Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Home studio Portraits


If you've ever visited my Flickr or 500px you will see that my photography is varied, taking pictures of most subjects, but deep down I particularly love portraits and strobist work.
I had 9 days off work so decided to do some portraits of my 10 year old daughter who was bribed with copious amounts of ice cream and Reece cups.
So with the magic of sugary products I had my model, next was the creativeness of the portraits wanting to make the shoot fun I headed over to Amazon, not the jungle but the store to order some props.
I ordered some sunglasses and also a pair of funky steam punk glasses, also my wife who loves supporting me with my creativeness bought us some fun glasses from the pound shop, so altogether we spent around £16 on the props.
Below I will explain my set ups for some of my shots with diagrams to show what is possible in your own home as all these shots were taken in my front room, the only thing I changed between shots was the lighting and glasses.

My gear used
Nikon D7100
Sigma 70-200 f/2.8
Folding white/black Background
Yongnuo 560tx trigger
3 x Yongnuo 560 IV
1 x Yongnuo 560 III
Beauty Dish (silver)
Small Softbox
2 x Reflector Dish
Coloured Gels

I started off with a white background to get some shots in the bag by setting up a Yongnuo 560 IV either side of the background both had reflector dishes to stop spill onto my subject, I took test shots changing the power until the background was a nice bright white by checking the LCD on the back of my camera and using an aperture of around f/9 to f/11 which was just a personal choice to get as much dof as possible using a longer lens.
Next I set up my beauty dish and softbox with the beauty dish directly in front of my daughter and slightly above camera level and the softbox directly in front but below camera level.
The softbox was to fill in the shadows, I normally use a reflector for this but on this occasion wanted complete control over the shadows by alternating the power.
I think this type of lighting is called Clamshell lighting.
Using my Yongnuo 560tx trigger I turned off the background lights then set up the power of the beauty dish and softbox individually to see what affect they had.
Once each individual light was sorted I turned them all on then took test shots of my daughter to finalize the lighting.
The reason you do this is that the key lights can add  more light to your backdrop and can then make it too bright, so if you work in a small space and your subject is close to the back drop the light can reflect onto the back of your subject creating some funny results or unwanted rim light.

Here are some of the white background shots with diagram





For the coloured backdrops I just put coloured gels over the two rear flashguns.
I used blue gels and green gels then changed the colour in Photoshop if I needed any other colours.

Here are some of the coloured backdrops

 This picture was a green background which I converted to yellow to make it pop more

Next I turned my white background round to use the black for the next shots.
All my lights stayed in the same positions all I did was turn background lights round to point at the side of my daughter to create something a little different.

Blue gelled lights for rim light

 Lastly I did remove one of the background lights then moved the single one directly behind my daughter pointing directly at the backdrop to create a little separation from the dark backdrop.

Black Backdrop Pictures and Diagram



I just wanted to show what is possible in a small space with basic manual flashguns and some really cheap props.
Apart from the single light on the backdrop all the pictures were taken with everything in the same position with some minor power setting changes between coloured backdrops and the changing from white to black.
With coloured backdrops if you can only change the backdrop to one colour you can then change this to any colour you want in Photoshop, also I added the lipstick in Photoshop as well which you can change the colour in Photoshop also.
Anyway have fun with your portraits and don't be afraid to try different things, its amazing what you can capture by being creative and mixing it up a bit.

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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Photographer Vs Photographer

If you have read my previous post you will know my motivation and picture taking was at an all time low, now I had two choices, one was to continue down a path of self destruction and the other was to push myself to move on and get back my old self motivation.
I decided with the support of my family to get back on the horse and get back out taking pictures.
One of the things I really wanted and needed was sunrises and sunsets which I have very few, due to the type of shift work I do getting out at these times can be difficult due to tiredness.
I made a big effort and got up at 0330am to drive to Fairfields church in Romney marsh, Kent.
Sunrise was around 0630 and I wanted to get there in plenty of time.
The drive was around an hour plus I needed time to find my way around in the dark and find a good location to set up my gear.
I was set up and ready by around 0545am so all there was to do was wait for the colours to come.





Whilst I waited another photographer turned and set up his gear right next to me.
I did notice this photographer had all the latest and expensive gear including the holy trinity of lenses, he also had to mention when he got out another lens, "oh I think I will swap to my 14-24" etc and yes even the 14-24 had the custom expensive filter holder with all the filters.
I stood next to this photographer with my mediocre gear but feel I came away with some pretty good shots.
It wasn't the amazing sunrise I was hoping for but I was still pleased with the results and glad I got up early for it.
One thing I keep wondering though is the photographer who stood next to me with the expensive gear, what his pictures look like and how they compare to mine, would his pictures be better than mine due to having equipment I can only dream of, because if his pictures came out the same as mine or  worse then that might stop my desperate attempt to acquire newer gear and just be happy with what I have.





I chatted briefly to the photographer next to me but will never know who he is so will probably never see his pictures to compare.
So for now I will keep motivated and keep trying to get the elusive sunrise/sunset I'm after with my mediocre gear and will make the effort to get up early, one thing is for sure I will be visiting this quaint little church again but maybe a nice startrail next time.


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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A fresh start (Again)

So its now 2016 and time to revisit my blog and start posting again.
The last few years have been very very stressful and has been an enormous amount of pressure on me and my family.
I have had a lot more downs than ups which has caused me to not be myself or the person I once was.
I have been taking a lot less pictures.
I have been posting a lot less on places like Flickr.
I have been interacting less on other peoples work.
I have been very argumentative on social media.
I have had very strong opinions on all manner of subjects.

I have changed and acted like I wouldn't normally do.

For all the people who became friends on social media, who knew me when I was happier, who I interacted with on a daily basis are probably wondering what has happened and why I went from someone who helped as much as I could, who interacted constantly, to someone who posted constantly to virtually nothing, all I can say is we went through things no Parents should ever go through, things that has destroyed us inside.
The journey has been a tough one and we are trying to stay strong for our family.
That's all I want to say, I don't want to share any personal information on what we have actually been through but wanted to say sorry for any actions that may have upset anyone and also a big thank you to the people who have continued to support me,, people who have given me support via email or continued commenting on my pictures even though I have not really commented a lot in return (You know who you are).

I am trying to be more positive and am actually starting to take more pictures again.
May this be the start to more blogs and more pictures.

Thank You
Simon

Monday, 27 October 2014

Professional Photographer Of The Year 2014

For the second time I have been shortlisted for Professional Photographer Of The Year, the last time was in 2012 with a picture of my daughter at sunset sitting on a rock at Birling Gap, East Sussex.
To be shortlisted not once but twice amongst an array of amazing photographers and pictures is such an honor and a great boost to my confidence and profile.
With regards to timing I was told of my shortlisting just after I shut my website and domain down so I have no website to link people to at the moment, this blog which is a little neglected of late is all I have at present.
The reason I shut my website down was my contract came to an end, I wanted to start a new site from scratch and reinvent myself with a new logo and brand ready for the new year of 2015.

As soon as I hear the news of the winners I will do a follow up post with my shortlisted picture or possibly winning picture lol for all to see.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

GoPro 3+ Black Edition

Last year I came 2nd place in Park Cameras imaging festival and won a Nikon D5200, well you won't believe it I came 2nd this year as well and only bagged my self a big juicy Gopro 3+ Black Edition.

This is the picture that won 2nd place



I went along with my daughter to Park Cameras today to collect my Prize from Store supervisor Shaun Allen.

Here I am with my daughter accepting my prize from Shaun


On our way out my daughter took a picture of me outside Park Cameras store as a memento


I want to say a big thank you to Park Cameras and GoPro for the amazing prize and another thankyou to Park Cameras who offer an amazing service as this is where I buy most of my camera gear, I really appreciate the personal touch, getting great advice and info and products.

Check out Park Cameras website on the link below

Also make sure you check out GoPro's website for some amazing products

When I got home I done an unboxing video on YouTube so check that out below






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Monday, 14 July 2014

PhotoSEL 35x140cm strip softbox

The ball is rolling again and I have finally done another YouTube video.
My latest video is me unboxing and erecting my new PhotoSEL 35x140cm Strip softbox.
Putting together softboxes can be quite daunting at first which is why I did this instructional video to help others who may feel overwhelmed or unsure.
Whether you have a square softbox or a strip softbox the basic building principle is the same so check out my video which is a bit further down this page.
The other reason for this video is to share some technical information and a price comparison between PhotoSEL which is an affordable way into photographic accessories compared to a leading brand like Bowen's which is known for pure quality but at a price.
At the time of my video I checked out some prices

PhotoSEL 35x140cm strip softbox with honeycomb grid £78
http://goo.gl/54J2hB

Lumiair Strip 140
Lumiair Strip 140
Bowen's 40x140cm Lumiair strip 140 £192
Lumiair Strip 140
http://goo.gl/Xkbxvp
Bowen's 40x140cm soft egg crate £239
http://goo.gl/XvDU1D
Bowen's total = £431

That's a saving of £353 for one strip softbox with honeycomb grid/soft egg crate which is a phenomenal difference.
As an amateur I can't justify paying the Bowen's price for a softbox so can't offer a comparison with regards to quality.
I am also in no way taking anything away from Bowen's which is a very high quality and recognized  leading brand and owned by professionals the world over, I am just looking at a cheaper alternative allowing photographers like myself the opportunity to own and use equipment normally owned by  professional photographers.




The PhotoSEL strip softbox also comes in a smaller size the 22x90cm so if you are tight for space or don't need the full size you have the smaller one as an option.
The ring mount of the PhotoSEL is the 's' mount so is compatible with many brands of strobes like Bowen's, Interfit, Elemental etc.

I have 2 of these strip softboxes which I will be testing soon and when I do I will post the results on my blog so you can see for yourselves if the quality matches the price, but I have to say already at this price you really can't go to wrong.

I would also like to add I am in no way affiliated with PhotoSEL I am just sharing my experiences and opinions with anyone interested.

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

National Camera Day

Hi everyone
As you may have seen I have been away for a while dealing with life and family matters amongst other pressing issues.
Things aren't perfect but I am now in a position to move forward in life so will be starting everything up again including my blog, my website, Flickr and YouTube so watch this space.



SnapKnot
Courtesy of: SnapKnot

Check out SnapKnot above for all things wedding and photography.
Apparently its National Camera Day so celebrate by getting out your camera, taking pictures and posting the results.