GTC2019 – Shelley

My second shoot at GTC2019 was with Shelley, who I had shot with a couple of weeks before. For this shoot we had selected an elvin styled dress and our makeup artist (Jamie Rameka) did a fantastic job of creating a stunning facial adornment.

In the original plan for the day, we had been told that the second shoots were to take place at Kaitoke Regional Park, which really pleased me as the location fitted in perfectly with the outfit we had chosen. For those of you not in the know, the Park was the film location for Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings movies.

As it turned out we were later arriving at Staglands than was envisaged, so it was agreed that we would do the second shoots in the park. As with the earlier shoot with Manuela, we moved around the reserve and shot in several locations.

We had been given very strict time instructions so we kept moving at a great pace. We never got to shoot in the old buildings, however a bridge across the river near them made a perfect location.

We got back to the meeting place on time to discover that na extra hour had been arranged with the reserves owners. However, by that time I was out of ideas and stuffed so we ended up just chilling.

While most of the images from the day were shot on the Lumix G9, I also took along my Nikon D600 and the Lensbaby lens, that lets you shoot some interesting effects.

GTC2019 – Manuela

This years Great Trentham Collaboration (GTC) was somewhat different from previous years. Rather than being held over two days in the grounds of Trentham Racecourse, it was turned into a mystery bus tour. Each photographer was allocated two models but we had no idea where we were going to shoot other than that it involves traveling by bus. The models and makeup artists travelled in one bus while the photographers had one to themselves. This allowed us to carry more gear.

Just before the bus was to depart, we were told that we were heading up to Staglands Nature Reserve which I had visited several years ago. That meant that I had an idea of where I wanted to shoot my first Manuela, who had borrowed a brides outfit.

My intention when we reached the reserve was to head to an old recreation of a timber camp and use the old buildings as backdrops. As it turned out we never made it that far, as we kept finding great locations along the way.

Trying to keep a white dress clean through the whole shoot was a little challenging but we managed.

Lighting for most of the images was natural balanced with my Godox 600 battery powered strobe in the 24inch softbox. For the shot in the barn a second speed light was attached to a bracket on the roof acting as a hair light.

While the gear is reasonable light lugging it around the park is quite a workout.

Shelley at the beach (NSFW)

For the final part of the shoot with Shelley we headed towards the Wellington South Coast where we hoped we would be in time for golden light. Those hopes were quickly dashed as we ran into rain in Lower Hutt, and as we approached the Ngaranga interchange, with the wipers on full, I was close to calling it off and taking the girls home. But then I looked across to the airport and could see clear sky on that side, and as that was where we heading hoped for the best.

As it turned out we were ok at beach. I had chosen Breaker Bay because it is a clothing optional beach so I knew that we types of shots we had planned there would not cause offence. As it was we pretty much had the beach to ourselves anyway.

We started in a black corset that Shelley totally rocked, then moved onto the fabric drapes. As we were trying to travel light the Godox AD600 was used in a collapsible beauty dish.

I love shooting with drapes, and with the rapid recharge available in the lights, you can let the model simply play with them and then chose the best.

While the setting sun did briefly light up the lower lighthouse at Pencarrow Head there was never any form of golden light on the beach itself.

As Shelley is not self conscious about her body we finished with a series of full nudes. When the images were loaded I got a great comment from Shelley.

Thank you so much for the amazing day & such professional work 

Shelley & Sam in the pool (NSFW)

When Shelley had first contacted me about shooting together, I had asked her to send me a series of images that showed what she was wanting to add to her portfolio. The set included several that had a water based element to them, and so we decided to shoot some in the paddling pool that I had used in previous occasions.

The advantage with the pool, over say a bath, is that there is more room in it, and particularly around it for shooting. I was also able to use the boom arm to position the camera immediately overhead. The disadvantage with the pool is that access to warm water is limited, and shooting this late in the year did mean that the water was cold. We therefore had to shoot fast to ensure that the girls did not end up with hyperthermia.

Under the original plan it was only going to be Shelley in the pool, but Sam agreed to join in as well, so we started with the lingerie that they had worn in the previous shoot. We added a small amount of flowers for effect and about a litre of milk to create the creaminess in the water.

Anyone who has seen my previous water shoots will know that I like the look of fabric drapes, so prior to the girls getting into the water both had chosen a length of fabric from my store.

So off came the wet lingerie and the fabrics were positioned.

All of these image were shot under natural light using two camera. My second one was my Nikon D600 with a 50mm lens at f1.4.

The entire shoot lasted about 8 minutes which was long enough, and both of the girls really enjoyed a hot drink and shower immediately afterwards.

Sam joins the shoot with Shelley

As I mentioned in my previous post (, Sam Moredo came out to our shoot to be the makeup artist. She is also a model and a dancer and many of her other recent shoots have involved a combination of the two.

Shelley had bought a range of lingerie with her and fortunately several of the pieces were from a similar set, so we talked Sam into taking part. While I shot the initial set with Shelley, Sam applied makeup in a similar style so that both girls were consistent.

By this stage the sun was really coming through and so I tried to place a large diffuser panel in its general directions to try to block some of it. This was partially successful. While the main light was still the Godox AD600 in the seven foot umbrella, I was finding that the light was a little uneven especially on Sam.

I initially tried to position a reflector to the left of the camera, and use the sun, but this was not working so I mounted a light on the other side of the fence and angled to to bounce off the reflector. At first this was done bare bulb, but that was creating too many shadows on the back wall, so I put it into a softbox so that I could control the spill better.

Shelley in lingerie

Shelley-Ann is a relatively new member of the Fashion Collective, who answered a casting call from me. We had arranged to do a series of shots and as the second one involved the use of my paddling pool, we started them all around my back yard. We roped in another member of the Fashion Creative, Sam Moredo to do the makeup for the shoot.

We have an area at the back of the section with a very large tree and our woodshed which provided a great location.

The weather for the whole day had been extremely changeable, with short runs of blue skies followed by rain. I initially started using my Godox speed light in a 24″ softbox for the initial shots but then brought in the Godox AD600 and out it in the seven foot Westcott umbrella. There was just enough room under the trees for it to fit.

Towards the end of this section of the shoot, the cloud decided to break and sunlight started to stream through resulting in very strong differences between light and shadow.

In print again

This is another post that is a little overdue in being completed, but is part of my New Year resolution to get more content on the site.

The completed “Buzz at the Hive” image

Each year the Photographic Society of New Zealand publishes a hard copy book that profiles images submitted from its members. The number of submissions always exceed the available space so it is quite an achievement to get an image selected. ¬†Each year the book includes a special section where your are asked to submit to a theme. The theme for the 2018 edition was “Kiwiana”.

For my overseas readers New Zealanders refer to themselves as “kiwis” (coming from our national bird and not the shorten version of kiwifruit). Kiwiana is a set of images that depict those things that we would instantly recognise as part of the culture.

When the theme was announced I know instantly what I wanted to submit. A classic Kiwi toy is a wooden pull-along called “Buzzy bee”, and our parliament building executive wing is called the Beehive. Therefore all I had to do was capturing buzz at the hive.

The Buzzy Bee

The process was relatively straight forward. I figured out the angle I wanted with the camera on a tripod and then shot a blank plate of the buildings. As I wanted the image reasonable in focus across a wide range the camera was set at f20. I had to take several images so i could remove the tourist who were milling around it.

The Parliament complex with the Beehive in the background

I had originally planned to attach the bee to a cross pole by way of fishing nylon, but my wife rightly pointed out that this would be very hard to control. We therefore settled on clamping it underneath to the boom pole. She then proceeded to wave the bee round as I took multiple shots.

Once back at the office I downloaded the images and then went through and worked out which worked best. It was then a relative simple matter of loading the images into a stack in Photoshop and masking out what I didn’t want. As the images had all been shot in the same location this was a relatively simple process with the only area requiring more work was were the pole had attached to the bee.

Then to make the image more realistic I add shadows to the ground under the bees closest to the camera.

I had high hopes that the image would be selected and was really pleased that it was. That made the third image selected over the years for the publication.

Pugs and strippers

Occasionally a job comes along that sounds to both have the potential for a lot of fun, but equally stressful.

Venus Star is a Wellington entrepreneur, who has a range of business ventures, one of which is organising male strip reviews. The original brief was to shoot the show on the Saturday night, and then on the Sunday to shoot the performers with a group of pugs.

As it turned out I had to pass over the show to another photographer but decided to keep the shoot with the boys and dogs.

Venus had booked a hall for the shoot, which I had not seen so it meant that the car was loaded with a while of gear just in case. As it turned out it had a large stage with black curtains at the back.

I set up three lights all in the row across the stage so that it would have fairly even lighting while the dogs raced around.

I thought that we may have had problems with the dogs but as it turned out they were really easy to deal with.

We shot both individual and group images with them, and the advantage of the lighting position was that I didn’t have to move them. This was a major bonus as it meant the whole shoot was fairly quick.



A photographic journey

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