Friday, 20 April 2012

New Website!

Head on over to (rather than the old and sad

Aim will be to have blog and portfolio in the same place

Let me know what y'all think



Monday, 26 March 2012

Behind the scenes shot

Behind the scenes shot, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Simple lighting set up - dragged the shutter to underexpose the outside ambient light by a stop or so. Took a few shots of another dancer here recently (Jessie Jing) and realised that I had to have the frame of the window in the shot otherwise the lighting looked really false.

Here you can see the Elinchrom 186cm Octabank. Inside is the El RX AS Speed A head fired using a pocket wizard plus II. I do also use the skyport but I like being able to trigger the pack with the Sekonic L758 DR meter. Of course when you have the benefit of an assistant you also have someone to alter the power of the pack so the skyport is less essential.

Shooting with the Hasselblad and not tethered as the amount of dust in the warehouse is unbelievable and I do not trust my laptop to it.

Shooting from slightly lower down to elongate Emms.

Post production in PS via my own personal recipe - enjoy :-)


Saturday, 24 March 2012

Circle squared

Circle squared, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Last image to accompany the previous BTS shot

BTS two

BTS two, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

The sharp eyed among you will notice that the laptop was having an off moment here. I shoot tethered to Hasselblad's Phocus software but like using Lightroom (just used to it's workflow now) - so I typically setup the autoimport feature in Lightroom to directly export out of Phocus. Sadly everytime the 'blad is switched off I have to start and restart Phocus to get them all playing along nicely - to save time here I just "got on with it" without the tethering :-)


Seated elegance

Seated elegance, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Final result as promised from the BTS shot below

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

BTS shot from the recent shoot with Tamsin Isles. Tamsin is a fantastic make up artist based in Leeds. She wanted some shots with a 1950's styling - not hard as she dresses like this pretty much all the time.

The location is a casino with a number of bars - this one gave us loads of scope and the management bent over backwards that day to make the whole team feel at home.

I shot tethered as usual which as I have previously mentioned has the effect of slowing everything down and making things much more purposeful. The Phase IQ digital backs have wonderful iphone like screens I am told - but the H3Dii's screen is truly awful - cannot even rely on it to check focus.

I will upload the photo from this set up so that you can see the finished result. Two assistants that day plus the hairstylist Sabrina who was very welcome when it came to stopping me having a nasty fall!



Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Tamsin, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

First shot out of the editing room from my latest shoot with the gorgeous Tamsin. Shot in a local Casino - great room with lots of scope (almost too much!). Had two assistants this time and I have to say this really is the way to go. Lots of help, lots of inspiration and subsequently lots of images to edit :-)

This was taken using the two octas as key and fill with a bare quadra behind the glass for effect.

Just a touch of post production - it's all good!


Wednesday, 7 March 2012


If anyone can tell me how to pronounce this I'd be very grateful.

Meanwhile of course this is something that having moved to Medium format digital I am having to deal with for the first time.

There is Phocus of course (I'm a Hasselblad man now) but I am so used to Lightroom and must say that I am loving the de-moire features - a touch of clarity reduction and lowering the sharpness with the TAT and voila! All gone from Dancer's tights and skirts - happy happy happy :-)

The Holy Grail

Unbelieveable - what can I say - chuffed to bits. Having spent ages trying to get prints that match what I see on screen (often too dark or too vivid, too magenta etc) I have at last sorted it all out.

Previously I have been using a Colormunki Photo alongside my Epson R2880 and Sony Vaio Laptop. Yes I hear you shouting out there that if I had gone Mac none of this would have taken so long. I am indeed "Mac-curious", "Mac-smitten" indeed but as long as this laptop is working I struggle to justify a new OS etc. Anyhoo I was calibrating the printer to the screen with the Colormunki Photo but inevitably the laprop screen was seriously letting me down. If for example I set a brightness level when setting up the profile - the monitor could not hold that one bit.

So the solution? Just bought a Eizo CG243W from the Focus on Imaging show. Saved a few hundred quid to boot.

Lots of things changing at once however - upgraded to LR4 (with soft proofing capabilities) and have just this evening installed a Fotospeed CIS. Loving LR4 (had the beta) and cannot tell the difference (I printed some shots out with the original Epson cartidges to compare against) with Fotospeed's inks.

Have spent a while working out the workflow and in essence whether to calibrate with the Colormunki software or the ColorNavigator - have gone with Colornav in the first instance but if I need to create my own ICC profiles for papers that I cannot get one for then I will revert to Xrite's option. Good to have choices although I must admit this can be a little overwhelming at first.

Hope that might help crystallise someone else's decision making and of course if you want to know my exact settings please just ask.



Sunday, 4 March 2012

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Need to be more disciplined and take more shots of the lighting setups. This was taken by my assistant that day.

When at my best I write down settings etc and have even used an app on the ipad to recall lighting diagrams (or even to plan them in advance of a shoot). Typically however I like to be more free flowing and just "get on with it!".

I have been asked to speak to a local camera club though about these photoshoots - not because I am any good but rather because no-one else at the club really does this kind of thing. So I had the idea of doing a live shoot tethered to a laptop and projector. Should be good fun - will be good to have a few shots like this also though to show other alternative lighting setups.

Still enjoying the Hasselblad - even more since the Canon 5D III has been announced - I can understand why they went with "only" 22MP - but it makes me feel even happier to know that my Hassie has not immediately received a challenge to my desires :-) That said the AF on the H3D is fine in continuous but the delay between pressing the shutter and capture meant that on this shoot I had more accurate leaping captures from the 5DII. I did have the 7D for a short while (always let down by the IQ compared with the 5D) and liked it ergonomics. Will I sell the 5Dii therefore to make way for a 5Diii? Unlikely - I will wait for the ii to break by which time the iii will be a more sensible price.

As always enjoy :-)


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Balletic grace

Balletic grace, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Lovely shoot today for a ballet dancer I have shot previously - Helena M.

The location was a converted stable owned by a friend and colleague whose Wife looked after us incredibly well - coffees and a hot prawn thai soup. Just wonderful - I do worry however that my assistant Adrian and the lovely Natalie (MUA) will get used to this. A roaring fire kept us cosy. Shot with the Hasselblad once again - today had a few gremlins with Phocus. I typically shoot tethered to Lightroom and was using the autoimport feature to grab the files from Phocus (as while Lightroom supports Hassie raw files it doesn't support tethering). Still all in all well worth using the laptop to see the shots at a far greater resolution than that of the Hassie back.

These were for Helena's dance portfolio and she was happy at the end of the day - job well done therefore!


Friday, 24 February 2012

Les jumeaux de Siam

Les jumeaux de Siam, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

And now for something completely different. This is the first posted image in a new series of mine exploring twins.

The model is the incredible Holly AKA Ivory Flame ( A great day was had shooting with a fellow colleague - using his house as a studio.

Second real shoot with the Hasselblad and was able to shoot tethered throughout - clearly on a tripod also for this one.

Post production was fairly straight forward and I am not finding a need to sharpen the Hassie files beyond the default setting in Phocus - an absolute joy.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Keep it in the family

Keep it in the family, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Had a wonderful problem solving opportunity today that was just lovely. I had 1.5 hours to shoot the entire staff of Post Vintage ( - a local Aston Martin restoration company (couldn't bring myself to say dealership or garage!). This is the Father and Son team that have started and built it up. Father turns 70 tomorrow and this photo, I am proud to say forms part of his present.

The setting is their showroom - very local to me. Lighitng was kept simple - one El quadra through a 100cm deep octa and once again I used the formidable Hasselblad.

Lovely people, great light.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Like Father........

Like Father........, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Had wanted to take this shot for a while as folk often say we look a lot alike. Lighting was very simple using one elinchrom quadra in a 19 inch McGillicuddy beauty dish just to the right of the camera and above the camera.

Fair bit of post production to line everything up as we have fairly different sized heads!

Wife competely freaked out by it - so must have done something right!

Taken with the wonderful Hasselblad - do I love this camera too much?



Monday, 20 February 2012

Hasselblad H3D-II 31

Ah the joys of new toys!

Have had this for a little over a week now and have done a couple of portraits for the family but today was the first chance to see how it handled against my usual 5dII.

I was shooting in a warehouse that has no power and is very dusty so I was not able to shoot tethered. As a consequence I had to use the rear screen rather more than I would have liked. Having read lots about how poor the screens on these digital backs are I can now confirm this to be true. Ok for composition but really shonky when coming to checking focus. I was ready for the narrow depth of field but would this manage with a moving/jumping dancer?

I shot mostly over f11 and as it was pretty cold and the warehouse is very close to home we all bundled back for lunch - a posh pee and coffee! Loading the images onto the laptop I could not have been happier with the results - all in focus - the continuous AF worked very well in addition to the focus and recompose. So do I feel I should have gone with the H4D - absolutely not. I picked this camera up at an absolute bargain price and am truly happy. The extra dynamic range is very noticeable and I did not miss the 5DII/85 f1.2 combo one bit.

All in all a happy man



Jessie, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Shot the wonderful Jessie Jing today - lots of great photos created - just need the time now to sift through to find the best - this is one of my instant favourites though


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Time waits for no-one

Time waits for no-one, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Shot this one from the same shoot as the last - but this time used a paper roll and more of a conventional studio setup.

Lighting wise this was achieved with two El ranger quadras left and right through gridded strip soft boxes and a ranger through a 70cm gridded beauty dish as key light.

Post production in photoshop.

Grandfather clock is a family heirloom! Fun and games getting it on set but defiinitely worth it I hope you will agree.

Lauren was superb as usual - not often that I get the opportunity to shoot a X-factor contestant :-) - things are looking up for the rest of the year!



Monday, 6 February 2012


Lauren, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Another fun shoot today despite the cold! (Hired a heater to keep all involved comfy). This is just one of the many great shots that we created. More to come for certain.

Idea was to create an album cover/artist tear page. Started off with the Octa supplementing the natural light that was coming from all sides - metered at ISO 100 f2.2 1/125.

Shot the whole shoot with my fave lens the canon 85mm f1.2 II - so sharp with the 5dII - would love a few more focus points on the 5II but then you can't have everything - until the 5dIII that is!

Bit of post production in CS5 using a smattering of nik color efex along the way.

As usual I hope you like and please tell me what you think.


Saturday, 21 January 2012


Dom, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Didn't expect to come back with something like this today. Went to visit a friend and am now deeply jealous of the real estate he has! Perfect for location shots. This was taken in a practically derelict house on his land.
Almost too many choices of where to shoot but this I am very pleased with.
Lit by my 1200 Ws Ranger head in a wide angle reflector about 15 feet from the leaded, grimy windows. Balanced with the ambient light and warmed with cloudy WB in camera. A touch of post processing in PS and voila!

Hope you all like


Tuesday, 17 January 2012


Lee, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Very pleasant evening with a friend.

Lee came over and lent me some DVD's - the side of the box being perfect inspiration for this one (original shot was of Clint Eastwood).

Second set up - other one can be seen on my flickr stream below this. This was shot using a Damian McGillicuddy 19 inch beauty dish literally just off camera right. Set up against a lastolite black pop-up background but as I was shooting at f1.2 with 1/1250 shutter speed I am sure the black background was irrelevant.
I have been finding love once again for speedlites - having become a fan of the bigger elinchrom stuff - both ranger's and quadra's.
What you cannot do with those so well though is shoot with such control over the hypersync to allow apertures as wide as this.
Sure I have a ST4 PW that allows me to go beyond the max sync with the ranger but that thing has to be near max power - fine for outside when battling the sun but would have fried Lee's face.

All the attitude and pensiveness kindly provided by a wonderful chap I can happily refer to as friend and colleague.

All in all much better way of spending the evening than watching reruns on DVD!



Saturday, 14 January 2012


Graham, originally uploaded by DrFireball.

Taken in Wiltshire on a hill overlooking Lyneham. Graham is a very experienced mountain rescue leader - I have been keen to take his portrait for a while and this was the perfect evening as there was no wind. This allowed me to use a 19 inch beauty dish (McGillicuddy) on a tripod.
I triggered the single 580 flash with the PW flex stuff. Shot changing between Av and manual mode to see how easy it was to achieve what I was after. The flash sits quite far back on the bracket unfortunately and loses a lot of power in the dish. Not an issue as the sun goes down of course. Moved the dish in pretty close also to soften the light.
In the distance on the right of the picture you can see a temperature inversion in the valley.
As ususal I was very warm as I was constantly moving things around - of course Graham was getting colder and colder and at one point dissapeared off for a quick run!

Lovely evening though and a great chance to get a photo of a valued colleague.



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Not the way the evening was meant to end.......

Wow am I pleased with having finished the post production on this one!

Great shoot with Clare (, Natalie and Sharon at the a boutique Hotel in Harrogate - used a truly plush suite and had a long day. The shoot was to create an editorial storyline based around a girl getting ready then increasingly bored/agitated waiting for her beau before finally coming to a sticky end. How this happened is up to you although there are a number of clues around the shot.

Lighting was with a 70cm beauty dish to light Clare on the bed with two quadras gridded to light selective areas - even a strobe hand held to light the bedside light. The composited shots were taken with a Damian McGillicuddy beauty dish hand held. The camera was locked down on a tripod to allow a lot of masking to be completed in photoshop. About 40 layers in PS in all. But hopefully you will agree that it was worth it.