Back before the world went crazy with Covid-19, I joined up with members of Hutt Camera Club for a Saturday field trip to Fort Balance on the Miramar Peninsula.
Fort Balance is one of a number of gun emplacements scattered around the entrance to the harbour, and unlike Palmer Head still has a lot of graffiti. I had seem in used in lots of shoots but never got there myself. It was built in 1886 as a result of fears that the Russians would invade.
Figuring that there would be areas inside the complex I packed my Godox speed light and strobe. This meant that I could shoot by myself rather than having others shooting over my shoulder.
The trip organiser also brought along Che who is one of her regular models along with quite a collection of dresses.
When we arrived at the location I dropped the gear and spent a good ten minutes looking around before even picking up the camera. This time let me sort out the types of shots I was looking for. I also spotted two areas that I thought had good possibilities.
One was a stair case that had walls on both sides covered with graffiti. I had my wide angle lens with me and I used the distortion it created to use the walls as wings.
The second was a brightly painted wall that matched the colour of the second dress Che was wearing.
Che is only 14 and therefore does occasional slip into goofy behaviour. I thought that we could capture that with the help of one of the largest pieces of art on the walls. The result is the image below
Overall it was a pleasant outing with good company. I plan on going back to Fort Balance at some stage in the future.
The final round of the 2019 Hutt Camera club completion asked for images that reflected movement. I wanted to do this using lights and particularly the combination of a long exposure with a pop of flash at the end so that you get both movement and frozen action in the same image.
One of the elements that I had acquired after we ran the national convention was a hula hoop with LED lights inside it. I posted for a model who could handle the hula and Lauren answered the call.
We set up a shoot in the garage which was a lot of fun because this is essentially a trial and error process with no two images being the same. Given that it would be very difficult to focus I set F8 as an aperture as this gave me a decent depth of field. Lauren was given a spot to stand on and with the lights on I focused on her in manual mode.
I started out with no light and took some tests shots of the hula spinning until I was happy with the result which was achieved with a 2 second exposure. We had to match the speed of the hula with the exposure. If the hoop was spring too fast or the exposure too long then you ended up with more of a blur (as in the image above).
For the full body shots the lighting was provided by strobes in a large softbox. These were metered to f8 so as to be balanced.
After some initial shots we then tried to mix it up and try to get the effect of a light dress. This entitled telling Lauren when to stop spinning and opening the shutter at the same time. This meant that the movement was in one direction.
At the end of the evening I tried something completely different. I put the light in a seven inch reflector with a grid and focused it at Lauren’s face. I then got her to move the hula in a pattern around her face. The image that was chosen was literally the last one taken on the night.
In the assessing it received a “commended” which gained me enough points to win the Advanced Grade Digital Photographer for the third time.
Towards the end of last year I joined up with a number of other photographers, makeup artists and models for a day trip over to the Patuma Chasm in the southern Wairarapa.
This is an amazing open cave system in the middle of a farm.
For my shoots I was teamed up with Moana (who I had shot before). Over the course of a hour she went through several costume changes as we worked ourselves deeper into the chasm.
She never complained once even though the water was fairly cool.
Given that we were walking through water to get to each spot I was travelling very light. In addition to the camera I brought a single Lume Cube to provide light as I knew this was water resistant.
In the final image we had ventured a reasonable way into the cave and it was quite dark. I then spotted a point in the water that was being lit by sunlight coming through a small gap in the walls and trees. This produced a natural spotlight to use.
I have always enjoyed doing shoots that involve water, and when it is too cold to shoot with the pool outside will resort to using our bathroom. The bathroom is not all that large and so getting all of the lighting gear in place is somewhat tricky.
I have done a shoot in the past where I carefully balanced myself across the bath. Fortunately, that is no longer required, with the ability to connect the G9 to an app on the iPad, and boom the camera above the bath.
After one of my posts received a lot of attention I had three models all want to shoot in the bath.
For my shoot with Niki I raided the flowers from our camellia tree. These were very useful in creating Facebook friendly images.
For the shoot with Delaney I raided petals from a plant that grows out the back of my place like a weed.
For the third shoot with Bree I wanted to do something a little different and so we built a storyline around her in a red dress and mask. We also used candles and coloured gels to light the scene. That way it was different to the other ones I had shot.
Since these photos were taken we have completely remodelled the bathroom and I can’t wait to shoot someone else in the new setup.
Leo was the second staged shoot in my Zodiac sequence. I had a couple of concerts in mind with Luke was be my main model. In the first part of the shoot I used a mask I had bought online and with a strobe in a small reflector used it to cast a shadow on the wall. I then had Luke remove the mask and a second shot was taken. The two images were merged in Photoshop.
For the second shoot, I had also recruited two additional models Martina and David who were to play the parts of the unlucky staff being bailed out because of poor performance.
David forgot about the shoot which left me one person short. Fortunately the G9 has a phone app and so I was able to position myself in the shot and still fire the camera.
Lighting for this shot was a main fill light in a seven foot umbrella and a smaller gridded light focused on Luke.
I am currently working through a zodiac series with the ultimate aim of it being made into a set for submission for honours with the Photographic Society of New Zealand. It has been on the drawing board for a long time. To make the series more particular I am trying to recruit models that are actually the star signs that I am shooting. I was therefore really pleased when I discovered that twins Evie and Emily happened to be Geminis.
They are both fashion designers who have designed a lingerie range so it was an easy pick to ask them to wear black and white outfits.
The costuming allowed me to play with the notion of a split personality (good vs evil), and we made use of the mirrors in the studio. Then it was an easy photoshop masking to bring the images together.
I also wanted to look at the notion of Yin-Yang and the costume colours fitted well with that. I had them lay on the floor and boomed the camera overhead, under a large umbrella.
I has originally planned for them to be on a fake grass and I was going to surround them with bushed to make it look like they were in the womb. Unfortunately the grass could not be found, and my efforts to cut them out and place them on a real grass background did not look convincing so I ended up scrubbing the idea and giving the image a lot of texture in post processing.
The final image has done very well. It received honours in a club competition, was selected in the North Shore Salon and appeared in the 2019 issue of New Zealand Camera.
Regular readers will know that I am a member of the Fashion Collective which is a group of models, designers, makeup artists and photographers who get together and collaborate on projects.
Occasionally the group will have hang out sessions in one of the studios and anyone who wants to shoot can arrange something on the spot. It was at one such gathering that I met Noah.
We started off grabbing a number of items from the clothing collection and then headed into the studio that has a bedroom scene as one of the sets.
This enabled us to do a boudoir shoot in a space set up so that it had room for lights. In this case I was using two lights with fill light being provided by a large umbrella, and a smaller softbox as the main light .
Noah had a very European look so after a quick wardrobe change we headed up to the French Cafe in the grandstand and shot using natural light. I felt that the image was always going to be best in black & white.
At the top of grandstand ramp there is an area that appears to a wind trap for leaves and so we made good use of it.
For the final image in the sequence I wanted to portray Noah as a determined and confident person, and what better way that having her striding down the ramp.
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.
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.