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.

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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.

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

Photography & Post Production Simon Plant

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Wandering Paris By Starlight

Sounds kinda exotic doesn’t it..”Wandering Paris By Strarlight” well actually the fact I found myself wandering Paris in the early hours was a slight cock up.
It was 2007 and I had been shortlisted for a very large car shoot for an agency in Paris and my agent called to say I needed to fly over to meet the creatives at the agency.I decided that after my meeting I would stay on an extra day to shoot some personal work to make the most of trip.
I’ve visited Paris before so had images of the city but this was many years previous when I was still very green behind the gills and as I mentioned in an earlier post your vision and tastes change with time.
So I planned my itinerary together with sunrise & sunset times so that I could maximize my precious short time and the best light.The problem arouse when I planned to shoot the Eiffel Tower (which was only a 10 min walk from the hotel) at pre dawn.Somehow my phone alarm got confused (or was it me!) and I ended getting up 3 hrs before sunrise and found myself walking the damp cold streets before I had noticed the error.
As it happens Paris and especially the Eiffel Tower look rather stunning under starlight and of course it has the added bonus that at this time of morning/night it also lacks the crowds of Grockels (Tourists) as we call them down ere in Zummerzet !.

Images Available As Prints In Our Gallery

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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.

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A Passion For Somerset

I know I have mentioned this before both here and probably many times on my photography training site but I love the Somerset Levels.
Somerset has been my home since the age of seven and the Wetlands are where I spent many many hours shooting and mastering my photography.
These days most of (but not all) of my photography tends to be planned in detail rather than simply exploring and capturing what I find although this often more fun!
Following some extreme flooding in late November here in the U.K I decided to take a trip to some of my favorite areas of the levels with just a single camera and a single 70-200mm lens. I occasionally reduce myself to a limited amount of equipment to kind of stretch/exercise /challenge my creativity.On the day in question the winter light was beautiful combined with a striking cold frost that barely shifted all day.It’s days like these that there seems to be an image waiting to be captured around every bend.It’s also days like these that reminds me of all the years of learning and why I’d do it all again in a flash..pun intended 🙂

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Kayaking In Kynance

August is notorious for being quiet for business due to the summer holidays and the photography industry is not an exception.
With this in mind I decided to catch up on some new personal work that I had been planning and to also produce a short video for some promotions that we have planned.
This image is of a good friend of mine Dean who is also the manager at The Monks Yard where our studio is based.
Dean is a keen Sea Kayaker and when not working hard at Monks Yard (gotta say that!) he is often found off the Dorset coast fishing in his Kayak.
I had several images in my archives that I thought would make great environments to use in this portrait and eventually I decided upon one of Kynance Cove in Cornwall, I know not quite Dorset but hey it’s my image so I get creative license 🙂

The image took approx 5-6 hours to retouch and ended up being quite a monster PSD file.
The promotional video below shows a brief overview of the shoot and the post production.

 

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XXL Books “The Monster Photo Directory”

I suppose it does not matter what you do if you are self employed for a living we all get approached to advertise in something or other.
If you are a commercial Photographer it seems to be calls or emails about placing adverts on photographic web portals or in some promotional book that is being distributed to every creative and his dog.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve done my fair share of promoting in a few of these publications over the years and some are well respected and are actually used by the Designers and Ad Agency creatives who receive them.
I’m pretty picky about where I spend my advertising budget and generally stick to direct marketing these days and give little time to looking at paid space in books. However a few weeks ago I received a call from a very nice Dutch fellow called Eric Kievit who chatted to me about a monster sized 50x70cm photography book his company XXL Books produced.
I have several Dutch friends whom I have met while visiting Turkey where we have a holiday home and so  had an enjoyable chat about many things Dutch including Football and how some of my favorite photographers all seem to be either Dutch or German.
Despite my doubts over advertising in this impressive sounding publication this year Eric kindly said he’d send me a copy (all 10kg of it !) in the post of their Dutch Photography edition so that I could experience & enjoy the stunning photography.
True to his word the book turned up a few days ago and it really is an impressive publication not only in size and weight but also in the quality of the reproductions.
I look forward to seeing the U.K version and maybe submitting my own work at some point in the future.

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Banking Above The Crops, P51D Mustang

Hot off the screen today is this image that I started and competed retouching this afternoon (gotta be a record ! )
The plane was captured a couple of years ago during a shoot at the Airbus family air day display and is an historic WW2 P51D Mustang called Ferocious Frankie.
I had two ideas for the final image the first was to have the plane flying above the ocean and cliffs or the English countryside.After seeing several fields in my village bearing some rather lovely golden coloured crops I decided to go with the countryside idea.
From here my idea grew another step further and I decided to have someone in the image working the land and my son was suitably bribed for the job ! The shot was completed very quickly as it started to spit with rain and was very simply lit with just a little fill in flash to aid the slightly flat ambient lighting.