Alderley Edge

Best of 2010 by Neil Alexander

Once again, I've gone through all my images shot during 2010 and selected what I feel to be my best images. Thanks to my revised Lightroom workflow and organisation it was a significantly less painful task than last year, and when I compare the final selection to last year's post (see here) I definitely feel that I have made quite significant progress these last 12 months both from a point of view of composition and technique. A very rewarding exercise. I've appended a little blurb below each image. If you want to skip that, then there's a slideshow here.


Shot on Hale Golf course after a brief flurry of snow. Processed in Silver Efex Pro. Wasn't quite the composition I'd pre-visualised but as I retreated under the tree behind me I saw the overhanging branches and felt that these improved it quite a bit.


This was a TF shoot I did with Frankie on Alderley Edge. We got completely lost and I couldn't find the location I had originally planned on using. She was really into her kick-boxing so brought her gloves with her to try something a little different. Shot this from an embankment looking down on her with two SB-900s on either side of her.


On a family holiday to Cyprus in March I took a dawn wander along the beach and saw these rather odd-looking umbrellas without their covering and built into the rock somehow. It all looked a little surreal.


Whilst going over old ground along the Bollin Valley one misty spring morning I stumbled onto this woodland scene and instantly knew it would make a great photograph.


In May I was fortunate enough to be able to get into John Ryland's Library in Manchester for one of their occasional photographic tours. The place is quite amazing and the architecture equally so. The rest of the group seemed to race round the place snapping away whilst I slowed right down and took as much time as I could trying to soak up the ambience of the place. Shot this with a Lensbaby Composer. (Original post)


Hooked up with the delightful Amy in June for a sunset shoot on top of the NCP car park by G-Mex in Manchester. We managed to draw a bit of an audience but had fun nonetheless. (Original post)


In July I went down to London for Kelby Training's "On location lighting workshop" with the legendary National Geographic and Life photographer, Joe McNally. Whilst I was there I arranged to shoot with a bunch of models, and this one with the lovely Azzi was definitely the most creative of the lot.


August saw me in Walberswick in Suffolk where I made this HDR image of the river estuary at dawn. It was quite a spectacular sight with the cloud rolling in from the East producing a defining line in the sky.


This image was made in Salford Quays in Manchester one sunny September morning.


In October I joined MM Photo Tours and Adam Barker for a trip round Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and had the most amazing time. From the 6,000 or so frames I shot I feel that this image stands out the most. For the whole series of posts, go here.


In November I arranged with local make-up artist, Natalie and model Alex to do an Autumn themed shoot. Conditions were far from ideal, and we ended up shooting several hours later than planned missing the sunset completely! (Original post)


December brought snow, and quite a lot of it. I've been up to Shining Tor in the Peak District quite a few times over the last 12 months or so, but longed to see it in the snow. So when my wish finally came true I could barely contain myself!

Getting lost on the Edge by Neil Alexander

Frankie by Neil Alexander

Last week, I hooked up with Frankie for another on-location portrait shoot. I decided on Alderley Edge as a location, specifically Stormy Point, which has a great view as a backdrop. As I knew this was National Trust property, and after the debacle at Lyme Park I decided very early on to clear this with the relevant authorities to save any mither. I contacted the people at the property directly in the first instance, and was referred to the media department at their head office. Having already spoken to them the other week, I had a good idea of the process. I explained in a concise email that this was not to be a commercial shoot, no money would be exchaning hands, but I would be using what they might deem to be "professional equipment". It was explained to me that this would be fine, and they would waive any charges (how kind of them), but I would need their standard cover of £5 million of public liability insurance. Any attempt to reason with this ridiculous demand was met with silence. Had I been shooting inside one of their mansions, or even in a busy park, then maybe I could have understood that a level of PLI was required, but were to shoot in a completely out of the way area in the middle of the day during the week. The chances of us even coming across another person were slim, never mind the possibility of me accidentally koshing them over the head with a light stand.

As it transpires, I do have PLI but to nothing like that level. Eventually they agreed that on this occassion this level of cover would suffice, and would I please sign their 12 page contract.

Frankie by Neil Alexander

Now normally, I would have paid the location a visit or two beforehand just to work out logistics of transporting and setting up gear, and to give myself a chance to envision how I would like the final images to look. But for one reason and another, this time I didn't. Which was a mistake. The last time I'd been here must have been around 20 years ago, and my memory has clearly gone a little hazy over the years. I was totally unable to find the spot I was looking for, and after about 45 minutes lugging around camera bag, lighting bag, a portable changing room that I've knocked up and light stands, in the blazing sun, I gave up! We turned around and headed back to an embankment that I'd spotted as a plan B on the way down, and decided to set up shop there. We still had a decent backdrop, but being in the middle of a field recently inhabited by cattle meant that we had to pick our spots rather carefully, if you know what I mean. Having said all that, I still managed to get images that I'm pleased with.

Frankie by Neil Alexander

Now, I have made a point of trying to record camera and flash settings, but the more I'm shooting this kind of thing outside, the more I find that recording settings isn't really practical - the light is generally constantly changing and so therefore are my settings. Though in general these were shot with SB900s and shoot through umbrellas positioned either side of Frankie. This was certainly the case for the top two, though I think for the middle one, I may also have used a ring for a little fill. For the bottom image, I struggled to light the full length of the model appropriately against the fairly bright background. I ended up using both brollies, the ring flash and a bare flash directed straight at her to try and bring out those funky tights she was wearing.