For the last 3 years I’ve been covering the annual Six Day track cycling event in London. It makes a nice change from the other types of commercial work I typically undertake during the rest of the year. The client … Continue reading
Here are a few shots from a recent lifestyle shoot with the amazing model Myla Rushworth. We shot around the Euston square modern development in central London, and were looking to convey a modern, young businesswoman working on the move.
You’ve seen the postcards, read the guidebook, seen some nice stuff online and now you imagine you can turn up at this far flung destination and shoot fantastic landscape photographs of it, but its never as easy as that is it?! Finding the locations in the first place is an often under-appreciated part of location photography, you’ve got to give yourself the time in a place to get to know it, and the time to get good light. On a trip I’ll often stay at locations I like for days at a time, its one reason why i don’t like to book my whole trip out in advance – there will be places I want to move on from quickly but others where I find myself staying longer than planned.
I was attracted to Vang Vieng in laos not for the tubing and dismal dining scene but for the beautiful Karst hills in the countryside around this town. Vang Vieng also formed a natural stopping point on our itinerary which began in the capital city of Vientiane and finished in the stunning UNESCO Heritage listed city of Luang Prabang.The Limestone Karst hills are synonymous with Asian landscapes and I’ve shot them previously in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand . However finding a shot to do them justice proved frustrating at first attempts, my natural instinct was to set something up with the river in foreground at the karst hills and sunset colours beyond but none of these shoots yielded what I was hoping for. I had to get to know the area, and to do so took a hot air balloon ride
A boat ride down the river
And whilst the town itself was nothing to write home about, it was a pleasure to ride out and explore the countryside around Vang Vieng, I was doing a mix of shooting commercial stock type images (such as the one above) and more personal landscape work.
During the course of our day trips I met this Buddhist monk and asked if I could take his photograph outside his small monastery. I would have liked to have caught his name but he didn’t speak any English and myself no Laos, but still we tried to communicate for a few minutes after the picture! Another of the wonderful smiles I’l remember this country for. I think it was the first portrait I’d shot in Laos so it was good to get off the mark.
Later that afternoon I was struck by the lighting on this landscape, I could see that the sun was slowly sinking behind the hill, and so by partially obscuring it I would be able to shoot into it without causing too much lens flare. Since getting hold of the Nikon D800E I’ve been amazed by its inherent dynamic range, its now possible to easilly shoot into the brightest light and still recover shadow detail, when I was cutting my teeth on Fuji Velvia 10 years ago this sort of shot was unthinkable and it meant a different way of shooting. This is a single raw file which I’ve exposed for the highlights and subsequently used Adobe lightroom to pull back the shadow areas of the landscape. You’ll see a lot more shots like this from this trip, I think I’m getting a bit obsessed with shooting into the light!
After my extensive explorations i finally got something I was happy with, on the final morning of our stay there, I’d seen these remote farm huts as rode through the countryside and returned before dawn to the area. I’d love to say I’d arrived here previously and used GPS to calculate the suns position the following morning, sunrise time, and been setup with a tripod ready, but that wasn’t the case. This was one of the shoots where I rode out without a specific shot in mind but knew the area was good, saw the sun starting to come up above the horizon and ran into the nearest field, seeing the hut and composing the shot as I moved. It was shot handheld, partly because there wasn’t time to setup but also with these type of shots with the sun moving into a specific part of the frame I usually find it easier handheld. It is always worth heading out early in the morning, even if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’ll shoot, I find it easier when I’m away on a trip because I’ve invested to come to the other side of the world, and when will I be here again? I should get out more when I’m back home in London or Dorset.
Hope you enjoyed seeing what I go up to earlier this month in laos, it s a first for me to be posting work as I travel but I’ll be making an effort to do more of this in the future, let me know what you think (and if you read this far) in the comments below.
PS If you click on the image you should be able to find the shot information..
The first of a series of posts I’ll be posting about the commissions I’ve shot this year with London musicians.
April 25th 18:00 – The shoot is on location so obviously we’re hoping for decent weather conditions but that isn’t happening – its absolutely pouring down as the makeup artist (Marina Angel) finishes her work off on Julie. We’re over on the east side of town so I haven’t got the option to move the shoot indoors to studio, and besides that wouldn’t suit the look we’re going for, so we have to work with the elements and use the bridge to shelter under. I’ve only got a couple of hours of daylight left so I’m anxious to start getting something shot, there is lighting kit in the bag but I want to some more muted natural light shots.
1st Shot of the day – on an 85mm Nikon lens, at F2 so very little depth of field – want to knock all out the background clutter out of focus, also because its such a dark overcast day there is little light around anyway.
Now I’m further back looking to shoot whole body, this is a tricky location to work in because its 5 minutes walk from Liverpool st and at 6pm plenty of people passing through. On the Nikon 70-200mm at 2.8 now way back down the road, yelling instructions on pose to Julie!
We’ve changed spot slightly now, giving me a darker background and thats helping Julie stand out more, also changed outfit, and I’m back on the 85mm lens. I prefer to work with primes whenever I can – they are faster and lighter – that means I can get the shallower DOF and work with a faster shutter speed – increasing the odds of a sharp final image. We’re shooting a mix of poses looking to camera and some away – this is the one that goes on to make the album cover – a first for me : )
The natural light is really dying away now – its time to take a break and wait for darkness to fall..
25/04/2012 – 20:57 Twilight – if you follow my work you know I love this time of day, ambient light fades as artificial comes on. We had planned this shot earlier – have the look of Julie waiting for the taxi, sitting on one of the suitcases. By this time the road was quieter, less passer’s-by getting in the shot inadvertently. Technical bit – Nikon D700 with 85mm Nikon lens at F2.2, Manual exposure mode at 1/50th Shutter. Nikon SB600 Speedlight with Umbrella to camera right being triggered by the pop-up on camera. For a shoot like this I’d be getting my exposure set for the ambient (natural – existing) light first, then adding the flash and increasing / decreasing the power to suit.
As you can see we got a completely different look and feel to these shots at twilight with the flash to the ones a couple of hours earlier with natural light, but thats perfect when shooting for a client – gives them options, and the wet streets worked perfectly for these night shots.
Check out Julies amazing voice at http://juliehelene.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/thejuliehelene and Marina the MUA at https://www.facebook.com/marinaangelmakeup?fref=ts
All images © Ben Pipe Photography 2012
Since going digital I have to admit forgetting / being oblivious about the multiple exposure function available on my DSLR. Working on this hotel commission in the beautiful city of Edinburgh it was needed..
The problem to resolve was the upstairs bookshelves (quite a nice feature to the room) were not getting any lighting, ceiling lights and ambient from the window were doing the room but without hitting those upper shelves they would come out dark and unnoticed in the shot. I used a Nikon Speedlight (SB600) and placed it on the floor of the upper balcony to throw a bit of light back up at the bookshelves, the flash was zoomed out and kept at a low power – the key here was for this light to be subtle. I wanted it to hit the shelves from 3 points across the floor so I used multiple exposure mode (this is under shooting mode on the Nikon) to fire 3 frames and after each one Paul moved the flashgun across the floor a metre. The ME mode automatically compensates exposure – so one frame exposure of 3 seconds at F11 will give a multiple 3 shot exposure of 1 sec at F11.
Bedroom – Edinburgh B+B, Scotland Nikon D700 17-35mm at 17mm F18 – 1 Sec ISO100
There is off camera flash used in this shot as well (but not multiple exposure) – we wanted to emphasize the bathtub in the background but the large windows hitting the bed left the part of the frame too dark, so Paul is standing out of frame on a windowsill (to the left of the bath) holding the SB600 which we are manually firing (because I can’t send the signal from camera) towards the bath. There is a window there so we are just trying to match that lighting angle and keep the shadow on the far wall similar to the one of the nearest one (with the mirror) It took about an hour to get it right! As a commercial photographer having time to get a shot perfect is sometimes a rare thing – make the most of it when you get it..