Portraits

Parisienne composite by Neil Alexander

Late last year, I put together a shoot with a couple of great models at the DeVere hotel in Cheadle that I titled "A little bit of Paris in Cheadle" . My original intention had always been to give the final image more of the Parisienne feel that I envisioned during the original shoot, but as ever time got the better of me and I never managed to get back and perform the final edit. Even the original edit managed to get me a Silver Bar award in the Guild of Professional Photographer's image of the month competition. However, in the last couple of days I finally made the time to finish it off. As I didn't have anything suitable for a backdrop in my own archive, I scoured the stock libraries to find something suitable. I didn't want anything as obvious as the Eiffel Tower at night. Something a little more subtle suited better. Eventually I found a great shot of Notre Dame taken from the opposite side of the Seine at dusk which was perfect.  Then it was a case of some serious masking in Photoshop.....

You can see from the screen grab below that several tweaks to my masks were required to get the railings etc as tidy as possible. I then positioned the backdrop image just where I wanted it, and finished off by darkening the inside of the glass door behind Jen and a couple of presets in Lightroom. Around 2 to 3 hours work all tolled.

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And here is the original image complete with lovely red roof and bird poo stains. I'm really happy that I finally managed to finish this off and I love the result (at top).

One light group portrait by Neil Alexander

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The other week I was asked by a PR agency that I've done several jobs for lately if I'd pop down to their offices to shoot a client they had coming in. There'd be 5 gents and, as well as individual portraits they wanted a group shot on a white background.

Not knowing exactly what to expect from a lighting perspective, I duly packed the kitchen sink into the car and headed off.  

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On arrival, it was obvious there was no lovely clean white wall that I could use as a backdrop. Fortunately, I'd packed my  9 foot white seamless and support stands and found a spot in the middle of the office to set this up. I'd brought several lighting options with me, but I wanted to try and keep it as simple as possible. Envisioning 2 rows of subjects, I simply set up one Quadra with the largest of the Lastolite Ezyboxs and set this up about 12 feet from the background to try and provide an even light on all the men. I set the light up slightly off centre to avoid throwing my shadow into the mix. However, In the end we decided to put all 5 subjects side by side and the result is the image you see up top. 

I'm a firm believer in the ol' KISS adage (Keep It Simple Stupid) and the result is exactly what the client was looking for. 

A day in the life of a taxi by Neil Alexander

Before Christmas I was contacted by the largest taxi firm in Sheffield regarding getting some new photographs for their website and marketing materials. Terms discussed and agreed, we pencilled a couple of dates in the diary and were all set to go. And then the snow fell. And fell and melted a bit and then fell some more. As the images were to go on their website all year round, heaps of snow in the photographs would not be ideal. In fact it was about two and a half months before we finally managed to get the job done, and even then it began snowing again as we began to wrap the day up. 

Being such a big player in Sheffield, they had initially suggested 90+ locations that they'd like to photograph. After some gentle persuasion we managed to trim this down to a more manageable number. The brief was to shoot "A day in the life of a taxi" and the key was to get as many of the main locations in Sheffield photographed with one of the cabs outside as well as some generic photographs of key landmarks. The firm lined up a couple of cabs for us to shadow and a 4x4 to use as my office for the day, along with a portrait shoot outside the town hall to demonstrate the wide racial mix of their drivers. 

It was a great but very long day. One aspect of photographing a taxi on city streets that became quickly apparent is that you can pretty much park them anywhere for a short period in order to get the shot and nobody, police, traffic wardens and security guards included will even blink an eyelid. Try that with an ordinary car and we'd have been moved on time and time again.