Category Archives: News

Calgary to Vancouver! (episode 1–Banff and Moraine Lake)

This was a family trip, and that’s my excuse for not getting too many “serious” landscapes Smile with tongue out however as with any location, you would need to really explore it in detail, find the shots and then visit again and again at the right times of day, and year to get the best results, so even if this was a photo trip, good landscape would be a fortunate event.  This is why I take landscape workshops once in a while btw – its not that I need anyone to show me how to operate the camera, make exposure or focus – I’ve got a number of techniques down pretty well now for gathering the data.  Having someone that knows the location on the trip though – now that’s worth investing in.  Mind you, I did get lucky with the light on a couple of occasions and a few half decent landscapes did drop out..

IMG_0940So, the Griswald Lloyd family Vacation from the flatlands of Calgary through the Rocky Mountains, Scooby Doo world, some surreal Stepford-esque fake Swiss Towns to the very pleasant seaside-town-grown-big that is Vancouver.  Our land-ship for this trip, due to general ineptitude at Avis was the Dodge Grand Caravan you can see on the right.  Big, build quality and design from the 80’s and an engine that would struggle to pull the skin off a custard.  The old style hydraulic slushbox was as ancient as the styling, and would take 3 days to sort out a change of gear.  An absolute pain to drive on the open road, it would slow down on the hills until you pressed so much on the throttle pedal it eventually changed down and then gradually picked up speed.  As imagesoon as you backed off though it would change up and start slowing down again… I’m not sure the steering wheel was actually connected to anything either.  It was big though, and with the 3rd row of seats folded away into the floor, our 3 large suitcases went in the back easily.

Our first stop was Banff, a small town mainly comprised of hotels and shopping malls.  Banff is a good looking town – the buildings are all sympathetically designed and mostly, the hotel parking is underground.  We visited Sulphur Mountain via the gondola, and the Vermillion Lakes.

 

 

 

 

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Flour

Now – there’s a joke in here somewhere about the model being self-raising, but to be honest, It’s too late in the day to be crafting that, so just make up your own and insert it here…

_OHL5221-EditHow much do you need?  I had no idea.  I’d seen a few flour (or “dust”) shots around on flickr, and Pinterest and this seemed like an ideal job for my new high-speed IGBT Lencarta studio lights – movement, flour backlit, hair flying etc.  Well, I bought 4 bags of Sainsbury’s most basic plain flour.  I now have 3 and a half bags of plain flour – which, as it turns out is not much use for baking anything…..

The venue of the flour experiment would be Millwood Photography in Stalybridge.  I highly recommend Millwood studio – Paul not only agreed to let me throw flour about in his studio, helped out on the shoot.  And the brave volunteer to be covered in flour?  Lizzie Bayliss.  I’ve shot with Lizzie before and she is one of the best models around.

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Professional Imaging

Adobe put up all of the sessions from the Adobe Stage at Professional Imaging in the Netherlands – including 3 of my favourite photographers: Frank Doorhof, Joe McNally, and Glyn Dewis.  If you missed Joe at The Photography Show sat the NEC – this is pretty much the same lecture – brilliant stuff.   Frank’s sessions are in Dutch – although strangely, I could understand it anyway 😛 He’s demonstrating Elinchrom’s new ELC-HD heads with the delay, strobe and link functions.

 

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/6779986/events/2832596

Oh yes :) – and they work too.

 

IMG_0764The Nikon CLS/AWS  (Creative Lighting System/Advanced Wireless System) flash system does many amazing things, with off-camera flash from strobing, full TTL metering with up to 3 groups of flash at independent power settings to just simple manual control of power output from camera.  However, it has one big weakness:  it send the data from the camera to the flashes with light pulses from either the on-board pop-up flash, or a Speedlight/SU800 infrared trigger attached to the camera hotshoe.  This means there must be a way for the light to get from the camera flash to the little sensor on the side of the Speedlight.  Some people call this “line of sight”.  It’s not quite that bad – you can bounce it off walls and ceilings etc as long as it reaches the sensor it will work.

But what if I put the flashes in a softbox?  Or outside/in another room?  If you’ve read Joe McNally’s “The Hot Shoe Diaries” you’ll know just how much of the setup on his shoots is spent getting the lights to trigger, with daisy-chained SC29 cords from the hotshoe to the master flash pointing out of a window and bouncing off a satellite…Well anyway, you get the idea – it’s frigging unreliable outside, and unworkable if the light is out of sight.

So, what if we could do the same over radio?  Pocket Wizard came up with the FlexTT5 and MiniTT1 system that does just that, however many reported it to be unreliable and there was no display on the trigger – the closest you could get was to buy a 3rd thing – the “AC3 Zone controller” that supplied the missing controls on the FlexTT5 to adjust up to 3 groups of flashes with thumbwheels.  Still no display mind you, and the whole thing cost a Gazillion pounds.  Radio poppers captured the light data and re-transmitted over the wire to a device that than re-emitted the light signals into the flash sensor.  Again, very expensive, but they did work perfectly.  Dave Black has used these to excellent effect over the years.  In later months Phottix launched the Odins which seemed to work well, but again, very very expensive at £150 per receiver.  Pixel had the Kings and again no display…

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Upcoming workshop in Jan 2014

PS and movement workshop poster - WEBI’m very excited to be running another workshop with Body Couture Studios and Mark Edmondson over in Congleton in January.  Mark’s a very talented and highly published glamour, boudoir and performance art shooter and he’ll be running a Photoshop essentials class – while I go through using movement in your shots!  We’ll have 2 groups on the day, and Mark and I will run our classes simultaneously – and then swap groups at half time.  This way we can get smaller groups and a full day of content.  Shame I won’t be able to listen in on Mark’s class though…

We have a *lot* to pack in in the 2.5 hours per session and it I’m really looking forward to this – and it’s really great value at £45 for a total of 5 hours of workshop time, plus break.  If you’d like to learn about essential Photoshop techniques for finishing your studio shots, and spend some time learning how to get movement into your images, call Becky at the Studio to book your place now as spaces are strictly limited to 8 per group.  All you’ll need is your camera and tripod – see flyer for details.

Our subject for the movement class is the very talented Ellie Anderson.  I’ve worked with Ellie a few times now and she a fantastic model – and dance teacher.

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Day Out at Media City

TeamHad a fabulous time down at the BBC. Media City, in Salford last Thursday at the finals of the Barclays/BBC University Technology Challenge.  My team from Edge Hill University put on a fantastic presentation of their solution, full cost model, business case and project plan which was the product of many, many hours of hard work.  Sadly they didn’t win, however I’m extremely proud to have worked with them and I know they’ll go on to even bigger and better things.   Our hosts down at Media City were brilliant, and as it was well after breakfast, let us use this sofa for the team shot :)

The buildings and approach to their work at the BBC is an eye opener – I always assumed they had big dedicated studios for everything with big red lights on the doors.  What I saw though was lots of content being created with the minimum of kit, set and fuss, more or less in the office – in clearings inside the desk forest.  There are no “offices” as such, everyone sits out at a regular desk, and programmes are being made all over the place.  The furniture is lovely, creating little rooms within each floor.  Now, they do have some “proper” studios over in the building helpfully labelled “Studios” and there are a couple of more dedicated spaces for the sports reporting.    Couldn’t resist a quick shot in there so here’s one of my friend Julie in the chair.  I used the Nikon 28-300mm again for all of these shots.

Even the views out of the window are spectacular given the right sunset  !  Thanks to Christine Bellamy and the team at the BBC for being such fantastic hosts.

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Nikon loses plot–starts selling ”lifestyle” cameras

Oooohkaaayyy so Nikon has finally released their new “Df” camera.  Whilst other manufacturers like Sony are advancing the art of the digital camera by removing legacy “features” left over from the days of film (flappy mirrors and shutters), Nikon has put a random collection of DSLR parts into an F3 film camera body and is asking Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty Nine actual real pounds for it.

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Lighting-stock 4 – the HCCC studio-fest

Martin Pawlett and I have been organising these events for the past couple of years now for Holmes Chapel Camera club, and I guess, the first one was why I bought some studio lights in the first place.  In past events, we’ve shot whoever turned up, and wanted to do that again.  However as we also wanted to demonstrate some lighting, and I wanted to play around with some experimental stuff as well, we also hired some professional models to bolster the line-up.  Martin hired Laura Norrey – a fantastic model who specialises in a vintage (40’s) look.  I use PurplePort a lot for my model sourcing and it works very well.  I put out a casting call for the day asking for “TF” models.  “Time For…” or “TF” means models giving their time, in return for images for their portfolio.  I got a number of responses, although may didn’t have transport and the venue we use is a little out of the way.  Still, we got two models this way – Jade and Emma.   I also then hired Bella Bibby via PurplePort for the lighting demos.

As the date approached, we had 3 of our TF models pull out (we didn’t get these via PP) so I looked around for some replacements.  Bex at Body Couture did me a great deal and came down with Ellie Anderson  making the numbers up to 7 models on the day.  I also hired Amanda Hall of Visage-Design who did a great job on the make-up for the beauty shots.

Lower Withington Parish hall is brilliant for this.  It is big, has a very high vaulted roof and a stage.  It also has a lot of back rooms we can use for make-up and so on.  Here’s a 180 degree panorama of the hall with 3 main lighting stages installed:-

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Image copyright Chris Davies 2013

That’s me in the middle shooting Emma Halloway in her very cool shiny PVC two-piece.  On the left we have Anthony Holloway with Ellie Anderson and Bella is looking a bit forgotten on the right there.  I’m sure Martin is just out of shot fixing something …. Continue reading

Miss Fahrenheit

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A trial of running a studio background in our kitchen.  Not ideal, however it worked just fine for head-shots, 3 quarter and we even squeezed in a few full length ideas.  I can see a few ways of getting some more room to the sides for the lights for future shoots.  First time I’ve ever put out a casting call for “TF” i.e. Time for Images, or doublespeak for a collaboration shoot between model and photographer.  I advertised for a model for this shoot on Purple-Port – a marvellous photographer/make up artist/model/studio networking and marketing site.  Miss Fahrenheit applied.    This all worked very well.  I hear stories all the time about how either the model or the photographer didn’t show up and I guess you will get those, however I got a good feeling from the emails that Miss F. was serious, and besides, I was doing this at home, so the risk was minimal as I hadn’t paid out for studio time. Continue reading