Dear Isobel

General, Photographs

This shot came about in a way by chance. One of the things I like to do on a planned shoot is to try different ideas around the theme I have in my head. By doing this, the model also gets involved and can provide their ideas and thoughts as well. It becomes a collaboration with both of us trying to get the best we can from the set. I prefer the idea to be ‘loose’ and then develop on it when on location as all sorts of emotions and inspiration can flow from us both.

Tinks came up with the brilliant idea to wear this wedding dress. I knew her style and look would suit the plan and for me, the dress was the icing on the cake. I had no idea what the field around my ‘target’ tree was going to look like as I hadn’t visited it for about two years. We got to it by walking through a barely visible footpath with huge sweetcorn plants towering above us. We hacked our way through and then the sweetcorn anded and opened up to a freshly harvested corn field with my tree stood right in the middle of it.

We tried several different approaches to the whole set, including framing with the whole tall tree (but Tinks was too small in the frame), laying at the foot of the tree (but it was tough to make the scene ‘work’ properly). I settled on this shot after playing with the various pics in post and am delighted with it. Well…about as delighted as you can be about a suicide photograph.

It’s dark, it’s deep and it’s not pretty to look at. It is inspired by the Dido song, Isobel.

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Model: Tinkerbella
Location: Wiltshire, England
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Dixie Wedding

General

We had the wonderful pleasure of photographing Ross and Wendy’s beautiful Wedding the other day. The ceremony took place at Farmborough Church in North Somerset and the gorgeous reception at Priston Mill a couple of miles up the road.

The bride of course looked stunning (the Groom looked pretty hot too) and it was a privilege to photograph such a wonderful laid back and relaxed couple with their equally affable and fun guests. The day was a long one but thoroughly enjoyable and exciting (as Weddings generally are I guess!).

The service was interestingly punctuated by a Barn Owl that was (supposed) to deliver the rings for the Best Man but they do say never work with children and animals. The beautiful owl got stage fright at the last second and ended up on the videographers shoulder rather than the waiting glove and titbit of the Best Man!

The weather held good and we grabbed an opportunity to take some images along the way before the reception which led to some cool images in the wonderful Somerset landscape.

Our heartfelt congratulations to Ross and Wendy and may you enjoy many years of happiness in the future.

Here are a few of the shots taken during the day:-

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And the pesky Owl!

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Wedding Photography

General

It has been some time since I shot this wedding at The Tunnels in Ilfracombe but I think it is a chance to already reflect on a lovely Summer and all the fluffy happiness that can bring.

Emily and John, our Bride and Groom, are a lovely couple that were happy to let us pretty much do ‘our own thing’! The venue is amazing and lends itself to lovely backdrops and beautiful imagery and left me wishing we had more time and that I want to go back there and do it again and again. You learn so much about a place when you have shot it a couple of times. The downside is you can easily become staid and ‘tired’ of it and that doesn’t lend itself to interesting photography.

Anyway, here are some shots of the happy couple:

Wedding Accessories

General

Recently we have mostly been taking photographs of Wedding Accessories! Accessories for the wonderfully talented Vivien J Wedding Accessories business and their new website. This sounds like a nice easy job that requires us sitting in a nice and cosy studio, cup of tea warming on the side,  snapping away with a table top set-up. However this has not been the case!

Anyone that has ever tried shooting largely white objects on a white background will no doubt confirm, it ain’t easy! We ended up concocting various clever ways of supporting said jewellery and gorgeous items (made out of crystals and pearls) in order to photograph them properly. The main issue in shooting these items is that they have curved surfaces (pearls) and in order to ‘blow out’ any background to white, you risk also blowing out the pieces as well.

Photographing them on a black background and cutting out is not an option because the curved surfaces reflect the black from underneath. Firing strobes directly underneath caused problems of highlight detail being lost in the jewellery pieces themselves so the solution was to create some separation between the item and the white base. This was achieved by a piece of glass supported a couple of inches (5cm) above the white table top.

We used a white tent cube with diffused lights from the rear and left of camera. These were dialled up enough to blow the highlights on the glass/background but not enough to lose detail in the pieces themselves. Yes there were a few reflections that needed to be lost in post processing but this was a fairly easy job compared to cutting out around these intricate pieces individually.

Anyway, all is well that ends well and we look forward to the next collection of items that arrive Monday for the next instalment of the Wedding Accessories shoot!

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Lighting set-up with rear light and soft-box hidden

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A stunning Hand-Made Tiara by Vivien-J

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Detail of a Hand-Made Tiara by Vivien-J

Weddings and Walls

General

Last weekend saw the passing of another great friend into the world of marriagedom and all that this brings!

We had done the Stag Doo and even made a big thing of it (see last post!). We had even decided that we ought to further celebrate during the week of the fateful day itself but the day could be put off no longer.

The Bride and Groom tied their knot on Saturday. There were a few interesting aspects to this great day. The first and most poignant was that the Groom’s Father, a very successful local Baptist Minister was to perform the Ceremony itself. The other interesting aspects were a mixture of the normal complicated family dynamics and nervous speakers and other participants.

As is my want, I wandered around the day with cameras in tow, snapping in a low key more journalistic fashion. Annoying other guests by them realising too late that a ruddy great big 70-200mm was being pointed rather rudely in their general direction! It also made me realise why I never hanker after being a Wedding Photographer myself. The job is way too stressful, technically difficult due to poor lighting and generally, on the day, you are seen as a necessary evil rather than a person of artistic flair and skill. Indeed, such is the (understandable) demand for certain ‘posed’ images, little free time is left for anything too artistic if anyone wanted them anyway!

The Wedding itself took place in a lovely high-ceilinged Church in Wiltshire, bright, with trees guiding the happy couple forward to the middle front for the vows and swapping of expensive metal. The main wall behind proclaims Jesus is “King of Kings” but written large around the Cross and on a fantastic luxurious red emulsioned wall. Even so, my light meter reading was suggesting a paltry f2.8 even at 800/1600 iso. This really meant that for the official photographer, flash was nigh on a pre-requisite for any shots with depth. I, on the other hand, could snap on wafer thin focal lengths with both a 24-70mm @ 2.8 and a 70-200mm on a cropped sensor also at 2.8. This allowed me to hand hold at reasonable speeds with only a small amount of modern ‘noise’ on the shots that I am finding myself adding in post anyway!

I left all of the normal official kind of shots to the pro wedding guy, he knew what he was up to and I spent most of my time seeking out interesting and poignant angles. I found myself way too often dragged towards the large gold letters written on the wall and couldn’t help framing the B&G with the Minister together with this stark and firm message.

I grabbed a couple with rings and word exchanges but found it hard to capture ’emotion’ but hopefully this came through in a couple of them.

It was then a small 20-30min drive to the venue for the reception which was a re-furbished Old Tythe Barn. Sadly, the lighting in here was a lot worse and meant flash only or don’t bother at all. I mostly didn’t shoot due to my dislike of on camera flash and the freedom it prevents. I can however see that a bit of homework on speeches would be worth it with some good reactions from story tellers and their subjects at times.

After a far too long an evening spent tasting different wines, beers and spirits, the local Hotel that was to be our sanctuary was welcome after a bracing midnight walk. A wonderful day and a beautiful service followed by fantastic company and good old fashioned music and giggle!

Processing finds me as always struggling to move away from the retro slide looks of Ektachrome and the like, giving the overall feel amore nostalgic, romantic look in my eyes.

This week has seen me shooting another subject for my project. This time a friend who is completely gutting (and I mean completely gutting) a house for his new young family to move into later in the year. I wanted to grab him during a major piece of wall removal amidst the chaos and debris that goes along with this effort. It involved a well wrapped camera on a tripod and two 500 watt studio lights. I think I only held up the work for the equivalent of a tea break and I managed to get the shots I wanted. At least I hope I have! There are no second chances with this one!

Business continues to be tough this year and breakthroughs feel harder with Corporate Sponsors for the large project. Determination hasn’t waned though so keep watching this space and remember, if you know anyone that might know someone in the right position in the right business, then please please let me know!

Hugs as always….

Groom and Best Man. Nerves? What nerves!

The Vows