Ice Hockey..

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an Ice Hockey match……  something I’ve only done once before – but this time I was given access to the team tunnel, and the ice.  An amazing experience.  The game was fast, the light was poor, the ISO I was shooting at was incredibly high – so a lot of the images had noise.   I had blurred pictures, over exposed pictures, underexposed pictures, and was generally not a happy bunny.

So, I sat and thought about what I was seeing.

The players faces as they waited their turn on the ice.  The concentration, and the shouting of the team manager taking players off, and putting new ones on the ice was constant.

I moved more slowly, more deliberately, and almost forgot about the frantic movements out on the rink.  I started to enjoy what was presented right in front of me.

I realised that you have to change your attitude to fit what’s going on around you, and not the other way around.

I took a LOT of pictures, and afterwards decided that they would all look better in monochrome.  It somehow fitted the scene better, and in addition disposed of the pretty awful colour cast caused by the lights.

One thing I’ve learned is, that if you are given the opportunity to shoot something new – do it – if you never even use the photographs again, it doesn’t matter – you had the experience.  If you don’t, you will end up kicking yourself for the lost opportunity.  Do not let fear get the better of you, and never ever worry about not getting that ‘winning’ image.  It’s about the learning, the experience, and the test.  Go for it.

Studio Event and Lighting

Yesterday – my good friend Terry McNamara and myself ran a day for photographers who were unfamiliar with life in the studio.  We were really pleased that 10 photographers were taken on, and that we even had a waiting list… We used 4 models of varying abilities, to encourage the attendees to work harder, but to still achieve some great images.    The sets were excellent, the lighting superb…

We used a combination of overhead lights on a boom, softboxes, beauty dishes, and cold constant lights, to provide a variety of conditions under which to shoot.  The studio had a large infinity curve, which gave some great high key shots, though we also had access to a 1950’s style ice-cream bar.

It was excellent to see inexperienced studio photographers change over the session – one lady started off very quietly, but by  the end of the session, was happily directing, and demonstrating poses to the models….

Many thanks go to the hard working models – Katie, Geri, Danny, and Clare – who modelled tirelessly and I know didn’t get much of a break.

I didn’t get chance to take many images, as we were busy looking after our delegates, but the feedback so far, has been so good, that we are already in the stages of planning our next shoot on a similar theme, but using different models, and different sets.  Watch this space for more information.

Welcoming in 2012 !

Happy New Year 2012 – it’s already a great start to the year.  On the first day back at work, we secured a contract with a new client, which looks set to grow at a great rate throughout the next year.  We look forward to achieving some great photography over the coming months…. watch this space for images we will be allowed to show.

We’ve also had a great studio shoot right at the end of December – using a local place, right in the heart of Stockport.  The aim was to shoot images with a feel of the artist Jack Vettriano (and for those of you who don’t know who he is – he’s the chap who painted the dancers on the beach, who are being sheltered by a butler holding an umbrella).  His work has fascinated me for a long time, and now we have been able to emulate some of his images.

We are aiming to work up some more pictures in the spring, and to make a full collection for an exhibition later in the year.  I really hope we can make this come to fruition.

In the meantime, we wish you health, wealth, and happiness for the coming year.

100,000 Visits and Christmas !

It’s incredible but true, we are nearly at 100,000 visits to the Oaktree website, and we’re thrilled.

It’s been a good year so far – with lots of new clients asking us to shoot, and a good deal of repeat business from existing ones.  Each time we do an event shoot – the hit rate on the site goes mad, and in one case we nearly collapsed under the strain.  We’ve increased our stability since, and it shouldn’t happen again…….

We’ve loved doing dinners at great hotels, this one taken at the new Mercure Leicester City Hotel.   A superb venue with lots of great photo opportunities.  I was surprised with this shot, that the folks on the front table saw me up in the balcony and raised a glass in celebration.

We’re looking forward to Christmas events now, and have secured a press pass to shoot the opening of the Manchester Christmas markets this week.   More information can be found by clicking HERE

The Manchester Hoteliers Association Ball, was a great success – with all the major Manchester Hotels in attendance.  Their theme this year was ‘Bollywood’, and included Indian Drummers.  Guests dressed in costume, and awards were presented to Hotel Staff.  We set up a ‘mobile studio’ and guests had a great time posting for the camera.

Thanks go to the Palace Hotel in Manchester for hosting the event.

We look forward to working with you all again ….

Portraits at 600

I went out with a group of photographers last week to the local park – just to shoot a bit of wildlife I thought – I knew there were nesting Great Crested Grebe, with chicks, and I also knew that I’d need a long lens… so armed with a 300mm lens, and a x2 extender, I set off – only to find that they had brought a  model with them – “Portraits with a 300….  hmmm”  not so sure… but hey I thought, I’ll just have to stand further away… so there I am, half way across a field, shouting instructions to the model… at one point I did a portrait at 600mm – and whilst I realise that the whole thing was a bit over the top, (I was using a tripod and yelling my head off)…… but then what a fabulous background.  Beautiful bokeh, soft and she’s absolutely spot on in focus.  Would I do it again?  Sure would – the results were by far better than I expected. You sometimes just can’t get that kind of softness with a shorter lens.

Oh and yes, the Grebe were there, with their chicks, but I’ll save those shots for another time.