Winter light lifestyle

Just because it's chilly out, is no reason to stop shooting. Many photographers will agree that winter can provide some of the most magical lighting conditions. This is partly a result of the sun being low in the sky for so long - and as you can see in this set - the mist rose up as if on cue. Cinematic!

Sunset Lifestyle Portrait

A lovely set of lifestyle portraits to end the year with (last shoot of 2016 in fact, couple of days after Christmas). When the mist thickened after sunset, I just had to do some 'moody noir movie stills' as the conditions cried out for it...

Stop press! The last two shots below feature the row of lamps along the path leading to the Clapham Common bandstand. Just recently (January 2017), the lights have been replaced by LED bulbs. This is great for efficiency and saving energy - but the new bulbs give out a white colour. I wish they'd used warm tungsten-coloured LEDs... So it was timely that I got one of the last shots of the 'traditional' looking lamps as 2016 drew to a close. RIP moody movie location...

Outdoor lifestyle is one of my specialties, whether a portfolio for acting and modelling or commissioned images for advertising lifestyle, fashion and many more.

The benefits of bespoke

'Bespoke', 'made-to-order', 'custom-made'... All have good connotations. 

Why? It fits you or your needs exactly.

I've had many things made bespoke for me or my clients over the years - photo albums, photo frames - and I produce custom-made photos & video for my clients of course. I also commission bespoke voice-overs, but until now I had not commissioned music specifically for a video. 

In the past I've spent countless hours searching online music libraries for a music piece with just the right mood and close to the right length, with the right ebbs and flows that I could try and match to the video.

This time I employed the skills of Phil Best, a true virtuoso musician. He composed and produced the soundtrack, so it matches perfectly in mood and timing for the different sections.

We all know the value of bespoke, but so many times we buy off-the-shelf to try and save money. 

So often I see people searching for very specific images via stock agencies I contribute to. Often there is an existing, generic image that suits their purpose. But when they are searching for very specific images, I think, 'Just commission a photographer - then you'll get exactly what you need!'

In the words of John Ruskin:

"It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.
When you pay too much, you lose a little money... that is all.
When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything,
because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing that you bought it to do." 

Get in touch to find out how your story can be told with bespoke video or photography.

BTS - video for an executive coach

I just shot another website welcome video, this one for Harsha Perera, an executive coach. It has come to the point where one MUST have video on one's website, or it will be conspicuous by its absence, and slip down Google's SEO rankings.

It's on his YouTube channel and embedded on his website front page.

YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. It is owned by the No.1 search engine of course - Google. Hence the value in using a YouTube-Google link.

Choosing a location and equipment:

We filmed this in the park on a windy day with the usual Heathrow-bound jets passing overhead, yet we still got a peaceful scene for filming.

The lav mic (lapel mic) is magic for getting great quality sound in noisy settings - part of the RODE radio transmitter set, it's one of my best video-gadget purchases.  Another RODE mic (simple shotgun) was on-camera to give good reference sound for synchronising and back-up. On the second camera I just made do with the built-in mic, again just for reference/synchronising purposes. 

The behind-the-scenes shots below show that at first look it doesn't seem the most attractive spot. However, it was sheltered from the wind and the natural light came in at a nice side angle (as opposed to overhead). With zoomed composition, it actually looks good. 

Pros and cons of shooting outdoors

Pros: 

In this case we didn't need extra lighting or external power. (Often still used for outdoor shoots if there's the budget of course). I had some reflectors with me but didn't use them either in the end. I chose the location partly for the sheltered directional light.

It was a suitably peaceful, natural setting, that matched the style of the profile photo I had shot of Harsha a few months previously (on the first page of his website).

We also didn't need to spend money hiring a studio. Shooting in a client's home or work environment is also a good option (depending on space, light, noise), but wasn't the look we wanted in this case.

Cons:

One is at the mercy of the weather. The sun came and went behind clouds which you may notice in the video. This can create problems with changing exposure/colour, but wasn't a big problem after some minor adjustments to video footage in editing. Strong wind can also potentially make sound recording tricky. Choose weather, time of day and location to deal with this issue. Sometimes using a studio or other indoor location is a better solution.

Noise and other distractions - once or twice we had to pause when overhead jets became a little too loud. We were in Clapham Common, many parts of London have this problem to a greater or lesser extent. However, as mentioned the lapel mic mitigated this problem pretty well. The closer the mic is to the person, the lower the comparative volume of ambient sound. Occasionally passers-by in the background or friendly, inquisitive dogs also halted proceedings. Generally we didn't mind a bit of background noise to give it a sense of place.

Do check out Harsha if you are thinking of getting some coaching, he is a most erudite gentleman, really knows how to listen and gets to the core of one's business or life challenges.

BehindTheScenes1
BehindTheScenes2

Britain's highest dozing photographer

A few weeks ago I walked up Ben Nevis, Scotland, with a couple of friends. I shot this lifestyle travel video along the way.

We spent the night in the shelter on the summit, making us the 3 highest people in Britain for a night. My companions slept, I dozed for about 2 hours - the rest of the time I was doing timelapse, video and photos...

Ben was the main star obviously (video above), but I got some selfies along the way - this looping video below was taken with the iPhone on a little stand - iPhone 4K video in low-light was very good quality! If you look at the tripod (holding my Canon 5D MkIII) you can see I have it tied down to a bag which had BOULDERS weighing it down - it was extremely windy. The eagle-eyed might also spot that I have the camera on top of a small video tripod head screwed to a medium video head (which is in turn mounted on the tripod legs) - this allowed me to get some faux-slider/dolly effects without carrying an actual slider, as well as 3-axis movement for vertical shots. It didn't get much darker on the horizon than this either, being so far north and close to the longest day of the year.

LoopingVideoSelfie

Plus some levitation action - the altitude got me feeling a little zen I think...

Still more moving stills

More experiments with the currently trending cinemagraphs.

Everything seems to be moving towards 'motion', or a fusion thereof... Perhaps 'pure' photography will become a shrinking, rare speciality? Such as platinum printing and shooting on film is now? 

It seems likely that very soon the majority of photographers will be 'imagemakers', also shooting video and fusion such as the cinemagraphs seen here, timelapse, etc. Many of us already are, many others have transitioned completely to producing/directing video and cinema. I am almost 50/50 video and photography now. And I haven't even begun to experiment with virtual reality, but that is firmly in my sights.

Just as mobile phones began to incorporate cameras, then video cameras... motion is becoming the new standard. Cameras and computers will become ever faster and more powerful so this won't be a limitation. (GIFs are large in file size AND low in quality - but for a little longer yet they're still the most widely accepted format). You can now get apps on your smartphone to make cinemagraphs and even stranger fusion VR/motion creations...

The cinemagraphs in this blog (more below) can be licensed via Come Alive Images - specifically through their stock agency partner Glasshouse Images, including video versions which are much better quality.

Click on a GIF to be taken to the specific agency listing.

And you can find the lovely Lexie (the portrait model) on her website - she does do 'wistful wonderfully well'.

Right, I think that's enough weak puns and cheesy alliteration for one blog post...

Cine-surreal

Serafina Salvador - with a surrealist's name, no wonder she's so good at modeling for surreal cinemagraphs.

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It was great to work with this talented actress and model again. This time I was experimenting with cinemagraphs, a kind of GIF where part of the image is frozen and part is moving.

They tend to take a while to create and file sizes are pretty large, hence only three here. Colour is also limited in the GIF format, so it suits the vintage/Instagram look.

However, I have some ideas on improving this - watch this space.

Meanwhile, keep scrolling for a couple more cinemagraphs. And check out Serafina's page.