Day 269 – Visit to a Photographic Studio

I have mentioned before that I follow a number of photography groups online, and last week I saw a post offering the opportunity to visit a  photographic studio – Old Bakery Studio, use their lights and equipment, their infinity cove and to have the opportunity to photograph a motorbike.  I have never tried to photograph a motorbike – but then I have also never been in a professional studio, so I decide to give it a go. The event was organised by Richard from Mad about Macro, and was the first of many events he hopes to run in future.

ISO800, F5, 1/20sec - Working in a studio with other photographers.

ISO800, F5, 1/20sec – Working in a studio with other photographers.

It was a brilliant evening – there was about a dozen photographers there, all with different levels of experience and all took it in turns to use the equipment. We all had come across Richard through a variety of sources – some from Highcliffe and Infinity Camera Club, some from Lymington Camera Club, all of us had something in common we wanted to take more photos and were happy to share what we knew already. There was quite a strong opinion that club photography was about competitions, not so much doing practical sessions – and I discovered that we had several mutual friends – as a lot of people belong to more than one camera club – I just don’t have the time!

There was another occasion where I was meeting a group of people whom I did not know – but this time I felt much safer this time – partly the confidence I gained from the last experience and because we were meeting and staying in a fixed location. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, there were mainly canon users, but a good mix of canon and sigma lens, and some lovely homemade cake offered half way through.

This is early on in the shoot. The lights are set so that there is a shadow on the wall. ISO100, F11, 1/250sec

This is early on in the shoot. The lights are set so that there is a shadow on the wall. ISO100, F11, 1/250sec

The lights were there to be positioned and set up correctly… the above photo really highlights the importance of “chimping” my image, and learning about what I can see in the view finder. There is a huge shadow in this image and the lights had to be moved to compensate for this. I also realized that  although I want the background to be white I don’t want to blow out the highlights on my subject.

ISO2000, 1/50sec, F6.3 - no flash.

ISO2000, 1/50sec, F6.3 – no flash.

I did some research before hand to help me think about what I wanted to photograph, I read a little about what makes the best angle, about focusing on some of the details. The conclusion of which was to make images from low angles at the font of the bike – however it was important to experiment – above the angle looks all wrong! this was taken without the studio lights attached – I upped the ISO and shot it in Av – you can see how the white balance is different, and close up the ISO offers a lot more grain!

ISO100, F7, 1/160sec - Studio Lights

ISO100, F7, 1/160sec – Studio Lights

Using the studio lights I was able to capture a whole more detail – although I am disappointed that the highlights overpowered the wind visor at the front.

ISO100, F8, 1/200 Ssec - studio flash

ISO100, F8, 1/200 Ssec – studio flash

Experimenting with different crops again creates a different feel – I thought about the space the bike might move into in the above image and wanted to think about a square crop for instagram.

On previous occasions when I have worked with a model they have talked about the importance of communicating with the model. Neil, the bikes owner was a really interesting gentleman, he watched at times in amusement as between us we took 100’s of photo’s of his bike – it had done 6,000 plus miles since May – and I felt more relaxed with him once I got to know him slightly – I think talking to the model puts both people at ease – and this was the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try… (phew – I think it was scary thinking about it rather than doing it – I hope he never knew how nervous I was!)

One of the things I found out about Neil was that he use to take photos in the 70’s… and amazingly he came along to the studio to be our model for the evening because he was asked, he was also amazed at how much thingshad changed since then…  I think that is also why he looks amused – in the days of dark rooms and only 24 exposures a lot more time would have been taken on compensation rather than chimping!  I took his email and promised to send him a photo.

ISO100, F8, 1/200 sec - Studio Flash

ISO100, F8, 1/200 sec – Studio Flash

But as well as talking to the model, I need to learn to give them instructions – looking back at this photo now, he looks too relaxed and almost resigned to the flashes going off – it would have looked better if he was holding onto the handlebars. I have changed into to black and white though – as to me Harley Davidson’s are a classic – and with the gentleman in the hot seat – I think it suits a timeless feel. The wall is also not as white as I thought it was ….

Handheld - no flash. close up of the motorcylist

Handheld – no flash. close up of the motorcyclist

ISO100, F10, 1/125sec - Studio Flash

ISO100, F10, 1/125sec – Studio Flash

Helmet on and you can’t see his eyes, helmet off and he is not suitable to drive on he UK roads… either way he needs to be holding on to the bike if I was going to add an appropriate background.

iSO1600, F5, 1/60sec - No Flash

ISO1600, F5, 1/60sec – No Flash

The shot I got of Neil holding the handlebars was taken when I was not tethered to the flash, I had pushed my ISO up and the result is grainy. It does however look almost like he was driving at me .  Another great shot of Neil holding on to the bike, was taken by a different photographer – whilst I looked on –  I had to push up my ISO again as I did not have the flash attached – but it just made me smile – Richard (the photographer) was taking Armchair photography to new lengths!

Armchair Photography - a different take. ISO800, F5, 1/30sec

Armchair Photography – a different take. ISO800, F5, 1/30sec

I had read online about the fact that it was important to focus in on the details of the bike – that is what bikers like to see… so I got closer and focused on some of the shiny bits …. I am sure they all have technical names – all I know is that they were very shiny, the bike almost glowed and that also meant they were very reflective.

A close up of various parts of the motorbike and lots of photographers.

A close up of various parts of the motorbike and lots of photographers.

Once I started looking into the details – it was amazing how many photographers there were in the reflections, but looking closely it is not just the photographers that are reflected in the scene – there are parts of the studio too… which would need to be edited out if this was for an editorial shoot – suddenly the reason why you want a giant white box makes a huge amount of sense.

Reflections - ISO160, F6.3, 1/125 sec - Studio Flash

Reflections – ISO160, F6.3, 1/125 sec – Studio Flash

However some reflections have a purpose – and this one was done with a purpose in mind.  This was my first studio shoot, and my first time having a good look at a Harley – I needed evidence that I was there … so this reflection was taken on purpose. Amazing to think I dressed to work well with the colours of the image 🙂

A selfie is a Harley - ISO160, F6.3, 1/125sec - Studio Flash

A selfie is a Harley – ISO160, F6.3, 1/125sec – Studio Flash

One of my favorite images from the shoot.

Black and White Edit, studio flash - F10, ISO100, 1/125sec

Black and White Edit, studio flash – F10, ISO100, 1/125sec

I came away thinking:

  • I am going to use the triggers I have for my flash more – as these are the same ones we were using to set off the studio lights.
  • Use off camera flash and studio lights opens up a whole new world about photography
  • If I am switching between flash and no flash – I need to set up my colour balance to Auto … if I am just using flash then setting the white balance at the start of the shoot would be a good idea (hence my colours are all over the place!)
  • Manual mode is essential with flash – you can’t use Av – as it can’t predict the amount of light you are going to add to the scene.
  • Getting to know the model and talking to them helps everyone feel more relaxed and tell them what you want them to do is essential
  • The subject of the image does not matter – if it gives you the opportunity to try something new.
  • Take your time – you don’t need 500 OK images – you need 1 or 2 you are happy with.
  • It is difficult looking for different angles from the other photographers – but you need to think about what the end images are for
  • Reflections can be a nightmare and you need to be aware of them.
  • These sessions were not for a total beginner – you needed to have a grasp of your iso, shutter speed, aperture and exposure, know how to operate your camera – as everyone was working different models – to really get the most out of the session. I would however recommend it and I hope to attend again.
  • I had a great time ….
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