24th March 2010 – My first family photoshoot

Written on March 24, 2010 – 9:45 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Firstly, Happy Birthday to me, Happy birthday to meeee! I have had this blog for over a year now, go me :-)

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of shooting a lovely family of Mum, Dad and two gorgeous teenage girls. Such a photogenic family, will always make it easier to get some pretty good shots but I was pleased with how I did. I think I’ve still got a way to go yet before the lighting is 100% but it was a challenge I needed. It gave me the opportunity to use my lights and a bit of logistic thinking with the space I had.

I wanted to make sure that as well as some lovely posed shots, I got some natural ones too of the family being themselves and showing the camera the fantastic nature they hold as a family.

Here are some of my favourites :-)

and one more of the girls together, aren’t they just so pretty?

I am LOVING this photography lark at the moment. Long may it continue!

Photos taken at 1/125 and f/5/6 with flash gun and one studio light (with exception to curtain background)

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25th February 2010 – Meet Florence Elizabeth

Written on February 25, 2010 – 5:31 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Followers of my blog will remember I photographed my good friend Liz’s bump throughout her pregnancy. Well, on the 27th January 2010, the beautiful Florence was born.

Just a sneak peek today, but I’ll update with some more photos soon. Here’s Flo at 4 weeks old:

Congratulations to Liz and Lee, she’s such a cutie xx

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19th January 2010 – The Wedding of Simon and Becky

Written on January 19, 2010 – 10:31 pm | by BryonyParkes |

At last! I can blog about the lovely wedding of even more lovely Simon and Becky. I wanted to make sure they had seen the images before I blogged, it seemed only fair.

The day was just beautiful. By the time the wedding party arrived, the sun had come out and the snow was heavy on the ground as far as the eye could see. It made for picturesque scenery.

The snow did mean however, that I had to drastically rethink a few things upon arrival. I had visited the venue only the weekend before, pre-snowfall, to get an idea of what was about and had lots of ideas for shots within the grounds, including by the canal. Alas, the snow meant that it was bitterly cold, and it would be extremely wet against satin bridal slippers not to mention making it more difficult to get about… nonetheless, I decided that it was better than dull rain. And the exposure challenges provided by the light glaring from the snow would do me good, to think on the spot.

The shoot itself went well. I was very nervous, being my first ever wedding shoot and also I was still recovering from my operation two weeks previously. I got to the venue early, which was at Marston Farm Hotel near Sutton Coldfield. The first thing I did was to check the ceremony room out and find the cake for some close up shots with nobody about to wonder what an earth I was doing.

The ceremony room turned out to be a different room to the one they had told me it would be the weekend before – but far easier to shoot in from an angle point of view which was a huge relief.

I busied myself for a while, re-visiting the areas around the grounds, testing the pathways and depth of snow. I took a few detail shots around the hotel, played with settings and had a breakfast bar or two to steady my nerves.

And then the Groom and his Best Men arrived!

Don’t they look dashing?

Before I knew it, it was time for the Bride to arrive! This was where it got difficult. The ceremony room was quite dark but there was still a bright white light coming through the windows which contrasted everything in the room to shadows. I was also not allowed to use the flash, or move around too much so the shots I ended up with I was quite disappointed with. Nonetheless, I’ve since found out that there are plenty of other photographers who have the same problem, and I knew I’d make up for it later on.

One of my favourite shots of the day, is a really natural shot of the Bride and Groom, plus the best men and the Bride’s sister walking up to the canal after the ceremony. We were still in shadow of the building, so the light was easy to work with in quick succession while they were walking, and you can see the utter delight in their faces as they relish in the first hour of marriage wading in snow wearing their finery!

We had some fun by the canal, I thought the arch would be a good backdrop. Becky and Simon were great sports and did everything I asked. Some ideas worked, some didn’t!

The group shots were a lot more straightforward in the courtyard which had much easier light to deal with than the direct winter sun. My favourite shot was taken from above, but in the future I will definitely watch out in advance for intruding open umbrellas covered in snow which are nigh on impossible to clone out!

Back in the warm, and I had some time with the couple on their own. The first shot was a real challenge editing wise. There was a curtain issue, shall we say? But I’m pleased with the end result.

I used two lenses today, my trusty 50mm (although am now craving a 35mm due to fixed focal length of the 50mm creating space issues indoors especially highlighted during the wedding) and my new 18-200mm. I was so pleased that I exchanged my kit lens and zoom lens for the 18-200mm. It gave me far more scope during the day for shots where previously I may have not bothered due to the changing of lenses back and forth. The shutterspeed where possible, was kept as high as possible and the ISO kept at 400 or below where I could. My D90 isn’t too fussed on ISO of 800 or above, so apart from the ceremony shots where I was forced to bump it up, I avoided it at all costs. Fortunately, the snow outside, projected some lovely light inside which meant that my favourite shot of the day, in my opinion, where I was able to take a shot in the style that I think I do best; just the most loveliest of lighting was available, it’s this one:

It was a fantastic opportunity for me, to shoot Simon and Becky’s wedding and I cannot thank them enough for putting their trust into me. I think following this experience I would definitely be open to more offers for wedding photography, but I won’t be venturing past parties bigger than say, 50 or so for now. Unless I second shoot for a more experienced Photographer, which I really hope I can do one day.

The biggest challenge for me, was to get to grips with Photoshop once and for all, and to get into a steady swing of editing. It took me a long time to get all the images sorted, edited and tweaked until they were at a standard I was happy enough with to post out. I know as time goes by I will get quicker and I will get more competent and confident with what I’m doing. I don’t feel I was particularly consistent with my editing throughout the final images, I much prefer the softer shots and am not a fan of the sharpening tool. However this will get better with experience, and I’ll find my feet soon enough I’m sure.

I will finish with the e-mail that I received from Becky when I got home this evening. It made my absolute day. I am so thrilled to hear that they were pleased with their images, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish them a very happy future together;

“Hi Bryony,

CD has arrived safe and well – the photos are amazing, more than we hoped for!

Thank you so much for doing our photography, they really are pictures that captured the day and that we can treasure forever.

Becky and Simon”

… and THAT is why photographers do it. They go through the preparation, the pre-visit, the shoot, the organisation, the editing and the sending off, all for that end result. It makes it worth it to know that your clients are happy and you’ve provided them with images they will treasure forever.

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12th December 2009 – Studio practice!

Written on December 12, 2009 – 11:18 pm | by BryonyParkes |

Yesterday afternoon I met up with a local photographer, the lovely Christina Lauder at her fantastic studio. Christina kindly gave up some time to let me try some photography within a studio set up, using her lights and tuition.

I love Christina’s work and have been following her blog for some time now. Thank you, for your time and patience Christina!

I had the small one with me, so she became the focus of the session. We tried three different set ups using studio lights and a wireless flash trigger set mounted on the top of my camera with the other of the pair connected to the main fill light. I have to say, I much preferred this method of triggering the lights instead of using the flash gun. I’ll be adding these to my wish list!

The first set up was with two fill lights only. I love the natural essence of these shots and has made me consider using more natural backgrounds rather than blowing the white out all the time.

(excuse the dummy in this one)

Christina pointed out that I need to think a bit more on the spot about composition. Although a sweet shot that I am actually quite pleased with in terms of the subject, the line of the floor meeting the wall is a bit distractingly (unfortunately?) positioned!

So I tried this one, taken from above:

The second set up, was blowing the white backdrop out using two lights against the white wall which would then, additional to the fill lights, create that bright background that is so popular in this day and age.

Lastly we had a go at some black background, although my daughter was getting a little on the cranky side by now! We used the fill lights again, and a single light shining away from the black wall, as I understand the black background comes best from the light dropping between the subject and the background rather than lighting up the background as in the blown out white. I found this a lot more tricky so the photos aren’t perfect, and perhaps editing is where I need to improve more here, but nonetheless a very good learning experience.

All these shots have been edited by me, just using the small selection of tools that come with Windows Photo gallery that I have on my computer, once I got home. While I was still at the studio, Christina edited three of my shots, how she would have done if she had taken them for a client, using Photoshop and explained what she was doing as she went along. I was really impressed with the results. The images are so much softer and the skin tone is just lovely. They look far more professional than my edits that’s for sure. I can’t quite believe I took them!

I think I need to gain my confidence using Photoshop, particularly if I start taking on some casual work at any point in the future. I have had a lesson from a friend, and then Christina helped me further but gaining the courage to start using it when I’ve always just “got by” with a simple edit program was hard. However seeing the differences between the edits of a shot that I made, and the edits of a shot that Christina made, from the same Jpeg file has helped. They didn’t need editing a huge deal, but sometimes the little touches make it all worthwhile. Hopefully you’ll be seeing some more Photoshop work from me in the coming weeks!

I also have learnt that I really need to buy a reflector. They aren’t expensive, and they are a lot easier to carry around than a piece of lighting kit! Sometimes, rather than using a light, a reflector is all you need and they can be used with natural light too. I always forget about reflecting light and have been looking back on quite a few of my shots recently recognising that a reflector would have made a lot of difference. I think I might need some help though – a reflector needs holding up and today we had Christina holding Evie with myself behind the camera so the reflector didn’t get used as much as we’d have liked!

Thanks again Christina, I had a lovely afternoon and your studio is absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain to me, how it works in a studio set up. I hope we can meet up again another time! I wish you all the best for your photography business and hope it continues to thrive and prosper as I’m sure it will do.

All shots were taken (at Christina’s suggestion) at 1/125 and f/8.0

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6th September 2009 – Photoshoot number 5

Written on September 6, 2009 – 12:35 pm | by BryonyParkes |

I know I’m supposed to be talking about my new shiny D90, but I remembered that I needed to blog about the last photoshoot I did. So before I go all slushy I had better get the talking about photos taken with my D40 over and done with first.

So, the week before last I did another mini photoshoot with Izzy. I have shot Izzy before, not long after I started doing these photoshoots, and as my friend and the gorgeous Izzy were popping in I asked if I could have a go at something.

Shooting children with a white background I find has always been fairly easy lighting wise. Shooting with a black background is something I haven’t got a lot of experience with and I wanted to give it a try while I was thinking about it. As it turned out, I really struggled with the lighting and wasn’t happy with any of the back background shots. I didn’t mind too much as I only had a few minutes and it wasn’t a proper photoshoot (of my kind), I was just trying a few things out but it did prompt me into looking further into it.

Aiming the flash gun at the ceiling or the window wasn’t as foolproof as I’ve found before when shooting with a white background so I don’t think the black helped. Depending on where I was also affected how the light fell whereas with a white background, I can usually stand anywhere I like. I was a bit confused as the photoshoot I did with my Sister turned out ok with the same set up, so what went wrong?

The aperture was slightly wider this time compared with my sister’s shoot – and I do think, looking back that I didn’t put much thought into the aperture setting with this shoot. As I was using the flash gun, I didn’t need to worry about light getting in, wasn’t after bokeh so why did it need to be that wide? I don’t know. Also, I need to think about my lighting more. I do have some lights after all, I need to buck up some courage and get them out of the bag.

Some of the shots I took are shown below. Please note: These are far from my best work, you’ll see that the lighting is all wrong. I am only sharing them for blogging purposes ;o)



I still couldn’t resist a shot or two on the white though. At the end of the day this one was the PAD and aside from the crop not being quite right as she’s not completely central, I do think I do better on white and prefer white.

I have since found out that with a black background its best to reflect the light away from it as much as possible. Also, as I already know, there needs to be as much distance between the background and the subject but I just haven’t got the space to do this at the moment. White background works well with flash gun as the light is bounced onto subject and background therefore making everything brighter. With a black background, light bounced onto the black isn’t going to work – it needs to be as dark as possible and only the subject lit up. This means I guess, that the flash gun just isn’t going to work as well with the black as it does with the white and it’ll depend on the other lighting in the room as well.

So next time, when shooting on black, I’ll use my studio lights, and a smaller aperture. We’ll go from there. What do you reckon?

Photos taken at 1/200 and f/3.5 (flashgun used)

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