Thursday, 29 April 2010

Michael, Night

Michael Night, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Can't claim that the idea for this one was entirely original, but then I suppose few ideas truly are.

In essence I taped two strobes (a canon 580 exII and a cheap sunpak 430 clone) into the roof of an elinchrom umbrella. I attached a pocket wizard and headed off to Leeds.

First truly urban shoot that I've done and pretty much as expected we had a few passers-by but nothing out of order, One bloke did ask if we were police (Mike's suit possibly - either that or a guilty conscience!) and then couldn't seem to grasp what we were up to.

I then used the quadras to give a touch of fill so that the suit and brolly didn't get lost in the darkness. I set the camera (5dII) up on a tripod and used live view to compose the shot (as the camera was higher than me!). Worked rather well.

There was a lot of ambient light and the trick was not to blur too much of Mike's right face. Ended up using a 17 second (or so) exposure using bulb mode and a remote shutter cable. I used a high f number - around 16 or so to get the stars on the street lights. Didn't bother trying to use a light meter on Mike, rather set the falsh output manually and readjusted according to the highlight alert on the camera. Ended up with 1/16 flash output from each strobe.

At one point an ambulance went past and the light trails were great but the exposure on Mike not so - such is the hit and miss nature of this type of shot.

I am used to taking around 150-200 shots on a locaation shoot, however this time amazingly 8-9 shots and we were done - did have work the next day!



Thursday, 15 April 2010

Photo lay out on site

Just a quick note to say that the photos are cropped by the layout of the site - for correct compositions just click on the photos.

Happy Shooting


Courtney - Sutton Bank

Courtney 1, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Plan A was for a trip to the seaside, however the rain was against us and after waiting an hour the rain was getting heavier and we set off for home. Plus side of the rain of course was the moody skies created when the rain finally stopped (typically not far from home...) So we took a short detour and headed for Sutton Bank.

This was taken next to the path near the gliding school - few passers-by but no hassle and some great shots.

This was taken with my favourite current set up of the Ranger as Key and the Quadras for fill. Metered the sky and balanced the flash.
Personal criticism would be that:
1. the middle distance is somewhat dark (next time will try a ND grad filter.

2. too much light in the foreground - I now have some grids for this.....

3. Courtney's black dress blends in to the scenery too much - something more colourful would have been interesting (although possibly a distraction...)

As is my current workflow there was a simple conversion to Jpeg in LR and no other post procecssing - not even a crop.

Hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Look, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

What a great shoot this was.

Met up with Amaryllis and Nikoletta (MUA) and having decided on wardrobe (fantastic bespoke victorian dress) headed over to the disused church yard.

Amaryllis is a photog student and has a great understanding of what really makes for a great pose. Both girls were very patient and put up with another chilly day - some sunlight but cool under the trees. I could make a fortune from inventing thermal underwear for models!

Lighting was by way of one Ranger A head through a AS speed pack - often placed high and to camera right. I then used two quadras (one with the diffuser cap and the other with a 18cm reflector dish). I did try using a grid spot early on in the shoot but found it difficult to keep the light focussed in the right direction. On that note I am keen to get a bunch of like minded folk around to help with assisting in future - probably best if they are 'togs too - can then take it in turns to shoot and/or assist.

Normally happy if I get 2-3 shots that I really like but today notched up some 22 or so.Mostly due to Amaryllis having such a strong sense of style and personality - strength really coming through in the pics.

Many thanks also to Nikoletta who did a great job with the styling.

Onwards and upwards and as usual more pics from the shoot are available on my Flickr site - just click on a photo to view.

Happy shooting!


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Great Tit

Great Tit, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Just to show that I don't just do portrait type stuff.

This was an interesting shoot. I set up about 30 feet or so away from a tree that had a lot of small birds in it. I sprinkled some sunflower seeds (that I use as filler in my bean bag camera support) on a tree stump, in the snow so that I could not see them from my position. The birds then took it in turns to visit the stump.

I sat with my 500mmf4 on a tripod and behind my camo bag hide and aimed to take photos as the birds took off. Small birds are so fast that I typically only got 1-2 shots even with the 8fps of the canon 7d. The sun was setting camera left and so I had nothing to meter unless a bird was there - so I constantly adjusted things manually as the sun fell lower and lower. Focussing was a bit of an issue as the birds in flight were too fast for the servo to follow - a bit hit and miss therefore!

Took a few hundred and this is the best - but have a few other in the almost category.

Love it


Self portait

Self portait, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

So this one was taken while I was family free for a week! Taken with a 135cm Elinchrom Octa softbox about 20 feet above my head. Have done quite a bit of self portraiture recently and have been using the camera on a tripod with a pocket wizard to trigger the camera and the flashes. Worls very well - only problem is that I have to hide the trigger in my hand somehow.

I shoot tethered to the laptop so that I can see the photos without having to keep moving to see the rear or the camera. This helps no end when composing shots.

For the underlighting I have 2 speedlites in a brolly facing me on the ground.

For more photos please see...

Please head over to Flickr to see more of my work (Work, ha that's a laugh.....) at



Stacey M

Stacey M, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

So this was the result of the first time working with Stacey. Went to the Chevin and sat on some stones fairly close to the car park. Took the one camera - canon 5dII with a couple of lenses, but only ended up using the 24-104L - did intend to use the 85f1.2 (my favourite) but could not get far enough back without falling off the rocks!

Used my portable set up - quadra rangers x2 (in crumpler gigolo 9500 bag), 2x lightstands and one camera bag. Very portable. Also used a cokin graduated ND filter.

Exif settings show - 40mm focal length, f11, 1/160. Set the camera on manual - used a light meter having metered the sky and found it to be f11 at 1/125 - then just took the ambient light down a little by using 1/160.

Typically the cool of the evening (meaning it was getting bloody cold) meant that Stacey's reddening nose stopped play.

Good evening shoot though and will return another day.

Added bonus was the little interference we received from passers by.

Kind regards


Welcome to my blog -let's give it a whirl

Hello all (anyone!) and welcome to my blog.

About time I joined the 21st century and had a go at all things blog wise. Main reason for starting this actually was via flickr - which some of you may have also found out it extremely addictive. So I thought I'd post some photos from my flickr account and discuss the process of taking them.

More later