Sunday, November 25, 2018


It took me some time to get it happening, but finally the studio is up and running.   There are three shooting areas.  One for natural light, one for table top and still life work and a full length section.  No cyclorama.... the space isn't big enough for that, but there is a full kitchen for food prep, a models change room with one whole wall of props and another of clothing and a small but functional bathroom.  There are a few more things I would like to do to make it perfect..... but it is pretty damn good as is.    I would consider swapping out the tripod backdrop stands for ceiling mounted and rehoming a couple of large pieces of furniture to allow for more diverse lighting placement.   

I currently shoot with 4 Canon Speedlights and have all manner of modifiers from Honl gels to big arse soft boxes.   I use Pocketwizards (TT1 and TT5) to trigger and they all perform seamlessly and wirelessly... but still I would like a nice pair of Elinchrom BRX 500's.  Well a pair isn't enough, I'd need 3.  The downside to that purchase, and the only thing holding me back, is cords.  Power cables. They will be nothing but trouble for me in the studio.  There is a terrible story from way back in 2009. About getting tangled at an outdoor shoot and only the swift response of a naked model capturing my brand new 5D2 from certain death as the cable twisted around my leg dragged it off a plinth onto rocks below.  But lets not go there.  It still sends shivers!!  Hence my aversion to cables.  Many years have passed, but I'm still scarred by that near tragedy!

I know Godox AD400's or the new 600's are an alternative to the BRX500's, but I really have an Elinchrom mindset.  I have only used them twice, but the build quality impressed me to the somewhat obsessional stage.   The one thing they have over what already exists for me is.... a modelling light.  Shooting tethered is a reasonable alternative, but.... it's still not Elinchrom.  I tether to a MacBook Pro and I do use a Tether tool I picked up from Kayell in Sydney recently.  The Tether tool gives me some security when I feel clumsy around cords (hence my one and only Elinchrom issue). 

So far the Speedlights have not left me wanting.   I have to say output control via the PW's and portability are totally winning points.  I can't fault the gear I have..... but the desire for the big E is strong.  Maybe it's just the choice noise they make when the fire and recharge!

So below are few pics I took last Sunday.

Paper backdrop,  mostly softboxes and one attempt at Clamshell..... we did venture outdoors at the very death, but it was still too early in the afternoon to really achieve my desired outcomes.

The subject, Miss A, was a real trooper.  She gave me "sinister" when I need it!  She sat well, followed instructions and looked dead set stunning in the vintage gown...that I 'nearly' didn't buy!! She was recommended to me by a friend as a potential sitter and was accompanied by family. I'm so lucky to have met her and hope to shoot her again one day.

I was ably assisted with lighting by the aforementioned naked model as she is an accomplished photographer in her own right and for some reason volunteered to be my VAL for the day.  I very much enjoy her friendship. Shooting with her is a real joy.

So below are just five of the images of the day.  There were quite a few more and all required minimal editing, primarily cropping out a tiny sliver of softbox!  

The studio in the making was knows as Duna Studios.  Duna - Doona "well keep you covered", but we do need a new name.   So far StudioNao is atop the list.  If anything grabs you, send a message and I'll add it to the short list!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Home decorating 101.... by a NON expert!

Well much has transpired since my last post.  I'm now in full blown home reno mode.  I blame too much American daytime television for that!!     Fixer Upper, Good Bones, Flip or Flop.   I am amazed at the seemingly lack of governance in their reno regimes..... but perhaps those boring legal bits have been edited out for effect.   I'm not undertaking that level of work at this stage, but I am doing some decorating!   One of my jobs has been to create a functional office space. Having achieved that with a huge L shaped gloss white desk big enough for my editing computer and my smaller Family History and general laptops and some gloss white Ikea storage units, time has come to decorate the blank wall behind the desk.

The whole room was gutted and two coats of Taubmans was liberally applied.   My mate Moo was the paint buddy on that gig.   I did the patching, sanding and cleaning prep then she did all the cutting in while I rolled along behind here.     We did that on a stinking hot day so there was not a lot of time needed between coats!  And here we are 3 months later ready to create a gallery wall of images.   I purchased 11 black frames with white mattes.  Different sizes and formats, but the black and white theme was what I was after.   I then had 11 of my fave black and white images printed (oh there could be a whole blog post on that debarcle alone).   I finally framed them all.

As the frames were all different styles using old style wire and hanging hooks was just going to be a drama.   Moo suggested I try the 3M "Command" system of wall hooks.  Essentially they are sticky backed velcro.  Surprisingly they hold considerable weight.

I made paper templates the size of the prints and blu-tacked them to the wall.   This made it very easy to move images about and get the look I wanted.  I didn't want all the people pics on one side and the architectural images clumped together on the other side, so the templates worked a treat.

The process for hanging the system is to affix the velcro to the frame,  wash down the wall area where the sticky velcro will end up with rubbing alcohol.  Then remove the protective paper from the velcro and place the image where you want it.....and then..... instantly remove the image!!  That leaves one half of the velcro on the wall,  allowing it to cure for an hour before reattaching the print. 

Each stage of that process is fraught with problems.  Firstly all the frames had different widths on the reverse.  Fortunately the "Command" hooks come in varying sizes, so be cautious if you are embarking on this journey to match your frames with your hooks or, like me, you will be racing to Bunnings for more appropriate supplies!    The next problem was... hanging the images straight.  For this I used a Ryobi Air Grip Laser level.   Air grip, such a cute term for suction!    A mate at work loaned me two laser levels, but for them to be used "single handedly"  they needed to be affixed to the wall...with a nail!   Errr NO!  Not after all the cleaning and patching I had done!!   There are a number of different Laser levels out there and not knowing my arse from my elbow in this selection process I consulted he who shall be known as the "Oracle of Home Renovation".   Without hesitation he recommended the Ryobi.  He was right.  Suction was the answer.

So with all the good gear, good info and good intentions I began removing the templates and hanging the pics.    I started in the middle and worked out to the edges.   The "Command" hooks do leave a little wiggle room so fine tuning is an option.  And if you totally stuff up they can easily be removed and repositioned with a new wall mount piece (which can be bought separately).

The one negative I found was that one of the larger format frames I bought had perspex not glass and was scratched before I even got the print into it.  Lesson learnt,  Microfibre cleaning cloths and perspex don't go mix.   Its an easy fix though.  I'll have a sheet of 3mm glass cut for the frame and replace the perspex at some stage. 

Naturally I took progress images so you can follow the bouncing ball below if you need to.
I am chuffed at the look achieved for a minimal outlay.

Thanks must go to Moo, Joshy, The Oracle and Ash.  Job done!