It’s all about the light…. and taking great photographs of people!

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26 October 2016 by misselisabethuk

As some of you may know I have two blogs currently running, one for the first module of my BA Hons in Photography (Expressing Your Vision) and this one, which is more a record of my thoughts and gives you a glimpse in to my life, likes and other shizzles.  Some might say this is the more interesting blog, some might say “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis”, anyhoo….

Today I went on a photography lesson carried out by a Pret-a-Portrait photographer. I always like to sniff out these opportunities whilst on holiday as they invariably impart some small priceless piece of information which becomes invaluable later.  This lesson was no different; a couple of golden nuggets of information was shared and I will share them with you in this blog.

The lesson was primarily focused about studio lighting for portraits, which is one of my current interests so I used the session to maximise my understanding of how lighting works and fortuitously part four of my course is about light so it was very apt and topical.

The first part of the lesson was a standard presentation.  I had been to one of these session before so knew the format but the additional things I learnt, which maybe I should have already known, were:

  • When the shutter button is pressed one door (curtain) opens and when the shutter closes another door (curtain) shuts.  Many times I have seen the ‘second curtain’ referenced and I now know this means the closing shutter.
  • It is OK in studio to use 200-400 ISO so you can increase the aperture.
  • Hard light produces dark shadows and soft light produces lighter shadows.
  • A smaller light source produces harder light than a larger light source.
  • The terms ‘High Key’ and ‘Low Key’ are derived from the main light source, known as the Key Light.
  • The broad side is when the side lit by the Key Light is facing the camera and the narrow (or ‘short’) side is when the side not lit by the Key Light, the shadow side is  facing the camera.

This may have all been obvious but it is good to hear someone tell you, and also see it done in practice.

The next part of the lesson was the practical bit….

All these images were taken as ISO 400, 1/200 sec. and f/22.  I used my Canon 70D and my Sigma 17-50mm lens which was mostly used at the long end (i.e. 50mm).

The first image (top row, left hand side) shows a High Key set up.  This was achieved by having two lights lighting up the background and a large octobox as the Key Light.

The second image (top row, middle) was achieved by turning off the two lights which were lighting up the background.  This is almost Rembrandt lighting; the main light source is at 45 degrees to the subject and a second light source (which is missing here) is about 1 f-stop less bright directly behind the camera (to lighten the shadows). 

The third image (top row, right hand side) was achieved using a black back ground and a beauty dish.

The fourth image, complete with lens flare, (bottom row, left hand side) was achieved by using a standard reflector with a grid on.  A grid stop the light spilling out of the sides of the light modifier and directs the light in one direction.

The fifth image (bottom row, middle) was achieved by placing a white screen on the opposite side of the subject to the light source to reflect the light spilling past the subject.

The sixth image (bottom row, right hand side) was achieved by placing a black screen on the opposite side of the subject to the light source to absorb the light spilling past the subject.

It is important if you are going to be a portrait photographer that you make your subject/s feel relaxed; talk to them to make them feel at ease, tell a joke, make fun of yourself – whatever works!  You will get more natural shots if there is a relaxed atmosphere.

Lastly, a word about ‘posing’ there are a number of different approaches to this:

1 – The completely un-posed picture – choosing a good spot and waiting for the right moment.  Stage manage.

2 – The posed picture – directing the subject to a precise pose and look but taking their mind off being photographed.

3 – The semi-posed picture – arrange and direct to a point then leave an element of chance.  This option may result in more photographs but you will not know which will turn out the best until the shoot is over.

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought when trying out your own photography.  I certainly now have a lot more set ups I now want to try (and practice) as a result.

Lois Loren – Photoshoot – 15 October 2016

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16 October 2016 by misselisabethuk

Date: 15 October 2016
Location: Home Studio, Medway –
Model: Lois Loren Rochester, Kent
Make-Up Artist (‘MUA’): Maria Bradley Rainham, Kent

It took quite some time to set this shoot up with Lois as I wanted to use a MUA and generally MUAs are busy at weekends with their ‘day job’.  So, I was really lucky to find Maria Bradley who just by luck had some spare time in her schedule and who was also based near to me.  I initially found Maria on Model Mayhem and then visited her website (link above) for contact details.

Maria was brilliant, experienced and professional, and I hope I can work with her again, schedules permitting.  She also does photography so understood the challenges a newbie photographer, such as myself, can be faced with.

I wanted to keep things simple for this shoot as my aim was to use different lighting techniques to see what effects I could create with my equipment – PIXAPRO lights and triggers from Essential Photo.  I used a lighting reference document I found on the Digital Camera World website as my guide.  I didn’t get through them all but the ones that had lighting that I felt would suit the situation I tried out.

Lois was very patient. The make-up took about 45 minutes /  1 hour and the brief for Maria was to use colours which complimented Lois’s eyes which are a lovely greyish-blue.  Lois wore just a simple plain black round neck long sleeved t-shirt, which worked really well for this type of shoot.

I want to thank Lois for her professional approach to the shoot albeit probably boring at times when I was changing backgrounds and lighting set ups.  All worth it though as we got some really amazing shots, however, as the shoot was collaborative I am in the process of ensuing Lois is happy with the shots before I release them.

So, for now, you will have to wait to see the end results….

What I can share with you are a few of the shots of us getting ready for the shoot….

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Sunday fun…

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , on 18 September 2016 by misselisabethuk

A quick post really to share a photo I took this morning.

I haven’t been completely happy with my 70-300mm lens but I think that’s mainly because I have been using it in the wrong situations.  Also I like taking photos hand-held and feel restricted mounting a tripod for the longer focal length shots where there is not enough light to crank up the shutter speed.

Sometimes it’s all about acting on an opportunity and this morning was one of those times.  There was a bird perched on an aerial on the house at the back of mine and I thought I could do some silhouette photography.  So I went inside changed my lens to my 70-300mm lens and wondered if I would be able to quickly take the shot hand held before the moment passed.

I steadied myself against a wall and put the lens on stabilisation setting 2 and hoped for the best.  By the time I got myself sorted a few of the bird’s mates turned up so it worked out better than I had anticipated.

There was a bit of manipulation in Lightroom in that I cropped the image a bit and lowered the black point /upped the white point to make sure I got a good contrast silhouette.  And volia….


Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Southbank Skateboarders – 12 August 2016

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3 September 2016 by misselisabethuk

As some of you may know I am currently studying a photography degree and as a result of my 3rd Assignment – ‘The Decisive Moment’, which I have now submitted, I found myself at the Southbank Skate Park armed with my camera ready to take some action photography.  We had a number of options with regards to what methods we could use and I chose the ‘frozen moment’ i.e. freezing the action (for those of a technical disposition this means using a high shutter speed).

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there but it was a lovely summers evening so the park was buzzing with skateboarders and people in general and I was pleased to see the tourists were taking photographs.  This meant apart from my slightly bigger lens I didn’t feel too inconspicuous.

Luckily there were a number of skateboarders doing some really good tricks so I snapped away.  There was one particular skateboarder who was trying to master a trick so he was doing the same trick over and over again, this was great for me as it meant I could set up my focus point where I knew he was going to jump and then wait until he got to that point before pressing the shutter button.

After I had got everything I needed, I thanked the skateboarder for putting up with my persistent endeavors but would like to thank you again Luca Menegon, you really helped me out!

Here are some of the photographs I took of Luca on the day:


If you decide you want to give this a try I would definitely recommend you check out Josh Katz’s video – Skateboarding Photography For Beginners, which covers 10 simple steps to get started in skate photography.

Also for some inspiration take a look at some skateboard photographers work, I found a list on an online skateboarding photo magazine:

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Brandon Baily – Photoshoot – 26 August 2016

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 28 August 2016 by misselisabethuk

Date: 26 August 2016
Location: Home Studio, Medway
Model: Brandon Baily, Dartford
Make-Up Artist (‘MUA’): Chloe Cannon, Medway

I was a little nervous going into this shoot being that I hadn’t done this particular style of shoot before; it was the first time I had used my full home studio set up for a portrait shoot and the first time I had used a professional make-up artist.

The research beforehand was crucial as not only did I need to have in mind what I wanted to accomplish, I needed to give the MUA a brief as to the make-up required and to give the model direction on clothing and poses.

I would say I am pretty good with people and have run projects at work but this was different.  With photography you are managing emotions rather than processes, and what I mean by that is that you want your model to trust you and feel comfortable so they can present themselves to you in a way that could make them feel vulnerable particularly with a stranger.  We all have a face that we wear and it is usually only our nearest and dearest that see us as we truly are. As a result I think you need to “manage” in a slightly different way.

Admittedly in business you still need to build trust and rapport but it is in a much harder environment, emotions are put aside to get the job/task done and this is accepted as being the standard professional approach.  So I definitely think although I am using the same organisational and management skills, they are utilised in a slightly different way.

So to the shoot…. When I was planning the shoot I initially wanted to cover 3 things; high key, low key and an urban location.

Whilst researching I was very confident I could set my studio up for high key; low key was going to be a bit more tricky and I had chosen a few potential locations.

I came across a couple of YouTube videos which said keep things simple and I think this was the best advice that I took away from them.  I decided I would primarily work with the high key idea, then experiment with the low key element and for this particular shoot scrap the ‘on location’ element.

On the day I decided to keep the clothing simple so I had Brandon wear a white shirt and then we added a black tie, using them in varying ways.

For the make up I wanted dark eyes to give a broody look.  On the day Chloe built the effect up, so we started with a natural look and then added smoky eyes and then built up the intensity to dark eyes and contouring.  This worked really well as the ‘look and feel’ changed by primarily changing the make-up and lighting rather than outfits.

The purpose of the shoot was to build portfolios and practice techniques… I think this was achieved and more. I personally am very pleased with the results, here is a selection…

I have revamped my official MissElisabeth website which can be found here

Please contact me if you, or someone you know, would like to collaborate with me, a contact form can be found on my website.

Have a great weekend!

‘ol mother bumble bee…

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 7 August 2016 by misselisabethuk

As the old rhyme goes…

‘ol mother bumble bee,
won’t you come and cuddle me,
put your head upon my knee,
‘ol mother bumble bee.

One of nature’s fluffy lovelies…

Dockside, Chatham (3 photos)…

Posted in Weekly Wonderings with tags , , , , , , , on 31 July 2016 by misselisabethuk

That’s all… Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. 

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