Ayla Sky nude shoot 2 { BTS video }

Over the summer I had another marvellous shoot with one of my favourite models, Ayla Sky. We rented a fantastic little one bedroom shack out in the middle of nowhere to use as the location and spent all day shooting there.

I set up a video camera on a tripod and left it running as we where working and also shot some HD footage on the 7D. What follows is a 6min edit of all that footage along with a few of the finished images.

For this shoot I wanted to keep things simple and use lots of natural (or natural looking) light. I used the canon 7D, 24-105 F4 lens, 50mm f1.4 lens and the 320ex flash through a shoot through umbrella.  The flash was triggered using the 7D built in flash, which worked pretty well and meant I could keep the camera in AV mode and not worry too much about the changing ambient light level.

I was basically using the flash just to bolster the light coming in through the windows, and occasionally to create a bit of lens flare to create the illusion of sunlight coming through the windows (it was overcast and raining pretty much the whole time we where there!)

If you missed it you can find my post on the first shoot I did with Ayla here

You can see more of the finished images on my website ~ www.image23.co.uk


Click through for the video and more pictures...

Lighting: Spotlight Silhouette

This set up is really easy and a great way of creating strong images with bags of 'pop'. I used an elinchrom Dlite 2it to light the background. it was on a floor stand pointing up at the wall, bare bulb, and set to 3. I then mounted a flash gun with a 1inch deep grid spot attached on a stand. This was set to 1/4 power and placed just infront of the model, slightly off to camera right.

Essentially what this gives me is a wall that's exposed to f11 and a very small spot light that exposes to f8 which i can use to light small areas of the silhouetted model. I set my camera to F8, 1/200th, ISO 100, so that the spotlit area would be correctly exposed, the background slightly over exposed and the shadows nice and black.

The only tricky part with this set up is ensuring that your spotlight is pointing at the right thing. Because a small spotlight is so hyper directional, even small changes in the models position can have a dramatic effect. I've found though, if you make the model aware of this and keep checking and re-adjusting, you'll be fine.

Fashion Shoot at Warren House

I had a great shoot last week at Warren House hotel so I thought I'd share some of the behind the scenes shots with you. The designer and stylist for the shoot was the wonderful Ley Lau of Wall and Jones which is a fantastic little boutique showcasing a number of very talented local designers. Its somewhat of a hidden gem and well worth a visit if you're in east London.

I was also working with an amazing team comprising of exceptionally talented hair stylist Myo Myint and the very wonderful MUA - Gia Mills. Our two beautiful models were Madison and Elena.

Big big thanks to everyone involved for all your hard work! Watch this space for the finished images in the not too distant.

Team work

Where the hell have you been?
I've been a bad boy of late and completely neglected this blog for months and months (whoops!) please accept my apologies and I hope to resume normal service asap!

One of the reasons I haven't been on here as much lately is that I've just upped sticks and moved down to that there London, which is all very exciting indeed.

One of my goals upon moving here has been to work much more frequently with other creatives - MUA's, hair stylists and designers predominantly.  Whilst it takes a fair bit more organisation and communication to bring a larger group of people together, it definitely has a number of benefits that make it all worth while, not least of which is adding a whole other level of quality to your images.

So how can you ensure that a shoot with a full team goes smoothly?

The most important factor is simply good communication. If you can, speak to people face to face or on the phone instead of texts or emails.  Its faster and far more efficient.

Having good solid idea's will help when it comes to making sure everyone is on the same page. This doesn't have to be complicated, in fact simple idea's are often the best route to take. A short description backed up with a selection of example images will usually put your team in the right direction.

And finally get a date for the shoot set early and give yourself plenty of time to get everything in place. 

For a recent beauty shoot I had the pleasure of working with the very talented Neeza Rahim (MUA) and Myo Myint (Hair Stylist). They took my ideas and really brought them alive. The model was the beautifully versatile Lucy Parkes and what follows is some behind the scenes shots along with the finished images.

Lighting #6 Film noir style lighting

The film noir lighting style is defined by high contrast highly directional lighting and the look is completed by rendering the images in B&W. Its a style that I love using and if done well can help you achieve really dramatic striking images.

It can be quite a tricky look to get right simply because the lighting is so directional and focused - you'll typically have a relatively small hotspot which will quickly fall off into shadow. Of course you can move the key light away from the model to gain a wider hotspot, but you'll also find as you move the light further away you'll also loose drama in the shot. I tend to simply ask the model to stay in one small area and keep an eye on where that hotspot is landing - Adjusting the light as needed.

I decided to use this lighting style for an erotic 'secretary' themed shoot I had recently and I think it worked pretty well. I  used an Elinchrom D-lite 2it with a grid spot attached as the key light. This was placed on a boom stand directly above the model and facing pretty much strait down. I also used an SB28 flash gun with a home made grid spot on in a few of the shots to pick out any details that where missed by the D-lite.

Shooting Allegra with my new 7D

Last week saw me bouncing round like a small child as I awaited delivery of my new camera ~ the Canon 7D. I'll do a full review at a later date once I've had chance to use it for a while, but the headlines are, this is one awesome camera! So many brilliant features.

I bought the camera from Flash camera which is a fantastic, yet little known online store. They offer Excellent prices, very pleasant and efficient customer service and super fast delivery. If you're buying Canon gear its well worth checking them out.

I was shooting in London with Allegra on the weekend, so a perfect opportunity to test out the 7D. Here's some shots from one of the shoots that we did. One of the brilliant features of the 7D is its ability to control off camera flash which I made full use of here.

The headshots where taken with my newly fixed 50mm 1.4 lens and I used some white curtains with sunlight blazing through as the backdrop. I then popped my 320ex flash gun through a shoot through umbrella quite high on a stand - camera right. I set the flash compensation in-camera to +1.5 to get that really bleached out look.

The long shots where taken with a large white curtained window extreme camera right. I then used the same flash set up slightly off axis camera right to just fill in some of the shadows and soften the look. For lenses for these shots I used my Lensbaby and the 24-105 f4.

All these shots are pretty much as taken, with only a small amount of colour tweeking done in lightroom.

Fixing a stuck focus ring on a Canon 50mm f1.4 lens

So a few months back disaster struck, I managed to break my 50mm 1.4 lens! Focus completely jammed - couldn't even manually focus. gutted. I took the lens to my local camera shop and they said they would have to send it off to Canon and it could cost up to £180! Ouch.

Having just forked out for xmas, car insurance and about a gazillion other things that wasn't a particularly inviting proposition. So in some what of a bold move I decided to take matters into my own hands.

After a quick web search it became clear that this fault is actually quite a common problem with this particular lens and is caused by an arguably dubious design choice on Canons part.

What follows is a guide to what I did to fix the problem, I am not a professional repairs person and I am not for one minute saying this is the best way to fix your lens, but it worked for me. This is a delicate procedure that could easily go wrong and if you try this yourself you do it entirely at your own risk. If you are in any doubt, send it to a professional.

To dismantle the lens you'll need PH0 & PH00 precision screw drivers, also useful will be a scalpel, fine tipped tweezers, lens cloth, some sort of tray to put bits in & a pen and paper. 

In order to fix the actual problem you want a good quality digital calliper and a hammer. Yes that's right you'll be hitting you beloved lens with a hammer. There are other ways to do this and I'm sure there are much more professional, efficient and expensive tools for the job. This is simply how I chose to attack the problem (literally!)

Art nude shoot with katy Cee part 2

Well this was fun! For the second part of my shoot with Katy I wanted to play about with movement and slow shutter speeds. I used 1/10th sec for most shots with D-lite + grid set to 3 as the main light and an SB28 popped behind the model for a bit of edge lighting.

I'd also got it in my head that I wanted to make an indian headdress for this shoot which turned out rather well I think. Once I'd got the materials together it only took an afternoon to make and was actually really quite an enjoyable project.

Most of these shots are quite heavily photoshopped in one way or another. I wanted to make them surreal, magical and unique and after the stark simplicity of part one of this shoot I really enjoyed indulging in some photoshop creativity.

Related links
See part one from this shoot here

See more of katys work here

And check out her fantastic photo props company here

Equipment: lightroom 4

This is an exciting week for photographers, not only do we finally see the launch of the eagerly anticipated Canon 5D markIII But adobe have just launched the very latest version of lightroom, which looks very good indeed with two whole new moduals for handling GPS tagging and book publishing as well as extended video support, soft proofing and enhanced social media integration.

But the really big news for me is the massive 50% price drop! For such a powerful program this is an absolute bargain.

These are the top new Adobe  Lightroom 4 features according to Adobe...
  • Highlight and shadow recovery - Bring out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights. Now you have more power than ever before to make great images under challenging lighting conditions.
  • Photo book creation - Create beautiful photo books from your images with a variety of easy-to-use templates included in Lightroom, and then upload your book for printing with just a few clicks.
  • Location-based photo organization - Find and group images by location, easily assign locations to images, or plot a photo journey. Automatically display location data from GPS-enabled cameras and camera phones.
  • Extended video support - Organize, view, and make adjustments and edits to video clips. Play and trim clips, extract still images from them, or adjust clips with the Quick Develop tool.
  • White balance brush - Get more consistent color across your image in scenes with mixed lighting sources. A flexible brush lets you refine and adjust white balance in targeted areas of your shot.
  • Additional editing brushes - Expand your creative control by targeting particular areas of your images using new local editing brushes for noise reduction and moire removal.
  • Video publishing - Easily share video clips in HD format on Facebook and Flickr. Or save HD clips formatted for phones, tablets, TV, and more.
  • Soft proofing - Save time and ink and help ensure your prints meet your expectations. Soft proofing lets you preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.
  • Enhanced online sharing integration - Easily post images to more social media and photo sharing sites like Facebook and Flickr. With selected sites, online comments about your images are visible within Lightroom.
  • Emailing from Lightroom - Email images directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.
  • Importing libraries from other software - Bring the power and elegance of Lightroom to all your images, new and old. Easily import photos from other applications.
Adobe Lightroom 4 is available for immediate download from Adobe.com.

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Art nude shoot with katy Cee part 1

Katy is a wonderful model to work with, full of energy and giggles, we had lots of fun shooting this series.

There is very minimal post processing done on these images, most of what you see was done in camera. The coloured blocks where actually pieces of acetate which i suspended from the ceiling. of course I could have achieved similar results in photoshop, but then I wouldn't have got the same interaction between set and model.

Related links
You can read about what went into the planning of this shoot here.

See more of katys work here

And check out her fantastic photo props company here

Shoot Planning #1: Shoot Diagrams

Using shoot diagrams
Fig 1 Prep diagram for It is written
Shoot planning is a crucial stage in the photographers work flow, and in particular being able to communicate your idea's to the model and anyone else involved in the shoot. Personally I find shoot diagrams can be really useful at the planning stage particularly if I'm building sets or working with specific themes. It not only helps me to visualise what I want to achieve but also assists in conveying that vision to others.

Fig 1 shows a diagram I did a little while back, this idea ended up morphing completely into a short film that I made with  Lauren Marie called It is written.

How to make an effective shoot diagram
Fig 2 Prep diagram for Katy Cee shoot  ~ card hung from the ceiling
I use a very simple method for drawing shoot diagrams in photoshop. Firstly find a few images of models in various poses. It helps if these poses roughly align with your overall theme. Open a new document in photoshop and pop you reference photo in. On a new layer simply trace the models outline with a small hard brush (it helps if you have a graphics tab to do this) .

Adding details and props
At this stage turn off the ref photo and you can then begin drawing in props and set pieces, clothing and even colours either as swatches down the side of the image or as part of the image. In addition to this I sometimes find it useful to add thumbnail ref photo's to illustrate lighting, props and mood etc. Use your imagination there really is a massive amount you can do with this.

Shoot diagrams in practise
For my  art nude shoot with Katy Cee I wanted to create a set in the studio with lots of objects hung from the ceiling, at the planning stage I wasn't quite sure what these objects would be and using shoot diagrams really helped formulise my idea's and discuss them with Katy. The idea's I had in mind for what objects to use where; Leaves, feathers, petals, sheets of card or broken dolls. We both liked the sheets of card idea and in the end I found some wonderful sheets of coloured acetate in my local craft store that worked out even better.

Related links
You can see the rest of the images from this shoot here..

and check out more of Katys work here...

Katy also runs a wonderful photography props hire company specialising in stuffed animals, you can check that out here..

Shooting lingerie and nude with Allegra

When shooting nudes its very important to have the correct approach and attitude. Your model is putting themselves in a very vulnerable position and employing a lot of trust in your professionalism as a photographer. It is vital that you do everything in your power to make them feel 100% safe and comfortable. Here's a few rules of thumb that I use along with  some nude & lingerie images that I shot recently with a fabulous model named Allegra

Discuss levels and stick to them
It is very important that you are completely up front and discuss the levels that the model is comfortable with right from the very first correspondence. It is then even more important that you stick to these levels rigidly. If you try and push your model into something they are not comfortable with you will quite simply end up with a very unhappy model, rubbish pictures and a bad reputation.

Eyes above the neck line
Staring inappropriately at the model is a big no no, its massively disrespectful and at best will see you labelled as a lecherous school boy.

keep you hands to yourself
It is perfectly feasible to direct a model with words and demonstration, there is absolutely no reason why you should be touching your model.

Protect their modesty
Even at a full nude shoot you should try and provide a private area for the model to get changed and suggest that they cover up between sets.

Avoiding the smut.
There is a fine line here,whilst its good to be able to complement your model and bolster confidence its not a good idea to make overly sexual or suggestive comments.

To conclude
The bottom line is if you go into a shoot like this with respect for the model as a person with dignity (as a pose to a sexual object) and the attitude that you are there to make beautiful images, you won't have a problem.

Big thanks to Allegra, she's a really fantastic model to work with, highly recomended! see more of her work here ~  www.modelmayhem.com/1641825  

Other places to find me on the net...         WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


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Vintage Showgirl Shoot

DIY Ethic
Here's some pictures from a shoot I did last weekend with the marvellous Eve Kann, you may remeber her from the Cat Woman Shoot I did. As with the cat woman shoot, the costume for this one was another of Eve's fine creations ( she is a talented young lady ).

Lighting and look
We really wanted to go for a classic 40's era look for the pictures, so i kept things very simple with one Elinchrome head mounted high camera right with a 30 degree grid on. The nice thing was that Eve's feather headdress acted as a kind of gobo, creating some wonderful shadows on the backdrop. Gotta love those happy accidents!

Very minimal post processing done on these shots, I mainly just added some split toning in lightroom to give the colours a vintage feel.

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Photoshop: before and after, which do you prefer?

After posting my behind the scenes video illustrating how I lit a recent nude shoot with Ayla Sky, a number of people where interested in seeing the shots before I'd done any photoshop editing to them. So I thought I'd follow up with some before and after shots.

The following 8 shots from the shoot are the ones with the most post production applied and I'd be  really interested in hearing peoples views. The 'before' shot in each case has had very minimal/basic colour & contrast adjustments made in lightroom. The 'after' shots in most cases have had a few texture layers applied and in some a bit of selective blurring.

I've numbered all the shots for easy reference, so that just leaves the question, which do you prefer? let me know in the comments...


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Lighting #5 ~ Ayla Sky nude shoot with BTS video

Just before xmas I had a fantastic shoot with an amazing model called Ayla Sky, we shot two quite different sets over about 4-5 hours in the studio and had loads of fun while we were doing it. I put together this fairly lo-fi video {shot on my mobile phone!} to illustrate how I lit the two different sets.

One of the things I hope you will get from this is that you really don't have to have masses of super expensive equipment to create great images. In fact I have always found that a little bit of restriction  actually leads to more creative solutions, and a lot less faffing around! Indeed, when it comes to lighting, the old adage 'less is more' so often rings true.

Don't get me wrong, having great equipment at your disposal is not a bad thing at all, especially when you're doing professional commissions and need consistent reliability. But its not the be all and end all and it definitely does not guarantee that your images will be great.

You can see more of the finished images on my website ~ www.image23.co.uk


image23: lighting set up for a nude shoot with Ayla Sky from image23 on Vimeo.

Related posts
See more posts on lighting techniques 
See these shots before and after photoshop 
Shooting nude and lingerie with Allegra

Click through to see all the pictures from this shoot...