I hope you are all fit and well. Sometimes being confined to one space brings not only the worst out of people but also it can make you very productive. It can also make you think outside the box for other things for example. I am sat at my dining room table with my Mac set up and not a meal and also a C-Stand with boom arm and a Rode shotgun mic. My DSLR is on a tripod across the table and my wife is going mad because she has no room to work from home.
Anyway, the most exciting part is that I have finished my Cine LUT pack and I can now bring it forward for release. I really enjoyed creating this pack even though it’s time-consuming. It will save you a hell of a lot of time with your workflow and I have tried to include a little bit for every type of photographer. Even though I photograph people and characters I have a lot of experience in other genres like landscape and I have even done still life. My thought process was to take a RAW image from my hard drive of most genres and edit them the way I would if I was to present or sell the image. The looks varied but every style was completed with care and must say I am happy with the results.
You will get not only 30 LUT presets but also a fantastic in-depth PDF of the pack and a how-to install them. You will also get a quick video tutorial giving you an idea of how to work with them. They are compatible with Adobe Creative Cloud only so make sure that you are bang up to date on that. I have also named them with my initials IM in front so that they sit in your library in sequence.
The way they work is very simple. It is entirely up to you if you use one preset or stack ten, it’s simply what gets the look you need. Don’t forget to use different blend modes and also drop the opacity if it’s too harsh. Very often one LUT is not as good as when another is stacked. Also, be mindful of using a layer mask and simply brush out the areas where you do not need the LUT effect.
They are out for release in my website shop at midnight tonight the 25th of March. There will be an early bird offer of £12.50 before returning to the normal price of £22 on April 1st. Yes, that’s right don’t be a fool and miss out…………… couldn’t resist that one!
I would love to see what you create with the pack and why not get in touch and show me some of your images with the presets in action.
Thanks for the support you are showing and I will endeavour to bring you more good content soon.
I’m sat here reflecting on this year and to be honest its gone in the blink of an eye, again! I felt like I was making a bit of progress in January when asked to give a demo at the Societies convention in London followed by working for Benro later in the March at The Photography Show at the NEC. Both went well for a few reasons but the main reason was the random timing and change of direction for me regarding my work. I met Lisa Grey who is an art curator at Flux and she has been a Godsend in terms of directing me and being a great outlet for my work. Before I knew it I was seeing my work displayed in Greenwich London alongside some outstanding artists.
It was my first experience and I loved it and more to the point I sold a piece of artwork to a gentleman that owns Damien Hirst sculptures! Things seemed to be going really well outside of the studio but I felt quiet inside the studio. I got the lads together in Gez, Deaks and Anthony and we got on with building a set called “The Kiosk”. It’s always good when we have a set build and we record behind the scenes stuff because it brings us together. It’s no secret that I am just the front man in this small team and I love listening to others chip in with ideas.
After a really great time looking at the exhibition in London I realised a couple of things. The first being that things “happen” in London and there are people who will pay for good artwork. The opportunities are more frequent but of course living there is not an option for me due to the expense. The other thing is that I have still not exhibited in my own town or even in South Wales. I find that a worry and it’s because venues are simply too expensive and yet these people would rather properties or rooms go empty than have possible revenue from passers by and commission from sold works. It just doesn’t sit right with me that my work has been exhibited in USA and London yet nobody really knows here. To put this right I am contemplating with the lads about an idea of exhibiting at my studio. That can be a 2020 goal!
Also on December 19th I was lucky enough to teach GCSE photography at my local comprehensive school and it really hit a nerve regarding teaching. I loved every minute of speaking with the pupils about my work and how and why I do it. Talk about giving something back to the community this, really made me want to do more so I will.
This was quickly matched by the enjoyment of doing a second podcast for Glyn Dewis and Dave Clayton’s “He shoots He draws”. This was episode 99 for the guy’s and I felt honoured to do it. It was said after that I came across a lot more content and happy with where I am in photography…… and I am.
I then did a facebook live set build walk through where I chatted about the Kiosk set up. This has got me and the lads thinking about doing more. We will be doing some more facebook live demonstrating lighting and portrait topics which will be free to tune in. Along with this I really want to push on this coming year with some free downloads, tutorials and of course more teaching.
I’ll wrap up by thanking the usual suspects in Gez, Anthony and Deaks but also Sarah who has become an integral part of us and what we do. Also Glyn Dewis for some sound advice and just being a great friend. I hope you all live your best life and achieve what you set out to do in 2020.
I must say I am quite relieved after my most recent image “The Kiosk” since it turned into a bit of a labour of love. I first liked an idea that was on a site called Deviant Art some years ago where there were people painted in a queue at a paying station. It was done using cinema 4D and no photography was involved. This image stayed with me for a few years until earlier this year I thought about elaborating on an idea I had about a queue of characters all waiting for something. It then dawned on me that apart from us British people loving an orderly queue I could actually create real characters that want to change.
The rest just added on to this already exciting concept and I called upon my old boys Gerwyn, Anthony, and Deaks. I would soon recruit characters that I already knew and some had worked with me before now.
On with the set build where I decided on a city scene in a back alleyway. I wanted to get the outside in! I felt that this could give me free licence regarding the light because in the city there are lights and reflections everywhere. You would normally think with such a free role with lighting it would be easy but it was anything but. I knew two things and the first was that there must be a light from above like a street light.
I rigged a studio light to a bracket high and above that suited the character that was at the signpost but the others were a little more tricky. For the next character on the floor I decided to use a strip box with grid to channel light directly down to her and that would also reflect into the other characters a little. This was rigged up in front of my camera about 8ft. I then decided to fill the other characters outside the kiosk with a flash gun off camera and hidden behind the stack of newspapers. Inside the kiosk the character was lit with two camera flash guns, one on the floor and one on a stool nearer to his face. The reason for two flash guns in the kiosk was because it was painted matt black and absorbed a lot of light. The last light was a studio head positioned near the “change” sign to simply pop a little light on to the sign and the side of kiosk.
Once the lighting was set and done it was about getting the right settings for the mix of ambient light and flash. It was settled on something like 1/15th and F5.6 ISO 100. The street light above was gelled blue along with the flash gun behind the newspapers and the side light gelled red to add to the kiosk drama.
I added dry leaves which came in handy to put around the bottom of the traffic signpost. This concealed the three L brackets securing the plastic drain pipe to the floor. The floor was painted grey to mimic a road or pedestrian area and even double yellow lines were added to the floor with spray. The kiosk was made with 6mm ply and 3×2 wood framing. A door was added along with decorative trim work and an awning making it more believable. The phone booth was an acoustic booth bought from a clearance place and the retro GPO phone added later. I then decorated it with business cards and wrote the usual jokes and abuse that we may get on our streets.
As time goes by I realise that it only takes a second to press the shutter and yet weeks or months of preparation.
I was reluctant to get rid of
I set about a plan to marry it up with the firefighters backpack by making them into accessories that would suit
The result was great and as sad as it sounds I was so excited now and, the helmet was now looking the part when I attached a mouthpiece. This I acquired from my day job from an old broken headset and then I added the red star stickers gave it an eastern block feel.
Next was casting the character based on the story I created to accompany this set. At first I very much wanted an elderly thin person to look quite comical with the huge helmet. That was soon put on hold when our stylist Sarah mentioned Dennis her Grandfather. He is 85 years of age and quite the character so we decided that we can roll with that. As soon as I met Dennis we clicked and he was a true character where nothing was too much for him. Even the weight of the backpack now was probably around 20kg!
On to the shoot I decided on a 3 light set up. I used one key light with large softbox and a rear kicker light for the backdrop to give it depth and lastly a stripbox with grid to punch a bit of light on to the jetpack. We also decided to light the jet pack using fireworks so a lot had to come together and caught just right. That and a deadpan look from Dennis who was now playing the character Bryn Hughes from the story. The 3 images show the transformation of Bryn from an unassuming but bitter person into a determined soul with one last shot. He really didn’t care if he literally went out with a bang!
Sarah styled Bryn to show a conservative look through to a dishevelled look complete with black face from the dust of the Aerobie. I thought the goggle marks on his face worked well and I added a tear to his eye later on. The funny part was keeping a straight face when lighting the Aerobie near Bryn’s bottom while he kept a steely look. The studio was in uproar while he remained the true pro.
The story is loosely based on my own life frustrations so my wife says but it’s a mixture of research for dates etc. and my own imagination. I really enjoy working in series and stories and hopefully they sit better with people rather than a single image.
Lastly I would like to thank the Skint Creative team and now we feel we are heading in the right direction.
Jacob Cogwright decides to stay in 1986 while watching Queen live at Wembley. The machine only ever went back from present day which was 1979. His efforts to get back to 1979 resulted in a last ditch attempt where he overcooked the controls and dashed forward in time.
Well, what can i say about this series? It’s now complete but not necessarily the way I would have liked for a few reasons. To create something like this body of work a lot of things and people have to come together. I think we managed it on the three occasions that were the featured iconic moments in time, with the other being the introductory portrait of Jacob Cogwright.
That was pretty much set up and taken without the stress of the main images. Nevertheless they sit well as a set and I am very proud of them and my friends around me. It did get a little easier in terms of time spent on the actual execution of the image by the time we were to end. The reason for the ending after just three stops in time was because six of us had to make the arranged date while all holding down day jobs and shift work. This was a huge obstacle not to mention to build the set.
This was made from reclaimed junk but to tell the story as best as I could I still incurred a cost that amounted to about £400. The time to build took about 3 months but that’s related to the time we could put in due to work commitments. A lot of hours and toil went into this set not to mention the electrical set up that was extremely amateur. We used so many extension cables and light bulbs that it became a very busy rear of the time machine. We also had the luxury of using some lighting rigs from my friend at Zelma sound and lighting. This gave me the chance to light differently for each moment in time.
As for the shots themselves, they were challenging for a lot of reasons. The main challenge was mixing all the wonderful colours of the ambient lights with the strobes. We had to shot at 1/4th of a second and make sure the models were still to get the images sharp. To hold the last pose that Mark aka Freddie Mercury did was a challenge. After that the sparklers were lit and the smoke pumped. We were up against it and had to get this right in camera which I love and it is a rewarding thing. These images usually take between 50 and 70 shots to get right now that I have looked back on the work.
The behind the scenes video would also be done by Gez and Anthony with Deaks assisting. This is just another element thrown in to test us. Sarah our very own hair and make up artist and friend does an amazing job because I feel that I can be quite controlling in what I want and expect. The characters I use are nearly always people i know or everyday people which I feel adds to the stories. It says “hey this could be me in time travel”
The one thing that I feel I want to explore is selling my artwork as limited editions and sets. I believe that they are great talking points and very personal. The joy and love I get from making these images feels wasted just sat on a hard drive or exhibited for a week here or there. I want people to have something personal and special to keep.
Some things come quite easy while other things seem a little well, harder. Harder to the point of despair, frustration, anger and tears. I have experienced them all especially the anger and tears of late especially when I feel I am making the same mistakes. It takes a lot to change and you know what they say? When you repeat yourself knowing the outcome to be the same, its the first sign of madness. In that case, I am completely mad but I think there is a need to go to that place in order not only to grow but to exhaust all your own reasoning for attempting such things.
During my Endeavour series, I realised that I was spending way too much time around photographers all chasing the same thing. It’s been years since I have found my own style and also a few years since I have started to love what I do. Now I won’t change for anything or nobody because it dawned on me that I am not surrounding myself with the right people because they are all photographers. Usually, other photographers want knowledge and inspiration or to be shown what to do by other photographers which more often or not results in a parting of cash.
I was at The Societies convention giving a lighting demo in January and to be honest I was there to network and try and look for other avenues to put my work out there. The demos were a necessary evil for me but a way in of which I am grateful for because of the result. I say “Chasing lost causes” like a centre forward would chase the ball knowing that the outcome would be a lost cause for a chance to score 99% of the time. However, that striker also knows that there is a 1% chance of the defender making a mistake and that he will pounce to score the winner.
For me chasing lost causes started in earnest this year and it started to happen when Keith Robertson and his wife came to watch the demo at the show. Unfortunately, they didn’t get to see my demo due to travel arrangements but he felt compelled to email me to tell me how much he liked my images. Keith has admiration for the arts and we got talking about art and galleries etc. This was covering things like “do’s and don’ts” of approaching galleries and where to try and display, along with some people that may be worth networking with. This really appealed to me because I have kept my work and its unique and personal to me but I want it to be out there.
It will not get any attention while in the presence of other photographers because like I said they don’t want to buy art they want to know how to replicate what you do. Anyway I digress, Keith mentioned a friend who is a gallery owner and runs art fares and exhibitions. These are mostly in London where there is a lot more of a catchment area and I was quite excited to get in touch. Within minutes I was in touch over social media and we discussed things about art etc and the fact that Lisa was, in fact, the organiser of Flux Exhibition. Lisa was amazing and helpful from the get-go and she told me that she liked my work. We chatted about things where she kindly invited me to a private viewing of the exhibition. I am over the moon and this coming March I will be attending the “Flux” exhibition and NOT The Photography Show at the NEC Birmingham. That clashes on the same days but I need to chase these “lost causes” to grow. I want to surround myself with the right people for me and I want to be the right fit for the art buyer or gallery owner.
This is not by any means advice but more a gentle reminder to chase everything you want and dream of. For I really want to exhibit my work and that requires a lot of chasing.
I have always loved a print especially a large version. When my work colleague George was due to retire last week I wanted to do something different so decided on a print. It’s personal and also you can show a bit of yourself within the image which will stay with that person forever. The hard part was deciding on what to give especially since a lot of colleagues had paid towards the gift which stood 26 x 24 inches without frame and mount. The Skint Creative lads Gerwyn, Anthony and Deaks came together to arrange the print side and the framing part of the job, so all I had to do was make sure the print was spot on!
Even though I am a portrait and set photographer it was best decided to make it a landscape and no better one than my favourite place in the UK. The mood at Elgol on the Isle of Skye is something that needs to be felt and I have been there many times and on each a different feeling. I feel at ease and calm there and the quiet surroundings and the mountains opposite make this place put you under a spell and in a trance.
Time was of the essence so it was a case of the quicker the better since we needed a complete turnaround of 3 days start to finish. I transferred the image to Anthony who in turn sent it to print after assuring me it was good to go. Then Deaks who always surprises me with his contacts told me that he once worked at a frame shop in Penarth near Cardiff UK. I asked if he could pull a few strings to get this framed very quickly and indeed he took the print there and it did not disappoint.
We all gathered at “Penarth Framing Services” to see the final piece a day before Georges retirement and that’s where I met up with two great people in Vilis and Bev. They are based in Penarth and have been framing for years with some celebrities getting work done there so I felt in capable hands. After seeing the image finished it was quite emotional to see it big and proud in its proper state.
This is simply a few words of thanks to Vilis and Bev and also the lads who have become a part of me and what I do. It also prompted me to write this blog urging you all to stop cropping and saving for social media and to just store on your hard drive. Do it, make it and yes it costs money but hey you obviously spent money on your gear so why not take it to its end product? Something to see, feel and hold is worth more than likes or clicks on social media. It reminded me of how I started when I looked at my friend Gary Howells work back in 2008 as I started my journey into photography. I remember asking all these questions about how do you? and When did you? I was so curious how this image appeared in all its glory with such detail on wonderful paper. It was then that I really wanted to print and the larger the better. I also really wanted to exhibit and ten years later I finally did but it’s a drug and I want more. I believe unless you are printing you will forever be in second gear and will be deprived the joy that it gives especially if you gift an image to someone special.
Don’t you all know that you have a talent, a gift? Then share it and make a print. Once you’ve done that then mount and frame it and give it to a loved one or friend…… it beats the ass off chocolates or flowers.
Today was the day I was reminded to print more so, I am reminding all of you to do the same.
A delighted George receiving his print.
The back of the Print was signed by all of Georges work colleagues and friends.
The Picture in its Final Home.
Penarth Framing Services
Penarth Framing Services
4 Victoria Bridge
Last week saw me head to the Societies for the three-day event to give demos on stage. This was in short a little glimpse into what I do in terms of lighting but, also a bit of an example of storytelling and unlocking your own imagination with portraits. It was very exciting and above all very useful in terms of being around the right people within the industry.
I had in mind what I was going to do and I had planned it thoroughly with the lads at the studio. We decided to tell the story of an old school police officer but with a twist of humour. It was a chance for me to deliver something that I love to do so I was really up for it until I discovered that I was sometimes following or just before the mighty Glyn Dewis! This threw me a little even though we are good mates it was hard to accept I was there doing this. I was over the moon to get a massive pat on the back not only from Gez, Anthony and Deaks but Glyn and Dave Clayton gave me their nod of approval. It’s funny how confidence plays a huge part in how you approach things in life. After this, I was unbeatable in my mind yet still screamed like a baby when I saw a mouse in the hotel lobby!
During the demo’s we shot tethered using Tether Tools cables and gear which was viewed instantly by the people in the audience. However, the issue was that the images did not save to my CF card so afterwards, I didn’t get the images I took. I wasn’t concerned because after chatting with the lads we decide that we would shoot this story at the studio when we get back, it’s that good!
On the back of this, I met wonderful people but two people will remain in my mind. Mark Baber from Sony treated us really well and couldn’t do enough and it’s this kind of service that gets photographers on board. Also, a gentleman named Keith Robertson who wanted to see my demo but other circumstances dictated otherwise but we chatted briefly.
He is not a photographer but avid art admirer and has since become a friend and has guided me at last into the sector where I want to be and that’s the art world. Since this, I have been invited to London for the private viewing of “The Flux Exhibition” in March.
Overall a very worthwhile time and it has taught me that chasing lost causes sometimes works out fruitful.
Finally, time to release my new website!
I have carefully handpicked my very best work to showcase on here which I hope you will enjoy.
My latest work will continue to appear both here and on my Youtube page.
I am available for commission work and will soon have limited edition art pieces available for purchase. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to Michael from Michael James Web Design and I hope you enjoy my work.