Well I finally did it. I bit the bullet and faced my fears and headed to London with a good friend, Mr. Panikos Hajistilly to do my first location shoot. We chose our locations together and Panikos organised a model and brought so much of his gear which he kindly shared with me. And probably most importantly, he showed me how it’s done.
I was so surprised to see just how much wonderful light was there, just waiting to be used. I am a studio photographer and while I understand the use of studio flash very well, I am very much out of practice and out of my comfort zone with using available light. Its one thing to place lights and backdrops around my subject in the comfort of my studio. Its very different to find the right light and the right backdrop in unfamiliar territory and to place my subject in it. That may sound simple enough but honestly it is not, particularly on a day with no clouds in the sky. One of our planned locations just wasn’t possible as a result of the direct sunlight causing strong shadows and harsh light.
I have a thing for incorporating lights into my images. I love neon, fairy lights and colour right now so there is no place better than a city for that.
I was lucky to have a wonderful photographer with me who did have experience in this area who also brought with him some vital gear that made a big difference to our shots. Like this image below, without the addition of a portable flash and a high quality lens this wouldn’t have been possible.
I have to give credit to Panikos for this shot in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Not only did he choose the location but it was entirely set up by him as well. I can’t take credit for anything more than clicking the button (and hand holding my camera very steady which wasn’t easy on Millenium Bridge). But it was great to still take away an image of my own even if its not entirely my own.
(Panikos being extra careful by using a tripod in order to prevent camera shake – I’m a little too lazy for this but he proved that sometimes its essential and certainly the more reliable way to ensure the focus is sharp)
We started off without flash, while we still had enough light. Those were nice too and something that can be done without an assistant which is definitely handy if on my own next time. Putting a light on a stand not only gets in the way of those walking past but its also likely to get blown over in the wind. Its much safer and easier to have someone hold the light instead.
(This was all natural light – no flash was used here)
When we were done I decided to do some exploring on my own before my 8 o’clock train. Panikos had told me how beautiful Kings Cross Station is and I knew there was an interesting light tunnel there too so I had a wander. Wow, was I impressed. I’ve not seen a train station this lovely before.
The following image is from a beautiful light tunnel at this station. I am so into colourful light at the moment. I love this space and can’t wait to use it with a model sometime. I’d love to have my daughter in her pointe shoes and some sort of ballet outfit posing in the middle of this. I think I’m going to owe her big time for that though.
This definitely won’t be the last time I take my camera gear into London. In fact we’ve already got new plans and a model lined up for the next trip. It looks like I’ll be spending quite a lot of time in London this year. Three trips already and 3 more planned for March. I might get comfortable with this location shooting afterall.