Smoke and Lights

cool composite photo. The boy was photographed in my studio and the football stadium was added later.

Adding a bit of jazz to a photoshoot using smoke and lights

Sometimes I add some smoke and lights to create really cool shots in my studio.

As a professional family photographer I often ask myself these two questions;

  1. What can I do that is new to my clients? I don’t mean something that has never been done photographically before; I mean something that my clients haven’t come across before – and their friends probably haven’t either.
  2. How can I make my photo shoots more enjoyable? Some people love being in photo shoots and will be happy with anything. But some people hate photo shoots (you know who you are). So my question is how can I make my photo shoots enjoyable, or at least interesting, for everyone?

Today I am writing about using smoke and lights to create cool images that are dramatic and unusual. They are also a lot of fun to make!

Mother and son photo shoot

I am primarily a family photographer, and recently a mother brought her 10 year old son to my studio for a photo shoot.

As is so often the case neither really knew what to expect, and both felt a bit self conscious in front of the camera to start with. However before long we all felt relaxed as we joked about, and snapped away. We started to enjoy ourselves.

I love photo shoots when there is a strong loving relationship between the various family members. And on this photo shoot, once we had larked about a bit and my clients felt relaxed, that warmth between them started appearing in the photos.

I started by photographing them separately and together in a conventional high key style (ie white background). Then I changed to a dark background for more photos.

After a bit of this we reached the “treat point”; the smoke machine came out, I re-arranged my lights, and we really started having some fun!

cool photo of boy taken in my studio
Simple and clean. The smoke has largely dissipated to leave a thin mist.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio, using smoke and lights from behind.
Two speedlights provide lighting from behind. I have removed the light stands in Photoshop.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio using a smoke machine to generate smoke, and using rear lighting
An advantage of using a camera with lots of pixels is that you can do tight crops and still have enough pixels to make large prints.
Cool photo of boy with smoke and lights from behind. He is showing some attitude.
Attitude.
very cool photo of boy showing lots of attitude!
More attitude!

In my experience pretty well everybody likes the drama that is created by rear lighting and smoke, and children in particular love it. One of the joys of living in the age of digital cameras is that you can give your clients a preview of the photos on the back of the camera. When they see the quality of the photos that are being captured, this provides positive feedback so they enjoy the photo shoot even more.

When shooting like this the photographer has options for what to leave in, and what to remove from the final edit. For example it might seem appropriate to leave the lights but remove their stands, to remove everything including the lights, or leave everything in the photo. It just depends on the artistic effect you want to create.

The smoke is a bit blue and this is what gives these photos a blue feel. But what happens if we add some red gels to the rear lights?

cool photo of boy using smoke and lights with red gels
Red gels over the lights. I made the lights themselves invisible in Photoshop.
photo of boy - cool use of smoke and lights with red gels
A tighter crop.

Compositing into a football stadium

While we were shooting I discovered the boy loves football. So while I was shooting him, and without telling him so it would come as a total surprise, I decided to put him in a football stadium!

photo of boy in tracksuit with cool backlighting
Two speedlights behind the model. I have removed the stands.

When a photographer creates a picture that is composed of two or more different photos it is called a composite. It is important that the photo taken in the studio matches the new background. In particular the lighting has to be consistent. I had this in mind when I was pressing the shutter. One also has to check that the angle of view and perspective match reasonably well. In this example I also had to make some small changes to variables like brightness, contrast, colour temperature and saturation.

Composite photo showing the boy in a football stadium.
I have removed the speedlights and replaced the background with a photo of a football stadium.

If you want to check out a master of cool composite photography have a look at the work of Joel Grimes.

And click this link if you want to see how much fun kids can have with a bubble photo shoot experience.

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beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa in black and white

10 reasons I love working with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa is a young model based in Hertfordshire. I was lucky enough to meet Yolly several years ago at at PortraitX photo shoot, and we have worked together several times. I jokingly say she is my “photographic Muse, er…”

Very funny, what.

I am going to put down in black and white 10 reasons why I love shooting Yollanda.

1. This is a soft look. Yollanda’s hair has been tied in a traditional style by Cheynie Majik Fingas.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

2. One of the things I love about photographing people is that very small changes create different images. They show the same thing slightly differently. And then we interpret what we see. Usually quite unconsiously.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

3. A simple elegant profile.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

4.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

5. Now Yolly has been given a new hair style and stronger make up (by @paintedbyrupz). She was wearing her puffer jacket for warmth when not in front of the camera, and I decided to include the jacket for some shots. So here she is with the jacket and a subtle smile…beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

6. And here she is without the jacket looking serious.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

7.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

8.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

9.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

10. Well toned body! Just right for athletic modelling.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

11. Yes… I figured it would be hard keeping the number of reasons to just ten!beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

The creative team

I can recommend the model, the make up artist and the hair stylist for professional work.

The model is Yollanda Musa.

The hair stylist was Cheynie Majik Fingas.

Eyelashes were by lolo lashes whom I have not met (the lashes were done earlier). But I did notice how good they are without anyone having to point them out to me! Whatever magic this is, it looks like Yolly’s own eyelashes, as opposed to large lashes above natural lashes, which sometimes gives me problems in post production. These lashes were perfect.

Make up was by Rupam Patel @paintedbyrupz. Rupam will have every right to throttle me if I don’t include a colour photo that shows the quality of her work!

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actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

Peter Revel Walsh – actor head shots and portraits

Peter Revel Walsh is a character actor, model and voice over artist with over 20 years experience in the industry. He came to my studio in Kingston upon Thames for some actor head shots and portraits.

I think everyone will agree Peter has a very distinctive look!

My primary aim was to capture some great actor head shots. My secondary aim was to capture a range of “more interesting portraits”. I wanted to take advantage of a variety of lighting styles to either “smooth” Peter’s look to make him more cuddly, or to make him look “less civilised”. We even used a wind machine.actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

 

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rutting season - red deer stag in Richmond Park

Red Deer in Richmond Park

The red deer rutting season is here again!

Every Autumn Richmond Park attracts an influx of photographers who want an opportunity to photograph the red deer in rut. It is easy to understand why. The deer are not really afraid of people so photographers can approach them, to within the reach of a long lens.

Health and safety!

Although the red deer in Richmond Park do allow people to approach them there is always an element of risk. These deer are large and powerful animals, and they can cover large distances very quickly. In the rutting season the stags can be dangerous, and while they do not naturally target humans, they do sometimes attack people who approach too closely.

So it is best to be cautious and keep a safe distance away. The park authorities recommend keeping at least 50m away. But that 50m can quickly disappear when your back is turned!

I recommend that if you want to photograph the red deer in the rutting season, you should always be very aware of your surroundings. These deer can cover ground very quickly are are free to roam in the park wherever they wish.

Subtle family relationships among red deer

I am not an expert on red deer. But what immediately becomes obvious if you spend any time watching them in Richmond Park is that they have a complex social structure. And when you bear in mind that individual deer have lived among the other deer here all their lives, it stands to reason that they all know each other as individuals.

If you want to quickly find out a bit more about red deer this is a good link.

I do not want to anthropomorphise, but many times I have seen what give the impression of real affection between the deer. I have seen it between females and stags, and between individual adult females too. I have previously noted that the relationship of stags with their “harems” seems to be far more subtle than many programs on the telly would suggest.

A pictorial “cautionary tale”

These photographs were taken on 27 September 2019. It may be relevant that the rut is still in it’s early days. The stags aren’t going at things “hammer and tongs” yet.

This story starts with a stag and his “harem”.  Here he is doing some bellowing…

photo of red deer stag in Richmond Park and licking the air…Red deer stag licking the air - rutting season in Richmond Park
What follows is my interpretation, which should be taken with some caution. The stag reacts to some other stags who have been strutting and bellowing (off stage camera left) for some time and he has been provoked into sorting them out. So he leaves his females and walks towards the other stags who are approximately 150 meters away.

On the way he pauses to pound his antlers in the ground and do some urine spraying. Isn’t it good that men don’t behave like this?

red deer stag - rutting behaviour in Richmond Park
He continues on his way…

photo of red deer stag in Richmond Park

I notice that his route seems to be heading directly towards this (photo below) although it is difficult to tell because of the distance between us.

photo of photogapher in Richmond Park. Better look out!
Surprise!

Now what was I saying about the need to be very aware of your environment? But I don’t believe this photographer was in any real danger. The stag has only one thing on his mind, and that is the other stags whose behaviour has been provoking him.
Red deer are not usually aggressive to humans even in the rutting season

I am not the only interested onlooker. Note the presence of flies around the head. These are pretty well constantly buzzing around the deers’ heads;photo of beautiful young red deer stags in Richmond Park
This (below) is my final photo of the first stag. He then goes off to strut up and down with the other stags who attracted his attention in the first place.

red deer bellowing
But meanwhile… look who is approaching all the females that he left behind!
wild red deer stag in Richmond Park
This dude has a serious set of antlers, and he “takes up residency” with the females the other stag just left behind. So “whose” females are they? I suspect he is a very eligible stag because very soon a whole new gaggle of additional females come sauntering over to join him! I can hear them giggling from here.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that the females are not “owned” by any of the stags. They appear to have a lot of freedom to come and go as they please. This surprised me at first because it contrasts with an impression I got from watching wild life documentaries on the telly.

Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park

I do not know what the next two photos mean. She looks so tiny compared to him. Has there been some kind of misunderstanding?

Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park

 

Rutting season for red deer in Richmond Park

 

Red deer stag doing his wolf impression

Now he is doing his wolf impression. Very good too.

Red deer stag doing his wolf impression
beautiful red deer stag
Technical information

Just for people who are interested;
Camera: Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk II
Lens:  M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm IS PRO

I am not a professional wild life photographer and I only take wild life photos as a hobby. I bought this combination of camera and lens specifically to provide me with a professional quality long lens. I could not justify the ‘cost’ (in all senses of the word) of buying a professional long telephoto lens for my Nikons. (I use the Nikons and professional Nikon lenses for most of my commercial, family and baby photography).

The advantage of the Olympus kit is that the 300mm lens on a micro four thirds body gives a magnification that is “equivalent” to a 600mm lens on a full frame body. At the same time this setup is a lot smaller and a lot lighter than a 600mm lens on a full frame body.

The disadvantage is that in my opinion the highest ISO at which the EM-1 MkII can take professional quality photos is 800. This opinion is shared by several other Olympus users I have spoken to, but perhaps not everyone.

Most of the above photos were taken at ISO 800.

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actor head shot for Kevin Mangar

Actor Head Shots for Kevin Mangar

Actor head shots for character and variety

Kevin Mangar asked me to take some actor head shots (and also some other photos, but I will talk about those another day).  Some of the resulting images are conventional actor head shots, while others are more “portraits”.

Kevin Mangar often lands roles as villains. Do you think he looks the part?

Well do you, punk?

Curiously, immediately after writing the above sentence I googled “Kevin Mangar” and discovered he played a character called “Eastwood” in the film The Take Down.  What an extraordinary co-incidence! (For people who don’t know “well do you punk” is an iconic line spoken by Harry Callaghan, played by Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies. Look at this clip and then this clip).

According to film buff website IMDb Kevin Mangar is also known for roles in Spider Man 2: Another World and Redcon-1.

What is an “actor head shot”?

Actor head shots are intended to give casting directors an idea of what an actor or actress looks like. However Kevin and I didn’t want to just limit ourselves to conventional actor head shots. So Kevin played some roles, and I fiddled with my lights.

Lighting for head shots and portraits

One light

Here are five “head shots”. In the first, I lit Kevin’s head with a single key light located directly above the camera’s line of sight. You can see the reflection of the key light in Kevin’s eyes. The flash was modified by a gridded white beauty dish. Just the one light (technically this kind of lighting is called “butterfly lighting” because the shadow beneath the nose might look a bit like a butterfly. Allegedly.

very simple actor head shot

Three lights

In the next photo the key light is exactly the same, but I have added two additional lights, one on each side of Kevin’s head.  The photographer has to be quite careful where s/he places these lights in order to create the desired effect. I was using two tall slim soft boxes fitted with grids.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Two lights

Kevin’s third “head shot” shows what happens when the key light is turned off, and the two lights on either side are on. This isn’t really an “actor head shot” at all, because you can’t see the detail of Kevin’s face. But the image makes a very atmospheric portrait nevertheless. I think you will agree this lighting creates a sinister mood? So, not really an “actor head shot” but definitely a “portrait”.

sinister portrait of actor Kevin Mangar

Two different lights

For the fourth head shot in this series I moved the key light to one side, a bit higher than Kevin’s head. It is still modified using the same white gridded beauty dish. I have also moved one of the tall gridded softboxes further back behind Kevin, and brought it’s brightness down. These are the only two lights on Kevin in this photo.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Three lights

Next I threw some light onto the black background, making it grey. The purpose of this is to make Kevin’s outline more visible. I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” picture.

actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” photo. I assume both actors will find this flattering…

A softer look

As I wrote above, Kevin Mangar often gets typecast as villains. He does a “hard man look” very well. But why don’t we bring out his softer side too?

Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot

Photoshop post production

Just in case anyone is interested;

Photoshop editing was kept to a minimum.  I made a small number of global adjustments to  basic variables like colour balance, the tone curve, clarity, and maybe one or two other of the sliders that adjust the entire image. I also did a very small amount of eye brightening – very subtle. Otherwise Kevin’s head shots and portraits are as the camera captured them.

Acknowledgement

I thank Kevin Mangar for asking me to take these actor head shots, portraits and other photos (I may write about some of the others later).

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British Museum

Visiting the British Museum

Do you know the British Museum allows it’s visitors to take photos of it’s collection?

I treated myself to a “day off” and visited the British Museum

One of the excellent things about the British Museum is that they allow visitors to take photographs. At least in the form of “tourist photos” which is what I was doing. I arrived before the queues had built up, and after going through security and bag search, I was in.

photograph of the British Museum, main entrance

The British Museum’s iconic roof window

This was my first visit to the museum since the iconic roof window was built. So, being a tourist, I took some snaps.British Museum. Photo of the magnificent lobby with it's iconic roof. British Museum. Photo of the magnificent lobby with it's iconic roof.

Walking stone sculpures

I don’t know if the British Museum curators know some of their statues can walk about? I took these photos of “stone sculptures of female deities” from Huaxtec. It was only later I noticed that the deity at the front took a step forwards before I took the second photo! Her movement is a lot more obvious if one can toggle between the photos (rather than scroll).British Museum; photo of stone sculpures of female deities from Huaxtec, Mexico. British Museum; photo of stone sculpures of female deities from Huaxtec, Mexico.

Alien versus Predator

I didn’t read the description of the following, but I think I recognize it as coming from a huge pyramid in an ice cave deep beneath the Arctic somewhere.Photo of artefact in the British Museum. Alien versus Predator? Maybe not. But it looks familiar.

Even deities have bodily functions

Here is a photo of a grumpy female deity doing a dump (I don’t know how the experts know it is a female deity).

Photo of statue in the British Museum - grumpy female deity doing a dump

A real conundrum

The next three photos were taken in succession, and I have no explanation for the pure whiteness of the second photo. Did my camera capture a moment of enlightenment?

British Museum - photo of Buddhist statue accidental photo of enlightenment? British Museum - photo of Buddhist statue

“Head forward and up”…

How not to do the Alexander Method (Buddhist sculpture in the British Museum)

        …or maybe not

(This joke is for followers of the “Alexander Method”)

How not to do the Alexander Method (Buddhist sculpture in the British Museum)

A very subtle self portrait

Can you see me?

British Museum - wrapped blue paper and reflection of the photographer

The nine planets

The British Museum contains many priceless objects of eye watering beauty and craftsmanship. The museum kindly and gently educates us just enough to know what we are looking at. Assuming the information is accurate of course.

For example, just inside the museum’s rear entrance (in Montague Place) you can see statues of the nine planets. These are eyewateringly beautiful sculptures of gods and demons that represent the 9 planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth (according to the plaque). As usual, the museum educates with a few well chosen words.

British Museum - photo of one of the "nine planets" of Indian mythology British Museum - the nine planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth British Museum - the nine planets of Indian astronomy, astrology and myth

Back into the British Museum’s iconic lobby

Where one can buy some expensive refreshments and rest one’s feet. On the day I visited about 60 or 70 percent of the visitors had an oriental appearance. You can see one of them sleeping in the second photo. He was still there after I finished my refreshments.

British Museum - photo of it's iconic lobby and ceiling

British Museum - photo of it's iconic lobby and ceiling

The British Museum has an excellent collection of Ancient Egypt

Some people look very content when they are dead (stunning craftsmanship).

British Museum - photo of beautiful sarcophagus from Ancient Egypt

Heiroglyphs

Is this evidence that the ancients talked too much?

British Museum - photo of Egyptian Heiroglyphics

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum

Talking of talking the British Museum also has the Rosetta Stone. It was surrounded by a crush of visitors, so I didn’t take a photo of it. I’ve seen it before anyway (will people recognise this is a joke?) If you want to find out more or see a photo follow the link.

Bah Ram Ewe

I have included this photo because I feel an affinity for it

British Museum - statue of ram figure from Ancient Egypt

Assyrian collection

Another example of extraordinary craftsmanship

Photo of Assyrian Frieze in the British Museum

Detail of the handbag and wrist watch

Photo of Assyrian Frieze in the British Museum - detail showing handbag and wrist watch

 

A final view before leaving

British Museum

Technical info

For what it is worth these photos were taken using an Olympus OMD EM-1 MkII fitted with a 12mm lens (equivalent to a 24mm lens on a full frame camera). This combination is extremely light and easy to carry around. Worn with a Black Rapid camera strap one doesn’t really notice it at all. I did bring another lens with me, but I didn’t use it.

In my (allegedly humble) opinion all cameras are a compromise (for variables that include but are not limited to price, weight, size, speed of shooting, performance in low light, resolution and image quality, etc, etc)

The EM-1 MKII is quite severely limited by being unable to take professional quality images at any iso higher than 800. But it is extremely light, and it has some excellent lenses. Personally I also don’t like the controls. But it can shoot totally silently… and bla bla.

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bubble photo shoot for children

“Bubble Photo Shoot Experience” for Children in Kingston

Fun bubble photo shoot for children

“Bring shy kids out of their bubble”

Loads of fun for kids in a bubble photo shoot!

My studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, provides a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience” for children. Do you have a camera shy child? Would you like photos of your child playing naturally and care-free?

Bubble photo shoots provide a safe environment for your kids to let their hair down and have some fun while getting their photos taken.

Why book a bubble photo shoot?

These days cameras are ubiquitous. Every mobile phone has a camera. So what can a professional photographer with his own studio offer that a mobile phone can’t?

I would argue quite a lot.

And one thing my studio in Kingston offers is a fun packed “bubble photo shoot experience”. It isn’t just about getting photos at the end, it is also about the experience. If you want photos of your child playing happily, your child needs to be happy and relaxed in front of the camera.

Why not book today? Find out what a professional photographer can do with a dark background, studio flash and a bubble machine? At the end of your shoot we can even add some smoke! (The smoke isn’t really smoke, it is some kind of mist that comes out of a machine, and is meant to be totally safe. The manufacturers state it will not trigger asthma attacks, for example).

Why not make a party of it?

Bubble photo shoots tend to be quite dynamic, and they usually work best if your child brings a friend. Sometimes it works well if a parent is willing to get into the picture! The photos in this blog post show two twins in party dresses playing with the bubbles.

If you want to make a party of it, my studio in Kingston can accommodate a maximum of four children with two accompanying adults. We can plan your childrens’ photo shoot in detail in your pre-shoot consultation (the booking fee includes a pre-shoot consultation).

Do you want some serious photos too?

No worries. During your pre-shoot consultation we can discuss the best way to mix your photo shoot to get some serious photos too. Please note if you are inviting several of your child’s friends it is probably best to book a separate session for the serious photos.

How do I book my bubble photo shoot?

Click here for information about booking your personalised photo shoot experience.

fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey fun bubble photo shoots for children in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

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Supporting parents who lose their babies

Please help raise money for “Petals”

Petals  is a charity that provides free counselling and support to parents who lose a baby.

Child birth for most of us is a time of joy. But a small percentage of parents lose their babies shortly before, during, or after birth. For these unfortunate people what should be a time of expectancy and joy is transformed into a time of unbearable grief and heartache. The pain doesn’t go away.

Just try to imagine it.

In their own words “Petals provides specialised counselling for parents suffering trauma or loss during pregnancy and birth”.

Raising money for Petals

Jonathan Mead is running in the ASICS 10km run in London to raise money for Petals.

In July 2017 Jonathan Mead and his wife Lia Shimada lost their baby Rowan. Here are Jonathan’s own words;

“After Rowan died, we had incredible support from Petals — a small charity that offers specialist counselling for parents who have lost an infant. They walked with us through the aftermath of Rowan’s death, and again through the difficult, frightening experience of Lia’s pregnancy with Brecon. We now want to help this charity, which operates on a limited budget, as they support other families through the frequently hidden, life-shattering experience of baby loss.

“On the 21 July, I will be running the British 10k in central London to raise money for Petals”.

Please visit Jonathan’s “just giving” page to donate

There is happiness too…

I am sure even people who have not experienced it, can imagine that if you have lost your first baby, getting pregnant again will be a time of great anxiety.

I am delighted to say that Jonathan and Lia successfully gave birth to baby Brecon on 9 March 2019.

“Remember My Baby”

What is my involvement in this story?

I first met Jonathan and Lia in the maternity ward of Kingston Hospital on 13 July 2017.

I was there in my capacity as a volunteer photographer for the UK charity “Remember My Baby”.  I was responding to an urgent request for a rememberance photographer. Most of the requests we get are urgent.

I quote from the “Remember My Baby” website;

‘Remember My Baby’ (RMB) is a UK based registered charity which offers a gift of baby remembrance photography to all UK parents experiencing the loss of their baby before, during or shortly after birth.

Our goal is to offer a service of baby remembrance photography to all parents suffering the loss of their baby in every hospital and birth centre across the UK.

I may write about “Remember My Baby” and the work we do one day. But in the meantime please visit Jonathan’s just giving page and donate something to Petals.

Petals makes a real difference to individual suffering human beings

We are all of us constantly bombarded by requests from charities for help. Most are worthy causes and we as individuals can’t support them all. But Petals is a small charity that makes a real difference to individual human beings who need compassion and support right now (yes, even now this story is being repeated in homes and hospitals throughout the country).

I know because I see it.

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photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom

Rosemary Lloyd is Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

Rosemary Lloyd is already “Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019”. But she jetted off to the USA to compete in the “Miss Pure International” pageant.

Rosemary won 8 awards at the “Miss Pure International” pageant!

Rosemary Lloyd has just returned from the United States where she was competing in the “Miss Pure International 2019” pageant, where she won a total of 8 awards;

  1. Miss Congeniality
  2. Academic winner
  3. Print model
  4. Crowned to serve Essay
  5. Be the impact project
  6. Creative writing
  7. Artwork
  8. International Queen 2nd runner up

Knowing Rosemary some of these awards didn’t surprise me. For example “Miss Congeniality”. You can get a good taste of Rosemary’s nature if you watch the video clips she posts on her facebook page.

I was more surprised by the “Crowned to serve” essay, because I happen to know that Rosemary is dyslexic. When I asked Rosemary about this I made a new discovery – Rosemary is a published poet!

I don’t want to write a lot about Rosemary here. Anyone who is interested can easily find interviews with Rosemary Lloyd on the internet.

Rosemary Lloyd’s photo shoot

Rosemary needed some photos for the Miss Pure pageant. I took these photos in my studio last February (2019) but they have been under embargo until recently.Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019 Photo shoot for Rosemary Lloyd, Miss Pure United Kingdom 2019

The creative team on this photo shoot

Rosemary Lloyd did her own make up.

The designer is Forever Devine.

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dog photography in kingston upon thames, surrey

Dog Photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Dog photography in my studio in Kingston

Dog photography is one of my favourite things. I photograph dogs in my studio, and also on location. Running, playing, or just being in a natural environment. I will even mix sessions so you can have some time in the studio and some time on location.  However if we are going to mix photography in the studio with shooting on location, we will always start in the studio. That is to say, with a clean dog!

Check out the pet and dog photography gallery on my website for some samples.

How can I photograph a dog in a good pose?

That is potentially a problem. Although it does depend a lot on the dog, and the relationship between the dog and it’s owner.

Now if you have four dogs, the problem is raised to the power of four!

Or is it?

The solution is…

The solution is to make a composite image.

From the moment this potential client first told me on the phone that she wanted a photograph of four dogs all together, so she could have a large picture of them to hang on her wall, I knew I was going to take four photographs – one of each dog – and put them together in a composite image. But it is important you plan ahead, and do this the right way. Because it is possible to make life difficult for yourself if you don’t remember a few good principles.

Photographing dog number 1

“Tilley” is elderly in these photos. She tends to hang her head. And like most dogs, she doesn’t find a camera particularly interesting so she is more likely to look anywhere else.  Most dogs tend to look toward their owner (or handler) for guidance. Well, I am guessing it is for guidance. It may be for guidance, or reassurance, or “am I allowed to do this?” So if you want a dog to look towards the camera, it can help to bring the owner close to the camera. But only works if the dog is really well trained to stay put – otherwise the dog will probably just walk up to the camera!

So it is partly a matter of being patient, trying to catch the dog’s attention, and taking photos until you capture some good candidates. It usually doesn’t take very long.

Here are some of the photos I took of Tilley. File file number 8947 is the one I decided to use.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photogaphing dog number 2

Same problem. The dog is interested in everything but the camera.

Of course I have a few squeeky toys. But these usually only attract the dog’s attention for a few moments. So you have to have your hand ready on the shutter.

Image 9036 is the best for my purposes.dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photographing dog number 3

Dog number 3 was the most energetic of the spaniels. But I wanted to have this dog lying down so I could compose a more pleasing group photo. I did not want all the dogs to be in the same pose – I was aiming for some variety. It was also necessary that all four dogs could be fitted in close to each other without wasting space in the final image. Therefore it seemed a good idea to have this dog lying down in front of the other dogs. Overlapping but not obscuring.

Not rolling on your back though! Silly dog! There are a number of interesting shots here. But my client has a very specific agenda – she wants to buy one picture for the wall that includes all four dogs.

So image 9068 is the one I will use. Notice how I have brought this dog further forward on the studio floor – ie closer to the camera than the other dogs. Thus the camera will be “looking down at” this dog more, in comparison to the other dogs.

Because I have kept the camera in the same place, with all the same settings, this dog will appear to be naturally in front of the first two dogs in the final composite image. I am also using a very deep depth of field so all dogs are sharply in focus, even though some are significantly closer to the camera than others.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photographing dog number 4

Not a spaniel this time.

It is important when photographing several animals for a group composite photo that the image as a whole looks consistent. Therefore I shot with the camera on a tripod. I was using a zoom lens but I did not change the focal length of the lens throughout all the photos. That means dog number 4 is smaller in the frame than the other dogs. He is also the smallest dog. But I resist the temptation to zoom in on him. I want all four dogs to be located in their own positions in the final shot. I also want them to be the correct size relative to each other. For this reason also I leave the camera in the same place, at the same focal length for all the photographs.

I am using a relatively small aperture so I have a deep depth of field. So once again, the final photo will look consistant across all four dogs.  Image 8993 is the one I selected for the final composite image.dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

So here are the four final images in their “before” and “after” states

Now it is just a question of stitching the photos together. Each dog has his or her own layer in Photoshop. It is also necessary to make some masks (this is not the place to describe any of this).

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Here are the four individual dog photographs

You just gotta love them! I am sure no dog lover can look at these images without smiling!
dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surreydog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

And here is the final composite image

I had to make some masks so I could place the lying down dog in front of the other dogs. Making masks is usually the most time consuming part of making composite images.

dog photography in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

 

Would you like to book your own dog photography session?

There are links on my website describing how to book a photo shoot, and other stuff like terms and conditions. I book dog photography sessions just like other photography sessions.

I can photograph your dog, or dogs, in my studio or on location if you prefer actions shots. We can even mix the two together.

If you are bringing your dog to my studio for a photo shoot, please make sure the dog(s) are clean! If it is raining we can dry their paws when they come indoors. There are no parking restrictions in my road, so with luck you won’t have far to walk from your car to my door.

My recommendations for composite dog photography

If you are a photographer and want to try your hand at composites like this one, it helps to bear a few simple principles in mind to make your life easier;

  1. I recommend making sure every dog is photographed in the spot (on the floor) in which s/he will be in the final composite image. Thus the relationship of the camera to each dog is consistent for all the animals. It makes your life easier if a dog “on the back row” is photographed “on the back row”. You might be tempted to take large photos of each dog and stitch them together in Photoshop. And you could do that (especially if you hope to sell individual photos of the dogs). But if you do this, you will have to estimate how large each dog should be in the final image! You might get it wrong, and the owner will notice. If you place each dog “on his/her own spot” for the photography, you won’t have this problem. Because the size of each dog will have been captured correctly in camera.
    Thus, in this example, the spaniel lying down is at the front. I shot him in that position, nearest to the camera. The two spaniels further back were further back on the floor.
    Working this way also guarantees that the shadows look consistent for every dog, because they are all being lit by the same lights.
  2. Use exactly the same lighting and camera settings for every photo. Choose an aperture that allows a deep depth of field, so every dog is sharp no matter where s/he is located on the floor. In this example I was shooting at F14 using a full frame camera.
  3. A plain background definitely makes your job easier when it comes to stitching the photos together.

Shooting a white subject against a white background

When shooting a white subject against a white background it is important to get your exposure correct. It is essential that you avoid overexposure, because this bleaches out all the detail in the highlights. For example, you need to see the texture of the dogs’ hair. It helps if you have some black sheets or boards to the sides of your subject. This reduces the light falling on the sides of the dogs.

Post production

To make the composite, first you need to edit all the images so they are totally consistent with each other. In this example the background has to be the same shade of white. Contrast, saturation and colour balance (etc) are all consistent.

You will need to put each dog on his or her own layer in Photoshop. Masks need to be made where their bodies overlap in the final composite image.

The wee brown dog

The wee brown dog adds a quirky “something”. And he is after all an equal member of the family!

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