Early evening photoshoot with Katarina Marie

Shooting with experienced models always fills me with confidence. If they’re also photographers then I know the results will be good. Katarina Marie is one such “modelographer”, talented on both sides of the lens; a true artist.

For our first photoshoot together we decided that we should head up to Largs on the west coast of Scotland. We wanted to capture some of the late afternoon sun, and if the weather wasn’t with us at least there would be ice cream at the world famous Nardini’s. Fortunately we did get some sun, and so here are the photos we created together.

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First look was in the bag, so Katarina did a quick costume change and we walked along the coast a little and found a shelter which we thought would look good.

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There is no point going to the coast if you’re not going to visit the beach, so after getting bogged down in some deep sand we eventually found a nice section of the beach we could shoot at.

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We’ve now got some great images stored, but the sun was starting to set and we were losing the light fast. A quick costume change and a chance to capture the last throws of daylight.

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As the sun set we started to notice some beautiful colour in the sky so tried to record that too.

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I think we managed to fulfil our brief of capturing the late afternoon and early evening sun. This time of day, golden hour and beyond, is a great time to create photographs. There is almost magic in the light, and something I should do more of. Sadly we didn’t get to visit Nardini’s for ice cream, but I am very happy with the images we created together. This would not be the last time I shot with Katarina, but that’s a story for another day.

Danny.

Making a cup of tea

I dont get the chance to create much video, but that’s something I’m in the process of changing. I love the drama that can be captured in a moment of time with a photograph, but for telling a story, moving pictures are hard to beat.

I created this video as an exercise in short, snappy edits, but also to try out some Foley sound recording techniques, all the while keeping in mind the idea of story. This story was simply about tea. What better story could there be?

Hope you like it.

 

Facelift

I’ve given my blog a bit of a makeover. When I first started to write down my mutterings, I paid little attention to the layout of the site. I chose one of the first themes that the blog hosting company throws at you, and left it at that.

Well now it is much improves. There is a slider with some of my favourite featured posts, a portfolio of the type of images I like to create, and of course the standard blog posts. The site is now responsive for those viewing on small sized screens in this modern, mobile age.

Hope you like the changes, and if there is anything you’d like to see please let me know.

Danny.

30 minute photo challenge

I read somewhere a blog post about a quick 30 minute photo challenge. The basic idea is you walk for 10 minutes, any direction you fancy, take photos for 10 minutes of what you find there, and then walk back home, which should take you approximately the final 1o minutes of the 30.

This time and location restriction should really focus your eye on capturing subjects in short space of time. No faffing about with different gear and gadgets, just get there and start snapping.

I fancied having a go, so at lunchtime today I put on a hat and coat, picked up my camera, and walked for ten minutes and started shooting. Here are the results.

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An old car
Rain on some tiny leaves
An abandoned rucksack
Abandoned cycle helmet
Identification numbers

I quite enjoyed completing this challenge today. I only used one lens, my trusty 50mm, for this. I think I’ll have another go at this but each time try a different lens, just to mix things up a bit. I’m thinking that a macro lens will really lent itself to this sort of challenge, so may try that next.

Vegan rice pudding

I’m not a vegan, nor am I claiming to be one. I’m your classic omnivore, although I do seem to have developed a number of sympathies to the vegan way of thinking of late. Recently, my work has taken me away from home a lot, and this has included a lot of motorway driving. Passing the trucks on the way to the slaughterhouse, scared snouts and noses poking through the gaps in the crates makes me feel sad; seeing the trucks empty even more so. I toyed with vegetarianism for just over half a year in the 1990s, but once I fell off that wagon I never tried to get back on it.

The more I’ve been thinking about these issues, the more I’ve been wanting to make a change. I decided in October that I would do something about it. When I’ve been working away, which has been a lot during the latter part of 2016, I stopped buying and cooking meat. I would not claim to be a vegetarian for those three or four days per week, there was no announcement or change of lifestyle, I just stopped buying meat when I went shopping, and would experiment with solely meat free ingredients whist preparing dinner. No big deal.

When I’m away and cooking, I’m generally looking for something I can take a photo of. I’ve spoken before about my yearning to improve my skills with food photography and I need to practice. Also, I don’t like to post too many pictures of meat dishes on social media. I understand it can be quite a divisive subject, with many strong opinions on all sides. So, one November evening I decided to cook something for dinner, without meat, specifically so I could take a photo or two to share. I was looking for something with a mixture of bright colours, plenty texture, and steam, just as an exercise in backlighting the steam for maximum effect. The resulting dish was a stir fry, as seen here.

Tonight's dinner.

As I was writing the copy for the photo I realised that had I not used butter when creating the sauce, as well as being suitable for vegetarians, this dish would have also been vegan friendly. Had I made a little more effort or put a tiny bit more thought into it, this dish would have been suitable for a much wider audience. Oh well, it wasn’t my intention to create a vegan dish, just to take a nice photo and enjoy my dinner. This did however get me thinking about trying to cook some vegan food that would look good for a photo. I decided to give rice pudding a go because, well, because it’s rice pudding and I bloody love that stuff.

After some careful research into the ingredients – who knew that some sugars are filtered through bone charcoal – I was all set. I cobbled together a recipe from a few other, non vegan ones I found on line, had a practice, did a bit of fine tuning, and ended up with this.

  • 1 x measure of pudding or risotto rice. I used a shallow ramekin for my measure, but anything will do. It all depends on how much you want to make.
  • 3 x measure of vegan milk. I chose Alpro hazelnut milk, the unsweetened variety, but there are plenty of soy milk and nut milk options to pick.
  • 1 x measure of water.
  • 1 x measure of sugar. I used Tate & Lyle Demerara sugar, because it is vegan friendly and I usually have Demerara sugar handy if I fancy sweetening my coffee a little.
  • It is as this point you will wish you had added the sugar before the milk and water as your ramekin is all wet and lots of the sugar is stuck to the bottom of it.

Pop all of the ingredients into a pan, and get it on the heat. Once this is going you will need a very low heat. Cook it for about 45 to 60 minutes, until the rice is soft and scrumptious. Don’t leave this simmering alone for long periods of time or it will stick to the bottom of the pan.

If the mixture is a little too thick for your liking then loosen it with a little more milk or water.

I chose to top my rice pudding with some of the Co-Operative’s “Extra fruity strawberry conserve” from their “Irresistible” range, and also grated some freshly ground nutmeg on top. Next time I may try some Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup instead. You could of course choose to simply enjoy it as it is.

“Where’s the photo” I hear you ask. Ta dah!

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Please feel free to comment in the comments section below if you have any questions, if you tried this and liked it.

If you have any vegan recipes you would like to share then I’m sure you will find some like minded people in the Promoting veganism group on Facebook.

Danny.

Review of 2016

What with the planet once again at some arbitrary point of it’s trajectory around the sun we’ve picked as significant, I thought I’d share some of the results of photoshoots I’ve done this year. I was not going to be shooting any more than twice a month in 2016 so there aren’t too many to go through.

Some images you may have seen, but I’ll try to pick ones I’ve not shared before. I will be sharing some of these photoshoots in a bit more detail so won’t use up all of the images here.

January

2016 started as it ended, with a photoshoot with Lillith. This time we were in a studio, and we brought Lydia along too.  I knew these two would get along. I was a little daunted initially, not worked with two models before, but with everybody’s creative input into the shoot all went well.

Later in January I have my second photoshoot with one of models who helped me get started, namely Arabella. Arabella is a load of fun to be around, charming and chatty, and has a great line in what she calls “facial erotica”. I’ve been very lax when it comes to editing these images. They seemed to have been in the queue for ages. Hopefully I’ll be able to edit a few more in the coming months.

February

February brought with it a shoot with Scarlett Fox. When you work with Scarlett three things are guaranteed. 1) A lot of chat 2) plenty tea, and 3) and incredibly productive photoshoot due to her strong work ethic. Scarlett obviously puts a lot into her modelling and this is shown in the results.

March

When I first joined PurplePort, and started my journey taking photos of models, there was one name that kept on cropping up, over and over again, mainly to do with the quality of her work, which was always of a very high standard. That name was Artemis Fauna. I knew that I wanted to work with Artemis, but arranging something wasn’t easy due to her busy workload, and my ability to shoot only at weekends. Still, I persevered, a dialogue was opened, and sure enough a chance to work together appeared when Artemis was at Sandon Studio in March.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about meeting Artemis. I say nervous, it was more awe I guess. Her body of work and reputation in the industry speak for themselves. Why would she want to work with somebody like me?

Well I needn’t have worried. Artemis was a pure delight. Five minutes after meeting we were chatting about focal lengths, aperture values, and shooting modes. I do love it when a model talks nerdy to me.

Later in the month I got some studio time with Purple Princess who had decided that we needed to shoot together. She travelled a long way for the shoot so we made the most of it.

April

April gave me the chance wot work with Sinopa Rin again. I say work, but it never feels like work. It’s always so much fun. No doubt I’ll write a separate post about this shoot at some point, and you’ve already seen one before, so won’t spoil the surprise right now with multiple images, just this one.

Also in April I got to shoot with Harley Monster for the third time. Harley has been a good friend to me, and so she shall remain in my good books for an awfully long time. Harley brought Nina, a whiz stylist and makeup artists along to the shoot. We shall meet Nina’s work again later.

May

May brought with it the spring, and a shoot with Stephanie Dubois. We decided to split out time, half in the studio and half out on location.

This is what we did in the studio.

This is what we did on location.

Second shoot for May was with KRG, back up in Scotland once more. Again, I’ve been a bit rubbish when it comes to getting these images ready. They will come, just not right now.

June

Had my third shoot with Lydia in June. Lydia likes to give the impression that she’s the mean and moody type, but when the camera is not clicking she’s all smiles, laughs, and giggles. A real joy to work with.

Earlier in the year Becky Kvittems and I were discussing the possibility of a second photoshoot after the first went so well. Alas it had to be postponed, and was rearranged for June. It was the middle of the summer so we planned an outdoor shoot, summer dress, sunshine, that kind of thing.

July

I’d been admiring the work of a photographer on PurplePort, so we got chatting about photographic styles. It turns out that this photographer is also a model I knew of, by the name of Marianne Di Vine. We arranged a photoshoot, and Marianne allowed me to use on of her lenses that I’ve been lusting after. How nice was that?

August

After my trepidation about shooting with Artemis Fauna earlier in the year, and it going so well, I jumped at the chance to take even more photos of super amazing Artemis Fauna, this time at Hallam Mill, where we created many different looks in just a few hours. Again, more to come later so just a teaser for now.

At this point I stepped back without looking and sat on a bedpost of one of the studio props. Good job I was wearing thick trousers. Artemis was clearly concerned for my well-being.

September

In September I got to work with make up artist and stylist Nina again. this time she brought Kira Dawn with her, and we created some amazing shots.

Hiring out a studio can be a bit expensive. The facilities are (usually) great, but you’re stuck to working at the times you have booked.

I decided to have a go at creating a home studio in September. I had a white wall, some flashes, light modifiers, and coloured gels. All as I needed now was a pretty girls and some props. I send a message to Katarina and she kindly agreed to model for me.

October

Guess who came back to Manchester in October. If you guessed “Sinopa Rin” then you’d be right. I jumped at the chance to create some more photos with her.

I also got the chance to shoot with KRG again, which was nice.

We started off out on location trying to capture some of the autumn colours.

Next was a trip to the studio for some beauty portraits, which with a model as beautiful as KRG is an easy job.

November

For my second shoot with Stephanie Dubois we were planning a couple of different locations. Unfortunately the British weather was against us so out came the lights again and we just went with the flow, creating as many different looks and lighting styles as the time would allow.

Unfortunately none of these images are finished yet. All as I have are a few back of camera screen grabs that Stephanie took as the shoot went on. I love the photos we created so they will be edited and shared just as soon as they’re ready.

December

Alas there were no photoshoots in December. I’m on a short break from shooting models and my photoshoot with Stephanie was the last for the time being. Hopefully it’ll give me time to catch up on the editing and sharing backlog. I’ve also been practicing indoor studio shots, but with more of a slant to still life than models.

If you got down this far, then thank you so much for reading. Hope you liked the pictures.

Wishing you and those you love a very happy New Year. May all your dreams come true in 2017, especially those you work hard to make happen.

Danny.

“You’re too good to work with me”

I recently came across a social media status update by one of the more accomplished fashion and beauty models within the photography community, somebody I’ve worked with and have another shoot planned for next month. The nature of the model’s update was about conversations she’s had with photographers, the type of photographer I would class myself as: hobbyists, keen amateurs, professional hopefuls, or possibly even the complete beginners. These gist of this conversation, and I’ve found that this particular model is by no means alone in this, was the photographer not wanting to make a booking because, in their own words “oh you’re too good for me”.

The feeling being that booking one of the top models would be a waste of everybody’s time because the skills of the photographer don’t match the model’s ability.

This is of course complete nonsense. Utter balderdash.

Of course I understand the sentiment; I’ve been through similar feelings myself, but they are easy to get over when you work with these models. So if there are any photographers reading who think that they can’t book a particular model because she’s too good, or you’re not good enough, and are perhaps thinking some of the things I’ve thought in the past, let me try to help you.

Don’t worry that you can’t produce images as good as those in the model’s portfolio. You’re not meant to. It doesn’t matter, and nobody is expecting you to any way. Shoot for yourself. If you want to improve then an experienced model can help. They have experience and if that’s what you’re lacking then you should definitely book them.

Take Artemis Fauna for instance.

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Artemis Fauna from out first photo shoot

Artemis is, aside from being a very experienced and incredibly beautiful model, is also an accomplished photographer. Whilst we were discussing shoot ideas we also spoke about lens choice and suggested aperture value combinations. This was incredibly helpful.

Sinopa Rin is another example of the “modelographer”.

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Sinopa teaches me something new on each photoshoot

I was lucky enough to have Sinopa along on my first shoot. She was supposed to be there as a model, but ended up being a teacher, educator, motivator, and possibly therapist too. I gain more and more knowledge from each photoshoot with Sinopa. If there is ever a moment of doubt or uncertainty she will always add a creative suggestion when asked.

Continuing the trend of models who know life on both sides of the lens is Arabella.

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Arabella helped me get started in the right way

I only found out how good Arabella was with a camera after our photoshoot had finished and she showed me some of her published works. Arabella was one of the experienced models who took a chance on me in the early days just when I got started and didn’t have a stack of positive references to my name.  Her experience and creative eye were invaluable in helping my get started and most importantly to get better.

Stephanie Dubois is another I’ve been lucky enough to shoot with.

Stephanie Dubois
“Too good to work with me”

I will admit that immediately before making the booking to work with Stephanie I felt a lot of the feelings that some of the photographers mentioned at the start of this post had been going through. Why would Stephanie work with me? The answer is because she’s a professional model and I’m a photographer. That’s how these images are created. Stephanie didn’t care that the images would end up on my blog and not the from cover of Vogue. She understands that there are amateurs out there looking to create photographs and was happy to help me. I’m very much looking forward to working with her again.

There is a longer list of top models that I’ve worked with, but this was starting to look like me showing off rather trying to help a photographer make a booking with one of the top models. Believe me when I tell you that your starting skill levels is irrelevant, and will improve if you work with these model. Don’t be scared, don’t worry you are not good enough, just commit to the booking. You will not regret it.

Danny.

River Cottage 10th Anniversary

On Thursday 8th September we visited River Cottage HQ for their 10th Anniversary celebrations, the launch of a new booked titled “River Cottage A-Z”, some great food, and more than a little wine.

As per usual, I took my camera along, and documented the event.

Hope you like the photos.

We arrived on the back of a tractor
Homemade cider cocktails in the sun
Live music
Time to refelct in the kitchen garden
Farm cat
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Taking in the scenic views

And then the man himself, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall arrived with a short message.

Buy my book!

Hugh thanked those who had been involved in the creation of the new book and also been a part of building the River Cottage community.

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Tim, sporting an excellent hat, but no longer with the sideburns
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Pam The Jam
Mushroom John
Gill
Selfie time
Book signing
“You bought how many books?!”
Announcing Britain’s favourite ingedient

I took a few candid shots of the party-goers enjoying Hugh’s pontifications.

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More live music

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Thank you for looking.

Danny.

Being nice to new people

I’m sure that a lot of us have had the experience of being the new kid. Perhaps you moved schools as a youngster, or have changed jobs recently and need to get to know new colleagues. It can be daunting, and it’s always nice when the people already there are kind and welcoming. When I first joined a photography and modelling website last year I posted a “Hello, I’m new” kind of message. Lots of people very kindly welcomed me to the community and wished me well. This helped me settle in and was a nice gesture. Since then, I do try to keep an eye out for other new members and say hello, give them a welcome, and generally try to repay some of the kindness I was met with.

One such “new starter” was a local photographer who had just opened up a studio. I wasn’t familiar with the photographer, John, but I saw his post about the studio account being new so I wished them well in their endeavours and thought nothing more about it. A few days later John contacted me to express his gratitude on my welcome message, especially as nobody else had done so. 22,000 members on the site and I was the only person to have greeted him. John was grateful for the little attention I’d paid him, and as a thank you offered me free use of the studio, and all as I needed to find was a model to shoot with. That part was easy.

Becky and I had been in touch a couple of times about arranging a photoshoot together. I told Becky about the free studio time and she jumped at the chance. We met at the studio and made some photos together,

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Beauty portrait
Beauty portrait

We then decided to brighten things up a bit. John helped set up a nice bright background, and Becky put her wig on. We experimented with different facial expressions and Becky acted out some emoji style poses.

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All in all it was a fun shoot, and I’m delighted with the images that were created.

Moral: Be nice to people. Sometimes it pays off.