Friday, 26 September 2014

Photography... It's all about problem solving... Mostly.

A client wants his heating product shot in an airing cupboard, with no hot water tank,  apparently it's something to do with if you have a combination boiler installed you lose the hot water tank. So having check with numerous people I know none of them has a combination boiler, or a converted airing cupboard, so I was getting a bit stuck.

Now professional photography is not all f-stops and shutter speeds, no, photography is about problem solving, I solved the problem by first making a false floor from laminated flooring, with a couple of battens glued under it to hold it together, then with the aid of a couple of small stands and studio clamps I floated the flooring on top of the hot water tank in my airing cupboard.

The heater required mounting on the wall, another problem to solve as there was no way I was going to start drilling holes in my cupboard walls, so I made a small jig out of plywood and some small battens, the heater was being shot with, and without a grill cover, the one supplied was the wrong size, so I had to cut it down, take a shot of it one way around, then flip it over and take another shot, photoshop the layers together and remove the unwanted cut end, I also had to remove the wooden battens from the image to, fiddly, but doable.

I used a single light, an old Bowens Prolite 60 (250W) with a 90cm Octabox attached, the stand was perched at the top of the stair, I'm so glad we've not removed the stair gate from when the boys were younger, it stopped the whole lot from ending up smashed at the foot of the stair.

Shot on the Canon 5D MkIII, supported by my trusty old Manfrotto tripod, using an electronic cable release, and iShoot transmitter and receiver.

The carpet and door were photographed by lowering the light and taking the camera down to floor level, but keeping the head angle the same, the image was then stripped-in in photoshop.

These are the images the client was after, it just took me a little more time to achieve than they, or I had envisaged.

Above, the same product but shot on a white background, the lighting was provided by two Bowens Espirt Gemini 500 heads, shod with 35cm x 140cm stripboxes, and mounted on Manfrotto heavy duty stands with 40 inch boom-arms.

All images ©2014 Alistair Kerr Photography

Monday, 15 September 2014

iShoot Transmitters and Receivers...

I bought these iShoot transmitters and receivers because my existing sets were starting to fail, the old receivers hung from a jack plug and the wires in the cables had started to break. So I was trawling ebay when I came across these beauties. At £27.99 with free shipping from Hong Kong how could you go wrong? Now don't get me wrong I wasn't just going for cheapness, I've used Pocket Wizards, Wein and other expensive systems in the past, but to be honest, for what I require, these thing fit the bill perfectly. They have a 30 metre/100ft coverage and I'm rarely that far from my lighting.

The Transmitter is small and very simple, so it doesn't add a great deal of weight to the camera, the 4 channel selection sits under the unit, on top a simple test button to fire off the flashes.

The receivers are quite small and pop straight into the jack plug socket, no dangling receiver on a length of wire. Though I have discovered one problem. If you are using the Bowens Travelpak the cable fouls the iShoot receiver, making it impossible to use... or so you'd think, I've ordered some right angle Jack plug adapters, should be here this week so hopefully problem solved. 

I was shooting some products last week and put the iShoot units through their paces, flawless, never missed a pop...

All images ©2014 Alistair Kerr Photography, 
use them and you will feel the wrath of my copyright lawyer.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I took my X100 with me on holiday..

Earlier in the year we booked a week in a cottage in West Wales for the third week in August, because the weather is usually warm and sunny. Usually, but it would seem not always, so the forecast looked a bit dodgy but we packed everything we needed, including buckets and spades for the boys. I packed my Fuji X100, with the lens hood, two batteries, charger and two 8GB SD cards, into a little over the shoulder case, nice and light, far better than struggling with the Canon 5D MkIII with the weight of the 24-70 hanging on the front of it. Plus the Canons needed a rest too after working hard all year.

Bryncaled - The Cottage...

The cottage was lovely, a stone barn conversion at the end of a long track, off a quiet road, of a secluded village. The walls were three feet thick, the rooms spacious and very well appointed, with very comfortable beds. We booked the cottage through , they have a lot of property in the area, I think we may well consider booking a different cottage next year from their excellent selection.

There was loads of space for the kids to run around in the back garden, the views across the farm fields were lovely, the mooing of cows and the chattering of swifts as they flew overhead were the only noises to disturb the tranquillity. 

I found a wheelbarrow, at no point was I tempted to put it to good use, I just left it where I found it and took a few photos, as you do.

Black Rock Sands...

As you can see from the wind blown (destroyed) sandcastle the beach holiday we planned didn't work out as expected. This is Black Rock Sands, the sun was out, but the wind was blowing up a sand storm, as soon as you filled your bucket and turned out a castle the wind started to erode it, or bury it under a rapidly built up sand dune, or both!

Still the boys and I didn't let a bit of wind and sand bother us, castles were built, and eventually destroyed, the boys took great delight in trampling the castles before the wind could bury or blow them away.

The Ffestiniog Railway...

We took the boys on the Ffestiniog Railway, the journey on the train was lovely, the views stunning, I'd thoroughly recommend the trip. Above is the locomotive of the Ffestiniog Railway that took us to Blaenau, I took a few pictures, the driver let the boys stand in the cab, they even got to wear his coal covered, oil soaked hat, the boys loved that. Though they didn't get to blow the train whistle, a little disappointing.

This is a newspaper shop (former pet shop) in Blaenau Ffestiniog, below is a TV shop, this is what greeted us on our walk around Blaenau after our lunch, and before the next train back to Porthmadog was due. My personal suggestion, never get stuck in Blaenau Ffestiniog, there isn't much to do with two young children, they get bored and fractious very quickly, only by buying them an ice cream at the station and promising the train would arrive as they finished them, which thankfully it did, did we avert a major moaning and grumbling from the boys. Getting on that train and watching Blaenau disappear as we pulled out of the station and entered a small tunnel filled us with elation.


Portmeirion, designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, well we had to go and see it, it wasn't far from where we were staying. When we got there it was hammering down with rain, so the X100 stayed in the case. We were lucky though, within a few minutes of buying our entry tickets the clouds broke apart, and out came the sun, and so out came the X100.

The tide was out and we got to walk down on the sand, where Patrick McGoohan would be chased by strange white balloons in the TV show "The Prisoner" back in the late 1960s.

It was good to see that Atlas was still there holding up the world and saving us from a fate worse than... well worse than someone dropping the earth.

Beach and groynes...

You can't go to the seaside and not take some pictures of groynes, so of course that's exactly what I did...

Lots of them!

Balancing rocks, always wanted to give it a go, so here is the fruits of my labour. Having scoured the beach for the appropriate stones I started building, it didn't take that long, so it wasn't long before I was stood looking at my work of art. It appears that the wind doesn't have much time for art, the first major gust had the stones spread back all over the beach again, luckily only a couple of sand flies fell victim to the collapse.

Criccieth Beach...

Even when the weather threatened rain we ventured to the beach, the boys collecting stones, or rock pooling, they even went paddling in the sea, though never for very long.

Castles, clouds, and cobbles.

One image of the rain clouds exiting stage left, and a shot over the rocks as the sun started to break through the clouds enter stage right.

A bucket full of stones, and shells. Coat, and long trousers when it should be shorts and t-shirts weather.


I know it looks all dark and gloomy, but we did have sunshine during the week, and on our last day we spent a very nice time on the beach at Abersoch. Sand wasn't up to much as far as castle construction material went, so the boys collected shells, played with the frisbee, and generally enjoyed themselves. The camera pretty much stayed in the case, though I did take a few pictures.

The beach patrol kept an eye out for trouble, always very reassuring when you have kids running all over the beach.

This is the last photo I took on holiday, an hour later we were all packed up and heading home in the car. All in all, a lovely holiday, weather was hit and miss, but we made the best of it, and the X100 was a joy to have with me, light enough to carry all day, it hardly got a second glance from passers by, though a few guys lugging big DSLRs around with them gave it a longing look.

All images @2014 Alistair Kerr
Rip them off with copy and paste, and I'll let loose my rottweiler copyright lawyer, he only bites your wallet.