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.