23 Aug 2017

Faux Absolut Vodka Ad

I have always admired the Absolut Vodka ad campaign that used to run in magazines worldwide some years ago and always thought of how I would like to try and recreate something similar. I think it is a study in simplicity embracing the "less is more" ideology while having an attention capturing visual impact. The first step was to find a current news topic that would grab attention, hence I settled on Brexit and the "hard" or indeed "absolute" nature that it entails.

Next step, purchase said product and relevant prop, in this case a bottle of vodka and a Union Jack bowtie.

I studied the lighting techniques that the original ads used and tried to "reverse engineer" it. I used three studio lights, one from behind the backdrop shooting through a snoot, and two from the front on either side of the bottle shooting through two softboxes and positioned so as to give the two reflections in the shiny bottle cap.

After metering the lights and setting up the camera I shot two photos from a sturdy tripod mount, one with only the rear light and one with only the two front lights, and then spent a little time on the computer editing and combining the two to achieve the effect I was after.

The final step was looking up which font they originally used in their campaign, download and install it and then finish off the advert with authentic Absolut punchline at the bottom.

Lighting setup pull back shots below.

16 Feb 2017

Food Photography, with whatever camera you happen to have on hand...

I originally (many years ago) trained as a chef in South Africa and I was quite good at it (if I say so myself) but circumstance and providence led me along other paths for many years. However a couple of years ago I received a good offer and took up a position as a chef at a company here in Sweden. This has of course left me with less time to pursue my love of photography, hence the slowing down to a crawl of this blog.

At work I have been called on many times to photograph dishes for the company website and the requesting always comes when the only camera I have with me is my phone camera. I do not have the latest and greatest, but I have found that with my old Samsung S5 and the incredible Snapseed photo manipulation software for Android I can get amazingly good results. While the fine detail and colour management I get from my DSLR is undoubtably much MUCH better I think that at internet resolution the photo below is just great!

Bear in mind that this was taken, edited and published directly from my phone with only window light in between my normal duties as a chef. It is no wonder then that camera sales are plummeting and photographer jobs are scarcer by the day...

12 Aug 2016

Wedding shoot in France

I had the opportunity to shoot a garden wedding in France and the couple were wonderful!

27 Jun 2016

Blues Harmonica

Just another quick harmonica pic to get the musical and photographic juices flowing at the same time.

26 Mar 2016

Newcastle Brown Ale - Photographed in Mixed Light

Popped down to the local liquor store in Landskrona today to fill up on wine and other essentials and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a healthy, but expensive, stock of Newcastle Brown Ale. Best beer ever!

Of course once I got home I was compelled to photograph this delicious beverage, and what better place than in my home made pub.

There is a healthy mix of lighting going on here with the led lights of the bar on as well as some daylight from a window to the right and then a Nikon SB910 hand held to camera left pointed at the ceiling for nice diffused bounce light and triggered via CLS. I had a slow shutter speed of 1/25th to ensure the background light was captured along with the balanced flash to add the right atmosphere. The lens was wide open at f2.8 to blur the background and isolate the main subject.

21 Mar 2016

Harmonica and Guitar

Combining my love of photography and music by photographing my Yamaha guitar with my latest addition, a Hohner Crossover harmonica. Two quality sounding instruments that do not fulfill their true potential by virtue of my enthusiastic yet somewhat limited efforts.

My only light comes from a Nikon SB910 speedlight hand held to camera left, pointed at and bounced off the ceiling for soft light, and triggered wirelessly via Nikon's great CLS system.
My camera of choice was a Nikon D300s fitted with the excellent and sharp Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 non stabilised lens, fully zoomed at 50mm, shutter speed of 1/160th of a second with aperture of f5.6 and iso set at base 200.
Edited in Lightroom.

14 Feb 2016

Geisha Warrior

I got to photograph a geisha for an assignment yesterday that involved props and a lot of makeup. The lighting was simple enough. Main light is a Nikon SB910 from camera right and about two feet higher than the model's head at 1/1.7th power bounced into a black backed umbrella. The background light was a Nikon SB700 at 1/64th power mounted on a really tiny light stand I got off Amazon which was flagged to stop spill onto the back of the model and faced sloped up towards the black background. I changed things up a bit by mounting a tungsten filter on the SB910 and setting the camera white balance to tungsten as well, which means the background light shows up a beautiful blue while all is perfectly normal with the light on the model.

5 Jan 2016

Sweeney Todd does his thing...

Another from the Sweeney Todd photo session.

Lighting the same as previous photo, i.e.:
I had my main light, a Nikon SB700 shooting through a 1/8 grid at 1/20th power from high to camera right, and to fill the shadows I shot a Nikon SB910 into a black backed umbrella at about 1/40th power to camera left and just about level with the camera's height. Both Speedlights were triggered wirelessly via Nikon's awesome CLS wireless triggering system.

3 Jan 2016

Sweeney Todd portrait

Took an interesting Sweeney Todd portrait yesterday that required a more "stage lighty" type look. Having worked on stage lighting many years ago I know that it can often be a little more hard and direct than we like in most photographic portraits. I had my main light, a Nikon SB700 shooting through a 1/8 grid at 1/20th power from high to camera right, and to fill the shadows I shot a Nikon SB910 into a black backed umbrella at about 1/40th power to camera left and just about level with the camera's height. Both Speedlights were triggered wirelessly via Nikon's awesome CLS wireless triggering system.

18 Dec 2015

Middle-Eastern themed Portrait

A three light portrait with a Middle-Eastern style theme.

Three Nikon Speedlights used, one gridded from camera left as main, one snooted from camera right slightly behind the subject and higher, one through a brolly to camera right for slight fill. All controlled and fired via Nikon's excellent CLS wireless trigger system.

16 Nov 2015

Film Noir Style "Strobist" Portrait

Decided to try something a little more dramatic today and shot this film noir style portrait with a snooted Nikon SB 910 shooting from high camera right directed down to Ellie's face and a snooted Nikon SB 700 splaying some light onto the background from camera left and slightly lower than Ellie's head. Both Speedlights were triggered via Nikon's fantastic CLS wireless trigger system.

I am rather satisfied with the dramatic atmosphere of the portrait and I think it harks back quite well to the early Hollywood film noir movies.