A while ago I was asked by a client if I could shoot some promotional images and video at the Airbus family day in Bristol.Although only open to Airbus employees and their families the event is huge and hosts a variety of great aircrafts.
I love planes probably because they generally take you somewhere nice 🙂 and not being one to miss an opportunity to add some shots to my compositing archive to save for a rainy day I shot till I could shoot no more.
Having some unexpected spare time this week I decided to trawl through my archives and create the image posted here titled “Graceful Killers”.
At the time of writing I’m still researching with help from some kind fellow photographers on Pro Imaging to what these WW1 fighter planes actually are, of course if you know feel free to post below.
I consider myself a people person, I like meeting and talking to people and I especially love photographing them in their environment (as you can see by my recent posts here).Probably one of the most enjoyable things about my 20+ years in photography is the many people and places I have been fortunate to experience.
I have enjoyed photographing many gorgeous models people in the public eye and heads of industry but what I really love is shooting characters from everyday life doing what they love in work or play.
Twelve months ago I shot the image and video “Praha 44” for my Digital Photography training site . The image below features a German Officer at night against the backdrop of Prague.
The gentleman who I hired the costume from also had a huge collection of other items from WW2 including a U.S Army 1943 WLA Harley Davidson.After seeing the bike the ideas and story started to grow in my head and knew I had to shoot it.After a few discussions with Manny (the owner and model in the images here) I decided the scene would be set in Northern France and the rider would be dressed as a US Army Infantryman Despatch Rider from Headquarters Company delivering messages to and from various units after the D Day invasion.
In my mind the scene I wanted to portray him in was one of him resting after a hard ride (a quiet moment) against a Forest backdrop and I knew the perfect place.
A day was set and myself and my assistant met Manny with a van full of props including a genuine M1, semi-automatic, Garand rifle (deactivated of course !) and set up the scene.
Like many of my images I look for simple compositions and uncluttered lighting.For example in this image the soft light was quite important as I felt harsh light coming though the trees would simply cause too many distraction in the scene and I definitely did not want that.The shoot took about 90 minutes to complete partly due to the fact we where all having a blast and did not want to stop creating images.
Manny eats breathes and lives his love for things from WW2 but in a very positive way and it was a pleasure to work with someone as passionate as I am about getting the fine details just right.
Manny has an incredible collection of other WW2 memorabilia including a WW2 Sailers Uniform which struck a chord with me as my father served on HMS Indomitable in the Pacific during the war.
Watch this space for that one !
View some brief video footage from the shoot below.
As I have mentioned in a previous post I’m currently working on producing new life images of people & animals within the landscape.
Part of this has evolved into a small project shooting “Life In A Somerset Landscape” where I show people and animals at well known Somerset locations.
While researching new people to shoot I caught an old TV clip of one of the last Mud Horse Fisherman who live close to Hinkley Point B Nuclear power station nr Bidgwater Somerset.
20 years earlier I had photographed one of the last few fishermen for a magazine and so was not sure if any where still actually still fishing in the area.
After a bit of research with good old Google I managed to find a telephone number for Brendan & Adrian Sellick who are father & son and the last two people still Mud Horse fishing a stones throw from Hinkley Point B Nuclear Power Station.
So what is Mud Horse Fishing?
Having lived close to the coast most my life (mostly on the Bristol Channel) I know how dangerous this stretch of coast can be.
Firstly it has the second fastest fall and rise of tide in the world plus and more appropriate here the mud banks can be like quicksand.
The fishermen place their nets 2 miles out over the treacherous mud banks of the Bristol Channel. They use a wooden sledge known as a Mud Horse to help them not only carry back their catch but more importantly aid them to glide over the thick treacherous mud and not sink into it.
Following my telephone call I arranged to meet Adrian Brendan Sellick and photograph them with the Mud Horse at the beach.
My vision for the image was not one shot in bright clear sunlight which is what the shoot day presented me with.For me this is the kind of uncertantity that makes location shooting so interesting and certainly keeps you on your toes.
Another surprise on the day was I did not expect to go onto the mud banks to shoot but stay on the shore.
Adrian explained that the Mud Horse is stored about 1 mile out onto the mud banks of the channel weighted down by rocks as is to cumbersome to drag out.
We jumped into his 4×4 and started to drive cautiously over the mud which I have to admit was rather unnerving after the scores of cars I’ve seen submerged on this coastline by tourists driving on the beaches and ignoring the warnings.
Luckily I always carry a pair of wellies in the boot of my car so was pretty well prepared for the mud that I had to wade through in certain areas.
I had as I always do planned to use my tripod but it quickly became obvious that I would have to go out my comfort zone and hand hold the camera.
Adrian directed me to where was safe to walk and pointed out the areas that would have me knee deep plus in mud which was a worry with £6,500 worth of camera around my neck !
I directed Adrian where I wanted him and set about shooting with quite briskly with a healthy burst of fill in flash to reduce the harsh contrast from the crystal clear sunlit sky.
It was a very enjoyable shoot even though it took me out my comfort zone a little (which is not a bad thing) and made me adapt my plans slightly.
I retired with Adrian back to his rustic fish shop where I finished by shooting some headshots of him and his charismatic father Brendan.
This shoot summed up to me how much I love the excitement & unpredictable nature of location shooting.Combing this with meeting interesting,charming people doing jobs that sadly may not continue in years to come also gives me satisfaction of knowing that once again my camera has enabled me to explore places & people otherwise I may never had chance to.
The final image shown here combines several images of Adrian,The Bristol Channel and the Hinkley Point B Power Station.
As I mentioned in my last post about shooting new images of people in the landscape here is an image I shot a couple of weeks ago and finished retouching this week.
The image here shows Ryan White who’s a talented young cyclist and member of Somerset based “1St Chard Wheelers” cycling club.
Ryan has gained much success in his chosen sport including coming 4th in the National under 12’s Road Race Championships and is currently 3rd in the national rankings which is very impressive seeing he’s only 13 !
In terms of the photography as always I wanted to show my subject within the landscape rather than shooting just a formal portrait.The background plate is of St Michaels Mount in Cornwall which I captured on a beautiful spring dawn several years ago.
The shoot was completed in around 30 minutes which I captured images of not only Ryan but his cycling partner dad David too.
Retouching the image was also pretty swift & straight forward taking me about 6 hrs to complete to the the high standards I require.
A new year brings a time to look at your work/life and where you want to be heading.However It was in fact last June while while in Turkey that I decided it was time to start shooting more people/life images.
I’d found myself shooting very little life based images over the last couple of years and capturing the landscape alone was no logger challenging me enough and I was getting creatively a little stale.I also needed to produce a new book (Portfolio) for the coming year so new work was needed.
I started my Professional career shooting lifestyle images of models for Clarks Shoes so shooting people whether models,celebrities or cornish fishermen (that’s another blog post !) have always featured in my body of work somewhere and something I enjoyed and felt very comfortable doing.
So last week I started to make calls to various people in the South West from semi pro cyclists to fossil hunters and introducing myself and my work and simply asking if I may photograph them.So far he response has been very good and images from my recently completed shoots will be posted here shortly.
In the meantime here is an image that I have just completed to add to my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” The project features animals in well known Somerset Landscapes and has challenged me both as photographer and retoucher with this particular image taking approx 4 days to complete in post production alone.
The Fox was photographed at Secret World Wildlife Rescue near where I grew up in West Huntspill Somerset. The lovely people at Secret World where very helpful and kindly allowed me to get up close and personal with their rescued foxes and I got some great images despite falling up to my knee in a hole full of ditch water !
For the techies the layered photoshop image was a bit of a monster at well over 1 Gb in size and consisted of 30 layers which is not uncommon for some of my images.
The location in the image is Burrow Mump located on the Somerset Levels and the image is as yet unnamed so if you can think of a great title I’d love you to post your idea in the comments below.
Creative Post Production The Making Of “The Last Harvest”
This image was inspired by my strange fascination with Maize fields which are abundant in the Somerset countryside from late summer to early autumn.
Of course, the idea developed in my imagination into something more than just photographing a field full of crops into the final image shown here.
The most difficult part of this image to perfect was the masking and transitions of the Maize heads onto the background.
After several but not perfect attempts I managed to come up with an unlikely solution to the problem which fulfilled my severe obsession for fine details in my images.
View more creative post production videos
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