Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey
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(Click on the Image to be taken to the shoot gallery)
Or, playing about with the shutter, if you like. This blog post is my first in a while, and first of all, my apologies for that. Unfortunately, the day job has been intense of late, and keeping me super busy. I’ve actually been shooting, but just not had the time to keep up with writing about the shoots. Hopefully, I can rectify that in the next few weeks.

Before writing about the individual shoots, though, I thought it would be good do to a short post about a shooting style I’ve been experimenting with for quite a while. I first tried this in the mid eighties, before putting my camera down for two decades, and enjoyed shooting in this style all that time ago. I’ve experimented with this style a few times since, with varying degrees of success, but feel like I’m learning something new each time I do so. As an aside, I’ve recently purchased a ringlight which I think will remove a lot of the hit and miss aspect of this kind of shooting for me, so I’m looking forward to playing with that at some point soon. In the meantime though, a little bit about this technique.

First off, though, the confessional bit. I’m not exactly au fait with all the technical aspects of this. I’ve heard it referred to as front synch or rear synch, depending on if you trigger the flash as the shot starts, or as the shot finishes, as dragging the shutter, and various other things as well. Bottom line is, you leave the shutter open for longer than the usual 1/125
th of a second, which will change your shot in a number of ways. Depending on what you want to achieve, though, the results can make for some great, atmospheric, and unusual images.

First of all, there’ll be some blur in the shot. The flash will freeze an image, but by leaving the shutter open, if your subject is moving, you’ll get motion blur in the image. This can add a real sense of drama, and of course of movement, to your image, while the flash frozen image will still give the image a central, coherent point.

Secondly, it will let in more light. Obviously, even if you’re only opening the shutter up for 1/50
th, or 1/20th of a second, there will still be more light. What kind of light will depend on where you are, and needs to be balanced against the image you want. Shooting in the middle of Summer outdoors (well, maybe not in England right now) will result in a bleached out image, for example. Indoors, though, if it’s a studio, you can manage very carefully what ‘kind’ of light gets in after/before the flash, as with the fierce image of Kayt Webster-Brown. If I recall correctly-it was 18 months ago-the flash was gelled with red, and the warmth beyond the red was the result of leaving the shutter open, and letting the ambient light in.
The photographs of Ella-Mae, though, were taken in a nightclub that we’d borrowed for the shoot. We were able to leave the flashing lights around the dancefloor on, and even got to mess around with the glitter ball thing. The photographs of Anita DeBauch were taken in a rather splendid hotel room, where the bedside lamps gave a very warm flight, and added some real warmth to the images. Finally, the images of Miu were taken on the streets of Tokyo, and the mono one-they don’t all have to be colour, for sure-was taken in the back of a cab on our way back to the train station.

And thirdly, you can mess around with moving the camera as well-the motion blur doesn’t have to be just in the subject. One of the pictures of Miu was taken whilst twisting the camera around as the shot was taken. Equally-although this isn’t something I’ve given any time to as yet-you can zoom the lens after the flash has fired, for a different effect again.

I still reckon this is an area that’s absolutely super-ripe for exploration, and I suspect that I’ve only just begun to get a sense of what can be achieved with this kind of photography. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what I’ve got to date in this style.








Kayleigh Lush in Spain Part Four: Mono Mesh

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(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.

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.

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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…
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