Amber vs The Bulb

Amber vs The Bulb

In a break from my normal location shooting, I spent a little time at Saracen House studio nera Milton Keynes last weekend. My subject was the very talented Amber Tutton and while it’s virtually impossible to take bad photo of her, I wanted a concept to make me images stand out. So, being known as a bit of lighting guy, I decided to take along a suitable prop: an over-sized, squirrel cage light bulb.


Most images were taken with a gridded beauty dish as key light, flying high halfway between me and Amber with a small softbox at ground level, 2 stops lower, for a little upward fill and to seperate her dark jeans form the black seamless.

While this worked well, as Joe McNally says “Don’t get satisfied with one view, and one good-looking frame! Shoot and move, shoot and move.” Changing your angle an composition is one thing but don’t forget you can change your lighting too. In this case, I shut off the strobes and modelling light, opened up my aperture and cranked my ISO.


Thanks to Andrew at Saracen House for making me feel so welcome, Amber for being awesome and Darren for the introduction.

And for the geeks, a little BTS video:

Jen Goes To Hollywood

Jen Goes To Hollywood

If you have followed me on Facebook or Twitter, or been a reader of this blog for a while, you’ll have seen Jen before. Last week we finally got the chance to work together properly on a Hollywood glamour-themed shoot in a local cinema.

Once I had the location arranged it was obvious a mix Film Noir and classic Hollywood glamour was the way to go so I started researching. Google Images came up with the classic portraits of Dietrich and Harlow while Flick and 500px gave some examples with a modern twist. A quick flick through those images on my iPad over a coffee gave Jen a clear idea of what I had in mind and gave me a last minute refresher of the look I was going for.

As usual, I started simple. Jen in a long black dress with one light. (OK, this image is from slightly later in the set so there are 2 lights in play here). The key light is a grid spot, high camera right aim at Jen’s face. The second is a speedlight tucked away on the floor to camera left to thrown a bit of light on the black dress and Jen’s hair to lift her off the dark background.

A quick wardrobe change while I span the lights 90 degrees resulted in this. Hard, gridded light from an Elinchrom Quadra on Jen again from high camera left and some low fill to add some details to her legs from a speedlight camera right. Then to create the spotlight effect on the red velvet above her, another gridded Quadra firing straight ahead form high above camera.


Another wardrobe and location change resulted in this image. Moving away from the hard, Hollywood glamour lighting to my Deep Octa softbox in beauty dish mode. It’s positioned camera right and feathered off the background to keep the wallpaper dark and make it match Jen’s hat and the stripes in the jacket. There’s a speedlight getting in on the action again – low camera left, behind the chair adding a little kick to separate the dark suit from the background.

When presented with the chance to shoot in a luxury screening room you take it, even if it means going off the plan and shooting something a bit more lifestyle. Jen’s bottomless suitcase had something suitable so we set up this shot. On gridded Quadra lighting Jen and a second, added after a few tests, to light the seats further along the row.


On the way in to the  screening room we walked down this corridor and I noticed the spot lights raking down the stripped, grey wallpaper.  I used the gridded Quadra again here, dialled down as low as it would go so as not to over power the lights and gelled CTO to match the colour temperature.

Enjoy the rest of the images in the gallery at the end of the post. 

I’ve also put together a behind the scenes video for those who want to see a bit more. This is my first foray into video and Final Cut Pro X editing so I’d love to hear what you think.

Massive thanks to Jen Morgan, Daniel Barrett and Yvette Singer at The Showcase Cinema de Lux in Bristol.