Category Archives: News

Jurassic Coast


I was due in Poole on Wednesday morning so decided to drive down the day before and visit the coast for some landscapary before checking into the hotel.  It’s a 4.5 hour drive from my house and I plumbed the Durdle Door car park into the sat-nav.  Was all going well until I got within about 5 miles, at which point, the radio announced that the path down to the beach in Lulcroft bay had, well, fallen off.  That’s right, just as I get within a few miles of the place, the cliff fell apart, taking the steps down to the beach with it.  Oh well.

I changed course and, navigating by the sun, I headed south until I ran out of land and parked.  I had arrived in Kimmeridge bay, a few miles to the east of Durdle door.  It was about 4 hours to sunset so plenty of time to go down the path to the “beach” and look for some shots.  The beach is covered in large smooth, round boulders.  The cliffs have very obvious strata, which continue under the boulders on the beach, and as they are not quite horizontal, huge flat plates of harder rock jut out of the ground at a shallow angle.  This has created some spectacular rocky ridges out into the bay, and it looked like I was on for some sidelight from the sun in a couple of hours time.

The tides are a little weird in this area, with a double dip before it comes in properly, but from the looks of the graph on the tides planner, it looked like the rocky outcroppings would still be visible when the light arrived.  If they were covered, I figured the water would be up to the nice round boulders and I’d do those instead.  Went back up to the car park and brought the gear down, scoped out 3 compositions, put the main bag down out of the way of all 3 shots and set up on the first one, got the composition in, focus set and filter holder attached to the 14-24mm Nikkor.

Made the shots mainly using a 3 stop hard grad to control the sun and it’s reflection, and bracketed 5 stops (2 up and 2 down).   Adjusted the shot to include more sky when these wonderful clouds arrived.

Now, I checked the ISO, WB, exposure comp, and formatted the card, however what thunder-thumbs forgot was that the 14-24mm has round blades on it’s diaphragm and so renders the sun as a general mush.  Rounded aperture blades make nicer out of focus areas as the specular highlights are more circular.  However you don’t tend to shoot selective focus so close in like this and you don’t get nice sun-stars when the lens is stopped down.  I should have used the old 20mm AIS that has 7 straight blades.  Next time..  I did try cropping the sun out but I do prefer this one.  I might use the tighter crop for competitions as judges always pick up on highlights near the edge of the frame.




Focus On Imaging

Made the annual pilgrimage to the NEC last Sunday.  Very quiet:  there was no queue on he M42, no queue to get into the car park either, and room to actually walk between the stands.  Quite a few big names missing.  Jacobs of course, who went to the wall last year.  Some new faces including Hasselblad and many familiar faces.  Was good to see Garry Edwardes on the Lencarta stand and their amazing new SF300 and SF600 high-speed IGBT based lights (basically big mains powered speedlights) with mind boggling 0.8 second recycle times at full power, and 1/20,000th of a second flash duration at minimum power on the SF300.  I’ll be buying one of those as soon as they come into stock in the next few weeks.

Frank Doorhof was on The Flash Centre stand demonstrating his approach to lighting and getting some amazing pictures with Maisy.  Here he is, having just blown Maisy away with the new point-and-destroy feature on the Sony Alpha 99…..



It as great to talk to Frank after the show – I learnt the basics of how to light and meter from Frank’s videos on Kelby Training.

Did a bit of shopping:  bought a Lumiquest LTP softbox.  I like the Lumiquest design as it folds flat in seconds and fits in my camera bag.  I have also ordered a similar looking one from Hong Kong via eBay for £4.65 inc postage.  It’s rude not to at that price and I’m curious to see how they stack up as the Lumiquest one is £45.  Also bought a 1.2m Octobox from Bessel – with a difference.  I’ve already got a 1.2m Octa, however it takes a twenty minute wrestling match to put it up.  This new one, opens like an umbrella, and took me less than 2 minutes to construct, and 40 seconds to take down again, including attaching both diffusers and the grid.  Marvelous.  added to my clamp collection whilst at Bessel as well – can never have enough speedlight clamps, poles, and other light holding gear.

Lighting Workshops in partnership with Body Couture Studios

Lighting workshop flyer

I am very excited to be  teaching a workshop on lighting at Body Couture Studios on the 26th January.  The workshop will cover some of the underlying science, a tour of the typical equipment used, and then move on to practical sessions covering how to meter the light, where to place the lights to get hard or soft light, how to adjust the position to balance the lighting on certain features of the subject, how to skim and feather the light and how various modifiers can be used to help achieve these goals.  These will be part demonstration and part hands-on for the attendees.

Finally, we’ll be looking at how to incorporate motion into your shots combining continuous and flash light for a classical dance shot.

The course is suitable for anyone who has never used flash before and wants a jump-start into the world of creative lighting, and people who are familiar with studio lighting and would like to take the next step in controlling the light to get the picture they have in their heads, onto the memory card.

The course is for a half-day on the morning of Saturday the 26th Jan (10am start) At Body Couture Studios in Congleton, Cheshire.  The cost is just £95 and you can book your place by calling Becky at Body Couture Studios on 0772 039 5723.  You can find out more about the studio at








Portrait Processing: sometimes you just don’t

I shot this image today at Body Couture Studios in Congleton. Adjusted the white and black points as usual in Lightroom.  Looked at it and thought “you know what – I’m not gonna touch this – it’s done”.  If the light is right and the subject has good skin, and great make-up, you don’t need to mess with it.  See a larger version in the “People” gallery.

Model:  Ellie Anderson, Body Couture Agency

Make up:  Ellie Anderson






Hoops, poles and portable lights


I visited the opening party for Body Couture studios in Congleton last weekend.  It’s a fantastic Georgian building with a great gallery staircase, small studio rooms and some other rooms with attractive furniture, and big windows.  One of the studio rooms is equipped with 4 poles and a hoop.  The studio is owned and operated by Becky Hampson, a successful model, and pole fitness instructor.

I had no idea what to expect from this event other than to meet people.  At the last minute I threw a speedlight and a 24″ soft-box and stand into the car.

The event was packed with photographers, models, and makeup generating a great busy atmosphere.  Whilst the studio has some basic lights, and people were shooting, the outcomes were likely to be on the basic side.  Chris and I started shooting models on the hoop – using an SB-900, zoomed out to 17mm with the diffuser attached, and  inside the 24″ soft box.  The room is quite small, and there were a couple of other people in it so we struggled to get distance both for the light and the camera.  So I decided to stick to some tighter shots, minimising the background.

At 1/250th, ISO 100 and f/5.6  on the D800E the room was black and ready for light.  Chris was wielding the light handheld – the only way to go when your model is moving around, hanging upside down and rotating on a hoop suspended from a floor joist in the ceiling.  After a few shots we swapped roles and I played “chase the face” with the light for Chris as Belle, a dancer and part time model, moved from pose to pose.


Using iTTL to control the light from the camera was perfect for this ever changing shot – we could move the light, feather it, move it further away, closer in and iTTL sorted the exposure every time.  Later on, we worked with Stacey (left) and the one-

light in a soft-box (here to camera right, angled slightly downwards, and more or less side-on) worked well.  Chris varied the dtsiance of the light until we got a nice rotation from light to shadow.  I would have killed for a 2nd light to add some accent to Stacey’s hair, however we had just one light – and I like the simplicity of this shot.  The quality of the light was quite soft too, for a relatively small source compared to big studio octa-banks.

We also used the same technique to light some shots at the top of the stairs with Ellie.  Not the last word in lighting, however better than just the ambient which had the models in shadow against a lit background.

I had a fantastic time, met a load of talented people and even made a few simple images  The studio is a little on the small side however if you’re looking for something with a bit more atmosphere than seamless paper, Becky’s new studio venture is worth a look.










Landscape Photographer of The Year – book 5

2011 is the 5th year for the Sunday Times/Network Rail Take-a-View landscape photography competition and the winners have just been announced.  The winning shot by Robert Fulton is stunning and can be seen here.  The 5th book in the series will be published on 31st October.  You can order it here.

I am pleased to be able to add that my image of the seaweed in evening light on Mawgan Porth beach, below was commended and appears in the book, and in the free exhibition at the National Theatre, London  until 28th Jan 2012:-