A blast from the past

The last week we have had our fantastic friends Ade and Lou over to stay.

Sian and I went to school with Adrian and we were all firm friends.  Ade, now a proper writer (seriously, check out his book The Marineron Amazon…it is definitely worth a read) was responsible for my love of the theatre – writing a play at the age of 14 and asking me to direct it.  Amongst Much ado about Cutlery, a camp rendition of Dracula, an adaptation of Lord of the Rings and various other shenanigans, we had a great time together.   We then went to college and, as time seems oh so well to do, we got stuck into our own thing and drifted apart.

Until Krissy’s wedding.  We were utterly, utterly delighted to catch up with our dear friends of old, and between some speeches, some dancing and a lot of champagne, we hatched a plan for the pair to come and visit us in Barbados.  And I am so glad they did, not least for the company, and the drinking and the stories and the memories and the debates – but just because it is great to hang out and re-kindle lost friends.

…And speaking of lost friends, Ade and Lou have a camera ever-so-similar to my first.

Well, this is a photography blog after all 😉

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When I started shooting, I did what anyone does – I bought the best camera I could afford with a kit lens.  In my case, it was a Nikon D80 with an 18-135.  Ade and Lou have the more modern, albeit much smaller D3100 with an 18-55 lens, and very nice it is too.  We were all relaxing on the beach together on Friday and as the sun started setting, Ade asked if I would mind taking a few shots with his camera.  I was, of course, happy to oblige.

However.

I now shoot with an amazing full frame camera, and have at my disposal a host of wonderful lenses and accessories (you all know how much I love my flash) – so you must forgive me for being a little hesitant at the results I would be able to achieve.

In a desperate bid to prove that the photographer makes the picture, not the camera – I present this series…and, to be honest, I am pretty darned chuffed with myself…Shall we discuss?

First thought for me was, of  course, to shoot silhouette.  I hate the horrible and hard light that the little pop up flash produces, so the first thing we did was run around in the water a bit whilst I framed nicely and shot fast, to emphasise the colours of that wonderful sky.

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Following that, we sat together on the beach, and I covered that wretched, small light that sits atop the viewfinder and craned my hand around to bend and bounce the light into a softer, more flattering light…it’s no speedlight through a 32″ umbrella – but it is better than nothing.AdeLou_077

 

And as the sun set, and the light disappeared, and we played a little more, I noticed that little street lamp up on top of the pier…

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A quick shift of white balance, a little bit of posing…and I got my favourite shot of the evening.

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(Hopefully) Proof that “the camera a photographer maketh” is not true!

Thanks for a fabulous time – it was wonderful to catch up, re-acquaint, and generally remember just how awesome you are.

Oh – and great to see Ade and Lou too 😉

Thanks for reading guys – have a great week x

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When the light’s just right…

One of the great things about my job is that I never know who is going to walk through the door and book a shoot.  Last week I got a call from one of my team saying that (a very lovely) guest had come in to book a shoot, and that she had a huge pile of ideas and cuttings that she had as inspiration.

And when I got the big stack of papers, I could feel the grin expand from between my ears…this was going to be exceptionally good fun.

Unlike most of the families that come into the Colorbox Studio, Charlotte did not want pictures of her beautiful daughter, Sandra, with the cobalt blue Bajan sky and deep turquoise of the Atlantic behind her – far from it.  They were after a more high-fashion look, with bleached tones, soft light and lots and lots of buttery bokeh…I was more than happy to oblige.

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We started off with a few shots in the studio,  and then headed out into the grounds of The Crane.   Luckily, Sian was free to help assist with flash, and the weather played ball too.  Normally, when the clouds are overhead and the skies are a little grey, guests are, naturally disappointed.  But when that sun is out and glaring, it makes my job much, much harder.  The sun here in Barbados is incredibly strong, and it makes creating soft, flattering light very tricky.  Luckily, for all parties concerned on this shoot, the clouds were out in force.

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A little about these shots…

[Mega boring photo nerdary – please skip if this is not of interest!]

Charlotte was adamant that she wanted that creamy out of focus for these head shots…which is quite tricky out here in paradise.  Why?

Light.

In order to get that depth of field, you need to shoot at a long focal length for maximum compression (blog to come) but you also need to shoot with a wide aperture.   A wide aperture means you need to shoot with a faster shutter speed – all of this is fine if you are shooting in ambient light, but if I plonk Sandra in the Bajan sun (clouds or not) she is going to end up squinting like mad, and the contrast will be unbearably strong…so what do I do?  Control the light.  I shoot my flash through a whacking great big umbrella.  But this then throws up another problem – shooting at 2.8 in Barbados, you need a shutter of well over 500 to beat out the sun, but my flash will only sync at 250.  So the game comes about of looking for nice ambient light (like shady spots) that I can then introduce my artificial, soft flash, to bathe the beautiful Sandra in…and, sometimes, like today, it all just comes together.

 

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I can’t tell you how refreshing and exciting it was to do a shoot like this.  It is very different to the usual stuff we shoot.  For the first time ever, my job wasn’t to show idyllic Barbados – scenes to make friends and family jealous of what they missed during the holiday of a lifetime…my brief was to get a high fashion look.  And when you’re working with someone as beautiful as Sandra, that job is made so much easier.

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These two shots are, without a doubt, my favourite of the day.  The light is just perfect.  The wind was kicking up and unhelpfully turned the umbrella inside out.  I asked Sian to bounce the light off the grass a few feet in front of Sandra, and the shots we got were stunning.  I love the classic – almost 30s feel to these shots – both in lighting and in Sandra’s expression…awesome.

 

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After 45 minutes or so, we headed down to the beach to finish up – I will leave the final pictures to do the talking.

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Thanks for reading guys – more photos and adventures next week!!

 

For more info on the Colorbox Studio – please visit our Facebook Page, or head to http://www.colorbox.co.uk 🙂 Also, keep an eye out for Green People – they are suppliers of organic beauty and sun products…and Sandra may well be on her way to being the face for them!

The wrong bloody lens!

Over the years, as my experience has grown and I have got better at taking pictures, the old camera bag has also umm…grown.  I am ridiculously lucky to now have in my possession (amongst several other pieces of glass) what is widely regarded as ‘The Holy Trinity’ amongst Nikon users.  In an effort not to bore you with it all, I have three lenses which focus from 14mm (very wide indeed) all the way to 200mm (very close indeed) all at a nice fast aperture of 2.8, and all crazy, crazy sharp.

So when Sian’s absolutely delightful friend and old uni room mate, Jen came to stay last week, she naturally wanted to go and see some of the sites.  I, naturally, picked up the wrong lens for the day.

This is down to sheer laziness – my lenses all weigh a ton, and the thought of carrying the 24-70 and the 70-200 was a little too much for our little excursion around the island and visit to the Barbados Wildlife Sanctuary.  I knew that I would regret leaving it behind, but hey, I left it at home and had to make do with what I had.

Our first stop, and I was already cursing under my breath.

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The 24-70 was great for this holiday snap of the lovely (smiley) Jen in front of the awesome East Coast…and indeed this close up of some washed up coral we found.

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But then this guy came running out at us, claws raised, fighting us for his territory, and I knew the lens I had decided to bring out today was a poor choice.

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This guy was ever so patient as I blundered around in front of him for ten minutes – getting as close as my focus would allow, and trying my best not to scare him off.  To his credit, he stood his ground astonishingly well, but I am a little disappointed with these shots.  I have had to crop in significantly, and they have that ‘digital’ grit to them…they are not sharp through optics, but through post processing…which isn’t my favourite! 😦

Despite having the wrong lens and intermissions of random curse words from a particular male photographer in Barbados,  we were having an absolute blast.  We drove all the way up the rugged East Coast, heading north, and as we got higher up, we stopped off at the ever-awesome Barbados Wildlife Resort.  They have monkies and tortoises and deer and peacocks and snakes…it really is a wonderful place to visit…but again – despite all the fun we were having, I was mutttering about the glass I had decided to bring.  (Again, look for the noise in the images!)

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I think my favourite shot of the day was of these two little monkeys having a drink together – I love the tortoise on the right of the frame just chilling with them, happy to share.

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After this, we headed on up into the terraniums – they have the most enormous snake there (he must be about 30 feet long) and his skin is the most amazing colour.

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Luckily I was able to get close enough to this guy to get a decent close up shot of his skin…this is genuinely how colourful it was – no photoshoppery here!

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We soon decided that we had seen enough animals for the day, and headed West for a spot of lunch and some sea views from one of our favourite bars, the Ramshackle.  Fish and chicken was had by all – along with a few beers, and after soaking in the sun and sea, we headed further north, to our favourite visitor spot, the Animal Flower Cave.

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This was, thankfully, the right lens for a shot like this…and ultimately the day was about spending time with one of Sian’s very best friends, having some fun and seeing some sites together…so ultimately, it was this shot that was most important…and ultimately that is why (I am sure) I decided to pack my 24-70.

And in hindsite, I don’t think the pictures came out nearly as bad as I had worried 😉

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Thanks for an awesome week Jen – and a safe flight home!!!

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