Exposure Blending & HDR for landscapes without Neutral Density filters in Lightroom CC & Photoshop CC

Having too many blogs means you often neglect one or two.  This is often the case with me, and to be honest I have been neglecting anything other than my work focused photography and main businesses.  I’ve recently decided that I have not been giving enough back to the photographic community and have such have decided to make a comeback!  I will be doing some video posts on You Tube and putting together tutorials and will do my best to update the various blogs I have … or I may try to have just one main blog which is all encompassing!

Here’s a link to a recent video posted on You Tube.  Feel free to give comments and feedback below.

Scaleber Force Snapshot

In summer there can be relatively small amounts of water coming over the falls but in winter it is a touch more dramatic!

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted on to this particular blog … I have to admit my time has been sparse and despite having quite a few blogs I had recently logged in to this one and realised there were still hundreds of people reading what I have posted day in and day out.  Something jolted me in to realising that I was actually letting a lot of these people down and had clearly lost a lot of regular readers through my lack of participation in writing on here.  It’s reasonably late at night as I write this however I wanted to at least post a photo and promise to be back on the site writing comment on a regular basis.  This particular shot was really just a snap shot taken a few weeks ago at Scaleber Forcer in the Yorkshire Dales.  The weather was pretty rough and I was actually out with my other half doing a few gear test reviews and taking some sample photos of outdoor clothing.  Despite all of that I wanted to sneak a few shots in along the way for myself … this is one of them.  It was taken on the Canon 5D MK2 which remains my favourite travel and landscape camera … 17-40mm lens and 1/4 sec exposure at F13.

Promise to be back soon with posts which are a litte more interesting and educational!

The new (& awesome) Audi A8 4.2 TDi

One of the pleasures of the job is that we get to spend a good amount of time test driving, reviewing and photographing some of the best cars around.  In this case it is the impressive Audi A8 4.2 TDi … with this model just being released with a list price of around £66,000 it is one of the world’s most advanced luxury saloon cars.  We loved the car and loved writing the review but whilst it was with us we got the opportunity to take some great photos of it.  The images were shot with a variety of lighting including a broncolor ring flash, bowens heads fitted with a large Octbox and also plain old natural light.  As always we like to do something a little different so here are a few of the shots which accompanies the road test in the magazine.


One of the methods we often employ is making the most of the natural light around you.  This is especially important when photographing large objects such as cars.  Although we can correct some lighting issues with the addition of flash, for most outdoor editorial shots we have time and cost limits to bear in mind.  We have used as many as 10 heads before shooting cars for advertising however generally we are making do with 2 or 3 heads and portable lighting.  Getting the car into the right type of light and positioning it so you can see the shape of the car, or to create the impact you want is essential.  In the above photo we wanted to emphasise how aggressive the car looked from the front and also wanted to make a big deal out of the Audi corporate grill.  The shot, with a wide angle lens did everything we wanted … and being shot towards last light we were able to keep it low key and use flash as necessary to highlight the details on the front.  if you are unhappy with the lighting when you are taking a shot … stop, and change it, move the car, move yourself … but don’t settle for second best!

Great North Run

As you may know from its humble origins the Great North Run has become one of the biggest events of its type in the world .. this year was the 30th Anniversary of the run and with over 54,000 people entered the numbers, and atmosphere were as big as ever.  We were there covering the event on behalf of one of our magazines.  Despite an amazing run of good weather in previous years this year took a turn for the worse and we ended up needing weather protected kit at all times …. although the junior run on the Saturday was bright and sunny!  At least the kids got some sunshine even if the adults had to put up with getting wet.  The usual mix of celebrity runners were present and of course tens of thousands of run runners in all manner of outfits.  For the most part we shot on the Canon 5D MK2 … our main coverage was for the charity runners and celebrities, but the shortfalls of this camera do some to light when photographing the faster finishing runners.  This is where the autofocus system just isn’t reliable enough for a pro shooting even relatively moderate paced sports.  Bearing in mind we were there all day keeping the kit light was a necessity and a 24-70mm F2.8 lens with a 70-200mm lightweight F4 canon lens were the products of choice.  Still preferring to keep the flash off camera and generally having a little bit more time to get the shots right we used an St-E2 and 580EX 11 to illuminate subjects where necessary.  Here are a few examples of some of the shots below.  Nothing special in technically but they are fit for the purpose they are intended for and hopefully capture some of the characters on the day.

The junior runs provide much fun for the kids and over a distance of 3 miles they are both testing and enjoyable! The fastest in the 9-11 year old category ran this in an impressive 17.08!!
The fastest three women ... Dulce-Fleix, Adere and Barros pictured at the finishing line.
The lovely (and very fast) Nell Mcandrew who finished in a very impressive 1hr 26m this year!
Haile Gebrselassie coming through the finishing line in 59m and 33s .. the first time he's run the event and he was clearly looking back near his best.

Photoshop Brushes

It’s Monday morning here in the UK and its a week full of opportunity ahead …. this mornings opportunity is to retouch some images for use in a magazine and whilst I don’t have a huge amount of time to post this morning, it reminded me of the importance of Photoshop Brushes in our retouching work.  The pen tool, creating cut outs, and using brushes are some of the most underused techniques adopted by photographers … despite being stock in trade of the graphic design community.  Many clients who come through the door for tuition are at a loss as to how to make the most of these techniques and that renders severe limitations on their creativity.  I’m simply going to start the week off by suggesting a site where you can download some Photoshop brushes.

I’m not going to say anything else.  I just want you to go to the site, download some of them, load them into your brushes palette and use them!  You might be stuck at first coming up with ideas as to how to make them work but keep at it and you will find it relatively easy to start making creative changes to come of your work.  Of course being able to use the pen tool and creating multiple layers will help you to make the most of using brushes in Photoshop however I just want to spark some creativity in those who are perhaps first time users of brushes.  If you’ve used them before and discarded them previously because they didn’t fit into your style then go back and have another go.  Chances are you are now much more competent than you were when you last used them!  Feel free to email me your initial attempts!

http://www.pbrushes.com/category/photoshop-brushes/

Preview – Audi TT Roadster photoshoot

Audi TT Roadster shot using Broncolor Mobil head and A2R powerpack. The single light was moved around the car and then the layers were blended in Photoshop beforea little post processing work to make the image fit the nature of the article we are writing to accompany it.

I have been shooting the new Audi TT Roadster yesterday, and reviewing the vehicle for a road test feature.  Here is the first image from the shoot.  I filmed a short video post too which explains that this was shot using just one light!  We worked around the car and then blended the exposures together in photoshop to give the finished image.  For the purposes of demonstration we shot this using a Broncolor Mobil kit and a Bron Mobil head.  We also shot a number of shots using a lastolite ezybox and Canon Speedlite to show that you can still find workaround solutions when using small flash units too.

Guest Photographer – Mark Tierney: Rock My Dress Shoot

The raised hands and material give a celebratory feel to the shot, and the processing is a little different. It's about giving choice without compromising on quality and style and this image does just that. The composition is simple and shot wider gives a real sense of space to the shot, fully capitalising on the scenery.

Thanks to Mark Tierney for writing this post for the blog: http://www.tierneyphotography.co.uk/ I’ve added comments with a few of the images to explain why these are particular favourites.

This is Joanna having a trash the dress shoot in her red wedding dress, taken at various locations on the Sheffield side of the Peak District.  The first location was shot at the base of the massive dam wall at Derwent Reservoir. This is the reservoir where the famous  http://www.dambusters.org.uk/index.htm Dambusters trained during World War II. As we walking up to the dam a RAF Hercules transport plane flew in between the towers and I had my camera in my bag – aaarrgghh! What a great sight though! The second location was further down the Derwent Valley at the Ladybower overspill hole. The last location was high up on a windswept Baslow Edge. The conditions were perfect with some nice moody clouds over the valley.  I must say Joanna was great to work with and it was quite cold up there and she never complained once. Thanks for being a great model Joanna

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Culturedphoto – The Resource (Come & write with us and for us!!)

In the spirit of sharing I am opening up my blog to others!  What I mean by this is that if you want to write a technique page, or feature some images then you are more than welcome.  Maybe you want to review some kit, maybe you want to talk about the business of photography?

No matter … I’d like to hear from you.  You can contact me in any number of ways including by emailing dan@pearsonevansmedia.com

Text has to be well written, and appropriate for the audience.  We get around 600 to 1000 photographers reading this blog currently every week.  My aim is to grow this number and bring even more information to the existing audience.  The only thing that I ask in return for posting here is that a link is made back from your facebook, website, twitter accounts etc  I will equally provide a link to you as part of your article post on here.  Maybe some of you will become regular writers on here and that really would be a cool thing!  I don’t expect an immediate take up but the offer is there and hopefully you have the motivation to do it!

Staying connected …

Good morning. I’m currently writing this post on a WordPress app for the Blackberry 9700. I’m in a hotel room and its a Sunday morning but I’m still fully connected to work should I feel like it. I’ve been labouring these points all week … Through conversations, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and beyond! If you’re not managing your data and your business using the latest technology then you aren’t being efficient. Fact!

You may not like this fact and you may have plenty of excuses but believe me … Its still fact!

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Are you a sales person?

If you are running your own business then the fact is that you are.  You are probably selling in some way shape or form during most of your working hours.  You get in to work and say hi to your staff (if you have any) and your attitude and level of motivation will have an effect on them immediately.  Your the person they look to for guidance and if you’re motivated then chances are they will be too.  Congratulations … you’ve just made a sale!

Sitting at your desk you email a couple of clients, and enquiries, pick up the phone to a few people, call a supplier, deal with the mail, and phone the couriers to figure out where a missing parcel is.  You’re still selling … in every one of these interactions.  So like it or not you had better accept that selling is part of your job.  Over the past few weeks a few people have mentioned to me that “they are not cut out for sale” or that “they don’t like selling”.  When they work for themselves they really don have any choice in the matter.

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Data capture for the photographer

Data.  Essentially one of the most important factors in your business.  In fact in any business.  Where the data comes from, what you do with it, how you use, clean it, market to it, are all crucially important – but often overlooked factors.

Do you even have a plan for data capture?  If not then perhaps is now the time to be thinking about it.  Lets take a look at the most obvious group here.  Existing customers … they are the bread and butter of your living, however do you have the ability to send them all an email update at the same time?  If not, then why not?  If you can, then are you able to send them a nice well designed email? Or just some random text?  How often do you keep in touch with them?  Do you have their mobile numbers, landlines, and addresses?  Can you mailshot them all in one go?

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Broncolor Mobil A2R – Available Direct £2999

Broncolor Mobil A2R kit from Culturedphoto

We are pleased to announce you can now buy Broncolor products direct from us.  This applies to UK customers only.  As part of this we are offering the excellent Broncolor Mobil A2R kit including, battery, 2 heads, sync lead, charger and case for only £2999.  This is only available for a limited time.  As an added bonus if you buy before the end of March 2010 we will throw in a days tuition with the pack for half price – saving you £500 over the usual cost.

The pack boasts 1200w of power and is more than rugged enough to survive the day to day life of professional users.  Many people assume that Broncolor is out of their price range however at £2999 you can have the best lighting products available at a price that isn’t much more than the mid range competition.  We know which one will last longer, give you better reliability and better light!

The workshop day must be booked before the end of the year, and includes 6 hours of tuition, with 4 hours working with a model on location in the Northeast of England.  This is an ideal way to learn more about social and portrait photography and to learn how to get the best out of your pack for only £500 plus the purchase price of your kit.

Contact 0191 587 8179 for more information.

Audi Front Cover – Video Blog now online …

This was quickly put together from some clips we made whilst shooting this Audi A6 for the front cover of one of the magazines we publish!  Shot using Broncolor Mobile A2R – Mobilite heads and Broncolor ringflash on location in Newcastle.  The car is the new Audi A6 2.0 TDIe.

Broncolor Event – FREE of charge .. yes I did say free!

I will be holding an open event some stage in the next 3 months.  This will give you the chance to come and have a play with some Broncolor kit, in a real world scenario.  I haven’t yet worked out what we will do on the day, whether it will be based at one of my offices, or whether it will be a location day, shooting out in the open air.  Or indeed in the studio.

Basically I haven’t decided much.  What I have decided however is that it will be free, gratis, cost nada, et al  Which is surely a good thing!  OK I’ve also decided I will be on hand to go through some of the kit with you, and we will bring a few local models for you to point your cameras and Broncolor lighting kit at.  Depending on the format you will have a chance to have a go with the Broncolor Mobil, Broncolor Verso, and Broncolor Grafit packs, as well as a number of heads, some softboxes and if we end up studio based maybe one of the broncolor parabolic umbrellas.

The location is likely to be Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.  Throw in a tenner and I will arrange some lunch for us at a friends restaurant in the city centre.  There you go …

If you want to register your interest, then send your name and contact tel number, along with an email address through my website at www.culturedphoto.com using the contact form.

Follow me on Twitter

www.twitter.com/danpearsonmedia

I’ve finally succumbed to the world of twitter.  Yes we have twitter accounts for work and magazine projects and all sorts of things, but until now I have avoided using it.  Despite registering some time ago I have as of this week started to us it.  This is my first announcement of doing so – if you actually care what I’m up to on a day to day basis then feel free to ‘follow me’ :-)

On another note we are launching a magazine aimed at getting people to live a healthier life.  This magazine is aimed at the North of the UK, however you are free to follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nefitmagazine and you can become a friend on facebook at www.facebook.com/nefitmagazine

This literally is at the planning stage at the moment, and this is the first time we have entertained making people aware of what we are doing before we have actually done it!  Add yourself as a friend, retweet, tweet us, comment, suggested, link .. do as you see fit.  Just because we are focusing on one part of the world doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get your part of the world to think about hitting the gym a bit more and living a little more healthy!!

FOCUS on Imaging

It is that time of year in the UK when you have to go to the NEC – for Focus on Imaging.  The biggest trade show for the photographic minded in the UK.  4 days of trade show heaven .. or perhaps hell (Mainly for those exhibiting!!)  This years show wasn’t that exciting to be honest.  There wasn’t much there in the way of new kit, certainly nothing of any real interest at the top end of the market (well to me anyway) and the show itself was a little quiet.  That said it was good to catch up with some old friends, visit some suppliers and chat about technologies which ARE coming out later in the year … (I’m sworn to secrecy and all that though!)

I did have chance to have a play with  couple of long lenses, as I’m back in the market for a long fast prime for the company.  Probably a 400mm at this stage … so I had a look at the choices on offer from Sigma and Canon.  Having rid ourselves of a Canon 500mm and a Sigma 500mm we are now down to 300mm F2.8 as our longest and fastest lens.  Sometimes length does matter .. and you need more!  There was quite a bit on display in the way of product, there’s seemingly a trend for new entrants into the market for albums, and display product and that can only be a good thing as prices are essentially being driven down.

There were quite a few new products at the bottom end of the market, with some manufacturers trying to create (in some cases very good) alternatives to the higher end kit.  A number of battery packs were on display from the likes of Lencarta – they looked interesting enough, but it was evident that they wouldn’t take a sustained period of abuse at the hands of a professional (a.k.a clumsy and usually in a rush!)  That said the quality was better than previous products and it is clear that they are making a mark with their ‘value for money’ offerings.   I also caught up with my contacts from Broncolor (who supply some of our lighting kit) and we chatted about the market in general.  Broncolor remains the best kit on the market and I had a few conversations with customers who were under the impression Bron was out of their price range.  Certainly not with the Mobil kits and it was good to speak to a number of people who had seen images and read reviews of the Bron kit from this blog and other websites we have.  Hopefully there will be a few new Bron owners happily putting their packs through their paces over the coming weeks.

I had a good conversation with the Marketing Director from Bowens who seems to have his finger on the pulse both in terms of product and the ways in which customers want to respond and communicate with suppliers.  That was certainly another good point from this years show.  It seems that companies are starting to realise that added value marketing and communication is the way forward!  Cue better customer service in 2010!! (fingers crossed).  We’ve always placed maximum emphasis on the importance of knowledge … and the number of training companies springing up seems to show others feel the same.  That said in some cases I think it’s a case of fur coat and no knickers.  Style over substance … whatever you may want to call it.  Looking at some of the examples I’ve seen from training companies of late there can be a certain lack of … quality.  It’s crucially important to be a good marketeer however it helps if you can back up your glossy brochures, twitter and facebook accounts and expensive matt laminated business cards ;-)

So show over and back to the grind.  Another day another dollar … I’ve been away from blogging for a little while as things have been … well busy … to say the least.  I’m back in the hotseat now though so expect plenty of comment from me over the coming months!!

New issue of Life Magazine released

The latest issue of the fitness magazine that we put together for David Lloyd health and Tennis Clubs in the Northeast of the UK is now released and available for download from http://www.pearsonevansmedia.com/page10087.html

Feel free to download a copy.  Around 90% of the images in the issue are shot in house.

The download is the one marked latest issue.  You can also download a copy from the homepage of  www.culturedphoto.com

Are we out of recession? If so what’s our marketing plan now?

It’s late on a Tuesday evening.  I’m sat in the house, working on a couple of articles for one of the magazines we publish and kind of half watching Die Hard 4.0!   It’s been a hectic week and it will continue to be so for the next couple of weeks.  Today it was announced that the UK economy has officially come out of recession.  Someone really needs to tell some of the companies who we deal with on a day to day basis as there are still many out there who aren’t convinced.  Thankfully many have been creative, skilful, adept, innovative and bold in their decision making enabling them to survive what has been a testing time.  For those that have shown all of the above traits I salute you – and to those of you still struggling with the economic conditions I ask you to keep your heads up and just work that bit harder, and be that bit more creative.  The signs of recovery are there so there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

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AUdi A6 2.0 TDI – Broncolor – and apologies for not posting for 5 months!

I came to realise today that it’s 5 months to the day since I actually posted on this particular blog.  For that I sincerely apologise.  I have to say that work has been hectic with a number of complicated projects taking up the majority of not only my work time, but also my free time.  I am however now slightly more on top of things than I was late last year – so hopefully should have some additional time for writing.  We have seen continued demand for one to one and small group photographic tuition which has certainly been interesting.  Our association with Broncolor continues and the mobil kit we use for the majority of our day to day tuition and shoots has proven to be reliable, powerful and exceptionally well built.  In other words continued recommendation from us.  Then again I am a believer in the principle of you get what you pay for.

We continue to put out a number of lifestyle and corporate magazines on the publishing side of our business and we are finally close to seeing one or two projects from the middle of last year come to fruition – however you will probably find out more about these in due course (sorry for all the cloak and dagger stuff – it’s really not that exciting I just like to add a sense of danger lol).  The joys of being continually faced with day to day problems and having to create great results in not a lot of time continues in to 2010 and it appears more work is on the horizon, meaning more opportunities to come up with innovative solutions to daily photographic life!

Today’s been a hectic day .. between viewing houses (A long story to say the least), working on one of our titles and picking a test vehicle up from Audi for road test and photoshoot, I’ve really not had much time to spare!  The Audi was picked up at around 4.30 … with another Audi TT in pursuit of me, we headed for a bite to eat in Newcastle City Centre.  A quick eat/meeting/planning session followed .. and we headed off at 6.30 to shoot a few shots off in one of the multistorey car parks.  We shot for around 15 minutes before having to head back to the offices … where the photo below was quickly processed in Lightroom 2 and then in CS4 before being resized for here.

This is the first of a number of images which will be used to illustrate a road test on the new Audi A6 2.0 TDIe.  Yes, I know it’s not the most exciting of vehicles to be road testing, but it is economical!  That’s something that can’t be said for the Audi R8 Spyder that’s heading our way sometime next month. I have to say I was distressed on picking this one up though as we got the vehicle in my least favourite colour to photo – black.  Glad I’m not having to do all the photography on it :-)

Audi A6 2.0 TDIe photographed in Newcastle - Broncolor Mobil heads, ring flash and overhead lighting. Processed in Lightroom and CS4

I’m going to have to come back to you with some more comments and posts in the next week or so, as once more I’m having to dash off.

A Very Busy Couple of Months!

I only just realised today how long it is since I have updated anything on here.  So first of all apologies but work has been hectic and living life has meant that I haven’t had as much time for blogging as I would usually have.  Despite receiving quite a few people asking where the hell I am I still didn’t get around to it.  I’m literally about to leave the office again now so I’ll keep it short and come back with some updates over the next few days.  I just thought I’d post a couple of photos though to keep people (hopefully) entertained in the meantime!!  These images are either work in progress or stuff we have shot for magazines over the past couple of months.  There’s a bit of a mixed bag here!

Nicola Front Cover Shot
Shot to be used as a front cover for David Lloyd Health Club magazine - shot using Brons Mobil lighting on a beach somewhere in the North of England!

em-ali-car-895-purestorm
Test shoot for lads mag feature

nic-em-ali-895-purestorm

Canon 5D MKii firmware update – Version 1.1.0

Canon has got around to releasing the firmware update for the 5D MKii.  Quite beautifully titled version 1.1.0 …. isn’t that pretty? Amongst other things the update allows photographers to control the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually when using the video mode.  For me personally this is a big step forward and stops me having to use the workarounds that have been in use since the launch of the camera late last year.  I’ve done the update today and have already been out with the camera for a short bit of filming.  It’s as simple as pie to use and after doing the update all you have to do is set the camera into manual mode, adjust the ISO and then make your aperture and shutter speed selections as necessary.  The live view mode when set to movie display will now show the exposure adjustments and you’re ready to roll.

It’s good to see that Canon have listened to the feedback from customers on this occasion and I imagine that they will be making more and more of the feature set in future camera releases.  It’s a pivotal point in camera technology as movie and stills images come closer and closer together.  It’s fair to say that for most photographers ignoring the moving image could well prove to be their downfall.  Times are changing and in this economic climate it makes sense for photographers to be able to offer as much as possible in the way of value and incorporating video clips is just one of those choices.  Not only that but with a little bit of extra expenditure its clear that stunning shorts can be made using this technology.  Anyway .. I’m off out again now to get some more of that beautiful HD footage on card :-D

The firmware update can be located here:

http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/firm-e/eos5dmk2/firmware.html

Canons website informs us it includes the following updates and fixes:

  1. Includes a function to enable the manual exposure setting when shooting movies.
  2. *For details on how to use this function, please download the PDF files from the bottom of this page.

  3. Disables the function of the depth-of-field preview button when images are played back or when the menu screen is displayed on the LCD panel.
  4. Fixes a phenomenon where the peripheral illumination of images cannot be properly corrected, even if the images were captured with the lens peripheral illumination correction function set to Enable.
  5. *Digital Photo Professional software version 3.6.1 or later (for Windows and Macintosh) can be used to automatically correct the peripheral illumination of RAW and JPEG images that were captured in the Peripheral illumination correction setting with cameras that have Firmware Version 1.0.7 or earlier.

  6. Fixes the algorithms of the Auto Lighting Optimizer function when Custom Function C.Fn II-3 Highlight tone priority is enabled.
  7. Fixes incorrect indications on the Arabic, Romanian, Spanish, and Ukrainian menu screens.
  8. Changes the battery information displayed on the camera when using the optional Battery Grip BG-E6.

Baywatch in Newcastle – I wish :-)

A simple shot, natural light, with the sun behind me casting that lovely warm glow.  Shot at F4 ISO 200
A simple shot, natural light, with the sun behind me casting that lovely warm glow. This was one of the last shots and the warm of the sun on the background had dimmed but with just enough light above the water to sunkiss those skin tones. Shot at F4 ISO 200 on 70-200mm

A model friend of mine decided we should hit the beach for a few hours late last night … the weather was obviously glorious and the water was decent enough to get in!  Which for the UK makes quite a positive change.  Driving up to Newcaslte to meet I did think that i hadn’t packed enough stuff .. as everytime we shoot together things get messy.  Sands, mud, rain, snow, storms are all part of our usual problems … but i figured this one would be an easy one.  We go to the location late on, and set up shooting some shots … I decided on a mix of natural light images and some flash work, either with one or both of the heads attached to the Broncolor Mobil unit.  I’ve only processed a couple of the shots so far as it has been a pretty busy day, but I thought I’d throw a couple up here for you to browse.

Anyway the end of the story is as usual I got soaked.  Ended up having to get changed in a busy car park into the only change of clothing that was in the car lol.  I called back at the office late on to back some files up and it was near midnight before I left for home.  A quick thanks to Marcus for coming along and acting as my lighting assistant and a big thanks to Nina who as usual was as mad as a hatter and just as much fun too.

Pushed this file a little bit in lightroom and warmed it up a touch but the light was gloriously golden at this stage.  SIngle bron mobil flash head with sun providing rim light.
Pushed this file a little bit in lightroom and warmed it up a touch but the light was gloriously golden at this stage. SIngle bron mobil flash head with sun providing rim light.
One of the 1st shots of the night, shot in the grass behind the beach.  70-200mm ISO 100 with two bron mobile flash heads .. one in front and one behind with sun providing additional lighting.
One of the 1st shots of the night, shot in the grass behind the beach. 70-200mm ISO 100 with two bron mobile flash heads .. one in front and one behind with sun providing additional lighting.

Broncolor Mobil in high winds!

 

With the wind blowing from behind, and the setting sun placed right behind Lisas head to give some rim light, I then used 2 mobil heads high on stands to illuminate Lisa's face.  One of my favourite shots ... it looks warm but trust it me it was anything but! :-)
With the wind blowing from behind, and the setting sun placed right behind Lisas head to give some rim light, I then used 2 Broncolor Mobil heads high on stands to illuminate Lisa's face. One of my favourite shots ... it looks warm but trust it me it was anything but! :-)

 

I had the second part of a portfolio shoot for a local singer the other evening.  As we were working to a tight schedule there wasn’t much of a chance to re-arrange so despite the very high winds we headed out on location.  For this shoot we decided to only take the Bron Mobil kit as the compact heads, and ringflash make it stable and easy to use despite the tricky conditions. For the purposes of this shoot we used no softboxes for exactly the same reason, and with a sandbag or two your lighting stands can be easily tethered down.  Anyway here are a few sample shots from the shoot.  These images haven’t been processed in Photoshop but have simply been run through Lightroom, resized at the time of exporting and sent to the client and uploaded here

 

A burst of flash from the ringlash with a setting sun to the far left.  Converted in Lightroom to mono with a strong contrast curve.
A burst of flash from the Broncolor ringlash C with a setting sun to the far left. Converted in Lightroom to mono with a strong contrast curve.

 

The frame before the one above - this time left as a colour shot
The frame before the one above - this time left as a colour shot

 

2 heads, set to 80/20 both to the left of Lisa, with the second lower power head being used to just slightly fill the shadows.  This was last light and one of the infal few shots of the session.
2 Broncolor Mobil heads, set to 80/20 both to the left of Lisa, with the second lower power head being used to just slightly fill the shadows. This was last light and one of the infal few shots of the session.

 

Single Bron Mobil head to left of camera.  Same position as the shot above but I moved to the right 90 degrees to bring more of the sunset into the frame.
Single Bron Mobil head to left of camera. Same position as the shot above but I moved to the right 90 degrees to bring more of the sunset into the frame.

 

A simlp[e shot of Lisa sat in the back of my car between shots.  Shot with the sun behind and 2 Bron Mobil heads.  I'll just finish this one off slightly in Photoshop to make it jump off the page!
A simple shot of Lisa sat in the back of my car between shots. Shot with the sun behind and 2 Bron Mobil heads. I'll just finish this one off slightly in Photoshop to make it jump off the page!

Dan Pearson Photography & Broncolor

 

We use a combination of Bron Mobil kit with 2 heads, fresnel head, and the amazing Bron Ringflash C
We use a combination of Bron Mobil kit with 2 heads, fresnel head, and the amazing Bron Ringflash C. Please contact us for pricing and delivery information.

 

 

We are pleased to announce that we have now established a relationship with premier lighting manufacturer Broncolor.  We have always been a fan of the Bron range, especially the compact and versatile Broncolor Mobil kit which will feature heavily in our location and street fashion workshops.

As part of this arrangement you will be able to see Broncolor product in action on tuition days, test the kit in a real world scenario and have the chance to see how we make best use of it to create striking shots that hit the mark every time.    In addition you will be able to purchase Broncolor equipment through us and we will be working hard with Broncolor to put together packages that offer great value and are ideally suited to your exact needs.

Guess who’s back …

A couple of you have emailed to ask where I’ve been of late as my last post was some time ago. Well first of all apologies but it’s been hectic with work and as such I’ve had less time to make it over to the computer to write blog posts. As it’s a lazy sunday morning I figured I ought to write something as a bit of an update.

We’ve taken some additional office space over the past month and have added a post processing room to our facilities. So that’s required spending money on some new kit … despite not being a big fan of cinema screens we have bought another 30″ model to go with a new Mac Pro unit for the suite. The cinema screens don’t have the same level of quality as the NEC spectraview or the top end Eizo’s but they do offer a lot of screen space for the money and for most purposes are more than adequate.

Of course we added a couple of comfy leather chairs for those extended periods of retouching that sometimes have to be performed!

We are primarily running Lightroom 2 and CS4 although we also have DxO and Capture One Pro installed on our machines.
We are primarily running Lightroom 2 and CS4 although we also have DxO and Capture One Pro installed on our machines.

We’ve als0o been working hard on agreements with manufacturers over the past month with a view to bringing you a series of event days on a limited ticket basis.  I’m sure we will have more information for you over the coming weeks so check back when you can.  The facility we have in place for group tuition and event days seats 22 people in either a boardroom or classroom layout.  A multimedia screen is available and of course we can bring a number of 30″ cinema screens into the room for more colour critical work.  The room opens out into a courtyard area which is partially covered where we will be able to demo equipment, with the aid of one of our models if needed.

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On the shooting front we’ve been pretty busy too.  One of the things we are looking at is a regional magazine project covering the Northeast east and Yorkshire areas and as part of this we have been shooting a lot of glamour based shots recently.  Here are a few examples from recent shoots.

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Backlit with 2 580EX flash units providing the fill light, post processed in lightroom and CS4

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Taken at Paddy's Hole Teesside, with 3 580EX flash units. It was an extremely sunny day, camera in manual with the background underexposed then post processed in Lightroom and CS4

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The pink building in this shot is actually green in reality. The colour was changed with the use of DxO Optics which we used as the raw processor on this particular series of shots.

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A busy few weeks …

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A sinple 2 light shot, one with softbox, one bare

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Sorry I’ve not been updating the blog recently however its been a really busy few weeks.  We are in the process of taking some additional office space in the Northeast which will allow us to expand out training courses and run manufacturer days, and this has taken up a lot of my time.

Of course in between this I have been shooting for clients and have been doing a little bit of personal work when the opportunity has arisen.  Tomorrow I’m shooting a model portfolio in the afternoon through the evening which should be good fun and I’ve done a few fashion shoots in the past couple of weeks – not to mention some shots for a local actress and some promo images for a local singer.

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I won’t bore you with all the details but I will post a few images for you to browse through.  I’m just in the middle of ordering some new kit for the office so will no doubt be giving you a heads up on how effective the new Mac Pro’s are compared to the older units!

 

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Summer Sun

Single flash unit shot bare at full power
Single flash unit shot bare at full power

Summer skies and big suns are a feature that can really make or break a photo.  In the afternoon sun yesterday I was working with a young local model on some portfolio shots, and had a chance to venture outside with some big flash to shoot a few images.  The shot above was taken around 4.30 in the afternoon shooting straight into the sun.  F22 was used at ISO 100 with the flash bare and on full power.  Trying to combat shooting into the sun requires some real power and this isn’t the type of image you could create with a speedlite …. although you could always group a few of them together in less bright conditions.

This is pretty much as it left the camera apart from a slight curves tweak and a few colour tweaks in Lightroom.  I have a saved preset for this type of shot called Urban Punch, which boosts the colours a touch and adds a bit more punch to the blue in the sky.  A bit of tweaking is all that’s required to get from in camera to stunning on the wall!

Boudoir Shoots

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My own style is provocative with an edge of vintage glamour

In the current economic climate it is important for photographers to look at all possible revenue streams.  Making sure you generate enough money to cover your costs and ensure business survival is obviously essential.  If you are a portrait photographer then chances are that you have already looked at other areas where you can generate revenue.  You may also shoot weddings for example, or may do some event photography to keep the wolves from the door.

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This was retouched using imagenomics portrait 2 plug in

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Another busy day!

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Large octobox to right and grid to left

Well yesterday was another exceptionally busy day throughout.  Between speaking with a variety of clients, there was the usual mix of chasing up copy, chasing up advertising artwork, finalising magazine layouts, and trying to fit in photoshoots alongside it all.  Hectic but very enjoyable.

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The sheen on this material catches the flash perfectly

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Transporter with the 5D MK2

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A complicated scene but careful placement of the elements results in a strong composition.

I’m back trying to find time to work on my twilight images of the Northeast after a very long lay off the project (Almost 2 years).  I had to drop a disc off this evening after a pretty hectic day on the phones and a bit of half decent sky caught my attention.  So a couple of cameras were thrown in the car along with the disc.

I spent around 20 minutes at the Transporter Bridge which goes across the river Tees in Middlesbrough, and this is the resulting image.  This was taken on the 5D MK2 with a 17-40mm L .. it shows plenty of detail again and was upsized at the raw stage so these can be printed big!  Process in capture one and CS3.

Went through some post processing with a friend after shooting these which was a good way to wind up the day!

Weird Weather & Newcaslte Quayside

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The Baltic Gallery in Newcastle is instantly recognisable to locals. As such images like this make great works of art to be sold in local galleries.

The weather looked good late afternoon so I decided to plan a trip to Newcastle as I needed a couple of shots for upcoming articles.  Also it was a chance to use the 5D MK2 on such a project for the first time.  So child and partner in car we set off to the Metro centre where I would be dropping them off for shopping purposes!

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Arson, Family & The NYMR

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It can get pretty steamy in the yards!

Well it’s been an eventful weekend.  Mainly because of a house fire at a neighbours property.  So after been woken at 4.00am (Having gone to bed at 3.00am) .. sleep became something whch was essentially impossible.

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Shot on the long end of a 70-200mm

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These stunning engines provide plenty of detail for fine art photography

Not to mention the numerous police on scene, and sectioned off road, owing to it being suspected arson. With around 45 minuntes sleep under the belt a hectic weekend followed.  My better half was away visiting sick relatives and I had some of my family up visiting for a couple of days.  Fortunately within a 24 hour period SOCO had been as had the fire investigators and the roads were reopened and all was good.  By 4.45am shots were on the picutre desk at the local newspaper, who picked up an image and ran with it in the following days paper.  So at least I got paid for being woken up!

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Professional Photographer of the Year 2008 – Shortlisted

The image that is shortlisted in the final 10 in the Fine Art category in the Professional Photographer of the Year competition
The image that is shortlisted in the final 10 in the Fine Art category in the Professional Photographer of the Year competition

Pleased to announce that I am shortlisted in the final 10 for the Fine Art category in the Professional Photogapher of the year awards.   I’m informed that another other image made the final 20 in another category however didn’t make the final shortlist.  There are some really strong images in this years competition and I have to say I’m pleased tobe shortlisted.  Here’s a quick shout of good luck to all those who are down to the final judging!

You can see the entry by clicking http://www.professionalphotographer.co.uk/professional-photographer-news/fine-art-shortlist

Latest Article – Northeast Life

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This is the latest article I have in print, for one of Archant’s publications, Northeast Life.  I’m pleased with the feature generally and enjoy writing this type of article.  So thanks to Northeast Life who commissioned this piece and allowed me to write what I wanted.

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Family – The Best Medicine

Molly shot with softbox to right and grid to left.
Molly shot with softbox to right and grid to left.

Without moaning too much it’s fair to sat that I have been exceptionally busy of late.  I’ve had quite a few articles to write for other magazines, a fair bit of tuition work, the usual work load of shoots, not to mention a couple of publishing contracts with magazines about to go to press.

Although this looks like a selective colour it isn't.  It's a custom lightroom preset I use which still retained the colour in this shot.
Although this looks like a selective colour it isn't. It's a custom lightroom preset I use which still retained the colour in this shot.

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Supercars – Rain Stops Play

Today has been a busy day … or at least it would have been had the weather not stopped play.  An article that has to be completed for one of our publications requires some new images of a range of Supercars including the Ford GT40, Ferrari 430 Spyder, and Porsche GT2 amongst others.

A productive meeting with some good background information to  create into interesting copy made the day a partial success, but unfortunately the weather played havoc with photographing the cars.  So I’m afraid you will have to come back later on to see the results!

Tuition and model tests

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Nicola with 2 light set up shot on 70-200mm

I’m always on the lookout for new models who I can use for tuition sessions or for group shoots.  A couple of days ago I had some spare time in the evening (I say spare time but really I should have been on with writing an article) and I thought I’d spending it test shooting a new model with one of my tuition clients.  It’s been an exceptionally hectic few weeks and I for one haven’t really stopped.  Some nights I’ve found myself working well past midnight but in time of economic gloom it makes sense to work harder than ever.  Turning down an opportunity to make contacts, generate revenue and increase awareness would be foolish to say the least!

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Single light shot with grid. Ambient from table lamp and colours adjusted in photoshop.

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Snow and Storms at the Coast

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Flash zoomed out to 105mm, 100mm, ISO 400, F4.5, ambient 2 stops under, ST-E2

A little bit of snow and seemingly the world grinds to a halt …. ok correction … the UK grinds to a halt!  Yes it’s the news story of the moment and I must admit one of the reasons I spent the day working from the warmth of home.

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Flash zoomed out to 105mm, ISO 400, F6.3, custom WB, ambient 1.5 stops underexposed and fire with ST-E2

Processing, working the phones, admin and the like are all crucial tasks which have to be done.  That said stormy weather and snow is always likely to tempt me from the comfort of home and thats exactly what happened later in the afternoon.

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Investing in new equipment

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Buying new kit should be about need - not about want. Don't blow your budget. Do you really need the extra power???

I’m in the position of needing some new Mac kit so yesterday took a 120 mile plus drive down to Sheffield to the Apple Store to have a look at some hardware.  I wanted to look at the new 3.06 Ghz imac and the Mac Pro 8.  New 5D MK2 cameras and HD footage have forced me to look at the amount of power we have to play with.  On top of that a couple of new publishing contracts require some additional power and it’s time to update.  This is something I take seriously as buying new kit is an investment and one that should have a strong financial return.  I don’t want to buy something which isn’t going to be utilised but equally don’t want something that will need replacing anytime soon.

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Small Flash Tuition – Newcastle

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Shot with snooted 580EX camera left. Camera in Manual. Background boosted and contrast adjusted through CS3 Actions

Well it’s been a busy week and this has genuinely been my first chance to post anything here!

I spent yesterday doing a very enjoyable one to one tuition session with an old friend of mine in Newcastle upon Tyne.  It was quite a cold day and the session was to cover the use of small flash on location as well as run through some general chat on the business of photography.

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Taken at twilight. Exposure for ambient around the lamps with single softbox illuminating Natalie.

We met around 45 minutes drive from Newcastle and spent the car journey just catching up and talking about how to make photography profitable.  Something which many photographers seem to forget … i.e that they are running a business!

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A plug in was used on the background with a soft light blending mode. A curves tweak finished this image off - bright and punchy for a different option.

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Speedlite Snoot Grids

Single snoot grid held high above - backlight provided by setting sun with Molly laying on an oversized park bench
Oversized bench, backlit by setting sun, single snoot grid on 580EX - a true cinematic feel

You can of course buy a variety of modifiers to fit your speedlights but even so there’s not that much available and they are generally not cheap.

Having the ability to control the light coming from you speedlite unit’s is certainly a good thing and these homemade snoot grids give you options for creating different styles of image.  Creating your grids in a honeycomb pattern as shown here will result in a circular pool of light.  The spread of the light is controlled by the length of the straws, with longer straws providing a tighter beam of light.  For that reason alone it’s good to have a few of these in your pack made from varying lengths of straws.

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Fitness Shoot – Day 2 at David Lloyd

ISO 3200 and single softbox. I love these high flying dynamic images
ISO 3200 and single softbox. I love these high flying dynamic images

Back to the grindstone today shooting more fitness images over at the David Lloyd club.  Today I was shooting on a mix of MK1 and MK2 5D’s and back to using small flash (580EX units) couples with reflectors.  I did also shoot some natural light shots as well as recording some video which I will be editing and using primarily for record purposes.

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Fitness Shoot

ISO 4000 F3.2 85mm
ISO 4000 F3.2 85mm

Yesterday saw me over at David Lloyd Health clubs shooting for a new magazine which is being put together for members and yet another opportunity to push the boundaries with the 5D MK2.  Some of the studios have plenty of natural light for some great health and fitness images however we were working into the evening using only available artificial light and flash.  In some of the darker corners of the gym ISO’s were pushed up to the 6400 mark and yet the images remain exceptionally detailed and useable.

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Weekend Christening

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Spent a couple of enjoyable hours at a Christening at the weekend.  Here are a few shots taken at the gathering afterward.   The shot below is just the type of moment I am often looking for – where I can think about presentation and creating sequences of shots.  This is probably my favourite from the day too.

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Winter Night Portraits

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Urban and funky night images work well and can sell well

The winter nights are now well upon us and that can certainly be a limiting factor for location portrait work.   However I’ve always been a believer of turning negatives into positives and this situation isn’t any different.  To that extent I’d like to look at how to maximise your revenues from shooting into the dark.

There are three types of light that happen towards the end of the day.  Given a bit of clear sky you have sunset, twilight and then dark.  These changes take place relatively quickly allowing you to shoot a variety of differently styled shots all of which can help boost your revenues and average sale.

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Credit Crunch – A Photographers Survival Guide

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Is your photographic style on trend?

It is doom and gloom in the retail sector currently although so far photographers seem to be avoiding the worst of it.  That said it pays never to rest on your laurels in any business.  Hopefully the demise of 100 year old High St giant Woolworths will make people think about moving with the times.

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Imagenomic Portraiture 2 Video Tutorial

A 15 minute look at the main features in Imagenomics Portraiture 2.  As a piece of software for the semi pro or professional portrait photographer it is worth some consideration.  Although not retouching to the same high levels possible though hard work in photoshop it does offer a speedy and impressive result with only a small investment of time.

Either as a one click solution or as part of your workflow.  Oh and you can get a 15 day free trial of the software at http://www.imagenomic.com

5D MK2 Review – A Working Opinion

5D MK2 Review

EDIT – I am working on adding to this review over the coming week especially on the video front, so please check back.

Specs at a glance:

  • New 21.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor with improved EOS Integrated Cleaning System (E.I.C.S.)
  • New Full HD 1080 resolution movie recording
  • 3.9 frames per second continuous shooting
  • High performance DIGIC 4 providing superb image quality
  • Maximum 310 large JPEG images in a single burst with a UDMA card
  • 3.0″ VGA (920k dots) Clear View LCD
  • ISO 100-6400 (expansion from 50 up to 25,600)
  • 9 AF points + 6 Assist AF points

Users of the old 5D will feel instantly at home with the MK2 version, simply because very few changes have been made to the original design.  This is perhaps testament to how effective the original concept was with the MK1.   If you haven’t been a user of the Canon system in recent years then you will find it easy to acquaint yourself with this model.  All major functions are within easy reach and the camera fits nicely into most hands.  There is a deeper notch for the finger than on the original 5D which provides an even sturdier grip however the general shape and weight remain almost unchanged.

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