A Lifestyle Portrait, Keeping The Ambience The Dark Art Of Weaving The Withy
While on a shoot capturing some images for my personal project Life In A Somerset Landscape at Withy growers P.H Coates I came across this very dark but atmospheric room.
In it three guys where busy working in the dim light and plenty of banter was being exchanged in their strong Somerset accents especially when I was introduced to them followed by the words photographing you where mentioned!
It wasn’t a Landscape… but the room had a rustic historic charm and bags of atmosphere and I could visualize the final lifestyle portrait image complete with Matthew Godfrey one of the guys who skillfully weaved wicker fences in the room.
The image was going to be a tricky one to attempt to capture in one frame due to the dim light and the fact there were elements I wanted to be visible to help tell the story without over lighting and killing the whole ambience of the place.
It’s one of those moments when seeing the final image and having extensive knowledge of photo retouching techniques allowed me to harvest all the images I would need then combine them in post-production without a huge amount of system time.
I often find that my background in retouching as well as photography is a huge benefit especially with the unpredictability of location shooting.
This week I returned yet again to Willow growers PH Coates here in Somerset to capture Willow Weaver (well that’s what I call it) Matthew Godfrey.
I was drawn to this dark but atmospheric room on my last visit a few weeks ago and asked if I could return to create the image shown here.
I knew supplementary lighting would be needed to capture Matthew but I also wanted to retain the mood of the room from the blown out glows of the single window to the dark floor covered with pieces of discarded willow.
This is where hard earned knowledge and decades of experience of capturing the best quality camera files and the solutions available in post production come in to their own.
As a result the image came together within a very short space of time in post production and more importantly retained the vision I had for the scene from the time I first saw it a few weeks before.
Back in April I wrote a post titled “A Late Harvest” where I visited local withy growers PH Coates & Sons here in Somerset and captured the late withy harvesting after the devastating winter floods.Whilst looking around on my last visit I was attracted to an area where the withy is boiled then stripped ready for weaving.
Not the most picturesque areas but I knew it would be a great backdrop to photograph the guys Dave Tottle and John Dyer going about their work of stripping the bark from the withy with the relevant machines.
The first thing I noticed on arrival was the smell of the boiled withy that some say smells like Jam but to me it reminded me of a Jalfrezi curry and quite pleasant although I’m sure if working around it all the time that might change!
I’m always pretty conscience not to get in the way or take up too much of peoples time if they are working but both Dave & John where more than accommodating and took direction very well as I composed them into the scene.