Palmer Head

Palmer Head sits at the southern end of the Miramar peninsula and has great views over Cook Straight and the entrance to Wellington harbour. As such it was the obviously point for the placement of a gun emplacement in World War 2. The guns have long gone but the concrete buildings remain and thanks to graffiti artist are covered with a very colourful array of designs. The moment I saw them I wanted to shoot there. The opportunity came last Saturday with a shoot with Megan. She had a concept of a look that she wanted and I had agreed to shoot it. The look she was going for was actually based on nature but unfortunately the light on the day was not great and it was really the wrong time of year for much natural colour from the plants. In many of my shots I have actually worked with opposites and I saw this as a good option so we headed up to the gun emplacement. As often happens in Wellington the wind blew and being on an exposed headland meant that we were hit with the worst of it. Even inside the building there was a fair breeze going round and we ended up using a reflector as a wind shield so Sophie (makeup artist) could apply false eyelashes.

Sophie applying makeup on location
Sophie applying makeup on location

The main wall of the room had a large element painted in silver paint. I knew from past experience that such surfaces don’t come out well when flash is used. So I stuck the camera on the tripod and allowed long shutter exposures. To try to introduce some warmth into the image I had Sophie hold a gold reflector. LR_Megan290314-14 LR_Megan290314-2This worked for a while until the cloud got heavier and the room got darker. I still didn’t want to use flash directly so I put the flash inside a Softbox and aimed that at the reflector like shown in the diagram below.Palmer-Head-LightingLR_Megan290314-25 We then moved to the doorway into the room. I had Sophie hold the reflector on the other side of the wall to bring in some extra light.LR_Megan290314-41LR_Megan290314-32 We did try some shots outside but they lacked the punch I was looking for. We ended the session with Megan in another part of the complex, looking out one of empty windows, and me shooting from outside.LR_Megan290314-53 LR_Megan290314-52 I was really pleased with the images and I am sure that I will be back at the location in the future.

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