Friday, 31 July 2015

Day 212: crayon sunset

Another late night in the office and another sunset from the top floor. If I want the River Thames in shot I need to get up higher. It's one of those sunsets that could possibly have been applied with a couple of crayons.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Day 211: getting busy amongst the bees

Another fantastic Robert Canis workshop but this time instead of me having to transport myself to deepest Kent, he was in my 'hood, Kew Gardens. Normally I pore over train timetables, maps and dig out local taxi cab numbers, whereas for this workshop I can merely catch a bus or two.

I was convinced we would be dogged by bad weather, the various weather apps I'd consulted assured me that would be the case. But, the weather gurus were wrong and we were treated to a fine, summery day.

We mustered outside the infamous palm house and headed inside. Kew Gardens are having a whole exhibition about spice at the moment and amongst the ginger and peppercorns there are some hibiscus type flowers that catch my eye.

Now we have our eye in, we work outside capturing a few context shots with the palm house and museum in the background and flowers in the foreground.


Then we troop over towards the rockeries. Almost immediately I figure might be able to add some new entries to my bee portfolio. Very quickly I rack up a few hundred photos that feature bees, bits of bees, or busy bees' bottoms buzzing off to the next flower. For the final location we head towards the walled gardens where of course, I stumble across more bees plus some stunning vibrant beds of flower.


And now I must sign up for the Kew Autumn Photography Walk too.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Day 210: aged sunflower

There's a little community garden close to our office but I've not stumbled across it until this evening. I'm hoping to be overwhelmed with an abundance of vibrant flower choices tomorrow at Kew Gardens so I'm drawn to an elderly sunflower for a change. I'm pretty sure a sunflower would be deadheaded at Kew before it reaches this stage, so a little urban decay flower-wise.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Day 209: new Moo

Not that I don't have plenty of my skinny Moo cards left from previous printings but I fancied adding a new dozen to my collection. The idea is not just to carry them around in case someone wants to have the details of my random blog ramblings and photography efforts, but some of my favourites can be placed in the frame that sits on my desk at work to inspire me to get out more, and take more photos.

One of the new ones was a summer night almost exact replica view from our balcony overlooking Southwark Cathedral, to replace the dark winter shot I had on display previously. There's the inevitable sunsets, always plenty of those, new flowers (natch) and another photo of Richmond. I thought I'd squeeze in a photo of Tash from our recent Happy Camera studio lighting workshop too.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Day 208: twilight Shard

It's been days since I've photographed that pointy building next door, but I'm on the balcony and the mid evening just after the sun has set and I cannot resist. The warm glow turns our very un-orange building all terracotta, and a perfect counterpoint of the darkening blue sky.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Day 207: more rain

The glossy leaves of the ivy snaking over the garden wall of one of my near neighbours is a good vehicle for a scattering of glistening raindrops.



Saturday, 25 July 2015

Day 206: I saw a mouse...

If I'm catching one of the last tubes on the Westbound Jubilee line you can often spot dark mice scurrying across the platform. But only if there's not too many people wandering about. Despite the mice being super speedy they don't like to be out if the passengers are standing around or a tube is approaching. I'm always trying to get a photo, but they are wily and normally the moment you might just have been able to sneak up on one, some heavy footed passenger stomps up behind you and the rodent scarpers. But it's past midnight and I'm sat on a bench clutching my camera hoping one might emerge if I stay still. I can see a tail twitching enticingly from beneath the Jubilee line barrier and wait. It's lurking too close to the the shadows for a decent photo and then suddenly it makes a run for it and a fire off a quick shot. It's not the perfect London tube mouse picture, but it'll suffice until I can get a better one. And knowing my predilection for late night tubes, I'll have other opportunities.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Day 205: raindrops and petals

A summer morning, a British summer morning so not surprisingly we have had rain. The worse seems to be over so I can seek out some raindrop bejeweled flower petals. These pale amethyst tinged petals seem perfect for my quest.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Day 204: rapid flower photography

I'm just about to cross the road to get to the bus stop, and an intriguing bloom catching my eye emerging from the bush surrounding the churchyard. Have I got time to grab a few shots before the bus rounds the corner? I'll give it a try. Camera unleashed, close-up filter applied, shots fired, angle adjusted and another go. Okay, nip across the road as the bus rumbles into view. Phew, made it!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Day 203: behind Canary Wharf

I'm hanging around Canary Wharf pretty regularly, well many of my clients live there. But more often see it from a distance, from the city or our balcony. However, for a change I'm looking back towards Canary Wharf from the other side, so everything seems reversed. Barclays is normally hiding behind its more towering neighbours but from this angle emerges centre stage.

The sun has set but the sky is still showing the pinky and purple hues of a post sunset twilight.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Day 202: diamonds and best friends

To celebrate friendship day (no, I hadn't heard of it either), last Friday an Indian company, Mettlle, sent me an email offering me some generous discounts as a previous customer, and added they'd also waive international postal changes. Because they said, "best friends are like a diamond, bright beautiful and valuable" Well frankly, they had me on the first suggested twinkling item and in case the offer expired, I splurged. Delivery was to by 18th August, but the latest little beauty to my sparkly collection arrived today, and bizarrely there were no custom charges. Diamonds are indeed a girl's best friend. And Mettlle may be my new BFF!

Update: There were custom duties due, but FedEx took the unusual option of instead of contacting me directly for payment, as one would sensibly expect, they would send an invoice addressed to the entire company and hope that it would reach the right person eventually. Hmmm, I have to say the cunning plan of UPS asking for payment before delivery seems so much more efficient!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Day 201: pointing at snails

The coniferous hedge at the end of my road is a snail haven. Especially if there has been rain, the snails emerge and bask amongst the needles. Today I spotted the tiniest of baby snails and I passed by; the shell was so delicate and translucent. I thought I should try and show the scale of said snail by pointing at it in a "look, here is a miniature snail" sort of way!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Day 200: a Sunday sunset

I was supposed to be heading to HM and L’s place in Chiswick to celebrating L moving in, but I had to admit yesterday was a fun but utterly exhausting day. Couple with, as usual; I had a very late Friday night (aka early Saturday morning) in the office. So I had enforced laziness for most of today, and then I just could tell the sunset was going to be something worth checking out. I could see the pink tendrils all around the sky as I walked onto Richmond Bridge and found a good spot to shoot. I was not the only one determined to get a decent Richmond sunset, there were a dozen snapping with smartphones (a few selfies), two with the full tripod action and one brandishing his Lee ND graduated filters. I had to go a little more freeform and handheld but still wanted to wait for a bit of extra action to complete my shot. Luckily there was one man using a motor boat to relocate some rowing boats and a final rowing straggler conveniently heading towards the sunset. Score!

As I left, ringing for an Uber cab, I could see more beautiful scenes playing out in the sky, but it was already embarrassingly late to go to a house party on a school night…so camera dutifully shackled!


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Day 199: 50 shades of studio lighting!

I’ve been looking forward to the latest Happy Camera Studio Lighting Workshop. Finally, I have a lovely Leica camera that can let me use the EVF and mount a Pocket Wizard trigger on my hot shoe, and my own Pocket Wizard at that. In previous workshops I have had to forgo the EVF, and resort to live view to remotely trigger the lights. Otherwise, I keep the EVF but have to have the lights just permanently turned on. Either is far from ideal. But now I have my own Wizards, a hot shoe going begging, I am ready to play!

We spent the morning looking at a few lighting scenarios, exploring the studio, reviewing all the source material of different techniques m(A) had gathered, and selecting the sort of effect(s) we were hoping to achieve. I always like the dramatic, the key features emerging from the dark shadows. I keep harking back to my favourite Louise Brooks portrait taken by Eugene Richee. I have a large reproduction hanging in my sitting room and hope one day to try my own version. I need a girl with a sharp bob and strings and strings of pearls!

We practised with a one light set up and gradually added more light to either correct a problem or achieve a certain look. It was fascinating to see effects of a diffuser, a reflector, or something heftier like a soft box. Once we’d examined a few option our selected model appeared. The popular vote went to Tash, she looked fun, versatile and had a dramatic fringe with long red hair. This time we hadn’t set a theme, just asked our model to bring a few outfits and go as wild as she liked. First of all she gave us a black pallet of a black polo neck and black trousers, with her hair all tied up in a bun.

Some of the original lighting themes weren’t finessed and I was getting too much noise. I opted for black and white to alleviate the problem. The only problem was that Tash kept putting her arms behind her back and making it appear that she had no arms at all. We added a gold crown we found in the studio, introduced at least one arm, and shot some more.

For those who got the reference, we could immediately see shades of Anatasia Grey in some of the poses!

SL had been very taken by the silver shoes Tash had packed. We asked for something "flowing" and she changed into this little dress.

Then there was some crazy stuff with gels, which BB insisted were repositioned with more precision (Vorsprung Durch Technik!) and as Tash is conveniently a dancer too, we asked her to throw us some shapes. I was thinking "Tales of the Unexpected" or maybe a Bond girl.

And then in post, I tried combining several exposures, hmmm Tash meets Medusa!

Then we through my pink McQueen scarf into the mix and encouraged Tash to try some spinning. We also tried a few jumping shots but in quite a tight studio setting, I didn’t think I captured the moment well.

Then BB suggested a little mis en scene that he’d been contemplating. He wanted a smouldering change of mood lighting, a dramatic change of outfit (or perhaps lack of…), which definitely elicited a few raised eyebrows from SL and myself. Tash, the consummate professional, donned a dark lacy body suit, the killer heels, the smoky makeup and posed for something a tad more PG astride one of the studio chairs.


Joking aside, despite it perhaps being a little too much information regarding the inner workings of BB’s brain, I loved the outcome. We opted for trying to make Tash laugh, anyone know any jokes? Certainly m(A) sneaking up behind her for a cheeky behind the scenes (BTS) shot had the photographers laughing, if nothing else!


We then brought the polystyrene walls in to add a darker edge and again, I thought the noise I was experiencing with the smaller apertures was either adding too much pink (yes, sometimes even I think there’s too much pink!) or just over exposed hotspots which was much easier to calm down in monochrome. The advantage is that is also adds to whole film noir to our model trapped in an ever decreasing space.

Somehow we persuaded Tash to change again and then seeing how we were suffering from a dirty floor in any of the full length shots, we tried to flood the scene with light to hide a multitude of sins.

This led to a final change of scene. How about if we go with the light flooding and have Tash all pale and ethereal with wild tendrils of hair? She dug out a white floaty, chiffony shirt, little lace shorts and toned done her makeup, removing the dramatic lipstick and smoky eyes. When we’d been reviewing some of the high-fashion shots earlier, we’d been talking techniques to add movement to the hair. Apparently the top tip is wafting a board just out of camera shot, that causes little puffs of air to add some hair action. JT turned out to be a very fine wafter!

Tash finally managed to change back into civvies, escape and head off for another job, and we had a little more cold fancy pizza whilst, in my case, checking out the fruits of our labours. It was a fabulous day; we crammed in masses of outfit changes, various scenarios, lighting setups…and pizza. I learnt lots and yet again, have a very Happy Camera!