Black & White

Some black & whites from around the #furrycabin

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen the furrycabin hashtag. It how I usually distinguish images from around our personal lives with our animals. We live in a little cabin on the side of an old orchard, here in Northern Ireland. We have a few animals here at any one time; we also run an animal rescue between Olivia and I.

We have a few permanents and quite a few available for re homing. Even when I working I like to get out as often as possible and walk the fields with a few of them at a time. Sometimes they are all up for a walk and then some early mornings, its like anyone, they want to sleep in.

This was one of those mornings. I found these images, jumbled into Lightroom between other projects. it was an early morning snowfall, one of the few this season and only Frankie Legs, the lurcher puppy was up for the walk this day. It was an especially quiet morning with hardly any traffic on the nearby road and all the other animals still snoozing away.
If you would like to see more of the animals available for re homing, please visit us at Lucystrust.

Model test – Stuart

Been keeping busy with things around Lucy’s Trust and work these past few months. Before I post something from the advertising world, I figured I’d post a quick test we shot with Stuart. We are in the middle of vying for a pretty big catalogue shoot coming up and we’re looking for a late 30’s, or 40 mature guy.
Stuart came forward a few weeks ago so we quickly did a test in between shoots. We went up to Black Mountain overlooking Belfast and couldn’t have shot on a more drizzling day (you can actually see the rain in some of the shots). The fog was very heavy when we first turned up but we proceeded on, and sure enough it started to lift and give us some beautiful soft light.

It was a good quick shoot and the walk back to the cars was right on time as the skies started to open even more and pour down.

A beautiful inspirational video for artists from Paul Caponigro

White Horse

Some of you might follow me on Facebook and might have seen some recent images I posted of a few of our horses, Molly and Apache.

Before & After

Before & After

I’ve been asked by a few followers to show my workflow on achieving the look and feel of them, so I’m going to dissect one of them.
Here we have the untouched image.

Unretouched colour image

Unretouched colour image

Just sort of a foggy, dreary overcast sort of feeling; flat light and low contrast.

Then with a few global corrections and b&w conversion in Lightroom.

basic global corrections and b&w conversion in Lightroom

basic global corrections and b&w conversion in Lightroom

The boost in contrast along with the black and white conversion and some heavy vignetting, really begin to draw your eye in towards Molly. Her muscles and facial features start to stand out dramatically.

Now when I take it into Photoshop,

2nd stage retouching Photoshop adjustment layers and masks

2nd stage retouching
Photoshop adjustment layers and masks

I can selectively darken and lighten area using adjustment layers and layer masks. I boost the contrast some more while still keeping the highlights from totally losing it. I’m not too worried about the shadows blocking up because this was a very low contrast predominantly light image to begin with. At this point I’m quite happy with the image and it stands on its own fine.
Although if I wanted to play with it some more I could.

If I wanted to give this the feeling of an old Polaroid T55 negative that I might have taken on location then solarized it during processing, it might look something like this.

3rd stage retouchingCropping and Photoshop T55 solarizing effect[

3rd stage retouching
Cropping and Photoshop T55 solarizing effect[

Now in Photoshop I crop it down roughly to a 4×5 negative size. I then layer it with another image from a set of images I use specifically for this purpose. Then by using different layer blending modes I choose the desired effect. At this point I add a layer mask and continue to paint in or out with a Wacom, different sections of the layered image to further the effect.

I hope you enjoy the images and keeping shooting.

Please feel free to comment.

Sorry I had to pull the last post down . . . .

The client has decided to take the campaign in a different direction. I will be using the images in some form for a self promotion but I won’t be posting them up until the dust settles.

In the mean time, here’s a pretty picture to look at while you’re waiting.

The Giants Causeway - Morning Mist

The Giants Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, under a shroud of morning mist.

Just for fun

A couple of quick shots of some flowers before we get pummeled with projects this week. I wanted to have something that I could maybe print up for Olivia’s mother to hang in her house. Not sure if they work for her but maybe for us if she doesn’t like them.

The quality out of this lens and film combination is very sweet and smooth.

Apocalyptic Calotypes

I had a little break in shooting so what should I do besides feed the horses?

Shoot more.

I had E.E. Kelly come into the studio, looking to do something different and I think I delivered. I was looking to create a more sinister, end of the world feel; maybe something like Sandra Bullock if she starred in Mad Max as Max.

We shoot a couple of frames in the studio, showing the starkness of the shaven head and the strength of her body with just one light and some negative fill. Then we went outside into the “zone”. Olivier had been burning some rubbish, like he usually does, and it made for a very moody surrounding. Dust, smoke and fire with all the rubble made the two frames we shot feel like we were in another time for a moment. That is until the locals started pouring in when they heard there was a girl being photographed. Both images were shot on Harman Direct Positive, wide open at f4.7 and process in standard b&w chemicals.


I have been asked recently to submit to about a dozen different photo competitions and exhibitions. The only thing is that since my last show two years ago, I haven’t really worked on any personal projects for myself.

Recently I’ve taken up going backwards in time. I’m ditching the digital and capturing images like we used to in the olden days, on silver based emulsions. Below are a couple of test images I created using the calotype method. It involves exposing photographic paper instead of film to create a paper negative. From that you can scan the image into Photoshop and play with it from there.

These images though are a little different. They are actually the positive prints right from the camera. The silver media is a positive print paper; very smooth and very very contrasty. By using a couple of different techniques I’m able to better control the contrast and lower it to a more natural feeling of a true black and white image. More experimenting to come and hopefully I’ll have something I feel is worthy of a new exhibition.