Movember Portrait Project

So Movember has ended and what better way to finish it (postponed due to camera dying) than to do a series of impersonations of famous moustaches 🙂

A big thanks to Ben for helping me out with these shots.


Chopper Reid

B J Honeycutt

Charlie Chaplin

Death Of A Friend… D70s You Will Be Missed

Last week my trusty Nikon D70s decided that after 8 years of being thrashed that enough was enough.

This post is a dedication of sorts to all the fun we have had together over the last 8 years…

This is the last shoot it ever took… Finishing up the shoot for Spook The Horses on a rooftop in Wellington… You will be missed 😦

All Images Nikon D70s (deceased), Various Lenses and ISOs


Alex aka Marms (his Tumblr HERE) doing the all important stand-in for testing lighting during our band shoot on a roof…

Nikon D70s, 50mm f1.8 Lens, ISO 200, 1x Electra 500W Strobe

Fatherhood Friday: Ballerina

Emily had her ballet show last weekend and she want me to take some pictures of her in her costume before it had to be taken back. Sam got in on the act also 🙂

(Sorry to Facebook people who have already seen these).

Nikon D70s, 50mm f1.8 Lens, ISO 200, 2x 500W Electra Stobes with shoot through Umbrella Softbox and Barn Doors for Backdrop.


The start of my Mustache for Movember 🙂

Nikon D70s, 50mm f1.8 Lens, 200 ISO, 2 x Electra 500W Studio Lights

4 x 5 Flowers

Not being able to go out and take images means that I get to be at home and look through images that I have taken in the past.

These  shots were from a final year paper at University and were shot using a 4×5 camera and then each image was mounted in custom made light boxes (made by me).

I still have the series floating around somewhere I must get them out sometime and look to see if they are still functional or not…

Horseman 4×5 Camera, 180mm Lens, Fuji Velvia 50 ISO Film, 2 Studio Lights, Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED Scanner.

Auckland Assisting For The Day…

A few weeks ago one of the photographers who I do some assisting for flew me up to Auckland for the day to do a studio shoot… Bev Short is pretty cool to work with and when we are shooting for her personal “AllWoman”book project (which is epic!) and not a commercial client she lets me shoot around the set after all the lights etc have been set up and things are in full swing so I thought I would do a bit of a documentary of how the day was… Enjoy.

Sunday 13th of February 2011 6am: Woken up by 20 month old Samantha who also doubles as an alarm for this time of the morning pretty much every day. Get up and retrieve said small person from their cot and wander into the kitchen to make coffee and rice bubbles for Sam (to clarify the rice bubbles are for Sam, the coffee is for me). Go wake up Amanda to take over breakfast duty and head to the shower still mostly asleep and without coffee which is still waiting to boil. Get out of shower and retrieve coffee which has been made for me by my lovely wife (she made me say that or she would hurt me… just kidding…) Assess the weather outside and decide to opt for jeans (boy that was a big mistake). Manage to have 1 piece of toast (mistake no.2) before grabbing prepacked bag and head out the door at about 7am, (wow that hour went really fast) with lots of goodbyes from wife and kids.

Bev and her husband are waiting and we head to the airport… So basically we are heading to Auckland to photograph Julia Deans, ex front person for the band Fur Patrol and now pursuing a solo carer for Bev’s book project on New Zealand Women.

Random person waiting for plane

We get to the airport without any problems and check in (I’m traveling with only my camera backpack since I’m coming back the same day) and head off to get some more coffee before the flight. At this time magically my Rolleiflex appears in my hands and I start taking some images 🙂

Again without any problems we proceed through security (I sometimes have problems with piercings setting off metal detectors) and board our nice swanky new Airbus A320 which has been totally painted black in preparation for the Rugby World Cup later in the year (according to the in-flight magazine this is the first time this has ever been done to a commercial plane). We settle back and discuss how we are going to light Julia for today’s shoot etc…

More Coffee

Air hostess brings coffee and weird chips that aren’t really chips but still taste good. Its only about an hour flight (New Zealand is pretty small) so after that we are pretty much there.

Yes some of our domestic flights make you walk on the runway to get to the terminal

Again without any problems we get off the plane, go collect Bev’s bag and get on a shuttle with instructions to take us to Kingsize Studios where the shoot is going to take place.

At this point I should mention that it’s about 28 degrees C with about a million humidity and I’m regretting the choice to wear jeans and its only 10 am.


The shuttle drops us off in the middle of suburbia where the studio is and we head inside. We get directed to the upstairs studio where all the equipment is waiting for us in its pelican cases. At this point I’m a bit concerned because the studio is a bit smaller than I was expecting and the Broncolor Grafit A4 lights are a pack light rather than the Mono lights I am used to… Time to take a deep breath and deal… We had at least an hour before any of the models were due to turn up so it was a case of setting things up and going from there. As it turned out the pack lights were really good to use even if sometimes they wouldn’t let me turn on the modeling light.

I crank up the two industrial strength air conditioning units and we get to setting up.

We set up about 3 different set ups before we got the one we thought would work the best, (we had gotten a 5 to 7 foot softbox because we thought we would have had the space to use it but it ended up being used for a background light because we didn’t have enough standard reflectors) Bev must have a million shots of me doing my stand in thing that all assistants love 🙂 .

The two male models turn up around 12 and are amused by the boxer shorts that they will be wearing for the shoot, Julia texts to let us know she is running late and will be there about 1pm. It’s also about now that Bev and I realize that we had breakfast around 6am and aside from 2-3 cups of coffee haven’t had anything since and have no idea where to get something close by as we are in the afore mentioned suburbia. Bev finds she has a couple of muesli bars so we figure we should be OK.

Julia turns up about 1pm with a stylist (weren’t expecting that) and after a round of introductions (I’m really bad at remembering names and usually write them down but didn’t have a pad at the time hence no names are used in this post) we start to get organised.

Shiny Guitar = Lots of Reflections

After wardrobe changes (both the guys had no problem with wearing only boxer shorts) we put everyone in place and did a bit of tweaking of the lights to get rid of shadows and reflections and it was all go.

I have to say that the stylist cracked me up, he had some great ways of getting Julia to laugh or describe how to look at the camera… The only one I can remember was “Straight down the barrel fuck me eyes” I really needed to write the rest of them down cause they were pure gold!


Julia is coming to terms with the surreal nature of the shoot and the main hold back was that the two guys who are having problems holding the pose and needed constant rests and readjustments (modeling is hard work, just ask them).

Unfortunately the lighting was pretty dark so focusing with the Rolleiflex was a bit hit and miss but you get the general idea from these images.

At this point my immediate work was done so I managed to take these shots in between the occasional light readjusts and leaking air conditioner repairs.

Model Readjust

Models Chimping aka looking at screen

At about 3pm the two male models go home and we spend some time with just Julia doing stuff she could use for promo stuff til around 4pm. Really hungry by now having since eaten muesli bar a couple of hours ago. Start packing the studio stuff away into its respective pelican cases and try to close up only to be confronted by one large tabby cat who struts into the studio as if he (I’m assuming He, for the record I didn’t check) owns it and has to be carried downstairs so we don’t lock him in by accident (He kinda didn’t really like that too much either).

Luckily someone is in one of the downstairs studios so we ask which way we have to go to get somewhere that has food and head off to the mentioned Pub to finally get something to eat, the time is now around 4:30pm and the temperature is still in the high 20’s with the humidity now somewhere around a billion percent (really really regretting that 6:30am Decision now).

We both sit down and get a shared tapas platter and beer and talk about how the shoot went…

Bev calls the shuttle company we came in on to come and pick me up for my 6:30 flight back to Wellington only to find out that they can’t get me to the airport on time (Taxi from Auckland to the Airport is super expensive) Shit! After asking the bar staff what would be the best way to proceed I end up having to catch a taxi into the center of the city and then catch an Airport bus out to the airport (going to be cutting it really fine). We say goodbye since Bev is staying in Auckland for the week to do another couple of shoots for the book and I jump into a cab and head into town.

It was a pretty uneventful ride in and the driver didn’t try to rip me off which was nice since I really had no idea where we were or where we were going… He drops me on the main shopping street of Auckland, Queen Street and told me that all the buses go up and down this street so I should be able to get one. Okay so now I’m on Queen Street not really knowing which way the bus I should catch would be going so have to do a bit of searching before I find a stop where the bus will be heading to the airport. The nice LED sign says that the next bus will be in 5 minutes… Sweet! Rolleiflex comes out for a quick shot or two. Ten minutes later and still no bus (now listed as overdue) then the counter goes back to due to arrive in 5 minutes. WTF!

Queen Street Bus Stop.

By now its about 5:30 and I am supposed to be at the Airport 30 minutes before the flight leaves which is only leaving about 30 minutes to get there, again I’m not really sure how long the bus takes to get there. The bus finally arrives and the driver has a chat about my Rolleiflex as I get on and off we go.

The bus takes about 30 minutes to get there but my flight had been delayed til 7 so I got there with plenty of time to spare.

Sleepers… They’re Everywhere


This extra time gave me a chance to call home and say goodnight to my kids since they would go to bed while I was still on the plane and of course take some more images of sleeping people etc…

The flight finally calls and I go through security (I think Auckland has their metal detectors turned Waaaay up) and end up getting the biggest pat down by a security guard that takes like 5 minutes (I thought we were in a relationship by the end of it) but finally get to board the plane which is held up for another 10 minutes!


I finally get to sit down and wait for the odd chips that aren’t chips that I have been strangely craving since the first ones earlier in the day, plug in my iPod and chill…And take a couple of shots with the Rollei. Luckily my friend who has agreed to pick me up at the airport hasn’t left in disgust due to my late arrival and I get home around 9pm… Sleep now… Long day but a good day.

All Images Rolleiflex 2.8 E, Ilford HP5+ 400 ISO Film, CanoScan 9000F Scanner.

Playing With Blending Layers and Textures

Cruising through some blogs the other day I came across one (Shadowhouse Creations)which had a whole heap of textures and blending tutorials, Awesome!. I had a bit of a play with a couple of images I shot on the Rollei a couple of weeks ago. Lets just say I’m not a subtle kinda guy 🙂

Rolleiflex 2.8 E, Ilford FP4+ 125 ISO Film rated at 50 ISO, CanoScan 9000F Scanner, Heaps of Photoshop…

How It Was Done: Pink Bubble

Yet another “How it was done” post…This time for my entry in the Canon Photo5 competition under the brief “bubblegum portrait”

This was my entry… Just incase you missed it 🙂

Anyway the brief was…


This brief has one rule:

Feature bubble gum in a portrait. How you or your subject use the bubble gum is up to you. If you need more gum, visit your friendly local convenience store.

Note: For this competition we’re defining a portrait as any shot where a person is the main subject.

Once again it seems simple enough….

I wanted to do something that was entirely pink but a real soft kinda pastel pink which would tie in with the colour of the bubble being blown.

After a couple of days thinking about it I kept coming back to the idea of someone blowing a bubble while being surrounded by bubbles… I know it seems like an obvious conclusion to make but I wanted it to be shot and lit super well which I hoped would make the concept stand out from any other entries which used a similar premise. Not that it worked out in the end after not making it to the finals and public voting…Not that I’m bitter or anything 🙂

So I scored a reasonable sized cardboard box from recycling at work went and bought close to 100 pink balloons and 1 pink (very pink) wig.

For once Amanda was pretty stoked to be in the photo since she liked bubblegum anyway.

Using my 2 500W Electra Studio Lights both pointed at the ceiling (one of the few ways I can use them to get a softer light since they only have full and half power) I put the box in the middle of the room with a pink piece of material over it (with 2 daughters there never seems to be a shortage of pink material around) and got Amanda to lie with the head and shoulders in it.

The light was metered at f11 at 125th of a second using ISO 200.

Amanda spent quite a bit of time on the makeup which needed to be pretty thick due to the close nature of the shot… I think she did a pretty darn good job of getting what I wanted from what I told her.

Not a particularly flattering image but you get the idea how much went into it

Game on!

I ended up only blowing up about 25 Balloons and after Amanda lay in the box they were arranged around her head to make it look like she was entirely surrounded by pink bubbles.

Anyway this is how the set looked…

Again I love how budget my studio is 🙂

So after a lot of false starts and misblown bubbles we started to hit our stride… To get the angle I wanted I needed to be directly above her which required me standing on a chair and at some stages of the shoot standing on 2 chairs, which when 1 moved I nearly did some serious damage to my groin… mental note to self: when standing on 2 chairs always make sure they are well anchored.

The angle ment that you can see me taking the photo quite clearly in Amanda’s eyes

Me on 1 Chair

Me on 2 chairs

Anyway here goes some more shots that didn’t make it but that I still liked… Enjoy… Oh and if you don’t hear from me again Amanda has killed me for putting up more photos 🙂 Dont call the police it’s just the risk I take 🙂 and the girls need at least 1 parent.

Note to Amanda: Dont breath in through your nose when blowing bubble 🙂

Nikon D70s, 50mm f1.8, 200 ISO.

How It Was Done: Smokin Grater

Here goes another how it was done post, this time on my Photo5 entry I called “Smokin Grater”. The finalists are announced today sometime and then the other contestants vote on who they think should win. There are about 8000 entries so I’m not holding out too much hope of being a finalist… but you never know 🙂

For those of you who missed it here goes the image I submitted.

So the brief was as follows:

Incense/Black and White

This is a moody brief. Use smoke from the incense to create ambience and atmosphere in a black and white photo. It’s not just about shooting smoke, but capturing the essence of black and white photography in a dramatic way.

Once again this seems simple enough:

Thanks to my new scanner I can now show you my pre shoot thoughts 🙂

So the original idea was to sit a camera on a board with the lens above a hole and let the smoke rise up and around the lens. Taken from a slightly high angle where you couldn’t see the hole it would like the camera was smoking.. I also had plans to throw a stack of photos so it looked like they were exploding out of the back of the camera…

Anyway after a bit more thought I thought it would be more amusing to use a cheese grater and make it look like it was smoking due to over grating…

I really like the aesthetic of photographer Caleb Charland and wanted to try to emulate his clean images (turns out it’s really really hard to make images look as clean as his 🙂 )

So the idea was to use a long exposure to give a very hazy smoke presence…

I put a snoot on a speedlight and placed it under the table and had another speedlight bouncing off the ceiling.

After adding a pile of melted cheese (which ended up being melted by a fan heater after all else failed) I started playing around with the incense to see what kind of smoke effect I would get… About an hour later there was still no sign of smoke and I was starting to get a bit frustrated….Grrrr…

About now I throw my hands up in despair and walk away and go have a shower…

When I come back I decide to scrap what I have done and start again.

I decided to use a black background and a light globe on one of my speedlights and see what happens.

This was the first shot off the camera after setting things up… at this point things are looking up 🙂

So now its time to add some smoke and a snooted speedlight behind to highlight it with a silver bounce off to the left to reflect a bit of light back onto the grater.

This is how the setup looked at this point:

Again my studio is Soooo high-tech… 🙂

After quite a bit of playing around I found the best way to show smoke up is to backlight it… It was a lesson hard learned and if I had known this previous it would have saved me many an hour 🙂

A slight re-jigging of the composition and …

Image straight off the camera with no processing

Processed to Black and White using Adobe Lightroom with a bit of retouching in Photoshop to take out the hotspots from the incense inside the grater.

Nikon D70s, 50mm f1.8 Lens, ISO 200. SB24 Speedlight with Globe and SB80DX with Snoot. Black reflector as backdrop and Silver reflector as bounce.

Just Uploaded 3 Photo5 Competition Entries

finally got round to uploading some of my Canon Photo5 Entries.

Single drop of water with a picture of a cityscape inside it hanging from the head of a pin.

Bubblegum Portrait

Incense Black and White

Still have to do:

Confetti Motion

Inspired by sound

Only about a week to go so will have to crank it up to get the last two done… Wish me luck

How It Was Done: Water Drop Shot

Ok so I havent done one of these in a while and the entry’s for the Photo5 competition have closed so theoretically no one can copy this for the competition.

Anyway here is the finished image that I submitted to the competition….

Competition Brief: Eye Dropper

This brief is asking you to use your lens to look closer. Use the eye dropper to place drops of liquid in any arrangement you want. You can use a single drop, or as many drops as you like.

And you’re not limited to just water – feel free to use liquids of different colours and consistencies, such as milk or tomato soup. Just make sure you get close.

OK that seems simple enough…

I had the idea to suspend a drop of water from the head of a pin and using a slide projector somehow get an image into the drop (at this point I want to say that using Photoshop wasnt an option that I really wanted to use).

Equipment Used: Kinderman Slide Projector, Nikon D70s with 50mm f1.8, 2 x Nikon PK13 and 1 x PK12 Extension Tubes, Tripod, Cullman Macro Rail, Various supports like chairs, 1 x Pin, Bluetac and a 42″ translucent reflector (used later on)… Oh and various slides.

So I set up the projector at the same height as the camera and blasted a slide onto the drop of water (which took at least 15 minutes to get to stay on the head of the pin) which produced the following image.

Even at 1/5000th of a second this was about as good as it got… Not really the look I was going for…

Step 2: Place a 42″ reflector in front of the projector to act as a screen… At the moment the projector is about 1.5 metres away from the water droplet.

Ok at this point I stop thinking “what the heck am I doing this is never going to work I must be crazy”! And start seeing a small glimmer of hope projected down a very bright slide projector.

However still not really what I had in mind when I initially set out.

Step 3: Time to move everything back away from the projector… now about 3 metres away still with the reflector in front acting as a screen.

I keep forgetting stuff… The slide was projected onto the screen upside down so that it was right side up in the droplet.

OK now we are cooking but still not quite right.

This is what the setup currently looks like (the images are from a point and shoot so sorry about quality/focus issues)

My studio is soooo sophisticated 🙂

Who needs a macro lens when you have a bazillion extension tubes…

Opps almost forgot to say that I added a small pop of speedlight at the pin just to give it a bit of a catch light.

Anyway I found that by moving a reflector backwards and forwards I could alter how much of the image would appear in the drop so after a lot of stuffing round (293 images from the first shot) this is the image that I liked the best…

This is the file straight off the camera with no processing

With a bit of straightening and a saturation boost and not to mention all the dust removal here we go 🙂

And before I forget here is a scan of the slide that I used…

All droplet shots on Nikon D70s with 50mm f1.8 Lens with 2 x Nikon PK13 + 1 PK12 Extension Tubes.