Pre-Wedding Shoot – Album
Shooting Weddings is great fun and while everyone knows I love being a Broadoaks Country House Wedding Photographer, and indeed shooting throughout the whole of the Lake District & Yorkshire too, my other people passion is for shooting what’s often referred to as Environmental Portraits
Strictly speaking this means shooting a Pig Farmer on a Pig farm, a Banker in the City, a Joiner working with his tools on wood etc. so people photographed in their own specific environment, but in a more lose term it can simply mean ‘Portraits taken out & about’; and in this shoot the out & about was Leeds City centre
A fellow Yorkshire & Lake District Wedding Photographer and good pal of mine, Ricky, and I fancied a shoot together where we could try a few different things and even equipment. So while a lot of what follows is using whatever ambient light there was, several were shot using Off-Camera Flash (both with & without any ambient) and a Light Wand too
Our couple for the evening were most accommodating and happy to give their time too for what turned into quite a walk. Vanessa & Jacob are both only 20 and neither has ever posed for a camera before, so unlike using ‘models’ this shoot was much more like we find shooting a typical Wedding couple too and it was all the better for it. Shooting trained models may give great photos quicker, but its also far too easy as they rarely need direction and it doesn’t prepare anyone for how to shoot ‘real’ people as potential clients
Post editing of their photos I felt that this well varied set would look good in a printed album too, such as a Graphistudio one I use for my Wedding couples too. So here’s the album design layout I put together along with an explanation of how these photos were shot
If you are a couple, or even an individual, wanting a set of Environmental Portrait photos, or even a Photographer wanting to hone your skills, please get in touch and we’ll get something in the diary CONTACT ME
The photos then…
These first two double-page ‘spreads’ have both Vanessa & Jacob shot against a very new office block by indirect ambient light only. You can see by the rim light effect that it was a very bright sky behind them and this has added a separation light even though they are in shade
The next 4 sets of spreads are all close-ups with their backs against a high metal strip that was the entrance to the same building, and all of these shots were using a speedlight (Yongnuo 560IV) in a gridded 19″ Beauty Dish; the details are 100 ISO at 1/250th sec and f8, such that no ambient was recorded at all meaning this is similar to a studio lighting set-up rather than an ambient/flash mix that is common to OCF work. I’m often asked what flashmeter I use but the fact is I don’t use one at all as I’m a lover of “Blinkies” (flashing highlight alert on the camera’s rear screen in playback)
For Jacob’s set I moved the light from left to right while keeping it the same distance (hence the exposure remained the same). A combination of a slight turning of Jacob’s head together with me changing my shooting angle as given Butterfly, Short and Open Loop lighting patterns; whereas the two larger shots of Vanessa have Rembrandt lighting patterns, more classically in the first than the second. In all of Vanessa’s photos only her head position has changed, the light position, its exposure and her body didn’t move at all
For these next two spreads I moved them back into the open away from the building we’d been shooting against. Jacob is now lit by the bright sky in the direction of the setting Sun, which is giving slight shadows akin to using a very large softbox in a Short lighting pattern. While Vanessa is actually partly lit by the Sun reflected in another glass fronted building some 100+m away – its always a good idea to keep your eye out for reflected Sun like this in cities as you can still get the same warmth and hard light even when you can’t directly see the Sun
These next 7 spreads are all shot in the same place, and a disappointingly small space at that – we’d taken a 10 minute walk to the wonderful Leeds Town Hall to shoot on the front facade of columns and impressive gates, only to find it was mostly covered in scaffolding and wood panels leaving just a 8-10m wide gap. After some swearing, we set about doing more close-up work with the first spread being in front of the huge & hugely impressive ornate doors lit only by ambient light, but now it was getting darker so the numbers were 1,000 ISO 1/320th and f2 on an 85mm lens
This following spread was shot looking out towards the city streets, but of course Vanessa would be several stops darker than those streets so to balance the light more I switched to using Ricky’s Light Wand, the newly released Yonguo YN360, and I have to say I was so impressed I’m going to buy one too. This clever bit of kit is a continuous light source with variable White Balance and variable power settings, so it was easy to quickly get the look I was after. Light Wands can be used in a variety of ways but here, for maximum contrast, I had it lined up vertically with Vanessa’s nose rather than horizontally across her eyes
Next I moved onto some Head & Shoulders shots with ambient only. Here both Vanessa, and then Jacob, are on the edge of Town Hall with me teetering on the steps, so while it is still getting darker it is brighter than the previous shot with the ornate door background. I’m now on 1,000 ISO 1/640th but still at f2 as I wish to maximise the shallow Depth of Field (DoF) and completely throw the annoying scaffolding & paneling background totally Out of Focus (OoF)
By now we’d been shooting and walking for well over an hour, so I called it the all important beer-time and we went for a pint
Emerging some 25 mins later it was now pretty much dark, and I took us all across the road to a large bus shelter. Vanessa, Jacob and even Ricky too where clearly thinking – WTF are we doing here? But I was after something more strikingly city and what better than a bus shelter lol
The idea of the first set of 4 images is to give more of a voyeuristic appearance, but I still had to carefully choose where to place my couple in the stream of overhead lights. The problem with modern lighting is that it flickers a lot, although our eyes barely detect that if at all, and shooting at 2,000 ISO 1/250 and still at f2 meant I had to shoot in burst of at least 3 frames per second as, due to the flicker, one would be nicely lit, one partly and another unlit – thank God I wasn’t shooting on film or it’d be a very expensive way to have to shoot !!!
I was then lucky that someone was having bad luck as a Fire Engine screamed past with its Blues & Twos giving the blue lighting you can see on the bottom left image
EVERY couple shoot needs a walking shot, and here the added fun of shooting was that I had to shoot at exactly the moment my couple walked into the best light, and also burst enough to capture them in the correct spot at the same time the flickering lights lit them!
Following a bus shelter what better than some dark and dirty arches under a railway line? But first, another quick shot in front of a well lit building and again lit by the Light Wand
The dark & dirty railway arches have been transformed with bright lighting that constantly changes colour as a result of a recent new entrance to the train station with access from the river. The top left shot is mean & moody as Jacob’s face is lit by ambient only, whereas the rest on that left hand side are lit by the Light Wand again – see, I told you I liked it lol
And finally I called it a ‘wrap’ and we headed for the car – but then – I just couldn’t resist a shot of Leeds’ tallest building as a background with those prettily lit trees as a mid ground – and yes they flicker too damn it
This is a mix of ambient and flash, so first you have to establish the light levels for the ambient and this gave me a problem as it was so dark I needed 4,000 ISO at just 1/80th second and still at f2 !!!
The problem then was getting the speedlight to not overpower the couple, and even on its minimum setting of 1/128th power and being some 15ft away in a socked Beauty Dish it was still too bright when fired directly at my couple, so I turned it slightly away from them to use Feathered Light instead; and I have to say that I think it was worth the effort. The wider shots are on my 20mm lens and the closer ones on my 50mm lens, both at f2
If I didn’t use fast prime lenses this would have been a much more tricky (and/or noisy) shot to finish with
So there’s an insight into the fun, problems, successes and technicalities of an evening Photoshoot in a city – do you fancy doing one with me ??? Or even having a shoot for yourself & your partner if you have one ???
If so, get in touch and let’s get it in the diary CONTACT ME
Brought to you by a very happy snapper working as a
who especially enjoys being a