December has been a quiet month, I try to take a bit of a break over Christmas and New Year, or at least cut back the photography stuff for a bit of a rest. Most of the things I did in December were portrait related, mostly working with Charliee while she was up in the midlands for a few days, but we’ll get to that.
Starting off December, I went along to an evening at Click Group Shoots, and the subject was ballet dancers. For this evening there were three setups and three dancers, we were split into groups of 4 or 5, and then took it in turns with each setup. The first two setups were very similar, one light with a plain backdrop, and I mainly stuck to some portrait shots as that’s kind of my thing, then the third setup was a bit different.
I’ve used this technique before, but mainly for falling objects, and it’s been a few years, but for this setup we used stroboscopic flash. That is a technical term for the flash firing a number of times and you set your camera up to capture all the flashes in the same photo. It’s a technique I’ve had ideas to use, but never got round to actually putting them into practice, this shoot has made me want to try it again sometime in the new year.
One night, while my sleeping pattern was messed up, I was up at about 3am and thought I’d try out something, as I had an idea of a lighting technique I wanted to use and thought it would be good to try it on some self portraits. I set up a couple of speedlights, firing into reflective umbrellas and put some coloured gels on them. It was a bit tricky to get the focus right for the self portraits and what I wanted, I know a few came out slightly out of focus, but they are acceptable. I then had to add in a bit of smoke for the finished look, and while they weren’t perfect, it was a test shoot for a technique I used on a later shoot this month.
Now we come to the shoots I did with Charliee in December, as she was up in the midlands area for about the week and we had the opportunity to work together on kind of 4 shoots.
We’d been chatting since coming back from Spain about trying to get a shoot organised, and as she isn’t based in Leicester, but does travel up to the midlands quite regularly, I knew it would happen eventually. The last time she was up here for a few days I was working all the time and could only get to shoot with her very briefly at a group shoot and while filming a quick dance video, then she was in Australia for a month. This time, I was working most of the days she was around here, but we managed to find a day that would work for both of us.
We arranged to shoot in a local studio for a couple of hours, and we both managed to make it just on time as it was the last Friday before Christmas and the traffic was terrible. I left out on a journey that would normally take me about 10-15 minutes, but this day it took around half an hour and as I pulled up at the studio, so did Charliee. While we’ve worked together quite a few times now, out in Spain for a week and on a couple group shoots, this was our first actual solo shoot together.
At the studio I had an idea of the things we could shoot, I wanted to try out some stuff with gels and had asked Charliee to bring some lingerie and a fitness outfit to shoot in. I did want to try out a bit more with gels, but that’ll probably have to be done next time, as I ended up only really using the gels to create different colored backgrounds because I didn’t want to waste time and using gels can be a lot of trial and error to get it right.
The setup for most of the shots was pretty much the same, so once I had that setup I didn’t have to mess about with it too much. One main light, a bit of fill, and then a couple of rim lights, with an optional gelled background light if needed. With the lights sorted, we could quickly get through the sets, lots of outfit changes and Charliee was awesome as ever, so working with her is a breeze. It went really quickly, it was a really fun shoot and the two hours were up, so it was onto shoot number 2.
After the 2 hours in the studio we headed off into the city centre to take some photos with the Christmas lights in the background. I’ve done a couple of night shoots before and both times had someone else to hold the light so that we could work quickly and not worry about setting up light stands, especially at this busy time of year. I put a post on Facebook the day before to see if anyone was available to help out and I managed to get another photographer I know to help us on light holding duties.
We didn’t shoot for too long on this one, maybe around an hour, but we used a few different locations starting at Curve. As we met up there I thought we’d use the lights in the doorway as the background, and then we moved on closer to the centre of town, around town hall square and it’s surrounding areas.
Most of the photos used one light, a handheld LED kind of strip light, but I did switch it up to using a flash with a roundflash beauty dish attached for a few images. When using the flash I used a technique to create sort of light streaks in the background by moving my camera during the exposure and the flash freezes the model so she’s not blurry. I didn’t use the flash with all the images as I find when shooting at night and not having any constant light, if I’m taking close up headshots then the eyes don’t look as I’d want them with the pupil being too big.
And that was it for the days shoot, an enjoyable three hours working with Charliee, creating lots of different images that I’m happy with. The next shoot with Charliee would be the following day as she was the model at a lingerie workshop held at Solo studio.
I’d put my name down for the lingerie workshop when I first heard about it and that was just after coming back from Spain as I thought that may be the next opportunity I had to work with Charliee, and despite that not being the case, I still wanted to go along. It worked along the same lines as other group shoots I’ve been to, there were three setups and we rotated the photographers shooting so as to not all shoot at the same time.
Other than the basic setups, we had some led Christmas lights in the studio and I thought about using them by putting them in front of my camera lens, a technique I’d seen online but not really tried out yet, but it worked out well and I’ll be trying it again on another shoot sometime soon.
The workshop was three hours long and afterwards I was just chatting to Charliee and as she had a bit of time before she was being picked up, I asked if we’d be able to do another quick shoot as I wanted to try something similar to the self portraits I’d done earlier on in the month, but this time with a better subject 😉 I grabbed a few bits from my car, quickly set things up and we shot for about 5 minutes. As we were working with smoke (well actually vape) some of the images were a bit hit and miss, depending on where the smoke fell, so I took quite a few and we got some good final results when I got rid of anything where her face was just all covered in smoke.
2 days, and kind of 4 shoots with Charliee later and I’m really happy with the results we achieved. One of my favourite people to work with, and we’ve already provisionally organised to shoot again when she’s next up this way around the middle of January, so I’m looking forward to that.
Finally, in terms of music shoots for December, just before Christmas I took a trip up the M1 to Barnsley for a gig where Hands Off Gretel headlined and it’s covered in another blog post. Then there was a shoot after Christmas with a local band, who after losing one of their members are rebranding as a three piece and needed some new photos. They are changing their name and doing a launch in the new year, so I’ll leave that to them to announce the photos and new name (I may come back and update this post with a few photos when that happens). Also covered in another post is a gig I went to on New Years Eve, with The Brandy Thieves headlining.
I have done similar for the past couple of years, and thought I’d do the same again for 2017, so I also made a slideshow video of some photos taken at gigs and festivals in 2017, which is on my YouTube channel. Music used in the video comes from the incredibly talented local band, The Whiskey Rebellion.