All Posts Filed in ‘Behind the Scenes


Dipping my toe

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Funny isn’t it? I never expected to make the jump into YouTube and yet, here we are.

After writing my last post on Light Painting, I found that I really enjoyed sharing what little knowledge I have with you. When I was starting out as a CG artist, I used to write tutorials, and I loved it. This mini, let’s call it an “explanation” of a photographic technique took me back to that.

Words aren’t always the most effective way of showing you how to do something, especially when they are sprawled out in printed form across a screen. Hence the natural jump onto YouTube. And here it is, enjoy…like…comment…subscribe…you know how it goes.

What can you expect from me going forward? Well, to be frank, not much. This is new to me, it requires enormous amounts of conscious thought to do. I have about 9 videos that I would like to make but don’t hold your breath. However you can subscribe to my channel here if you so desire.

If I do finally pull my finger (tripod, microphone, lights and camera) out then there are some areas that I would like to cover. I’d like to show retouching tips and tricks. Different photography techniques including lighting techniques. Possibly gear reviews, this is actually something that I used to do. I may occasionally try and make some travel videos too. But my initial plan was, is to show you what goes on behind the scenes at a shoot and through the editing side of things.

My thinking about this whole thing is that I am currently dipping my toe into it. I don’t want to buy any new gear for it yet but if it does start take off, then I will try and focus more time, money and energy into it.

Let me know what you thought, I’d genuinely love to hear what you have to say.



Light Painting: What is it?


What is Light Painting and how do I start?

Stay with me here, I will get to that. During the closing of the year, I like to see what my most popular posts were on instagram. (For those of you who are interested, I used you can follow me here: @shootingdave

As you can see, 7 out of the 9 most popular images are light painted. Clearly you guys like those style of images. But what is light painting? What do I need to make one myself?

A light painted image is essentially long exposure where you move single light source around the subject (in this instance a car) highlighting the key areas. To get started you will need a basic understanding of photography and exposure, along with some equipment which bring us onto the next topic.

The Gear…

Starting the in the top left corner and working round clockwise I will talk about the gear I use to make light painted images.

1: The Camera

Any will do so long as you can set all of the functions manually. I use a Canon 5DMk3 which you can buy here.  I will get onto lenses later as I feel that is worth talking about separately.

2: Tripod

As you are going to be taking long exposures up to 30 seconds, I recommend you use a sturdy tripod. You don’t want the camera to wobble or shake causing blurry images do you? For years now I have been using Manfortto and their 055XProB has served me well. They have since discontinued it but I would recommend this carbon fibre version of it here.

3: Remote

Why might you want a remote? I try to avoid touching the camera as much as possible. I use the remote to alter the length of exposure and the amount of delay so that I can get into position. If you are a Canon shooter then I cannot recommend this one enough!

4: The Light

Now for the important part, often a closely guarded secret among photographers. I don’t have the budget for the Westcott Ice Light 2 as nice as it might be. So I bought a budget version, I’ve owned for 3 years, flown to 3 countries with it and it has been fine ever since. It is the Magic Tube Light MTL-900 II. A catchy name I will admit. It is branded a number of different ways but works well. It has an orange sleeve which makes the light 3200k and 5500k without. Handy for shooting under street lamps so you have matching colours of light sources.

That is the bare essentials for light painting. However you will need to wait until it is dark.


I wanted to keep this section separate as it is so subjective and location dependant. A great deal of my images are shot on a 35mm lens this one to be specific. I do this so that I can show both the car and the location without distorting the car too much. I have a wider Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS which is great for tight locations all thought it does run the risk of distorting the car. And where space allows it is often nice to use the Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L .

Below are some examples.




The Setup

So now you’ve got the gear, what do you do?

Once you have found your location, you want to wait for dark and get the car into position. Framing up should be no different to any other shoot you do. Find the composition that works for you, looking through the camera to make sure you are happy. Once you have found that sweet spot, grab the tripod and setup the camera.

I set the camera to manual focus and use live view to zoom in and focus. The next thing you are going to want to do is set the camera to bulb mode. You will control the exposure using the remote. If you don’t have a remote, use manual and set your shutter speed accordingly. You want to make sure the shutter speed is long enough for you to walk around the car.

I set the ISO to 100 to make sure the image is clean of sensor noise.  For the aperture, I start at around f/8. All of the car will be in focus and the relatively small aperture should help dial down any ambient light.

I take a test exposure of around 10 seconds to assess the scene. From experience, 10 seconds is long enough for me to move the light source down the side of the car. What you are looking for is minimal ambient light so that you can introduce your own light into the scene. If it is too bright, choose a smaller aperture (f/11 for instance). You could also shorten the exposure time but you will need to make sure it is long enough for you to walk around the car.

Once you have balanced the base exposure it is time to start lighting. Set the camera to a delay or get someone else to fire it for you, get into position, turn the light on and walk down the side of the car. Once the exposure is complete, come back to the camera and review your image.*

Try not to light yourself or point the light at the camera as you will get flaring.**

Once you’re happy with that side of the car, move onto another side. Keep repeating the process until you’re satisfied with what you have captured.

*most cameras allow you to change the image review time. I set mine to “hold” so that the image stays on the back of the camera until I shoot another exposure. This avoids me having to touch the camera and potentially move it.

**also try wearing dark clothing, cameras record light and not dark.

Finishing up

Once you are done with the shoot and you’re back home ready to edit, you will want to blend these images together using Adobe Photoshop or something similar. I think that will have to wait for another guide as it is quite a length process to do.

What did you think of this guide? Was there any areas that you would like to understand more of? I considering filming or time-lapsing a shoot. Would you like to see a speed edit or walkthrough when I get the images into photoshop?

I’d love to hear your feedback.




Shooting Dave – behind the scenes

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I am working on a little series at the moment to try and create a character from my screen name “Shooting Dave”. The idea is that this character will look like an assassin or a hitman or a spy of some sort. So far I had only created one, now I have two. Below is the first one I did, as if it had been a shoot out. Note the details like the empty film cartridges on the floor instead of bullet casings. And yes that is both me and me in the scene.


The narrative behind this one is that you are the viewer, or the subject being photographed. This will be your perspective. I, Shooting Dave am pointing my camera (gun) at you. Don’t worry, it ain’t that sinister, a long with the word play on Shooting Dave, I also have a camera that resembles a gun, a Zenit Photosniper, I have added a picture below to show you what it looks like.

Photo 30-06-2015, 09 40 53

Pretty cool huh?! Right I had the idea for this, I just needed to get the lighting to where I wanted it, it isn’t just a case of setting up the lights and BOOM – HEADSHOT. I needed to do a little bit of exploration so the following images are me trying out the lights in different positions.


First up the key light was off to the left, I admit, I did like the light on hand arm but I was unhappy with the light on the subject. You can also see that I would need to tweak the pose as to not cover up too much of my face.


I then moved the light to the right of the camera which gave more light to the camera/gun and the subject. Better but a little flat. Also the background was just too open for my liking.


I then boomed the light keeping the light stand in the same position, this put the light pretty much level with me as well as adding more shadow across the face. The light was also subtly lighting the camera/gun too. However the barrel of the gun wasn’t that well described so I knew I needed some fill.


Direct light would have been too harsh for the scene so I put a flash gun on the floor and bounced it off of a white wall to give some reflected lighting to the camera, it works quite well here.


For this one, I was playing with the power of the fill flash, I turned it down to 1/64th but thought it was too subtle.


Final. I upped the power on the fill flash and the tilted the key light a little more towards me help smooth off some the shadows. And that is it. There is a lighting diagram below to help illustrate what was done as well as the settings used.


Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t shoot wide open for this and I did that for a number of reasons. First of all, this is a self portrait, focusing was pretty hard so to give myself a better chance of getting a usable shot, I stopped down to f/2.8 to get more depth of field. Also if I had shot wide open, I would have been too far out of focus and any expression would have been a blurry mess of bokeh. I like to think that the depth of field allows for nice separation of the gun to subject but also keeping some of the expression and emotion there.

If you like this I will show you more behind the scenes in the future.




Halloween – behind the scenes

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How’s it going guys, did you have a good Halloween? Have fun during Guy Fawkes night? Well as usual on Halloween, Amy and I put on a little photoshoot to celebrate old hallow’s eve. I even bought a smoke machine for the occasion. Previously I had used smoke pellets and they work great but they just burn a little too hot which always makes me a little nervous and scorching the ground or setting fire to a model.

This year we headed down to my parent’s house and roped my sister into joining. Amy and Clare went for a gothic witch look where as I bought some props to look like Jason from Friday 13th. Here are Clare and Amy’s finest efforts:





And there here is some of me:

jason_001 lighting_diagram_01 jason_002 lighting_diagram_02 jason_003 lighting_diagram_03

Clearly this is a strobist (off camera lighting) setup so for each photo I also included a lighting diagram along with the camera settings to help you if you wanted to create something like this at home.




Behind the Scenes: Honda Civic Type R

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Some of you may or may not know that I am an Automotive CGI Artist at a company based in the heart of London. I create images for brochures and websites for many different car manufactures. One of which is Honda. Whilst on a photoshoot for the new Civic Type R I decided to capture some behind the scenes imagery whilst working with top automotive photographer Rob Tomkins. My job isn’t necessarily to photograph cars. I recreate the lighting and the studio in 3D to try and replicate the lighting Rob does. Working with a true professional like this is a great way to learn how studio lighting really works. As a CGI Artist you have a good idea how it works but seeing it in the flesh really helps improve your work flow. These may not be the best behind the scenes photos but they look pretty nice 😉














Do check out Rob’s site he is talented and knowledgeable guy and is happy to answer my questions (of which there were many). Thanks man!