Sunday, 27 April 2014
A wild life at the BBC...
I finally got the go-ahead, first for BBC Wildlife magazine and then CountryFile. I've shot several stories now. I really couldn't afford to screw up so each one was carefully planned and executed. You know that old saying; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
With that in mind, I looked at the first shoot brief with a mounting sense of...errr, well, nervousness to say the least. I would be spending the day with Amy Jane Beer, a conservationist with a love of the great outdoors, who stops at nothing to explore the wildlife on her doorstep. We would be (I was assured) hiking, riding, canoeing and swimming our way around her neighbourhood, so I had better go prepared! Amy proved to be super-enthusiastic, funny and quite unstoppable.
With all the ingredients in place; interesting, photogenic person to work with, excellent weather (honestly), stunning, Yorkshire scenery and selection of energetic activities, what was I going to bring to the party? Answer: creative lighting. My USP in all of my editorial work these days is to make my pictures stand out through creative lighting techniques and try to go the extra mile. First up was a bit of bird watching.
Next up was a badger set near-by. The photo at the top of the page shows the location. With afternoon sun streaming through the back of the trees, all I needed was some equally soft light on Amy and the sandy foreground and I was done. That one came out at 1/60th @ 5.6 at 400 iso. SB800 brolly combo again. I used the backlighting as a hair light, didn't have to do anything, it was just there. Finally it was time to head for the river.
The last location shot was to be wild swimming and I had actually brought along my dry suit and a water housing so I could get in the water but it turned out to unnecessary...Amy could swim just off the river bank and I could shoot at ground/water level from the beach without any fuss. Simple is always better. You'll notice that Amy is swimming in the shade, with a sunlit background? I just skimmed some flash (SB800 in the food box/waterproofer) from water level to bring her exposure up a bit. 1/250th @ f5.6 @ 200 iso. 100 mm lens.
And you guessed it...no flash at all. Just ambient light with a telephoto lens, handheld, no tricks, gimmicks, bells or whistles. Simples, squeak!
Thanks to Amy for tea and flapjack. This feature appeared in the January edition of BBC Wildlife magazine and this shot (left) was a lead image. Until next time...