Representing New Zealand

This week i got some great news. I had submitted an image for consideration of being selected to represent the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) in an international competition run by the Federation of International Photographic Art (FIAP).

PSNZ was entering an “Open Colour” section and had chosen to base a set on “Autumn Colours”. It needed to select 20 images. I anticipated that most people were going to submit landscapes so I submitted a portrait of Kat amongst the leaves.

Kat_FIAPAs I understand it there was a very high number of entries and so I was really pleased to be selected amongst them.

The shot was taken over a year ago and you can read the full story behind it on this post.

Success in first Club competition of 2015

I was pleased with my results in the first judging of the Hutt Camera Club 2015 Ladder competition receiving a Merit and a Commended. This post is about the Merit image that I had entitled “Mummy”

Mummy
Mummy

When the topic of “The Street” was announced I decided that I wanted to do an image of a small child on a large street to show lowliness. I wanted to shoot it against a street that had large buildings on each side which would have further emphasised how small the child was. However in order to be safe I intended to shoot the street and the child separately and then composite the two together.

I took some shots in Featherston Street Wellington one morning while trying to ensure that I dodged the traffic. Around where the old General Motors plant was in Upper Hutt there is a new industrial area that has all of the roads laid out but as they have never sold any of the sections is blocked off so there is no traffic

The little girl is named Aubrey and she is the daughter of Ali, a model I have shot on a number of occasions. I met her just before Christmas and found her to be a very smart and articulate 2 year old, so I had figured that she would be great for the shoot.

Now there is an old adage that you should never work with either children or animals and this certainly came into play.

Aubrey woke up from her afternoon nap in a bad mood and by the time she arrived at the location it had not improved much. Unfortunately when we arrived we also found 5 police dog cars at the gate as they were using the area for dog training. While they were all under control and well away from where we were shooting Aubrey did not like the look of them at all.

I decided to shoot anyway so Ali carried her down the road, put her down and then quickly walked away. The shots were taken in a single set as by this stage Aubrey was heading towards the sort of tantrum that only 2 year olds can throw.

I ended up not putting the composite together as I thought that the image was strong enough without it, and given that it got a Merit then the judge agreed.

Putting on your face

Putting on your face - the final image
Putting on your face – the final image

Each year the Heretaunga Rotary Club runs a major book sale and my wife is one of the volunteers that help sort the donated books as they come in. A number of weeks ago she brought home a collection of photographic magazines for me to look through. They were mainly out of date, however I do like looking for images that may provide inspiration for shots.

I came across an image is an old issue of Photo Review Australia in a section called “Emerging Talent” by Samantha Everton that I really liked.

Charade - Samantha Everton (www.samanthaeverton.com)
Charade – Samantha Everton (www.samanthaeverton.com)

The expression “Putting on your face” immediately sprang to mind and so when I was doing the Getting Ready image in the model series I asked Sian would she like to help me create something.

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I set up a small area of my studio to resemble a makeup area and has Sian sit an pretend to put makeup on. I had purchased three paper mache masks and attached them to a length of dowel that was sitting on a stand uses for needlework. The camera was mounted on a tripod so that all of the angles would stay consistent to make the compositing a little easier.

BTS-PuttingOnFace-2

We tried a number of angles and poses to see which one would work before finally settling on one.

I then moved the masks out of the way and Sian positioned herself roughly where each had been and did a different facial expression at the three positions. Shooting in this way meant that the lighting was consistent across the whole image.BTS-PuttingOnFace-3

Lighting for the image was two soft boxes. The main one was set camera left and up high. (You can just see the edge of it is the top lefthand corner). The second light was camera right and lower down to add some fill. This light had to be carefully placed to ensure that it did not appear in the mirror.

The composite in Photoshop was fairly simple although given that Sian’s face and the masks are different I did have to use the liquify tool a bit.

 

North Shore Salon Success

The North shore Salon is a major national competition run each. This is the second year that I have submitted images and I was super stoked when I received the news this afternoon that my image “Breaking dawn” had been given a “Highly Commended” Award in the Open Colour Section. I also received an acceptance for my “Role of the Model” in the same category.

Breaking Dawn
Breaking Dawn
Role of the Model
Role of the Model

The Model Series – Getting ready

The latest image in the model series is entitled “Getting Ready” and continues with the theme that models and the clothes are connected to a point that while getting ready the model would already be in them.

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For the shoot I was joined by two models that I have shot on a number of times before namely Renee (pink) and Sian (green). My home studio was set up like the dressing area of a show and we played with a number of different posing options before shooting the final image shown above.

Hair-1

Hair-5 Hair-4 Hair-3 Hair-2

The shoot was done in really high spirits and the girls had a great time ironing each other.

For the final shot we carefully positioned Sian onto the ironing board and very quickly took several shots. While it was a reasonably study board I was not sure how well it would last given that it was not designed to hold as much weight as was on it.

Fortunately it lasted the distance and it was only as Sian was getting off it that the bracket gave way. As I had it set at a height that we do not normally use I doubt that I will get in too much trouble with my wife.

The Model Series – Keeping Clean

The third image in the model series was entitled “Keeping Cleaning”.  While the intention with each of the concepts is to produce a single image, this shoot has actually produced two, and so I am trying to sort out which one I will end up using in  the series.

Shot3-Keeping-Clean#2 Shot3-Keeping-Clean#3Not far from my home is a commercial laundry which I thought I could approach to get the background shots I needed. I had decided that it was better to composite the image rather than try to arrange for a location.

I cut a circle in another one of the bike boxes that had been obtained for the “Past Use By Date” shoot and then attached it to the front of the box. We stood the box up and then positioned it on two chairs to get it to the right height for the machine.

The mock up machine
The mock up machine

For the shot of Christa inside of the machine the box was lowered to the floor and she carefully climbed inside.

BTS-KeepClean-2I visited the laundry on a Saturday morning (when it was closed) and we took the required shots. The ones from the studio were on my iPad so that I could line this up as best as possible. The laundry manager was more than happy to help out and in fact she said that the machine was more than capable of handling Christa’s weight and that I could bring her along should the composites not work.

I tried to replicate the lighting as close as I could to that shot in the studio however an exact match was not possible as it was necessary to avoid reflection in the glass doors of the machine. As it was I was not able to completely eliminate them and had to fix the image in photoshop.

I was very pleased with the result that came out. The only issue with shooting against a green screen is that you can get a colour cast on the skin. This is shown in an earlier version of the composite. I still need to do some more work on removing this before the final image is produced.

By sheer fluke when I posted the images on Facebook one of the people who viewed it pointed out that the name on the machine Huebsch is German for “Pretty”. I have checked this out and it is not quite correct and in fact Hubsch is the correct spelling however they are pronounced the same way.

The Model Series – Past Used by Date

The second concept in the model series is based around the fact that fashion is very fleeting. I wanted to express this by having the girls piled in a box like the shops do with their end of line articles.

The final image
The final image

My friend Andrew operates a bike shop so I was able to obtain a number of large boxes that the bikes drive in. These were put together to make it large enough for the four models (Christa, Newala, Shelby & Kelly) to fit inside. All of the models come from Voda Model Management and with the exception of Christa were arranged by Donna.

The models get comfortable in the box
The models get comfortable in the box

There was a bit of fun when they first tried to climb in wearing their heels as they went through the bottom of the box, but we remedied that issue.

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The lighting for the shot was a single softbox boomed out over the box and the second one angled down. As noted in the previous shoot my trigger played up and so I had to use a speed light to trigger the lights. As shown in the image this was aimed away from the box so that it did not affect the other lights. I stood on top of a small stepladder to get the angle I wanted. The top of the ladder is quite large and so it is relatively safe to be up there.

The first grouping
The first grouping

We tried a number of combinations with the way that Christa lay across the top the others before we settled on the final combination. The girls were having a great time as it was a very different shoot from what they were used to.

To get the background I sneaked my camera into a local shopping mall and shot the front of the one of the shops from the balcony. Then it was a matter of compositing the images together and trying to get the lighting consistent.