool thermometer basically translates as ‘you’ve got five minutes before your fingers start going numb.’ So, our pool shoot was limited to two very quick ten minute sessions, with a much warmer and more enjoyable attempt at shooting in the sea sandwiched in the middle. It has to be said, though, that Kayleigh was fearless, whilst I was looking for any reason not to get into the pool again for a second time, regardless of the layers of, um… insulation that I carry, Kayleigh, slim as a twig and not an ounce of insulation to keep her warm in the water, was determined we were going to get back in there for a second attempt.

I was too ashamed to wuss out, and am glad that I was forced back into the water, though. Considering we had comparatively little time shooting, I’m happy with the results. I suspect that, I’ve overegged the processing a little, not least as I’m still trying to figure out what kind of approach I like best-whack the image with filters and clean ups to remove the grain that you inevitably get from the sand churning off the sea or the weird pool chemicals, as I’ve done in the second and fourth images, or go super grainy and gritty, and emphasize the grittiness of the environment, as in the first and third images. Like I say, though, I’m pretty satisfied at this first attempt at underwater photography, and really look forward to the next opportunity to try this again. Whilst the first shoot was brief, I feel I’ve got a few pointers for my next shoot, and hope I can get yet better pictures the next time round.

A small selection of our underwater images just below…

Mini Miu, photographed in Tokyo

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I was recently in Tokyo on a business trip, something which I do once or twice a year. This time, though, instead of arriving wishing that I'd arranged a shoot before travelling, I actually did something about it. I posted a casting call on model mayhem, asking if anyone in Tokyo fancied shooting whilst I was over. Much to my surprise, one of the very first to reply was Miu, who I photographed at a group shoot a couple of years ago. She now lives in Holland, but was fortunately planning on being in Tokyo at pretty much the same time as me.

We planned to shoot on the Thursday evening. All set, no problem. Until Typhoon Roke decided to show up. Wednesday afternoon, all staff were told to go home from the Tokyo office, as the imminent arrival of the hurricane was likely to disrupt things. No kidding. Wednesday afternoon and early evening, the whole of Tokyo got battered by the Typhoon, and having had to cross the street in order to get to a restaurant, I can assure you it was… intense. LIke Skegness Pier in Winter, only twenty times worse. So, I thought the chances of us getting to shoot on Thursday were pretty slim.

Fortunately, though, the morning came around, and it was a completely different story from the day before, as evidenced in the picture below. So, despite it still being a little bit breezy, and certainly rainy on the Thursday evening, and despite the plan to shoot out of doors, we decided to go for it.

I chucked my main camera, and flash gun into my bag, but decided that I would, first of all, try to grab some decent shots on my new camera, the FujiFilm X100. It's getting some great reviews at the moment, and I was pretty happy with the test shots. I planned to shoot a handful of shots on the new one, but despite it being a little bit fiddly and difficult to set (trans: 'although I hadn't even looked at the manual…') I ended up shooting with just this one. I'm very happy with the shots we got. I suspect Miu was more than a little suspicious about the little old fashioned looking camera, and was probably a little bit worried about the images, but too polite to say anything.

Honestly, so was I. I knew they looked good on the back of the camera, but that's not much of an indicator of what it'll look like once it's on a thirty inch monitor. It can look fantastic on camera, and then once on the proper monitor, out of focus, super wonky, or just not right. And, with a new camera, you just never know what the foibles will be. I needn't have worried though-considering we shot for probably 50 minutes of the two hours, we got a good handful of images that were more than worth the effort.

Okay-not quite fifty minutes. We then did a handful of extra shots at the end of the shoot in the Taxi on our way back to the train station. This gave us another couple of images that I’m certainly very happy with, and one of which is featured as the gallery icon here.

Anyway, as will be evident with the images, I experimented with exposure lengths of around 1/4 to 1/2 a second to allow for light trails, and ‘blurring’ but still forcing flash to freeze the main image, and was pretty happy with the results. The neon, and various lighting trails in the backgrounds definitely add to the images, I feel.

Check them out by clicking on the picture of Miu at the top of the blog, and feel free to leave a comment.

Anita De Bauch, photographed in Essex

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I’ve attended a small annual shoot for the last three years, in which myself, and around a dozen other photographers, take over the Channels Lodge Hotel, near Chelmsford, for a day and a night. Each photographer will bring their own model, and as we have the run of the hotel, we'll rotate around the different locations offered. Some of the buildings of the Hotel date back to the 16th Century, and make for a great location to shoot.

This year, the wonderful Anita De Bauch was my model for the day, and I have to say, that was no great hardship. A great location, and a wonderful model. Perfect. As I'd shot in a number of the locations previously, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to shoot in each locations, and additionally, what and where I wanted to shoot in the timeslots where my allocated shooting space wasn't great. It obviously helps a lot when you've got a model as talented and versatile as Anita, who can belt through any number of poses in almost no time at all.

We did manage to get a good number of great images from our limited time shooting together, shooting some alt-fashion in a disused-and probably more than somewhat dangerous-barn on the Hotel grounds. We also shot some great images in a bathroom, with a fabulous roll top bath, as well as some pretty lingerie images, and finished up with art nudes with experimental lighting.

It was a long day, but ultimately very productive, and very rewarding. I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity I have to collaborate with Anita on a shoot.

Miss Lucy Fur, photographed in Essex: Part One

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery). What a wonderful and surprising shoot this was. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a mini group shoot (just four photographers) at a wonderful stately home in Essex recently. The bigger part of the hall is usually open to tourists, with a separate area where the family who built the house several centuries ago still live. Well, their descendants, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, we had the run of the museum bit. About twenty rooms, and massive grounds, for four photographers. So, not much chance of getting in each others way. The group was being run in a kind of random manner-if a model’s ready, photograph them. Well, yes. Fine. Except I knew th
at more than anyone else, I wanted to collaborate with Lucy Fur, much more than rolling the dice. Lucy’s been on my ‘must work with’ list for at least a year or two now, and when I learned she was attending, well, fantastic. So first thing I did was make sure I was first on the list to work with Lucy. And I was so glad I did. Lucy was absolutely wonderful to work with-charming, a wonderful model, receptive to ideas, happy to leap around the place, and cheerful throughout.

As noted, we had the run of the museum section, and so long as we didn’t break anything, or sit in the especially old chairs, we could move stuff around to our hearts content. So we did. The gallery here contains images from the first hour or so of our collaboration, after which I felt guilty for hogging all of her time, and decided I should let one of the other photographers collaborate with Lucy. It was hard to do so though-I knew we were getting some great images, and I really didn’t want to share. But, even as I did so, I made sure we had our plans for the afternoon session, and the images from the PM will be posted her soon.

I’m thrilled with the images we got, and certainly, the image above is one of my favourite images, not just from this session, but ever.

Lucy’s now at the top of my ‘must work with again, and soon’ list.

Trisha Lurie, photographed in Santa Monica

(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery) I was fortunate enough to collaborate on a shoot with Trisha Lurie recently when I visited Los Angeles.

Whilst this was a somewhat hastily arranged shoot, I can't help but be delighted with the quality of images. I wanted to try for something that was a uniquely California shoot, and which was not the easiest thing to do in the UK-a beach shoot at sunset.

We shot around Santa Monica Pier, on a packed Sunday evening. As we drove down to park on the Pier, looking at the sea of people on the pier, as packed as Oxford Street
on December 24th, my heart sank-I thought there'd be no way that we'd get enough space to shoot without distraction or interruption.

Fortunately, we did just fine. We had a few interruptions, and quite an audience from the Pier behind us when we were shooting the yellow bikini images, but nothing that stopped us getting the images we wanted. We ran out of light before we ran out of ideas, however, and I'm looking forward to shooting again with Trisha on my next trip to Santa Monica.