12 November 2010

Some autumnal parkland and urban portraiture - part 2

Following on from yesterday's post which covered the first part of my recent shoot with AnneT, here is your final installment from the session.....

As we were finishing up in the park by the 'green wall', the weather took the turn that it had been threatening all morning and it started raining.  Luckily we'd got all the outdoor open air shots we were after so we dived into the cars and headed into Watford's town centre to our second location.  I'd got the inspiration for this location from a fellow member of the Watford UK Photographers flickr group who had posted a shot taken there a few weeks back.  Knowing that my shoot with Anne was coming up I went down and checked out the location a few days before we met up to make sure it was what I was after.  It turned out to be even better than I was expecting with lots of potential areas to shoot in for a good range of looks.  Best of all - especially given the weather we were now experiencing, the area was totally under cover and allowed us to stay dry!  The location was on quite a busy route from the town centre to one of the main retail parks in Watford so we got our fair share of interested onlookers here too but Anne took it all in her stride!

Once I'd worked out where we were going to shoot first of all, I went about setting up a couple of flashes on stands - one of which I was using a red gel on to give a bit of interest to the flyover we were shooting underneath.  This gelled light also ended up giving a very funky red 'rim light' to Anne in a few of the shots to balance the light from the main flash I was using.

Anyway, here are a few of the shots I captured:
Anne gives a moody look to the location

A gritty urban location brightened up by Anne and a splash of flash

Just enough of a hint of the red glow behind Anne to give added interest to this shot
By moving Anne just a few yards to one of the other pillars, I was able to take advantage of the little ambient light that was available to get some great, naturally lit portraits of her.  A simple boost of the camera's ISO and a bit of exposure compensation let me achieve the look I was after - beauty in the urban chaos:
A simple mono conversion gives this shot the look I was after.

A bit of cross-processing to give more of a gritty, urban look.
Overall I was really pleased with how well the morning went and I know that Anne enjoyed the shoot and loves the pictures.  Mission accomplished I guess!

My recent urban portraiture shoots have given me added enthusiasm for getting out of the studio setting and experimenting a bit more with what is there on our doorsteps.  Hopefully I'll be able to undertake a few more of these style of shoots soon and I already have a couple more potential locations to scout out which I think could give really interesting backdrops.

You can view a complete set of my favourite images from the shoot with AnneT on my flickr photostream.

11 November 2010

Some autumnal parkland and urban portraiture - part 1

I've just finished editing a set of photos taken at the end of last week from an outdoor portrait shoot I had arranged with AnneT. 

With potentially quite a wet day forecast, I was quite relieved to find just an overcast morning as I arrived at the first location in Cassiobury Park, Watford.  As I was a bit early I had a quick chance to recce a couple of locations in the park before Anne arrived.  The area I had hoped to use which I'd come across the week before and which had a lovely carpet of fallen autumn leaves had been all cleared up so there were no leaves at all!!  Thinking quickly and taking into account the ideas I'd got in my mind for the shoot, I was able to come up with an alternative location in the park which would fit the bill just fine.

Once Anne arrived, we headed up to the area I had in mind and talked over the look I was trying to create.  Anne had brought a selection of outfits and footwear so we'd be able to get a good variety of looks during the session.  Our first location was a long avenue of trees which gave a wonderful autumnal look and just what I was trying to create.

Our first location
We got a few frames here before just a quick and simple switch from one side of the tree to the other gave a bit of a different perspective.  Here's a shot from just the other side of the tree:

A simple change for a bit of a different look
Next we moved just 50 or so yards from our initial location and I was able to get this wonderful warm looking shot under the canopy of trees - even though it was a grey, overcast, cold November morning!

Recreating a sunny autumnal day on what was an overcast morning
After getting a few shots of Anne walking through and kicking up the golden leaf fall, we headed over to a more man made backdrop of a vibrant green wall on one of the park buildings.  I've been wanting to get some shots at this location for quite some time now and this shoot was the perfect opportunity to try out some ideas.

Anne created more of an 'urban chic' look to complement the new location and after setting up some off camera flash, I was able to get shooting.  We got a few bemused looks from several of the dog walkers visiting the park and a group of school children also took a bit of an interest in what we were doing!!

Here are a few shots from the 'green wall' location:

Anne struts her stuff!

A simple splash of off-camera flash to give a bit more kick to the image
For our final location shoot of the day, we headed into the town centre of Watford for an altogether different look but more of that in the next couple of days.......

4 November 2010

London Strobist Photoshoot

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get myself a place on the monthly London Strobist Meetup Group's photoshoot.  Due to overwhelming demand the shoot filled up within 2 hours of it being announced and I was originally number five on the reserves list.  I gradually worked my way up the list as people dropped out and eventually I was in!

The organisers had hired a nightclub under the arches in Vauxhall for the day for us to use.  The ambient lighting was going to be very dark to say the least so photographers were even advised to bring small torches to aid focussing in the challenging conditions.

Upon arrival the photographers started sussing out potential areas to shoot in and teamed up into pairs to begin setting up.  I teamed up with fellow group newbie Jon White and we discussed lighting setups before we started shooting a couple of the models who were free.

As the day progressed, our confidence grew and we tried different lighting ideas and techniques and got to shoot a selection of models.  I was keen to try out my Orbis Ringflash adaptor which I've had for a while now but not got round to properly using.  I ended up getting some great results from it and am sure that it will now get the use that it deserves!

I'm definitely going to make it to some more of the groups shoots as it is a great way to share ideas and learn from other photographers.

23 September 2010

Urban Portraits Workshop

I'd been wanting to attend one of Damien Lovegrove's workshops for some time now and when the opportunity came along for me to get on one of his Urban Portraits workshops down in Bristol, I just had to grab it with both hands!

The day promised to show us how to make the most of natural light and also introduce the use of just a single off camera flash.  I've got a few of Damien's dvd's and this day enabled me to put a lot of their content into actual practice.

We met up with Damien at the Costa Coffee in the @Bristol development down by the waterfront and were also joined by our model Stina Sanders.  After a quick get to know each other and kit check, we got straight down to the shooting.  Damien's endless enthusiasm shone through all day as we moved from location to location and he was constantly challenging us with different ways of looking at scenes and how to get the best from them.  Learning how to use just regular, everyday locations ranging from access pannelling and hoardings to what seemed like dark corners you'd never normally consider shooting in was a real eye opener.

Our model, Stina was totally professional throughout the day and was extremely patient with us throughout.  Her rapid outfit changes enabled us to get a wide range of shots of her in different settings which helped give different 'looks' to the photos.

Below is a slideshow of 30 shots from over 150 that I would call 'keepers'.  They show the different locations we covered (all within probably a 20 minute walking radius of our meeting point) and just how much variety can be gained from such a small area - both outdoors and indoors, in full blazing sunshine and under cover in dark corners.

The wide variety of locations we used kept us on our toes and thinking about the light all the time.  Occasionally we used off camera flash and luckily for me, being the only Nikon shooter in the group, I had the use of my very own dedicated SB900 flash and could shoot at will, whilst the other Canon users had to share flash triggers and wait their turn.  Result!!  The Nikon CLS triggering system certainly proved itself to me and I found it superb in even strong sunlight with reliable firing for at least 99% of the time.  This is something I'm definitely going to be making more use of in the near future I hope.

The indoor location was the upstairs bar of the Pitcher and Piano and we used just natural light from the full length windows that we could control with blinds.  I got one of my favourite shots of the day in here with the light coming from both in front and behind Stina and creating a real glow around her.  We really pushed the boundaries of low light shooting in terms of ISO and shutter speeds but the results speak for themselves.

I learned a great deal from the day and am looking forward to putting it all into practice very soon.

You can see all of the individual photos in my John Wood Photography Flickr photostream.

26 August 2010

Come and meet me this Bank Holiday Monday - 30th August

This coming Bank Holiday Monday (30th August), I will be having a stand at the Beechfield Children's Centre Family Fun Day, Gammons Lane, Watford, WD24 5TY.  If you're in the area and want to enjoy a free day out for your family, do come along.  The day starts at 11am and runs through until 3pm.

As well as being able to come along and meet me to discuss any portrait photography you may want and see a selection of photos from my latest portrait portfolio, there will be lots of fun activities for all the family, with a fire engine, stilt walker, balloon artist, magician, climbing wall, face painting, animal farm, arts and crafts and lots more all happening.

There is also going to be a raffle and I have donated a family portrait photography session with me, John Wood Photography The lucky winner will get a photo shoot and free 10x8 inch print.

Fingers crossed the weather is going to be fine - the latest forecast certainly looks like it will be so with any luck there will be a good turnout.

Hopefully see you there!

8 July 2010

Recent activity for John Wood Photography

I've been quite busy recently and have a few things in the pipeline coming up too!

Last Saturday I did 2 photo shoots.  The first was attending a NCT Cheeky Monkeys Tea Party where I was photographing the children as they took part in various taster sessions and then played outside in the sunshine.  I got a great selection of shots which are now available in the secure online gallery - attendees would have received a slip with the gallery address and password to view the pictures in their goody bags on the day.

The other commission I did was for my Bump2Baby Portraits arm of John Wood Photography and was a maternity shoot of C and her family.  C is 37 weeks pregnant (probably 38 by now!) with a baby boy. We got some great shots in my portable studio set up at her family home.  I can't wait for her to see the proofs and I'm sure she's going to be delighted with the results.

Looking forward, in the next couple of weeks, I'll be doing a commercial shoot for one of the banks in Watford that came about via a PR company getting in touch having seen my work.  I've also had a couple of calls recently about doing more maternity / newborn photo shoots, so my SEO seems to be paying off at least!

Talking of my website, I really need to give it a bit of a makeover so that it reflects more of the type of work I'm undertaking these days.  That's all on the cards for the next couple of months so you'll hear about it here first.

Don't forget you can still become a fan of John Wood Photography on Facebook if you haven't done so already.

26 April 2010

New addition to the John Wood Photography Team

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that there has been an addition to the team at John Wood Photography. Our wonderful new daughter, Isabelle, was born on the 2nd April weighing in at 6lb 14oz. Obviously we’re totally smitten with her!

That’s the main reason why things have been a bit quiet here on my blog as there’s been just so much going on since the start of the year really!! I’ve had to relocate what was my office and kit store to another area and then we had to completely redecorate and set up the new nursery. Still, it gave me a chance to have a good de-clutter and sort through of things.

Fortunately I’ve been able to keep everything all up and running on the photography side of things and deal with orders etc as they’ve come in. I’ve even managed to enter local competitions – winning a set subject round of ‘Inclement Weather’ the other week.

I’ve certainly now got the chance to add to my baby photography portfolio over the coming months and am looking forward to recording Isabelle’s development. Babies sure do change quickly – it is already noticeable how more alert and aware of things she is.

23 April 2010

New portraiture lighting equipment – the Orbis™ Ringflash

To ensure that I can offer as wide a range of photographic lighting options as possible for clients, I decided to take the plunge and buy an Orbis™ Ringflash light modifier. It’s a piece of equipment that I’ve been toying with getting for a while now and having spoken to other users and seen examples of their work, I was sufficiently impressed enough to get one for myself.

The Orbis™ (pictured below) uses my existing speedlight flash guns and turns them into a ring flash unit which can be used to create stunning portraits with a ‘high-end magazine’ and fashion style look.

I’m really looking forward to using the Orbis™ in future photo shoots as well as taking advantage of the better weather we seem to be having lately and doing some more outdoor, on-location portraiture. I’ve got some great potential photo shoot locations lined up that I want to try out soon, so fingers crossed the weather will hold out for the foreseeable future!

As soon as I’ve had a chance to try out the Orbis™ properly, I’ll post some photos up in my flickr photostream.

6 February 2010

Time flies by!

I can't believe it is already February - this year seems to be rushing by already.  This year has so farbeen really hectic for a number of reasons.  Hopefully we've seen the end of the snow for now which caused so much disruption everywhere, though it did give me a chance to get out and get some photos which will come in useful for my 2011 calendar!

Around the middle of January I visited the SWPP Trade Show in Hammersmith and met up with some of the suppliers I am planning on using this year as well as attending a few of the workshops that were available.  It was a worthwhile visit overall.

There were a few photo opportunites around and I managed to get a short photoshoot with model Katie Green.

You can see some of the shots below: