A white wall, some gels, and a pretty girl.

Looks like it has been a while since I last updated this blog. For regular readers I apologise for having left you in the dark for so many weeks. Please allow me to make up for this with a post about a photoshoot where I attempted to transform the front room into a photography studio. I already had some speedlites and a couple of softboxes. All as I needed now was a model.

 

If truth be told there was only one choice for this photo assignment. I’d worked with Katarina before, knew that we got on well, and that she wouldn’t mind me experimenting without any real clue of what I was doing. Katarina is also a very talented photographer and a really creative artist, so was the perfect person to have around for a few hours of lighting experimentation.

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There isn’t a great deal of space in the room I was shooting in, it does however have white walls. If you don’t add any light to your backgrounds, they tend to go dark. A white wall will turn into grey. Plain, uncoloured paint may not be a particularly thrilling background, but if you fire coloured lights at it, the results can be good.

Luckily I’d got hold of some gels for my flashes, and decided to have a go at turning the white walls different colours. I mean who doesn’t want some colour in their life eh?

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Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.

For those that don’t know, when shooting with coloured gels, the more you increase the power, the lighter, more washed out, the effect appears to be. I’m using minimal power through a blue gel here, which is why the colour is so deep and vibrant. For a more subtle effect, turn the power of your strobe up, and less colour is thrown. This seem counter-intuitive at first, but is easy to understand after a bit of practice.

For the next shot, we decided that a nice pink colour would be best. Too much red would take away the impact of the red strawberry, so I washed the colour of the red gel out a little by increasing the flash power. This gave us pink rather than bright red.

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Next off we went for a green background.

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Finishing off with yellow.

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I very much enjoyed this photoshoot with Katarina, and was pleasantly surprised what can be achieved with minimal lighting equipment and a blank wall. Hope you have enjoyed the pictures of Katarina, and that fellow photographers may be inspired to get out their flashguns and try firing some coloured lights at your walls.

Danny.

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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.

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,

Angel Wings
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.

 

No update

One of my biggest concerns when I started this blog was about me not updating it. I have a reputation, deservedly so, as somebody who is good at getting projects started, but not so great when it comes to finishing them. I didn’t want this to happen with my blog, but with no update for two months it would appear that I’m dangerously close to having another unfinished project left by the wayside.

I don’t want this to happen. My photography has come on leaps and bounds over the past 12 to 18 months, and I have created some wonderful images I’m really proud of.

A little bit of real life has cropped up n my personal circumstances recently which means I do not have a huge amount of time to keep updating this blog continually, but I am determined to keep it going and for it to be a record of my photographic journey. With that I shall upload a few recent images, just to get me back into the swing of things.

Paul
Paul

 

Artemis Fauna
Artemis Fauna
Cinnamon Gaze
Cinnamon Gaze
Harley Monster
Harley Monster
Fat lad inna hat
Fat lad inna hat

Christmas Market with Harley Monster

Slightly out of order with my blog posts, but this has to come next seeing as it’s Christmas week, and the photos are all from the German Christmas Market in Manchester. This photoshoot was arranged by the fabulous model Harley Monster who I’ve been lucky enough to work with before. As previously Harley and I didn’t have much of a plan, we just met up at the market and had a mooch.

I wanted to get some wide open aperture shots, hoping to catch a bit of bokeh from the lights on the market stalls. I also find markets a great place to capture some candied street moments, so this was my first combined model shoot and street photography session. Hope you like the results.

Bokehlicious
Bokehlicious
Harley loved this bear
Harley loved this bear
Trying on hats
Trying on hats

The guy working on the hat stall was a real character. Earlier in the day he’d cycled to the clinic to get some injections ready for his upcoming trip to India. The story of his immunised wobbly ride home was hilarious, and more than a tad dangerous. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, but I was too scared to ask if he’s be a part of my 100 strangers project. Guess I’m out of practice.

Hat Seller
Hat Seller

It wasn’t all about Harley and hats though. I did get the chance to capture a few candid moments of the other stall owners and their customers.

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But of course if you have a wonderful model in tow it would be a shame not to take some more pictures of them.

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I would like to say a big thank you to Harley for dragging me around the streets on Manchester once more. Having such a beautiful model really does help bring out the best in my pictures. Thank you.

Thank you all for reading this, and hopefully enjoying the images. I wish you and those you hold dear a very Merry Christmas.

Danny.

Six month review

Last week saw the six month anniversary of my very for photo shoot working with a model. I have been somewhat lax in creating posts for each shoot, so I thought it would be fun to include some images from each of the shoots since the last one I blogged about so you can see if I’ve made any progress. I do hope to catch up with a post about each shoot with more photographs, but for now here’s one from each. Hope you like the images.

Pooley Bridge, Ullswater with Bryher.

Bryher
Bryher

Mooching about Manchester’s the Northern Quarter with Harley.

Harley Monster
Harley Monster

Spiers Old School with Sarah

Sarah Green
Sarah Green

Quarry Bank Mill with Ella

Ella Kehoe
Ella Kehoe

Home shoot with Vivian Blue

Vivian Blue
Vivian Blue

Out on location with story teller Amber

Amber Castle
Amber Castle

Fun studio shoot with Becky

Becky Kvittems
Becky Kvittems

Second shoot with Sinopa Rin, this time in Scotland

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa Rin

Trip to Largs with Katarina

Katarina Marie Mannequin
Katarina Marie Mannequin

In the woods with Meg Sarah

Meg Sarah
Meg Sarah

In the park with Louise

Louise Pierced
Louise Pierced

Pretty portraits with Enna Victoria

Enna Victoria
Enna Victoria

Back to the studio with Sinopa Rin

Sinopa Rin
Sinopa Rin

Freshfields with Lydia

Lydia Lawton
Lydia Lawton

Autumn shoot with Kes

Yes Wild
Kes Wild

On location with Leanne

Leanne
Leanne

Dance shoot with Amy

Amy Stout
Amy Stout

Rainy day indoors with Lucifera

Lucifer
Lucifer

The most beautiful of all the models I’ve worked with, my rock.

My Rock
My Rock

Fun studio shoot with Beau

Beau Divine
Beau Divine

Which brings us right up to date. My shoot with Beau was last week, and is pretty much exactly six months since my first shoot.

I have noticed the change within myself. The stuttering, nervous wreck, too afraid to shake the model’s hand is gone. I’m back. Me. The man I was a few years ago. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my photography. I feel I’ve learned more in these six months shooting with models than I have in six years of watching tutorials on YouTube or reading how-to blog posts. There really is no substitute for experience.

Can you see an improvement? I know I have much to work on, but I feel that my photography is heading in the right direction, and I’m thrilled with it.

If you like my images I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to write a comment.

Danny.

October Photo Challenge

When it comes to new projects I am a very enthusiastic starter. I always throw myself into the task with vim and vigour, learning as much as I can about the subject matter, getting started, finding out what I’ll need to do to get on with things. However, those that know me, and know me well, will already be aware that when it comes to finishing said projects, I am less than successful. My life is littered with examples of new hobbies, skills, computer programs, and a while host of new ideas that have been started well, but once I’ve figured out how it all works, understood the concept, or made a good start, I’ve lost interest and gone on to find the next new thing.

So, when super amazing and talented muse, model, photographer, and all round good egg Sinopa Rin suggested I should take part in the October Photo Challenge I was a little hesitant. The idea is that there is a set theme for each day, and you upload an image related to that theme. I was keen, but then I always am with new tasks, but a little reluctant because of my track record of never finishing things. Then I got a grip of myself: it’s only a few photos and it’s only for one month. I can do this yes? Easy.

It was decided that the best place to share the images with the world would be Instagram. I downloaded the app, set up an account, and got started.

Well here we are on the final day of October, and therefore the challenge. How have I done? Well I’m delighted to report that I have uploaded an image each and every day for the challenge – today excepted, but due to the theme for today, Trick or Treat the best photo is to be taken later when the little ones come knocking on the door looking to scare me and procure some sweeties.

The fact that I have applied myself to the challenge thrills me. I’ve thought about each theme, sometimes on the day, others planning my image in advance. It’s been great for me to work through something and not only start, but to get right through to the end. That was the challenge for me and I’m delighted to get there. I would like to say thank you to Ms Rin who also took part in the challenge for the nudge to get started, to my truelove for helping out with suggestions, ideas, and the occasional work as photo assistant, and to all of my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook friends and followers for the encouragement along the way. It’s have been a delight.

In no particular order, here is a selection of some of my favourite images from the challenge.

Image of me holding a wine glass. In the background a clock is showing the time of eight o'clock
Day 23: Eight o’clock
A model, Amy, is shown in the photographic studio from a great hight, making her look smaller than her five foot one and three quarters of an inch height.
Day 25: Small
A dinner plate is shown, two pieces of toast with scrambled egg on, and some mushrooms on the side.
Day 29: Full
My collection of Lego mini figures, all neatly presented standing on a chessboard
Day 17: Collection
A tiny snail makes it's him underneath the petals and on the stem of a plant. I think it's an elderberry but may be mistaken.
Day 4: Up
Four images of plants and moss growing out of cracks in concrete
Day 21: Growing
A close up image of a crisp leaf, fallen from the tree, lying on the grass.
Day 10: Crisp
Image of me juggling apples, keeping them up in the air
Day 4: Up
A tin of Lyle's golden syrup
Day 8: Golden

Drinking all of Arabella’s tea

Last few posts about my photographic journey have of course all been about working with models ever since I found the PurplePort website. This post is no exception, and is all about my shoot with Arabella.

When I first joined the site I knew I was going to need some help getting started. When you create an account on PurplePort, they create a list for you called “People I’d like to work with”, and you can add people to the list with the click of a button. Not keen on the name so I decided to create a new list called “Models who could help me get started”. A much nicer name I felt. So I set about the task of searching for some help.

This is a fairly short list, and the models were chosen because they were either nearby, mentioned on their portfolio notes that they would work with beginners, had an outstanding portfolio – images and notes, said nice things in the groups, or, let’s face some facts here, I had a little crush on. Arabella qualified for the list on all counts and was instantly added as soon as I saw her portfolio. Thinking nothing more about it, I continued my search.

A short while later I received a flashing red notification. I had a message. I didn’t get many messages at the time. I wondered who it could be. It was a message from Arabella. I panicked. Models didn’t message me other than to keep their reply rates up with a “Thanks but no thanks Mr No References”. This was a different message however, a nice message thanking me for adding her to my list and would I like to arrange a photo shoot? My hear skipped a beat; several in fact.

I sent a very direct and succinct reply to Arabella, stating …. oh who am I kidding? I prattled on and on about me and Lego, and how I’m new, and how I’m a complete nervous wreck, and who pretty she looks, ladies underwear, and just a whole load of nonsense. Awful message! I pressed send, started looking for the Recall Message button, realised there wasn’t one, had a little cry, and then got back to counting my no references.

A short while later Arabella replied and ACTUALLY AGREED TO DOING A SHOOT WITH ME! I couldn’t believe it! Mad woman!

I was of course overjoyed. I did a little happy dance around the room, got back to the keyboard, and tried to act cool. More messages were sent, a mood board created, and a date arranged. Before I knew it, the date came, and here’s what happened.

Arabella says that she likes to drink a lot of tea. This is good. I love tea. So to get things started we had a cuppa,  had a nice chat about photography, drink some more tea, bit more chatting, and a final get-read culpa, and then we got started.  We began the shoot indoors with a portraiture session. I wanted to practice using my speedlites so we tried some head shots. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get one of the strobes to fire. It would work for two shots then stop. I would like to say that this is the first time I’ve ever had an equipment failure in front of a beautiful woman, but alas that wouldn’t be true.

Me: “This has never happened to me before”

Arabella: “It’s ok, it’s not important”

Me: “But it was all working fine last night when I was practicing on my own”

Arabella: “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal. It happens to lots of other men. I have a solution …”

Fortunately Arabella took the matter in hand – now now – and provided some lights and soft boxes of her own, and we got down to creating some photos (at last).

I’ll be honest here, most of the shots from the first session are not my best work. Arabella was great, and had lots of props, hats, nets, and all kinds of things, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Studio type environments are quite alien to me and that’s somewhere I really need more practice. After a quick cup of tea we decided to head outside to a local beauty
spot. I’m much more comfortable in this sort of environment.

There was a nice bridge.

And then we found a bench

I really was starting to feel much better about the photo shoot now, and I think it’s showing in the images.

We wandered over to the bandstand an Arabella stared doing her stuff.

If I look back at the images I’ve taken since starting to work with models, oat are head shots. I like them. The reason I started this little journey was to get better at portraits. So, I moved in a little closer …

And closer …

And even closer …

It was around this point in the shoot where Arabella told me a funny story about how when out on another photo shoot her and the photographer met another middle aged man out with a beautiful young woman and realised they were out on a shoot too. They waved to each other in a photographer-and-model-comradery sort of way. I laughed, but all I was thinking was “Oh no! I’m a middle aged man chasing after young women with my camera. Talk about mid-life crisis!”

So for pointing out the obvious I made Arabella lie on the freshly cut grass as revenge. Wink

We wrapped things up, almost a full hour over time, and headed back to Arabella’s, bu alas she was out of tea bags.

The three models unfortunate enough to have worked with me at this point will have noticed me saying “May I?” whilst gesturing with the camera moving towards my eye, in a may-I-take-a-photo kind of way. This is something I’ll need to get over. As we parted I did ask Arabella “May I?”, but was with outstretched arms in offer of a goodbye hug. I couldn’t even shake the hand of the first model I met, just left her stood there with an outstretch hand for far too long. This I think is personal progress for me.

And that’s the end of the story … almost.

Perhaps I should’t share this with you, but after returning home Arabella and I exchanged a few messages and appropriate feedback was left. She then told me that she’d only recently heard news of a tragic event involving somebody dear to her. She thanked me for a nice shoot. I was utterly gobsmacked that she’s gone ahead with the shoot. I’d have cancelled. Arabella honoured her commitment to a complete stranger, a middle-aged GWAC (Guy With A Camera) she’d never met. This I think speaks more about her professionalism and honour than my words ever could.

Thank you Arabella. x

Pretty In Pink – Wandering around the park with Senade

A fortnight ago I had my third photoshoot, a few hours in the park with a model named Tiger Hula Hula Lilly, or Senade as she is sometimes known.

The reason I contacted Ms Lilly about the shoot was the comment “This for me is not a serious career, I’m more curious and interested in getting some nice photos done if anything” on her portfolio. Perfect model for me. Contact was made, and the shoot arranged. I’d been to the agreed location the week before for a little scout around. Very pleased I did this as it gave me ideas for the type of shots we’d get, and the look and feel of the entire photo shoot.

The day came, Tiger arrived, pleasantries were exchanged, coffee was consumed, snacks and refreshments proffered, and we got going.

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Yes, I’m starting off safely with a head shot. Readers of previous posts may have guessed this. Hula Hula has the most incredible pink colour in her hair as you can see. So of course I’ve created a load of black and white images. Stupid man.

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We wandered around the park and found a nice bench.

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And then a bridge.

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Hula Lilly (still not sure which name to use) was really helpful, keen to get some good shots, and was playing around with some different poses. We were both a bit inexperienced if I’m honest but she took my inexpert direction well. Then as THHL was leaning from a nearby prop her hair fell down. A switch went off in my head.

“Stop. Stay there. Lean back. Tilt your head again. Look to me.”

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This is without doubt my favourite image from the set. It also made me feel like a “proper photographer” for spotting the opportunity for the photo and giving direction to my model. I’m pleased with this image.

And this one too.

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And of course we have a couple more head shots to finish.

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I had a really lovely day, and found out something new. It turns out that not all models like Jaffa Cakes. Good job I’d brought shortbread as an alternative.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any comments you care to make.