Ok so before I let you in on the lighting and editing side of things I want to first of all introduce you to the actual folks I was photographing…Keith & Bridget Trayling who own and run the fabulous Spillers Farm in Devon, UK …
Lifting the text straight from their website here’s a brief background giving you the who, what, where and when:
The owners of Spillers Farm – Bridget and Keith Trayling – moved to Devon from London in 2005 seeking a simpler way of life and wanting to grow their own food and raise livestock. Spillers had not been a working farm since the 1960’s but Keith and Bridget have literally brought new life to the farm when their sow Cassie had her first litter of six piglets in April 2008 – the first livestock to be born on the farm in forty years. They have also created a vegetable garden with four large plots which produces vegetables all year round; planted a small orchard with apple, pear and plum trees and planted a soft fruits plot which provides enough strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and loganberries to make almost a hundred pounds of homemade jam per year!
Bridget and Keith raise their animals using the principles of good animal husbandry. The pigs have a custom-built pigsty with constant access to outside space and they live as natural a life as possible.
The same principles are applied to all the other animals reared on the farm – lambs and poultry. Wanting to offer a good life to as many animals as possible, Bridget and Keith rescued two dozen battery hens in the summer of 2008. The project was so successful and fulfilling that two dozen more were rescued in the spring of 2009. All fully feathered and thriving, the birds are now completely free range.
Strange but I never imagined when I first started in photography that one day I’d be taking the portrait of a fully grown Gloucester Old Spot Pig by the name of Rodney. But, I guess if there’s one lesson I quickly learned in photography it was to always “expect the unexpected”.
I’ll never forget Keith calling out “Rodney, Rodney come on mate, up you come” in an increasingly desperate attempt to wake him from a deep sleep; geez if his own snoring wasn’t waking him up then Keith didn’t stand a chance…or so I thought. Before we knew it up he popped, front trotters on a wall and peeked over and if I didn’t know better I’d be convinced he was was ‘working the camera’ as he turned his head from side to side and struck a pose each time the flash went off 🙂
Lighting Set Up:
In all honesty it couldn’t have been simpler; virtually all of the shots where taken using one Nikon SB800 Speedlight and a 46″ Shoot Thru Umbrella, triggered using the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5.
This time rather than shooting in Aperture Priority as I did in the earlier Male Model Shoot [Link] I decided to go back to using Manual and for the record, this is where I’m going to be staying. Now don’t misunderstand my reason for this because Aperture Priority works really well, but it’s just that I’m more used to shooting in Manual and don’t have to really think about what I’m doing on the technical side which leaves me to engage with whoever I’m working with. The new Pocket Wizard units work faultlessly in Manual and still allow me to sync at much higher shutter speeds which at the end of the day is all I was really intending to ask of them anyway.
Again, full control of the flash power and the mode it was in was done using the Nikon SU800 attached to the Mini TT1 ontop of the camera. This makes for such a quick way to work being able to make all the changes from shooting position albeit this set up is a little on the bulky side. Sure there’s the soon to be released AC3 Controller for Nikon which is alot more compact but do I really need it yet when this system works perfectly as it is? … I’ll keep you posted 🙂
Most of the images from this shoot took just a few minutes of editing; starting off in Lightroom and then over to Photoshop to bring out some details, add contrast to the subject’s skin and adjust the colouring.
The image below is the one that took a little more time to complete. Reason for this being that I wanted to get a shot of Keith, Brigett and Meryck the dog from low down to include some of the sky but it was the middle of the day so the sky was fairly bright but also a little on the ‘flat’ side.
The side by side images above show you the ‘Before’ (out of camera) image and the ‘After’ (edited) image and to give you an idea of what editing was done in Photoshop here’s a breakdown…
So what was done?
- Remove Shoot Thru Umbrella and branches from left side of frame
- Remove reflection off the shoot thru umbrella and speedlight from Keith’s glasses
- Use a sharpening technique to bring out a little more detail
- Add contrast to skin
- Replace sky
- Adjust colouring (Add warmth & Desaturate)
• • •
So there you have it…a quick run through of a ‘Promotional’ shoot for Spillers Farm, Devon; a wonderful place to stay either in Bed & Breakfast or Holiday Cottage set amongst the Devon Countryside. Owned and run by people who truly love what they do which is clearly evident by the warm welcome and ‘home from home’ feel of the place; I can’t recommend Spillers Farm enough!
Oh and one last thing if you find yourself photographing farm animals and need a little bit of help getting them to “Work the camera Baby!” I’m sure Keith will be happy to pass on any hints and tips 🙂
As always if you have any questions or comments about anything in this post then please feel free to make use of the comments section below; it’s always great to ‘hear’ your thoughts.