Studio presentations from classmates

Over the past few weeks we have all given a 15 minute presentation to our classmates about the work of different studio photographers through the ages. they ranged from very early pioneers taking famous images to current and upcoming photographers like my subject Linda Blacker. Below are some notes on some photographer we have seen and discussed

Annie Leibowitz – Very famous and influential artist she has taken images of people from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to The Queen. She is noted for a soft Rembrandt style and using natural window light for many images.

Mario Testino – Again an influential portrait photographer who has worked for huge fashion houses and film stars and has imaged Princess Diana

Lottie Jacobi – Known for her portrait imagery throughout the last century her subjects ranged from writer and artists to scientists and she photographed Einstein in 1935.

Bettina Von Zwehl – An interesting presentation highlighting one project where she photographed women listening to music in the dark to capture the emotion when they didn’t know the image would be taken.

David Lachappelle – Loud vibrant pop culture styled imagery again worked with many celebrities producing highly colourful and saturated pictures produced many adverts and is also a prolific film maker.

Julia Margaret Cameron – Early pioneer in imagery known for her portrait and images of people with mythical and Arthurian themes from legend. She often used soft focus and soft light and treated photography as art as well as science she frequently manipulated a wet collodion process to create her images

Yousuf Karsh – One of the great portrait photographer of the 20th century known for a distinct style in theatrical lighting. He often lit subjects hands and photographed many of the most well known celebrities and personalities of his generation most notably Winston Churchill whom he famously caught off guard by grabbing his cigar from his mouth.


Studio Project Final choice part 2

For the shot with a human element I have chosen an image from about 10 that I did. The shot has a nice balance and softness to the background and the sharpness of the foreground subject (which is after all the focal point) is perfect for an advertising style image.

As in my first image Studio Project final choice part 1 I have printed this on several papers and in both colour and black and white and will chose which image I submit once I have had some feedback. I would like to keep to black and white to match the first image but I am not averse to having one of each in the final submission.

The setup for this image was a single softbox at 45 degrees to Alex who was leaning on a table holding the bottle I used F11 at 55mm which gives a slight softness to Alex and highlights the foreground rather than flattening the subject and background content.



Criteria ref 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2

Studio Project final choice part 1

Finally it came to my turn to use the studio setups at college to get my 2 shots for this task. I had researched the lighting scheme I wanted to use and bought a glossy type tile for the base.

So after spending about 20 minutes getting the lighting set and exactly where I wanted it,  I began to create the scene with the help of CK and Kathy.

A few fake ice chunks and some water and glycerine later I began shooting about 50 or so shots moving the bottle slightly and spraying more water to get nice frosty look.

I’m pleased with how all the images came out but I think the first one I edited is the winner for me.

I’m still working on the shot with a human element so that’s still to come.

I have decided after seeing this one printed to go with a black and white shot, although traditional advert style dictates vibrant colour I really like the way the shot has transferred over to mono. If I had to do anything differently I would have reframed the shot to add extra black area around the top and right side of the image.

I have had this particular image printed and shown to fellow classmates on normal lustre paper, gloss and fine art papers  Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285gsm and also on Fotospeed Photo Smooth Pearl 290gsm and although the Etching paper feels nice the real outstanding transference for me is on the pearl paper as it has just the right level of shine and clarity for the image to really pop from the paper.



criteria ref 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2

Studio Photographer presentation

I chose a contemporary and relatively new and exciting photographer to present to the class Linda Blacker, I chose her for her unique and vivid styling and stunning fantasy imagery. I gave a 15 minute presentation detailing her work and inspiration for it.

Linda’s images are amazingly detailed and the sheer amount of attention to that detail shows in each and every image. With each image a story unfolds in my head, even if its not the intended tale which often accompany her work.

She has produced images for many youtube stars, pop stars and charity campaigns as well as mood derived self portraits.

I do like this fantasy style and can see myself using some of the techniques and lighting styles I researched in future shots and I prefer these to standard portrait shots, it adds a fun element and really stands out.

Below are a few of the stunning images I detailed in my presentation.


Criteria reference 1.1, 1.2

Lets talk Safety and Legal issues

Studio Safety

When working in the studio you should always ensure you observe any studio rules concerning safety and check insurance coverage on the studio and yourself for any potential issues or breakages.

Lighting should be electrically checked for safe use and you should keep in mind that there may be cables or overhead rigging that could easily be a trip hazard or need secured above head height when not in use. When you have finished using these items they should be stored and unplugged or turned of at any safety switches. Whilst in use observe any instructions and safety guides that may come with the lighting and keep well away from water if you are using it. Lights and modifiers become very hot during use and you must be careful not to handle the hot surfaces without protection.

Studio backdrops and paper rolls should be secured and wound up when not in use and whilst you are using them they should be firmly taped down to the surface or to the floor to avoid becoming a trip hazard or loose on tables.

Always bear your surroundings in mind when stepping around the studio taking care with your equipment not to bang people or objects that may be behind you.

When your shoot is finished and you are leaving the studio tidy everything away and keep lighting stored in its correct position on the overhead rigging, replace modifiers on hooks on walls and replace any tables backdrops and items to their storage.

Legal and Copyright.

When shooting any models in your studio or any property you may be shooting for commercial or publication use you need to ensure a model release form is obtained and signed by the model. A model release form is a legal document between you and the model or the person who owns the property you’re photographing. It is their written permission allowing you to sell the work or publish the image on your website. There are many places to obtain templates and model release form to be customized online and you can detail your own terms and payments on these forms.

Copyright lies with the photographer who produced the images.

Criteria Ref 2.1, 2.2, 2.3

Decisions And Final Subject

So this week I have been doing a little more research into the final decision on the subject of my shots. The final task is going to be an advert based task so we must produce images that follow that brief, A shot of the product and then a shot of the product with a human element. I’ve decided that perhaps a paperweight is not best suited to this as try as I may I can’t really find advertisements for paperweights, The second choice of roses, whilst tempting was also limited in scope as many adverts just seem to be generic shots of flowers in vases.

I have decided to produce images of a coke bottle with a view to it looking more advert like and the scope for this is quite wide as a quick search online gave to many options to post.

I have yet to choose a final composition but would like a reflective surface of some kind and some sort of water drops on the bottle or glass and for the human element I think just a hand holding the bottle will look good or perhaps someone drinking from the bottle.

I’ve got some fake ice and glycerine to give some effects like the adverts and have watched a few videos highlighting these techniques.

Black backdrop….white….backlit….sidelit….. oh the decisions!

In the next class I will look at how I can light this in the confines of the classroom studio with the available light sources and modifiers.

Studio Product Practice

As our studio term progresses we now have to look away from portraits and begin looking at how we will be presenting our chosen items and lighting them to photograph with a view to an advert for the product.

We used some time this week to set up the area for Alex to image her bracelet and we tried several different approaches.

We imaged against a black background with clamshell lighting then we added fill lights and a snoot to light the product and try to lessen shadows. We also swapped to white backgrounds to test and used a variety of gels to colour the backdrop  and glass to provide some reflection underneath.

My time was spent assisting Alex with lighting and making sure the area was safe and hazard free in line with studio safety which I’ll detail on another post.

I did take a quick shot of the setup.


We had 10 minutes at the end to pop on to Adobe raw to process the images to see what sort of results we were getting but those are Alex’s images so I can’t show here.


Criteria Ref 3.1, 3.2, 3.3

Lighting Modifiers

Over the past 3 or 4 weeks in the studio we have been shooting using several light methods and modifiers. These modifiers are placed on the studio flashes, and as in the name, they modify the way light hits a subject. Used not only to control the type of light but also the direction and span of the light source. I thought it may be a good idea to give an idea of what we have used and the way in which they are used.

Beauty Dish – This is a small dish shaped fitting with a central reflector to bounce the flash back and then forward outwards towards a model. Because of the way it is shaped the light is concentrated at the centre of the span then gently falls off at edges giving a semi soft light which can appear to wrap around the subject. It can be used to accentuate bone structure in a models face.

Studio light stand isolated on the white

Snoot –  This is a small cone shaped fitment which concentrates the flash into a very narrow beam or spotlight which can be used to isolate a particular area and light it without spilling onto surrounding areas.


Barn Doors – This is an arrangement of 4 or more hinged doors around a frame which can be used to direct and narrow light much like a snoot but with a wider range of applications as you can create vertical or horizontal beams as well as using it to light a particular area without light spilling onto a background for example. They don’t affect hardness of light.


Softbox – These come in a range of shapes and sizes and are used to soften the light from flash to stop it being so harsh. they can also be used to increase the coverage of a flash as by nature a large softbox is a large surface area for the flash to hit and provide light.


As we have found in some of our shoots you often combine 2 or more of these to light a subject as each has a particular application and together they can give a wide range of styles and effects such as using softboxes to light a model but then using barn doors to direct light onto a background with coloured gels to light that.

criteria ref 2.4, 3.1

Studio Practice Continues

For this session I asked my niece to pop along with me to the class to model for us…partly as she is photogenic but mainly so that we all got plenty of camera time without having to model ourselves as in previous weeks it had meant that some of the class missed some great shot opportunities.

We had been asked to bring in some shots we had seen for pose inspiration and grabbed some from online to test posing. We initially set up the lighting with a view to having coloured gels light the back ground.

We then moved on to a dual light setup providing a sort of rim light effect giving definition to certain parts of the face as we had seen a Lance Armstrong shot done in a similar style. But many of the class agreed this was not flattering at all as it cast strange shadows for the type of shot and pose we were attempting. We even attempted a side lit semi loop lighting effect with a snoot on the other light to give a hint of light on the hair opposite the main light whilst leaving the rest of the  side in darkness providing nice definition to the face.

We then adjusted the lights to give a horizontal clamshell effect slightly in front and back facing to the model which gave a lovely soft but bright effect with the softboxes. This was then easily switched to a vertical clamshell which personally I liked the best as it gave lovely catch lights in the eyes. Finally we ended by again blowing out the white background by increasing the light on the backdrop to bring the ethereal look we have tried in previous weeks.

Certainly gives lots of inspiration and lighting ideas for the upcoming project.

Criteria ref 3.1, 3.2, 3.3