Rockstar Shoot – Behind the scenes video

24 04 2011

This is my final post regarding the Rockstar shoot that I did a couple of weeks ago.  Boy it was a hoot, it is one of those shoots that keeps on giving… every time I go back to my RAW files, I find more images I want to process up (like the one at the top of this post)..

I have edited up a behind-the-scenes video that was taken by our trusty assistant Andrew Tiddy on the day (thanks Andrew, great job).

You can either watch it in-line here or if you want to really appreciate it, click on the vimeo logo in the bottom right and watch it in High Definition on the Vimeo site.

Music: Mediate by INXS


Spaces Available for May Off Camera Flash Workshop

21 04 2011

Photo by Gavin Marchio

Hey there,  just a quick note to say that I still have spaces available for the next Off Camera Flash workshop that I am running on May 15th in Sydney.  One of our models for the day is going to be Daniel (the star in my recent Rockstar shoot).  He’s great to work with.

So if you have been thinking about making the leap with your photography into the world of Off Camera Flash, this workshop will teach you everything you need to know take control of your lighting on location.

More information can be found here.  Spaces are limited.. First come first served.


Rockstar Shoot Part 2 of 3 – Light Beam Tutorial

16 04 2011

For some shots adding beams of light can really create bring impact into your images.  The two images that you see here are examples where I felt that emphasising the light beams in Photoshop would be beneficial to the image.

In both images, when I was in the studio taking the shots, my eye could see the light beams better than the camera recorded them, so I felt it wasn’t really “cheating” to bring back what I experienced in the studio.

This tutorial utilises another of Calvin Hollywood’s techniques for “ray of light”.  I highly recommend his DVD tutorial called “Calvinize”.

The following tutorial shows how I post process this image of Daniel.  The emphasis is on how I process the background light with rays of light technique from Calvin.

This is a pretty advanced technique.  I hope you enjoy it.

My Rockstar Shoot Part 1 of 3 – Howd it turn out?

16 04 2011

All I can say is “What a hoot”…. we had a such a great time playing around with this shoot.  I was shooting with two other photographers, Michelle Playoust and Sue Robertson.  We also had Andrew Tiddy assisting.  Our Rockstar was Daniel Raphael.

We spent four hours in the studio playing around with lighting, lighting effex and a smoke machine and had an absolute blast.  I reckon I’m doing well on a shoot if I come away with 1 or 2 keepers, but on this shoot I got closer to 8 or 10 shots that I was really really happy with.  Here’s just a few of them along with lighting charts for each so you can see how we got the effex.

Our first setup

A simple 3 light setup.  In the back we had a continuous hard edge spot light that we had gelled with 2 cuts of CT Blue (it is a tungsten light source).

We had a 20″ white beauty dish as our key light (camera left) (thanks for the beauty dish Scott… I love it… you might not see it again).

We used a gridded backlight off to the right. to really throw some strong rimmed backlight onto Daniels hair and shoulders.

We were using a smoke machine to create atmosphere. We tried where we could to keep the smoke from the smoke machine behind Daniel and not between him and the lens.

With this setup we got the following shots.

Setup 2 Red Back Light

We then added a bit of colour to the setup by gelling the rear spot light with a red gel.

We kept the same key light (the beauty dish) but decided to kill the gridded back-light as it was washing out too much of the red colour.

The back-light was not a strobe, it was a tungsten balanced continuous 650w light, so for all intensive purposes this was like continuous ambient light.

The power of the continuous lights was not something we could alter so we had to balance all of our strobes to these continuous lights.

When we gelled the backlight red we probably lost 2 stops of light and were typically shooting around f2.8 or f4, @ 1/60s @ISO 400 So focus and depth of field were tricky.  The cameras also had a few problems focusing in the low light, so most of the time we were manually focusing.

We got some excellent atmospheric images with the red light.

This setup also worked well for black and white.

Setup 3 – Silouette Shot

For the next setup I really wanted to play with some almost total silouette lighting where the focus is on the shape of the rockstar against the light.

However we didn’t want to go total silouette, so we used a 10degree grid to throw a hard light on the rockstars face (about 2 stops underexposed).

I think here we got some of the most dramatic shots.  The shot at the top of this blog post was taken with this setup.

The 10degree grid really threw out an interesting light.  It is the first time that I have used grid spots as key lights and I was really enjoying the effects they were giving me.

One of the goals of the day was to do some real creative experimentation… and we sure did that.

Final Setup – Coloured Par Cans

We added red and blue gels on 4 par cans and flooded our rock star from behind.  We used the beauty dish as our key light (similar position to setup 1 and 2).  And we got these shots with this setup.

I’ve almost finished editing a short “behind the scenes” video for anybody interested in seeing the setup and the shoot.   I’ll also do a tutorial on how I got the light beam effect in the top shot.

It was definitely a ton of fun.

Reminder Off Camera Flash Workshop:

I’m running an off camera flash workshop on 15th May 2011 in Sydney for anyone that wants to learn how to bring flash and models into your landscapes.  More information can be found here.


Big Shoot Tomorrow

9 04 2011

I’m excited about tomorrow.  I’ve got probably the biggest and most ambitious shoot that I have ever planned.  I’m shooting in a studio and I’ve rented a bunch of special lights for the shoot as well as smoke machine. I’ll be using mainly studio lights for this shoot and  if it comes off the way I hope it will, it will be a pretty creative and powerful set of rockstar portraits.


The Rockstar Moodboard for the shoot tomorrow

Stay tuned, I’ll do a series of postings on the shoot tomorrow including some behind-the-scenes video and post processing tutorials.

Have a good weekend everybody


Tutorial: Post Processing “F11 and Be There”

27 03 2011

It’s been quite a while since I have posted on the blog, so I thought I’d get back into it with a photoshop post processing tutorial.  This morning I went out with a few buddies for a shoot.  What a fantastic day…. one of those days where everything comes together… forecast was for scattered showers, so I was hopeful….. on the drive down to Curl Curl it was raining pretty hard, but my iPhone showed it was just an isolated shower.

Sure enough once I got to the car park and met the other three photographers that were shooting with me the rain stopped, but there was big brooding storm clouds all around us.  We walked off onto the rocks, got one more little shower and then the rain stopped for the rest of the morning and some clear patches opened up on the Eastern horizon.

The reason for the title of this image is because I think this expression is the best way to get images… just be there….. there were supposed to be a few others showing up to shoot, but my guess is that the rain scared them off.

There is nothing too flash in this tutorial, but it’s more the combination of when and where I use various effects that give me the results on this image.  It’s a short tutorial, I hope you enjoy it.


Faces Of Tanzania – Portraits

25 01 2011

So this morning I got back from Tanzania.  What an incredible trip!  I was doing some charity work for a school over there called St. Judes.  This school was started by an Australian lady called Gemma Siske and what she has built there is nothing short of astonishing.  She has built a school that rivals the best private schools in Australia.  She is offering world class education to over 1500 under privileged kids in Tanzania absolutely free.   The schools mission is “Fighting Poverty Through Education”.  My job there was to shoot some photos for the school and to shoot a video to help them with their fund raising.

While I was there I wanted to really focus on refining my portrait work, so here are some of the portraits that I took along with some information about the individuals and the lighting used.

I recommend you click on each image to see the image at a half decent size if you really want to critique lighting etc.

This is Jonathan Ungusie.  He is the father of one of the girls that goes to St Judes.  I went to his house (well mud hut actually) and interviewed him on video.  He is 58 years old and is the father of 8 kids.  He and his wife raise the 8 kids in the small mud hut behind him which is about the size of a single-car garage.  Jonathan broke his wrist in a bad fall at the flour mill and when it healed it did not set properly, so he has pretty much lost the use of his right hand and can’t work.

His wife works as a contractor at the flour mill and gets paid just under US$2/day.   And they have to feed 8 kids with that.

I shot this with a softbox just outside of frame on camera right.  My SB900 was on full power as I was trying to overpower the sun.  This is what has created the light on his face.   I like this portrait alot as I really feel it captures Jonathan.

This is Seone Silervo. She is a Masai and lives with her family in a traditional Masai hut in a traditional village.   They decorate the interior walls with newspaper.  These huts are very dark and only have light coming in from the small doorway.

To make this portrait I initially shot with natural light and a fast lens (f1.4), however I wasn’t getting enough of the background exposed with natural light, so I used a softbox with SB900 flash about about 1/64 power aiming at Seone.  This provided enough scattered light to create a good exposure on the background.


This was a grab shot, but I really like it because of the expression and grittiness of the image.  They boy and his friends were following us back to the car after shooting in their village.  The kids in the background were laughing and giggling but this little boy was really checking me out.  I grabbed my camera and fired a couple of quick frames before his expression changed.

This was shot using natural lighting and a wide aperture (f2.8)

It was very dusty in the Masai village which coated all the kids in a covering of dust, however they didn’t seem to mind it at all and were  quite happy.


This old lady is amazing.  We were doing a tour of the local village around one of the St. Jude campuses when the group of Year 7 girls took us up to one very small mud hut and asked if we’d like to meet the old lady of the village.

These school girls regularly take food to the villagers to help them out and they know the villagers very well.  They bought out this lovely old lady.  She’s not sure how old she is, but we met her 72 year old daughter a bit later on, so she must be somewhere between 90 and 100 years old which is incredible for Africa.

This is a natural light portrait of the lady.    One thing is clear after this visit.  Growing old in Tanzania is not an easy life.



One thing I have noticed about photographing in Africa is the amazing difference in the quality of the light.  I’m not sure whether this is due to the pollution or dust in the air, but the light seems so soft.  Lovely soft colours and incredible light whenever you are shooting indoors.

I’ve got some lovely prints from this trip that I will enjoy hanging on my wall.

I’m definitely heading back to Africa later this year.