Portrait Shoot with Andrew and Rosie, London

london, Photography Technique

If you’ve read my blog or looked around my website you might hazard a guess that I’m in love with photography.

That’s kind of true, but I’d rather say I love is the way the world looks. By that I mean people, places, objects, colours, light etc. There is nothing more magical than a stroll through an area with interesting sights and scenes – at home or abroad.

It’s not just the stereotypically beautiful scenes, it’s also the abstract and even conventionally ugly. Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find some people and places beautiful in the traditional sense.

But it’s often more than. It might be that a scene and a moment tells an interesting story about a person, place, or culture. The possibilities are endless.

If you look at my photographs you will find it’s a mix of mostly candid shots of either street scenes, travel destinations or architecture. This fits my interest in simply looking at the world and trying to capture interesting moments.

I’ve done less in the way of traditional portrait photography. In part because I am extremely shy about attempting to direct a model / subject.

However lately I find that I want to work on some projects with people to try and document something about their life, personality, interests, passions, skills etc.

As a stepping stone towards that I decided to spend a few hours with a portrait expert and model to learn some basics of working with models.

I was lucky enough to meet with Andrew from 36exp photography and Rosie; a London based dancer / model.

The session with Andrew was just what I needed. As I hoped, the focus wasn’t on the camera, gear etc. but it was on working with a subject, I got lot’s of great insight and tips from someone who lives and breathes portrait photography.

In this post I am going to share the top 15 or so photographs. However I have 100 or so (from 500) that came out not bad on flickr.

I’ve also been studying photoshop re-touching and I thought it might be interesting to highlight the difference from ‘in camera’ to ‘post photoshop’.

In Camera

Here is one of my favourite shots as it came straight out of the camera in RAW format (i.e. not processed at all by camera / laptop)

Post Lightroom (basic developing)

Here is the photograph after basic processing in lightroom. Note I normally process the highlights, shadows, clarity etc. a bit more aggressively in lightroom, but as I didn’t want to affect Rosie’s skin much I kept it to minor adjustments:

  • tiny adjustment of exposure, whites, shadows
  • tiny bit of contrast and vibrancy
  • I also cropped in to 4:3 dimensions

Here we go ‘lightroom edit’:

Post Photoshop (editing / re-touching)

Now for the photoshop edit. The photoshop work is based on a study of re-touching techniques. I’ve kept it relatively subtle, however keeping in mind I am new to this, it may still be a bit off in certain ways. I changed

  • A bit more volume to hair (to capitalise on Rosie’s already amazing hair)
  • Smoothing skin texture under eyes and colour
  • Removing minor blemish and some of the stand out hair strands
  • Adding a bit of light and colour to the iris of the eyes
  • Adding a bit of colour to the highlights in the hair
  • Slight teeth whitening

Here we go ‘photoshop edit’:

For a beginner it takes quite a bit of time to make even small adjustments, do you think it’s worthwhile from picture 1 to 3? Hopefully it’s subtle so that it is still clearly Rosie, but just a tiny bit polished.

Other than the re-touching topic, here some of the other images that came out well. Note these only have minor lightroom adjustments – no re-touching.














I don’t like to focus on equipment; but for any reader that’s interested, I use a simple combination of a Nikon D610 and a 50mm prime lens.

What do you think, how did my first real portrait shoot come out?

Zurich – A Hidden Gem

switzerland

This last Wednesday I had an overnight trip out to Zurich for a business workshop. It was a 4.30 am start, but totally worth it.

The reason I love travel so much is the joy of having a change every day. Even a business trip is an opportunity to meet new people, try local food and if lucky have enough time for a stroll at the end of the day.

The Zurich trip was busy, but I managed to fit in an hour long photo walk around the old town area between eight and nine pm.

I hope you enjoy the pictures:

Lochs, Bothies and Blue Skies.

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I was in the Cairngorms earlier today; a big national park in the highlands of Scotland. It was a beautiful and I’d love to share some pictures with you.

If you are unfamiliar with Scotland I’ll reveal the mystery of what a Bothy is!

This is the view of the Cairngorms from Aviemore; taken from the main road at the bottom of the village:

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On the road up to Cairngorm you pass Loch Morlich; there are often ducks at play; a lot of them were slipping and sliding on the ice today.

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The start of our short walk; the sunlight on the trees was beautiful today:

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We arrived at a small loch, a few people were around and there was a little fun to be had in breaking off chunks of ice and sliding them across the loch; it makes a beautiful sound. My friend Angus featured below.

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Just a little bit further along the walk we’ve got a bothy.

Scotland has quite a few bothies especially around the more remote areas. They are typically ruined cottages or similar buildings that have basic restoration to provide shelter for hill walkers and mountaineers. They are often maintained by charities.

We are talking super basic. A roof, a fireplace and a concrete floor. No water, heating, toilet etc.

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That view tho:

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I’ve got great memories of Bothies. I used to do quite a bit of hill walking with my dad when I was young and while we’d carry tents if we came across a bothy we’d sleep inside. A chance to hang up wet socks and boots and get a roaring fire going.

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Back in the day you’d often meet some interesting characters; fellow walkers, in a stay over in a bothy.

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I’ve been travelling a lot last few years. I love travel and foreign countries and I’ve seen some beautiful landscapes.

But…

Gosh, Scotland is stunningly beautiful. And I wish I could describe how fresh and clean the air feels. Even compared to moderately clean air towns the air up in the highlands is so fresh. You feel high!

So I guess like many Scots, my heart really is in Scotland.

 

Changdeokgung Seoul Korea (Royal Palace)

south korea

Ok – so last post I was so excited to visit china and do some tai chi…  well… it didn’t quite work out. So, I’m in Seoul, Korea now.

Shenzhen was more developed and interesting than expected, but after a week I realised it wasn’t the right kind of chill atmosphere to enjoy tai chi. And with early morning and late evening lessons there just wasn’t enough non-shopping activity to keep me entertained.

Instead I hopped on a plane and came to Seoul to see a friend. I’ve been travelling about 8 weeks now and I felt like I could really do with seeing a familiar face. I’ve also been dreaming about Korean Chicken and Beer for about a year.

This is my second trip to Seoul. On my first trip I went to one of the Royal Palaces; Gyeongbokgung – it was so beautiful. So on this trip one of my first stops was Changdeokgung; another royal palace, that happens to be a UNESCO heritage site.

I wanted to share some pictures of Changdeokgung. I spent a few hours walking around the palace and secret garden.

From about 200 photos I picked 22 out that I am really delighted with. Keep your eye out for the Racoon; perhaps one of the last of a long line of royal Racoons.

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This place is really super photogenic. It’s a bit packed with people as you can see in the photo with the large palace building. However there is a large part of the complex that most tourists seem to skip. If you ever go then start by heading into the former administrative area. Many of the lovely pics were taken there; so peaceful.

And isn’t Autumn just so fantastic!

I have to admit I’ve was in love with photography in 2014 and 2015, but this last 6-8 months I’ve been losing interest a little. But this trip around Changdeokgung has sparked the desire in me to continue.

I plan to make some other posts about other aspects of Seoul soon. It’s a top city.

Autumn Leaves and Haiku Thoughts

london, Poetry

perfect autumn tree

as autumn leaves us,
so do green leaves, goodbye with,
a final flourish.


I’ve been on an unnoficial search for the perfect autumn tree. I was starting to lose hope following a couple of weeks of pretty cloudy flat grey skies – that kind of weather just doesn’t bring out the colours. But alas today was bright and blue and I went to Green Park in West London. I found this beautiful tree. I think this is one of the prettiest I have seen in terms of colours.

I recently finished bloggingU writing201 poetry; my first foray into poetry. And the first form I learned was ‘haiku’. I came across a book in the Japanese language section of the bookstore on ‘haiku’ accidently yesterday. I read a few pages.

I’m almost at intermediate level in Japanese. The first thing I wanted to share with those that may not be aware of it is the pronunciation. Japanese doesn’t have consonants and vowels and syllables in the same way we do.

So for ‘haiku’, we could mistakinly think it’s close to hi-ku. But the sound is really ha-i-ku and that ‘i’ is like our ‘ee’ in cheese. So pronounce it in three parts; ‘ha – ee – ku’ at an even speed and tone.

That may not be the perfect instruction, but just to give you an idea.

Some observations from the bookshop. The haiku syllable counts 5-7-5 were never syllable counts, they were counts of the japanese sounds, which don’t match syllables, so you don’t really need to get exact syllable counts correct if you are writing in english.

The other thing is that haiku were supposed to have a positive message or thought traditional; oops – so far some of mine were about sad things!