Moving home!

Just to let you know that this blog is moving home.

You can now find it on http://www.charlwoodphotography.com/blog/ as part of my new website.

I’d love your thoughts and comments on the new website, and don’t forget to subscribe to the new blog feed.


Photographing pigeons

Pigeons generally get bad press. Some people think of them as flying rats – grey sandwich thieves who steal from innocent toddlers – and I imagine most of us, when we were six, found chasing after a flock of them very entertaining.

We have a lot of pigeons in the centre of town, so I set out the other day (with the above in mind) in an attempt to take a flattering photo of one. Let me know if you think I succeeded…

(Nikon V1 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 lens)

I used a shallow depth of field to isolate the pigeon and hopefully give the bird a softer look. It was sunset – you can see the light reflected in the shop windows behind – and I positioned myself so the warm light was full on the subject, hoping to bring out the colours on the neck. What you can’t see is about seven other pigeons behind me, trying to find out if I’ve hidden any food in my pockets.


Why have an engagement photoshoot?

As part of every booking, I offer my clients a complimentary engagement shoot.  But why have a photoshoot, only a few months before your wedding?

If you don’t normally like being photographed, an engagement photoshoot is a great way to discover that being the subject can be great fun! I also really appreciate getting to know you more before your wedding, and you also get an idea of how it will feel having me as your photographer on the day.

There are lots of ways you can use the photos too. Some clients make an album, or give prints to family and friends and many use their engagement shoot photos on their invitations or wedding stationary.

Here are some images from my most recent engagement photoshoots…

If you’re on Facebook and want to keep up with Charlwood Photography, you can join the Facebook group.


Photographing Musicians – Part 2 (behind the scenes)

Yesterday I shared some of the images from my shoot with Leah and Celeste. Today is a look behind the scenes of the shoot.

Here’s photo number one. Yes, I am wearing gloves…it was freezing!

Below is the shot I was taking at the time. As you can see above, I’m crouching down for a lower perspective, so that the cobbles lead into the image. The light is blocked on either side by the buildings, making it directional enough for a good black and white conversion. Leah was going for a Vogue-ish look, with a vintage vibe. The use of black and white and shooting in a street with old buildings helped create that.

I used a wide aperture (f/2.5) so that only Leah was in focus and the buildings behind her added to the vibe, but weren’t distracting.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.5, 1/250th)

Number two is a good example of using whatever space is available. I’ve posed Celeste just inside the covered walkway between a giftshop and some public toilets. (Who says being a photographer isn’t glamorous?) I picked that location because a covered walkway gives brilliant control of light.

Here’s the end result. Celeste was looking for edgy photos that contrasted sharply with normal perception of a soprano. The strong light and brickwork are a big contrast to the style of images I was shooting for Leah.

Using the walkway with the strong light behind me has given Celeste lovely ‘catchlights’ in her eyes.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.2, 1/125th)

Here’s another image from the same location. This time I’ve moved Celeste away from the wall and allowed the end of the tunnel to add a bit of backlighting to the scene. I’ve also moved slightly closer to make the depth of field shallower.

The result of a shallower depth of field (Celeste’s hair is out of focus on one side) and the backlighting is to make the image much softer. The strong light and leather jacket are still harsh, but the result is (I hope) an image that presents a more delicate side.

Note that Celeste’s eyes are placed at the top third of the frame and the eye closest to the camera is on the right hand third of the frame.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.5, 1/160th)

Number three is, I think, the most interesting. We’re back in the same street as number one and I’m crouching down again, but this time I’m breaking all the rules.

Celeste is front-on and above me, traditionally an angle you would NEVER photograph a woman at – apart from making them look square, by shooting from below you also make them look larger. Not recommended! However, there is a reason for my flagrant rule-breaking.

By shooting from below, I’m putting Celeste in a dominant position, but by turning her head away from the camera I help to define her features, which goes some way to negating the fact I’m shooting her straight on. Shooting straight on makes her shoulders square, which adds a strength and aggression to the pose.

The most interesting part? The image below is Celeste’s favourite from the shoot. Some people will tell you there are no rules to photography, and in some ways they are correct, however, you earn the right to break the rules if you know them.

Finally, I shot with my widest aperture of f/2.0 to remove some of the distractions from the background and then chose a panoramic crop of the image, because I felt it best matched the look we were aiming for.

(Nikon D700 & Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2.0, 1/160th)

Do get in contact if you’re interested in a portrait shoot.

If you’ve got any photography questions, do ask away via my Formspring page and if you’re interested in my 1-1 photography training workshops, you can find more info here.


Photographing Musicians – Part 1

Musicians have a reputation for being a temperamental bunch, but the ones I get to work with are an absolute joy.

It rained and the temperature just hit three degrees above freezing, but I have endless respect for Leah and Celeste who managed to look effortlessly chic and biker-chick (respectively).

Leah runs the incredible Blue Flamingo Entertainments, who I can’t recommend highly enough for any function – yes, I’m biased, they played at my own wedding last year.

Celeste Cronje-Richardson is not only a Royal Academy of Music graduate and wonderful soprano, but also the only person I’ve ever seen manage to pull off a concert dress and leather jacket…

Part 2 will be a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot, with a few more photos of both Leah and Celeste, as well as some shots of me in action. I’ll also explain the thought process and planning behind some of the images.


Winter Wonderland

Last night we had the perfect amount of snow: enough to turn the the view from my window into a scene from a snow-globe, but not enough (as far as I know) to cancel any flights or cause too much travel chaos…

(shot on a Nikon V1 and 10mm f/2.8 lens)


Winter sunset

It’s still hovering around freezing outside, but yesterday there was a clear blue sky as the sun set. I went outside with the intention of taking a picture that would remind me that we do have a summer in England…

(photo taken with a Nikon V1 and 10mm lens)


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