Last year Katy and I tried to set up a shoot together unfortunately illness prevented her from coming up to Scotland, however this year we managed it. I picked her up from the train station and we headed out over the river to the studio, picking up snacks on the way….as you do!
Kettle on, lights organised, snacks munched and with a whiz and a bang off we went…
A few glugs of tea and a light change….more shapely shapings of the shape sort…
Then…unusually, some…erm, clothes!…I know but it has to be done now and then! We took these in between much laughter and funny voices
Then finally we took some portraits, we had spent quite a lot of time being exact on the shapes that we nearly ran out of time for portraits….well it might have been that or we were larking about….I refuse to say which it was…(erm larks)
Another fab shoot with a fab model, lots of fun and shenanigans along the way. Katy is lovely to work with, great attitude and professional. Quick to laugh and have fun with whatever pose was asked of her, and she excelled today as some of the poses were very strenuous indeed. She pulled out all the stops and the results show. Highly recommended that everyone have the Katex experience…..find her on Purple Port.
Holy Moly, another 5am start to photographic shenanigans, and the weather was as soggy as a haddocks bathing costume. It was dark and cloudy and the light was terrible, just the kind of challenge I like, it was obvious the cameras were going to struggle in these kinds of conditions. Anyway we all poddled off in the mini bus and headed out to the location, where exactly I don’t know, it was too foggy and dark to follow. By the time we got to the location the sky had brightened from dark to very dim, and once we got set up it started to rain too.
Plans were drawn up as we all had to work quickly, the cold and wet meant the models were going to suffer a bit and the chances of freezing up beyond the point of working were quite high. Once everyone knew what was going on we dived in to get some images. Helen and Keira started off at one location close by.
By the time these were done Scarlot and Rachelle were set up on a distant outcrop. And these dark and moody shots were taken.
Finally for that early morning I spotted a scene and Keira stood in for the last 2 minutes to catch the dense fog amidst the rugged landscape.
It was a challenging shoot, the air quality was bad and the lighting very poor but I have to say I love it like that, it makes for a very moody edgy grainy set of images. You end up shooting the feel of the scene rather than striving for perfect imagery.
Anyhow…back at the hotel a shower and breakfast was very welcome. We had the morning left to shoot before departing in the afternoon. The plan was to shoot on the banks of Loch Assynt and head round by Inverkirkaig for the final location. When we got to the loch we split up and worked one on one, so Helen and I teamed up and found some interesting rocks, trees and scenery. I also managed the odd capture of Scarlot and Rachelle. Fortunately the clouds parted and the sun came out…turned out to be a nice day.
After this was a quick journey through Lochinver and around near Inverkirkaig where we all managed to squeeze into a very small car park and climb over a hill to reach the plateau that looked over Cul Mor. The scenery was quite majestic, rugged and wild.
And lastly before heading for a well earned lunch at Ullapool…
The road to Ullapool from here had changed a lot over the years, when I first went over it on my old Triumph Bonneville about 20 years ago it really was an ordeal. At that time the road had grass growing up the middle and had no verge, just a sudden drop or a cliff face. It was dubbed the ‘Road to Hell’ at the time. We got to Ullapool and paid a visit to one of the best fish n chips restaurants ever. There was a short hunt looking for replacement wellies for Keira, hers had given up the ghost during the weekend. Then after a fond farewell to everyone I jumped in the car and headed home. It was great to meet old friends and make new ones, and so the Adventure ended, quite a weekend, great fun and highly productive.
They run well organised workshops throughout the year and I highly recommend checking them out. Howard works with top class models and all are professional and experienced, and I highly recommend them to beginners and experienced photographers alike.
Breakfast at the Inchnadamph Hotel was a real feast after the breezy early morning shoot, I did intend to stink the place out with a plate of kippers but I was swayed by the thought of bacon, sausage and egg. After a hearty feed with copious amounts of coffee we all headed out to the Bone Caves, the weather had warmed up a little but the sky looked ominously gloomy and stormy. The Bone Caves are a good walking distance from the car park and well worth going to see even if you aren’t shooting, our first stop on the way there was lovely waterfall and pool.
Further up the track there was an old tree that looked ideal for a shoot, however on closer inspection the tree was just too old and fragile for doing much with, sadly it had seen better days and was simply too dangerous to climb etc….however the fallen branches looked interesting.
It was a bit of a climb to the caves as they are halfway up the mountainside and cliff face, the caves were fabulous but so was the cliff face outside of them.
Just inside one of the caves…shapes happened!
And inside one of the larger caves I decide to shoot outwards, the lighting was trickier and I ended up using the built-in camera flash for a little fill on occasion.
Meanwhile back on the cliff face, Keira decides to go climbing!
Although it’s a great place for a shoot, it’s also a popular place for the general public. We had limited time there but fortunately we all got more than enough shots out of the location. And we meandered back down the track stopping off at places we had seen on the way up.
Once we got back we cleaned up, relaxed and headed for dinner. Afterwards there was an image review which was fun, a bit of social time and banter before calling it a night, It was another early start again in the morning. I will leave that for the next blog in part 3.
Spring time on Scotland was a bit of a scorcher, well…relatively speaking that is. Helen Stephens was scheduled to come up for a shoot but an opportunity arose that meant that I could attend a PhotoClassics workshop – Art Nude in the Landscape in which Helen was participating as a model. A happy happenstance, so Helen came up for a couple of days before going up to the Lochinver area. It worked rather well as we had a good couple of days hanging out, with lunch at the V&A and general silliness…which our norm! This also meant we could travel up together, we left early in the morning as I wanted to take advantage of the good weather to take some landscapes or wildlife on the way up. It had been a while since I’d been up that way, I used to travel to Inverness regularly when I was working. We stopped of at Perth for fuel and snacks, cuz like…….snacks are important!
Now the A9 isn’t the place for landscapes and wildlife so we battered on til we got to Ullapool, where we stopped for a break and more snacks!. We also blagged our way into the Ferry Inn without buying any booze just to use the loo…as you do! We had a wee walk around and ended up in the ‘Hillwalking’ shop, where I picked up a bargain. We caught this landscape from outside the Ferry Inn, a pub I highly recommend.
The weather was roasting for April and had been for several days, but of course that was bound to change soon. In the meantime we made the most of it and slowly meandered up to Ardvreck Castle near Inchnadamph taking landscapes on the way before the workshop started.
We were staying at Inchnadamph Hotel and when we got there we were just 5 mins before Keira Lavelle, Rachelle Summers and Scarlot Rose arrived. And of course Howard and Karen Kennedy who were running the workshop. It was a real delight to meet old faces and new ones too.
Once we got settled in and relaxed, Howard ran through the workshop details and some presentations to start us of, all very well organised. The afternoon was wearing on a little and it was decided that we would go a reccy to a nearby location. Stupidly I took my little bridge camera thinking that this was just a simple ‘look see’, I should have known better and taken my usual camera as once we saw the location it was ideal for a full nude shoot. In saying that the little Canon SX50 did a fairly decent job considering. No sooner had we had a look at the location when Keira decided to go for it and it turned into a fantastic wee shoot around the waterfall.
Not to be outdone, Scarlot and Rachelle gleefully joined in, Helen was having a snooze at the Hotel. So it wasn’t long before we got some fabulous shots with all three models. Having three talented top class models makes it easy to get good images especially when you are ad libbing and adapting to the situation/location.
The little camera did alright as I managed to get a couple of FIAP awards and acceptances out of these images. I have to say it’s no substitute for a large sensor DSLR though.
In the Evening we went for a light painting session near Lochinver (ish), a bit of a trek and an adventure to find the right spot. Tripods, headlamps, slow shutter speeds etc etc…..loads of fun, and exercise.
Then bed for an early start in the morning, a 5am wake up call and a drive in the dark to catch the morning light. On the way we saw a huge amount of deer coming down from the hills to graze and drink by the lochside. Sadly the weather had turned and the morning light became morning mist and a cold wind with it. We had to wait for the light to get as good as it can be and for supplies for the models, such as hot soup, towel and blankets.
There was limited time before the models got too cold to work, so plans were worked out beforehand. The stones were like ice and the bog they posed in sucked the heat right out of you very rapidly.
A quick wash and some hot soup for the ladies and we were heading back for a well earned breakfast…and a shower for Keira and Helen who were just covered in slimy bog goo!
After Breakfast more shooty shenanigans in the Mountains, details in Part 2
Spring had sprung with an oingy boingy kinda noise that didn’t really wake anyone up, it was so quiet no-one really noticed it until the daffodils came out and the rain turned slightly warmer. On such a day Helen Diaz turned up at the studio, bright and breezy with her usual sunny disposition. We had a bit of a chinwag and a cuppa, a few laughs and many a loud snort of humour while we made funny faces at each other….as you do!
At some stage we got down to taking some pictures with some kinda pointy shooty camera thing.
More funny faces and a light change…..
So as it happened I was at the Pitlochry Theatre for there costume sale and managed to pick up a large black dress not long before this shoot, using it here for some moody portraits….
Then for a more ‘wild’ look…
Time a cuppa and a complete change of theme and lighting…..but more funny faces!
While changing scenes we went back to Art Nude for a spell…more shapes but with more light.
Then some clam shell lighting for portraits and 3/4 length shenanigans ……. and more funny faces!
So all in all a very jolly day in the studio with much fun and nonsense as we could muster!
Hurrah for funny faces and the ever lovely Helen Diaz