Monthly Archives: October 2014

Light Painting: Edinburgh Vintage Shoot

I have done more photo shoots with Maria than with any other model. Not only does she look fabulous in photographs, but she always has interesting ideas for photo shoots and that makes for fun collaborations.

I couldn’t really believe that it had been nearly two years since our last project. Time flies when you’re having fun. So when I wanted to further explore the light painting technique, I asked Maria if she was interested and if she had any ideas.

Model in a light blue vintage dress and hair against a blue garage door on Circus Lane, Edinburgh

This garage door on Circus Lane, Edinburgh, attracted my attention because of its texture and colour. It also wasn’t lit by any of the street lights, so it was dark enough for the light painting technique to work.

She told me that she had wanted to do a vintage-themed shoot for a long time. Now if you’ve ever met me, you’ll know I’m the opposite of a fashionista. So I had very little idea of what that meant, but having worked with Maria in the past, I knew that I could trust she’d give me some great looks.

I also ask collaborators if they know of some interesting locations. And Maria suggested the area around Circus Lane in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Model in a vintage light blue dress and vintage hair sitting on the steps of St Stephen's church, Edinburgh

The steps of St Stephen’s church in Edinburgh may not look like a great location for a photograph. But I recognised two important elements of design, line and pattern. And with light painting, it is possible to make nearly anything look interesting. Adding a  lovely young lady to the image doesn’t hurt either!

One of the reasons I love light painting, is that with this technique, one can make some ordinary backgrounds like a garage door on Circus Lane or the steps of St Stephen’s church look interesting. Such is the power of lighting!

Photographing Children at The Hive Soft Play, Bathgate

A few weeks back I was on assignment taking photographs at The Hive Soft Play in Bathgate, and working with children aged 3 to 11-12 years old.

The Hive Soft Play is an indoor play centre with a spectacular play frame. There is a cafe serving delicious homemade food and treats. The play centre is for children aged 0-12 years. It is also a great party venue offering a variety of party options to celebrate birthdays.

Young girl blowing out the candles on her birthday cake

Blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. Probably my favourite picture of the day.

The shoot was organised by co-owner Sarah Russell to take place late afternoon. I was to showcase as many of the activities the centre offers as possible. I took photographs of the venue, the treats on offer at the cafe, as well as relaxing mothers enjoying a cup of coffee. And of course, I had to show plenty of children enjoying themselves.

I had a great time working with Sarah, the kids and their parents and I’m showing in this blog post a few of my favourite shots taken on the day.

Young girl with her face painted to look like a tiger

Face painting is one of the activities offered by The Hive, and the children really enjoyed taking part in it. I just love the expression on her face.

The saying “Never work with children or animals” is attributed to American comedian and actor W.C. Fields. I can’t say anything about working with animals, but I would respectfully disagree with Mr Fields when it comes to working with children.

Not that photographing kids is free of challenges. They do have a limited attention span, and when a toddler loses any interest in what you are trying to do, you might as well move on, because you won’t get their attention back. So you have to be ready when the moment comes. But then, photographing young children is very rewarding. Unlike us adults, they haven’t really learned to fake it and therefore the expressions they give you are always genuine. I hope you enjoy the images in this post as much as I enjoyed creating them.

And if you have any kids, take them to The Hive in Bathgate where they’ll have an amazing time while you relax.

Two young girls on a small slide

I did not have to direct them to show they enjoyed the ride. But a few minutes later, they had completely lost any interest in this small slide and moved on to other areas of the play centre. Luckily, I was ready to capture that moment.


Light Painting in the Forest

In my previous blog post, I talked about trying a number of new techniques on location, in the forest of Blackford Hill.

Light painting is the last technique I tried on the shoot with actress/model Electra Gouni. We had to wait until light levels in the forest got sufficiently low because the technique involves lighting a dark scene with a light torch by hand. Since it is difficult to illuminate the whole scene during a single exposure, a number of exposures were taken and then combined later in Photoshop. This also allows greater flexibility in constructing the final image.

light painting of actress and model Electra Gouni in the forest of Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

I needed to set up this shot  before the forest got too dark, so I could properly compose the image. We then water until the forest got dark enough for my torch light to be brighter than the fading ambient light. The final image is a composite of may images, each one with a little bit of the scene revealed by the light torch.

I first learned of this technique from world class photographer Dave Black and I’ve been experimenting with it for a while, mostly with still subjects. So wanted to experiment a little bit more with people. This poses a challenge in that the model has to stand very still while he/she is being lit by the torch light.

I really like the surreal and moody atmospheres one can get from light painting. In this day and age where we are being inundated with imagery, it is important to be able to create photographs that stand out from the crowd, and the light painting technique offers plenty of opportunities in this regard.

Photo Shoot in the Forest

I really believe in personal projects. They give me the opportunity to hone my craft and try new ideas and techniques, so I can better serve my clients.

I recently did a photo shoot in the forest of Blackford Hill, Edinburgh. My collaborators for this project were Electra Gouni (actress/model) and Miriam Wilson (makeup artist).

I wanted to try a number of techniques on location for this project. But I always make sure that I take some photographs that the model and makeup artist can use, in case the experimentations don’t work out.

Edinburgh model leaning against tee with a forest background and texture added in Photoshop

I asked the model to wear a red dress, because it provides the best colour contrast with the green forest background. I added a texture to the photograph in Photoshop

Close-up portrait of model with tree bark as background, taken in the forest of Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

I shot some close-up portraits for the makeup artist. I decided to pose the model against a tree because I liked the contrast between her soft skin and the rough texture of the tree bark.

In a previous blog post, “Gravity”, I described an experiment with levitation photography in my flat. I wanted to try that technique on location. I’m relatively pleased with the result, but I need to make the levitation effect more striking. This is part of the learning experience. It usually takes a few tries to get it right.

Model levitation in the forest, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

Levitation effect achieved in Photoshop. I also added a texture to the photograph in post-production.

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a big fan of multiple exposures done in camera. Thus far, I used this technique on natural subjects, like flowers and trees. I want to see what could be done with a model. By combining two exposures, one with the model and one without, one can give the person a ghostly appearance. Similarly to the ‘levitation’ experiment, I need to work on this technique a bit more before I get a photograph worthy of putting in my portfolio. Live and learn.

Model in forest, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, ghostly appearance

Ghostly effect achieved in camera with multiple exposures (two in this case)


Model Video: Amelia Court

Here are a few fun YouTube facts, taken from the YouTube statistics web page:

-More than 1 billion users visit YouTube each month

-Over 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth

—80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US

—According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

—YouTube is available on hundreds of millions of mobile devices.

The widespread availability of mobile devices makes consuming video content easy and popular. Video should be an integral part of any business’s marketing plan.

Young ladies and gentlemen wanting to work in the modelling industry would work with professional photographers to produce a book of quality images they would show to potential clients. I believe that video is going to be a necessary component of a model’s portfolio. Leading model management companies, such a Premier Model Management from London, are using video to showcase their modelling talent.

With the increasing demand for video content, there are going to be more and more opportunities for models. And I’m sure the casting directors would like to see how the models look on video beforehand. After all, actors have showreels and the purpose of a model’s portfolio is to show potential clients how the model looks in photographs.

About a month an a fall ago, I teamed up with fellow photographer Hervé Mudry to produce a photography and video package for model Amelia Court.

Hervé took care of the photography aspect and I was behind the video camera. I found it was much easier to split the photography and video duties than try to do both at the same time.