Venomous snakes& dartfrogs shoot

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked by my friend Tom Halvorsen to photograph some of his venomous snakes, which I was thrilled to do, especially as he has European vipers, some of my favourite venomous species. It was a short session due to time and energy constraints so not such a creative photo shoot, plus given the danger element it was easiest simply to go with a plain black background, with snakes sitting on black perspex within my light tent, this helped keep things safe.

I was also lucky enough to photograph some of the baby dartfrogs in his shop, these were the size of my fingernail, so cute, but very jumpy, nervous little critters. I will hopefully be adding one or two of these to my collection soon too.
We have plans for me to return to his shop in the near future to capture more reptile images as well as to try my hand at photographing fish, a new challenge for me as Ive only ever photographed my daughters fish. But as Tom has such a vast array of species it would be rude not to :)

First location shoot of 2015

Its been a hard couple of months trying to balance my new business with my illness, M.E. Even working just that one short day each week has taken its toll and resulted in me requiring a whole lot more rest, plus very careful planning and pacing of my activities. Unfortunately the result is that Im getting couple of days each week where Im in lots of pain and quite unwell. Yet, despite this Im happier, I would rather keep pushing and hope my body gets used to the extra activity than not, because I really enjoy the reptile photo days. It does mean Im not fitting in many model photo shoots though, which I do enjoy, so I will continue to try to factor those in too when I have the energy. Then on my quiet days I can edit images.

So three weeks into January and I finally managed to get round to a model shoot on location. This was a shoot we had planned from early December, originally in woodlands but Ive done too many woodlands shoots so decided to try a different look and opted for sand dunes with long grasses. We found a lovely location on the coast by Seaton Delavel.
It was a challenging shoot on Saturday, to start with it was bitterly cold amongst the sand dunes, with a strong wind and harsh sunshine. I wanted to use a shallow depth of field but also bring in fill flash to reduce harsh shadows from the sun. I used f2.8 the highest aperture my lens allows, but that put my shutter speed up to 2000, I managed adding flash with high speed sync triggered by my pocket wizards, but there was no way I could use modifiers to give softer light and avoid further shadows as it was so windy, so went with bare flash and just tried avoiding angles that made more shadows on her face.
I had a new model Louise Lisle, who had to contend with freezing cold, the wind and the sun, plus flash in her eyes, then the extra component of her two excitable huskies, which her boyfriend kindly helped with. So you can imagine this wasn’t easy, hair blowing all over, eyes streaming so the make up artist Leanne Cowie, was also kept busy retouching, doing hair and helping with holding speedlights. Trying to get just one dog in the right position and not causing a shadow across the models face, plus actually looking in the right direction AND both being in focus at f2.8 was interesting :) Luckily my assistant Pal brought along some treats to catch the dogs attention when needed. But I had fun as I love a challenge. The wind did blow hair across her face in this shot but I think I managed to rescue it. Hmmm the things we do for our hobbies/business. Behind the scenes photos kindly taken by my assistant Pal.

Tomorrow Im off to Manchester to photograph beautiful rare frogs, cant wait, its something Ive wanted to do for years and Im incredibly excited at this opportunity. Its going to be a struggle as the symptom of M.E are pretty bad right now but Im sure it will be worth it.

Decembers news

Firstly, I have launched my photography business this month, which is quite exciting, even though Im only working a few hours each week due to an ongoing illness. In a way its good to start off my business slowly and not having to rush headlong into all the areas that I plan to develop in the future.
I have so many ideas and plans it would be impossible to start them all off at once. So Im sticking with what I know - holding reptile photo experience days, which Ive ran previously in my ex partners reptile shops in Bristol. Since Ive relocated to Newcastle upon Tyne and no longer have access to a shop full of creatures, I now run these from my home with my pets and I am working on building up a new client base. More info will be available soon about these on my website. But Gift certificates are available for anyone wanting to purchase a taster session or full session for a christmas present.

Next year will see plans for creative portraiture days come to fruition, with local creative teams - aimed at photographers who simply dont have the time or contacts to arrange such photoshoots. I’m planning locations and themes already so watch this space.

Last week I managed to get awarded a first place with 30 points in our local 4 way inter club DPI competition with the image below. This was totally unexpected as I didnt even know it was chosen by our club to be entered. ( It was previously 3rd place in our clubs recent DPI competition too)

We also had our DPI round 2 competition entries judged at Gosforth camera club this week and I was thrilled my images got 30 points ( 1st place), 27 points ( Highly commended) and 24 points. The image below was the winning one. Ive uploaded it as a gif so you can see the before and after versions as I added a texture for something different.

SWPP monthly competition

I rejoined the SWPP this month and was super chuffed to get 3 Gold awards in Pet portraiture, Macro and Avante garde portraiture, plus a highly commended award for Environmental portraiture. Not a bad result I think.

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