Being a member of Canon Professional Services – CPS – has a number of benefits, not least it gives me a chance to do something different and shoot on one of their experience days once a year. They are all top class professionally organised events, and have Canon ambassadors in attendance to pass on tips and advice when it’s needed. They are open to photographers of all abilities so there was a mix of people there, and that has the benefit of making the atmosphere relaxed because the level of expectation is not too high.
Last year I went to the Vodafone London Fashion Week catwalk show at Somerset House in London. That shoot was blogged here and here. It was a great event, so I was very keen to see what was on offer when the list of events was published for this year. There were a lot of events to choose from, but my eye was attracted to the fashion shoot, which was being held at the Master Shipwright’s House in London, just down the road from the spot where the Cutty Sark is moored.
The day was much longer than last year’s event. Two shoots were planned and there was a tutorial before each shoot, where the setup and the technical aspects were mulled over between the Canon expert and all of the attendees.
The morning shoot was fashion based and was set inside the house. Our expert used flash whilst he constructed the session, but due to limitations with triggers we used a big constant light unit. The model for the morning shoot was Grace and she performed above the call of duty as she was faced with some photographers who machined gunned their way through the shoot, instead of taking their time to build each shot. Each to their own, I far prefer to sit back and be selective, but it did mean that I didn’t get very many shots from the morning session. Nevertheless, I was very pleased with the images I did get.
We changed locations about four times during the shoot, but the beauty of the location we were in was the we didn’t have to move far to get a completely different look, all of the sets were shot within 10 yards of our original spot. My favourite was that place, I don’t think you can beat window light.
The second shot of Grace was taken in the final location, which was the opposite side of the room. The bare bulb made things interesting, keeping distance between it and Grace’s face was critical to prevent her features burning out.
The peeling plaster on the wall gave a lovely texture and the colour of it contrasted with orange of the coat. For me it was all about catching the right moment as Grace moved through her poses.
The afternoon looked at high fashion and we went outside to use all of the beautiful natural light that was available. The garden at the rear of the house rested on the banks of the River Thames and Canary Wharf was clearly visible in the background. We used that as a setting and also some spots around the side of the house. Not being constrained by the use of flash the whole shoot was much more fluid and allowed for a greater number of considered shots, so the number of images I got from the afternoon session was much more plentiful than that from the morning set.
The outside of the building provided a huge number of places in which to shoot, but the choice was crucial as the light was very harsh when the sun peeped through the clouds. My favourite places were looking out over the River Thames, where this shot of Petra was taken. Although the light was directly in Petra’s face she coped with it very well, as evidenced by the very small number of images I have of her squinting.
The final shot, taken in much the same place as the previous one, gave me the chance to add a bit of contrast so as to bring out the detail of the clouds against the background and the bright green of Petra’s dress.
It was a fabulous day, and it was an experience I hope to repeat soon.