Mind Games With Jet The Raven

A few weeks ago I did a couple of posts about photographing the devastating floods from Burrow Mump in Burrowbridge and some capturing beautiful old trees in Dorset.
Both these where shot for a new image I had wanted to create as part of my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” and to represent the severe floods that had hit Somerset this year.
The only element that I had left to find was a Raven or something from that family of birds which I had always wanted to photograph.
I had nearly exhausted all my options for sourcing one locally and not one to compromise easily I decided to place a post of Facebook to see if anyone knew of one..even a stuffed one was becoming an option ! To my surprise one of my oldest friends replied within minutes saying his tattoo artist called Brendan had a tame Rook and I should call him.
After a couple of days I rang Brendan who indeed had Jet a fairly young and fairly tame Raven I could happily pop along to photograph.
Despite photographing several animals for this project already I’m by far a wildlife photographer and knew nothing about Ravens apart than they where a bigger version of a crow !
Brendan explained how incredibly intelligent these birds where (more than dogs) and although my concern about having my eyes pecked out was very unlikely due to their friendly nature I would definitely find Jet to be very inquisitive.
I turned up with a car full of gear (you never know what you will need on location) but I soon realised the avery was too small for any kit apart from hand holding the camera and a speed light for some fill in flash.
The other things that quickly came to my attention was how big and hyperactive Jet was ! This was going to be a tough shoot but that was to become an understatement!
You remember how I said how intelligent these birds where ? well it seems they also like to play games with tubby photographers trying to photograph them.
Each time I raised my camera to my eye he would fly, I could watch him all I wanted in fact he would do this little display to impress me (or take the piss as I saw it) but as soon as I raised the camera past my chin off he’d go off again…the little bastard was playing with me and winning!
Anyway not to be outdone I decided I would just have to set the camera up the best I could and shoot blind holding the camera at chest level.
I could have possible set the camera up and shot via a radio trigger but the concern was Jet would fly onto the tripod and knock the whole lot to the floor and I did not fancy explaining that to the insurance company less than a week after a £700 repair for it rolling down a hill!
With 140 frames shot I managed to capture enough usable frames to choose from which had correct perspective and interesting angle.

The image is titled “A Perch Above The Flood”

 

Rubus “The Beast In My Lap!” Ad Campaign Kings Bruton School

Following on from last years very successful campaign which won Silver in The Graphis Advertising Awards  I received a call back in September from Ice House Design with another exciting brief for Kings Bruton School.

After a couple of meetings and an interesting recce of Kings very old (it was founded in 1519 !) & historic school the briefs where finalised.
The required image was pretty straight forward involving capturing Kings Bruton’s sports field and Church with the beautiful hills behind with the inclusion of the famous Dovecote on it’s hill.The Dovecote does not sit quite in than spot but with a little creative license I moved it into position a mere mile or so. The main element for the image and most difficult to potentially capture was to be a Stag.I always prefer to shoot my own images when creating composites but even I thought a stock shot may have to be sourced for this one. Fortunately after some research on good old Google and conversations with several people my good mate and manager at The Monks Yard where our studio is based provided me with a contact just a few miles away.
Mike Gage runs South West Deer And Rescue and was more than happy to help me out and I arranged to pop down to take a look around.Mike showed me the park and it’s gorgeous views across the Somerset countryside and the many species of Deer he had. He finished off by introducing me to Rubus and very large Stag with an amazing set of antlers..perfect !.

Being October it was rutting season and Mike warned me Rubus was pretty hormonal and I was not to get out the back of his pickup truck. Unfortunately it did not stop Rubus coming over and sticking his rather huge head of pointy bits almost into my lap trying to grab food from the floor of the truck…! It became obvious pretty quickly I definitely  have to wait for the randy Rubus to calm down from the rutting season before coming back to get my images.
After a few weeks I had gathered all the background material and I returned to see Mike and to capture Rubus.This time he was a fair bit calmer and I could with caution leave the safety of the pickup to get the angles I needed.The shoot went well without too many scares and I got all the material I needed within 30 minutes or so. The post production took a little longer however about 71 and a half hours longer to be precise but then the devil’s in the details and the final image had plenty.
Below is one of several adverts that are now running together with another version that did not showing more of the sports field with rugby posts and flags.

 

 

Rich Tea Deer !

Yeah awful title but it kind of describes what is going on in this image.
Last September I got a call from an agency called Ice House Design whom I had worked with on a very successful campaign the previous year which won Silver in The Graphis Advertising Awards.
The brief was to capture images for a composite they wanted me to create which was to include a Stag as the main element.With the brief in hand I started to look at my options for capturing the animal. After several calls and networking I found Mike Gage of South West Deer Rescue Centre.
To cut a long story short the shoot was a success and I’ll post the images once the campaign goes live.
Mike was a great character and I asked if I could return at a later date to shoot him for my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” and this brings us to the image below.
My plan was to shoot him and his mate Pete sat on the rear of their beaten up 4×4 truck surrounded by Deer but the truck was out of action with a broken axle.
So as often is the case in the unpredictable world of location shooting I had to think on my feet and come up with an alternative idea.
We decided that a shot of the Deer being fed their favorite Rich Tea biscuits could provide the perfect image against the beautiful South Somerset backdrop.

 

Lifestyle Portrait From Beach Babes To Toilet Attendants

Lifestyle Portrait From Beach Babes To Toilet Attendants

I’ve photographed a lot of people over the years including my fair share of lifestyle photos of bikini-clad models.
Although models on beaches are always fun to shoot my favourite people to capture are those that ooze character.
I spotted this chap who was a Toilet Attendant whilst looking for a toilet (you never know where they will pop up) in the resort of Yalikavak Turkey.
When I spot someone like this gentleman I find it very hard to walk by without asking if I can take lifestyle portrait of them and In Turkey at least I can’t remember ever being refused to date.

The image is a great addition to my travel photography portfolio

Toilet-attendant-turkey-portrait

Boy In The Bay

I captured this image while out for a stroll one evening during my recent trip to Turkey.
It’s not often these days that I go out and just follow my nose with my camera and rarer still that I don’t use a tripod.
Most of my work these days is fairly planned out at least to some point or other so to go out and simply walk & explore is bliss. This takes me back to a time when I was learning my trade and the camera was welded to my eyelid wherever I went!
It was a beautiful evening and I came across 3 young lads jumping off a small wooden pier into the bay at Gumbet.
It wasn’t long before they spotted my camera and started to play to the camera which would normally be my cue to pack away. I decided however the light was just too good to walk away and besides I was simply enjoying the fun too much and getting too many great captures to end it.
Despite being grab shots the images still got a good dose of post production to help portray the mood of this beautiful sunset over the Aegean.

Shooting On Location With “Good King Hal”

Following on from my previous post I have now completed the post production work on “Good King Hal”
The shoot took place with Mike Farley aka Good King Hal leading professional Henry VIII lookalike here in the U.K.
I had an idea of what I wanted the final image to look like and this was helped along further by doing a recce of Barrington Court a few days earlier.
The planning also helped move the shoot along nice and quickly to save keeping former comedian Mike waiting around too long, in fact we where all done and dusted in about 40 minutes.
A big thanks to Mike and to the National Trust’s Barrington Court for allowing us use of the property.
Below is the final image together with a short location video.

 

 

Henry-viii-lifestyle-photo-retouching-composite-somerset

Henry VIII Shoot At Barrington Court, Mike Farley 07709 216281 http://goodkinghal.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good King Hal Photo Shoot Teaser

Today we finally managed to complete a shoot of Mike Farley a leading professional Henry VIII lookalike.
The shoot was captured at The National Trusts Barrington Court property in South Somerset has been planned for a while but delayed due to the late spring we have experienced here in the U.K


Here is a teaser video with more to come once all the post production has been completed.

 

 

Swans Splashes & A Somerset School

A couple of weeks before Christmas I had a call from an agency called Ice House Design based in Bath.
They had a job for a client that was a private school called Kings Bruton School here in Somerset.
They needed a very particular image creating of a Swan taking off over water to fulfil use in several publications they where planning.
I was especially excited about this brief as I have been working on a personal project titled “Life In A Somerset Landscape” for nearly a year. The project involves photographing (and compositing) well known Somerset Landscapes with both people and animals within them so this job was a good fit for me on the back of this.


Some of the best creatives I have worked with are the ones that give you a brief but allow enough room for me to interpret it and go that little bit further with it.
Jack Owen the Creative Director at Ice House was one such creative, he provided a fairly tight brief but one that we both collaborated on and pushed further.
After several discussions and a few ideas thrown around we set off to start work on the project.
The first job was to find some suitable water to capture.I had several location in mind and most where on the Somerset Levels but my first location which was a local reservoir turned out to be perfect so much so in fact that the background was also used from the same images and not stripped in as I expected it would be.


My only problem at the location was the wildlife which insisted hanging around the camera despite me attempting to scare them off (the wildlife are pretty hard down ere in Zummerset ! ). I also had a Robin who kept pestering me wherever I walked or turned and by the end of the shoot I felt a little like Evan Almighty !

Back at the studio I decided to strip two images together to create the slightly wide background required from two frames I shot using a longish lens which had helped to create a nice soft perspective.

Ice-house-design-for-kings-school-bruton-composite-images Ice-house-design-for-kings-school-bruton-composite-images-02

Next I found a lovely sky in my archives that lent itself to the mood we wanted and promptly added this into the scene.

Bruton where the school is based has a lovely old Dovecote on a hill that we agreed would be a nice subtle addition to add to the scene.The plan was to go and shoot this in suitable weather but unfortunately the weather was not on our side so a stock image was sourced and then retouched for our needs.
Another element that I reluctantly had to source from a stock library was the Swan.This was partly down to the tight deadline and also the fact the image needed was quite particular.
It was extremely important that we sourced the correct image of a Swan taking off and that the lighting was a good match for our background.
The main problem I had after scouring through tons of images was that those that where a good match where often of poor technical quality but eventually we found a near perfect image.
The balance of the post production was to add the swan and most important of all perfecting the splashes in the water which where a vital element in the brief.

After a couple of minor adjustments the agency delivered the proof to the client whom I’m told where overjoyed by the finished image.My hat goes off to Ice House for a great brief and some beautiful design work and also to Kings Bruton the client for doing something quite brave and removed from their normal photography requirements.

Swan-pub-1

Swan-pub-2

Graphic Design. Ice House Design, Bath – Graphic Design + Branding

Photography & Post Production Simon Plant

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Revisiting The Gypsy Girl With Guitar

 

I shoot and create a fair amount of images, when I’m not working on commissioned work I’m creating personal work and on the last count I had close to 250,000 images in my digital archives and that does not include the 12-15 yrs worth of film images sat filed away !
With the above in mind it’s very rare I will go back over old images and re work them as I’m constantly producing new material.The other reason is we are constantly evolving as we progress through life and a photographer’s visual style evolves also. So what appealed a few years ago may not fit with what or how we shoot now.
Occasionally however  I come actross an image I still like and does fit well with my style that I feel would benefit some modern TLC.
Gypsy Girl With Guitar was one such image, it was part of stock photography production I did some 11 years ago together with several models, stylist,makeup artist and art director.
The images where all shot on film with a medium format camera…(old school styley !) on a rural location with some beautiful antique Gypsy Caravans.

Gypsy-girl-with-guitar

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