2016 has been a year of polar opposites, work wise I have been incredibly busy, photographically I have been very quiet. I have shot much less but what I have shot has gone much further. Because I have been shooting for clients and not myself a lot of my work has remained on hard drives until they have been published. In July I attended an event called GATEBIL at Rudskogen Motorsenter in Norway. If that name rings a bell, it is because I went last year which you can see here. This is hands down my favourite motorsport event I have ever had the pleasure of attending and this year I got the extreme honour of shooting for their own magazine, predictably called GATEBIL MAGAZINE. I was tasked to shoot several feature cars, one of which is this super rare, Steatlh B7 which is one of one! What I didn’t know until this month was that I made the front cover. And I don’t mean I got a small picture on the front cover…I GOT THE MAIN IMAGE! Thanks guys! Anyway, here is a few images that didn’t make the cut. Thanks to Jan Øivind Ruud and Team RR for being so helpful during the shoot and thanks to Kaj Alver for getting me the gig.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 http://robtomkins.co.uk/ he is talented and knowledgeable guy and is happy to answer my questions (of which there were many). Thanks man!
And so we step into a New Year full of ambition and hope, each of us armed with a list as long as our arm of things we are going to do, stop doing and change. It really is an exciting prospect having a clean slate on which we can all start again and pardon the mistakes of the past year. I am not going to sit here and list of a self indulgent list of things I want to change about myself. Instead I am going to offer you one more thing to add to your list. If you’re struggling with your list then you can have this one on me, it’s free! It is simply drink coffee, or rather drink decent coffee! (Unless you hate coffee in which case, there are some pretty pictures below which I will tell you how I created).
But seriously nothing boils my blood faster than people saying “I love a good cup of coffee!” yet they make it with instant coffee! Often consumed by the gallon purely for the caffeine kick it offers. I won’t go into the effects of drinking too much caffeine as this is not a health blog but I feel you should drink less coffee and savour it! Make time to make to make good coffee. Drink more water and drink better coffee. Trust me, you will feel more alert.
I have an Aeropress at work and now, thanks to my sister, I have one at home too! An Aeropress is probably the easiest step to take to making better coffee. Essentially it is a big plunger that uses air to push hot water and ground coffee through a filter into your cup. Literally takes about 3 minutes to make. 3 minutes! So for those of you concerned that you might need some sort of degree or need to be a fully qualified barista to make good coffee at home, well you are wrong. Now about the coffee, I like Workshop Coffee but you can go into any coffee shop, speak to a Barista about what type of coffee you like and they should be able to recommend some for you. They will even grind it for you! It is really that simple! Then you can impress all your friends about how you know about coffee and how you can make coffee yourself – all the while remaining smug as it really is quite simple with an Aeropress.
Enough about the coffee, some of you might have been interested in how I went about taking this shot. No? Well it is a strobist shot. Which essentially means I used a flash gun to light the shot, or part of it. Above is a shot with no flash gun, it is just ambient light. I was taking shot like this to test composition and find the ambient light. Once I was happy with what would be in shot I put it in on a tripod. (I use a Manfrotto tripod, the 055XPROB one to be precise with a 498RC2 head).
I liked the warm glow coming from the lamp on the right so I used a custom white balance of 5000K to accentuate it. I then used a 1/2 stop CTB colour correction gel on the flash to bring the out the natural colours on the mug and the packet. If I didn’t do this, the flash would appear too warm and make the colours of the subjects look false.
It got quite cramped in my tiny little London kitchen but here is a setup shot. To diffuse the flash, so we don’t get harsh shadows, I put it inside my Westcott Apollo 28″ Softbox. This is probably my favourite light modifier I use as it allows me control the light and stop it spilling about all over the place. It also creates an amazing quality of light and produces really nice shadows and light falloff. If I was to use a shoot-through umbrella, some of the light would come out of the front and some of it would come out of the back bouncing around my compact kitchen causing it tint the colour in undesired areas.
Here is another look at the setup. The flash inside my softbox is a Canon 430EX II at 1/32 Power. It was triggered by my Hahnel Combi TF triggers. I used a Canon TC-80N3 remote to fire the camera so I didn’t disturb it whilst taking the shots. The Camera settings were: 1/15 Sec – f/2.0 – ISO 250 – on a Canon 5D MkIII with a 50mm f/1.4 lens.
Hope you found this of some interest.