Posts Tagged ‘horse’

2013 Balmoral Show

I’ve had a few emails in the past couple of weeks regarding the new playful 2013 Balmoral Show imagery. They are popping up all over the place; on billboards, brochures, posters, etc.
It was a great shoot with Paul from Whitenoise on the grounds of the King’s Hall, the old site for past years Balmoral Shows. The studio for the day was an empty hall at the site, which had to be at least 8000 sq.ft., more space than even I know what to do with. We also had an adjoining hall as a holding area for the livestock in the project.

Over two dozen individual items/subjects were photographed for the concept. The idea was to represent a large cross section of all the activities and attractions that the Balmoral offers. That and the fact the show has moved for 2013 to the Maze site just outside of Lisburn needed to come across in the final image. So everyone and everything would be comped together onto a farm trailer and pulled by a little farmer down the motorway to its new location.
The final image represents hours and hours of comping and post production work. Its meant to feel compiled/created and have a little bit of a humourous feel to it.

thats a lot of clipping paths

Liz Potter

The day we set aside for traveling to Donegall turned out to be a stinker of a day; a real Northern Irish winter day complete with strong winds and intermittent heavy rain. As we usually just travel light for most of these shoots, this one was much the same. A Profoto 600B along with a softlight reflector some stands and our trusty California Sunbounce were all that we needed to photograph Liz Potter for the Guardian.
Liz’s story began last year when she was riding along the shore by her house with her boyfriend. Her horse Clyde and Liz were terrifyingly sucked up by quicksand. You can read the story here.
We wanted to show the relationship of Clyde and Liz and portray it in a nice and simple, straightforward portrait. The daylight was very inconsistent because of the weather and it just wasn’t co operating with us. Steve, my assistant, “bagged” the Profoto unit into clear plastic garbage bags at the car and we set off across Liz’s fields to find a location. We took some photos of her and Clyde riding in the big field but the light was just too flat. I did a quick tight portrait of the two of them stationary that turned out nice but it didn’t have much zing.
Steve and I set up for larger shot, we were going to light Liz on Clyde, set against mountains and ocean. The clouds were rolling by very fast and we were getting hit by heavy rain, on and off, every few minutes. Liz’s face as well as our own were starting to get very rosy and raw looking. We would have to take what we could get and move out of the field soon. Steve cranked the light as high as it would go on the stand and dialed the power to halfway. I was getting f8 @ 100iso, not too bad. We took this photo and then a few more quick ones of Liz and her dogs, Red and Scooby. Here is a before and after with the final crop used for the magazine.

Liz Potter & Clyde

Liz Potter & Clyde


This one of Liz, Red and Scooby is in the same field, using the silver softlight as well but this dialed down and brought to just outside the frame and close to Liz’s face so as not to light the dogs as much. You can see how Steve has feathered it off Liz almost entirely and it is lighting up the grass in the background, good job Steve.

Liz with Red & Scooby

The final image implements a technique I’ve been using for decades but didn’t really come into its own until digital made all the elements consistent. You take a longer fast lens than what you would normally use and basically create a panoramic or photo merge of the scene. You keep your exposure settings and focus consistent for all the portions of the image and later “stitch” it all together in Photoshop. What you end up with is a very high pixel dimensioned image (high res) that has an extremely shallow depth of field, that kind of emulates a larger format, shot wide open (shallow depth of field).

Liz with Red at the stable door

All in all it was a great shoot and it was very nice to meet a fellow animal lover in Liz and her partner Ryan.

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.