School Photography

The Sony a6300 with the Sigma 18-35mm lens - when the lens is much bigger than the camera!

One of my regular clients for photography is a company which designs websites for schools. I cover schools for the across the South West, but have also done some as far North as Carlisle. The projects tend to be a half day, so either starting or finishing around the school lunch break.

Each shoot has specific requirements and a schedule drawn up by the school - they often will cram their photography session with as many different activities as possible, and the weather is usually good at dictating what those activities will be! I’m asked to keep the focus of any images in the bottom two thirds of the photo, which allows the website to have banners and so on along the top of the image without cropping out anyone’s face!

My Sony A7Sii with Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART lens and battery grip

My go-to kit for photography is my Sony A7Sii - whilst purchased originally for stills, it’s full frame sensor with large pixel size means I have really nice bright images. I use mostly my Sigma ART 50mm F1.4 and leave it wide open to give me a nice shallow depth of field that really helps the subject pop out from the background.

For sports and other quick moving subjects I use my little Sony a6300 which has an incredibly fast burst rate and autofocus when using the Sigma MC-11 adapter in combination with any of my Canon EF lenses.

Each school is very different and it’s always fun making the most of the facilities and getting children to go read books in ‘random places’ (as I put it to them) - it makes for some really interesting images! An example of my work would be - http://www.wilton.dsat.org.uk/

I also create video backgrounds too for use on the websites - an example would be http://www.parsonstreet.com/

One school image I can safely share!

Filming on St Martin's, the Isles of Scilly

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This week I was lucky enough to travel to the Isles of Scilly on a shoot with producer Chris Tuff (CTV), to create a promotional film for ‘Scilly Flowers’ as part of an advertising campaign produced by Cornwall Living magazine.

Grab from the film - Scented narcissi growing on St Martin’s

Getting to St Martin’s was an interesting experience. A drive to Land’s End from Portishead, followed by a 20 minute flight to St Mary’s (the main island) and finally a boat to St Martin’s. Once on the island it was fairly simple to get around by walking, quad bike or van on their only road! Scilly Flowers grows flowers all year round and the purpose of the film was to show where they are based, what they do and give an insight into the process and the people behind it.

Another grab from the film - picking narcissi in one of the many flower fields

The first day we arrived with blue skies, no wind and the sun feeling like the middle of June. I filmed location shots of the island, as well as in the flower fields and on several beaches. We stayed on the island for one night at the farm in a holiday flat before waking up to a more typical English February day - wind pushed me and my camera about and I was rained on a few times! Thankfully, this is all part of life at St Martin’s and showing a variety of weather benefits the film by showing the growing conditions on the island.

Equipment wise I was travelling light - so only about 5 cases! Shooting the film on the URSA Mini Pro 4.6k was so much fun - the ability to keep both highlights in the sky and shadows when the sun was high gives the film a great look. I shot mostly wide on the Sigma 18-35mm with one or two macro shots on my Canon 100mm 2.8. I mainly shot wide (I usually favor the 35mm end of the lens but this time kept a lot at 18mm) as I wanted to show the scale of the island and also give some context to people and their surroundings.

Just after landing on St Mary’s - a fun flight!

Overall it was a fantastic experience - landing back at Land’s End (after a rather bumpy flight that was lucky to actually take-off!) we all felt like we’d been on an adventure of sorts.

Island life certainly seems to be fun, and I’m really looking forward to putting the first edit in front of everyone at Scilly Flowers!

DataSpace2019 - Event Filming / Photography

The URSA Mini Pro on location in the Clydeside Distillery, Glasgow

The URSA Mini Pro on location in the Clydeside Distillery, Glasgow

Last week I drove up to Glasgow (a bit of a trip from Bristol!) to attend the DataSpace 2019 conference. My job was to capture highlights of the event on video, and at the same time do stills photography for press / website use. It was an interesting event covering a variety of space / satellite related topics and I did find myself getting sucked into a few of the presentations!

My URSA Mini Pro set-up for vox-pops, using RodeLink wireless lav mic on the interviewee

I’d normally bring along an assistant to help with either photography or videography, however on this occasion it wasn’t possible so I ended up managing both. This involved moving around the venue with the URSA (my main video camera) and two stills cameras - I definitely had a good workout over the 2.5 days! My set-up is quick and portable so once I’d moved to where I needed to be I could quickly capture events / highlights in both video and stills from the same position.

When presentations took place in the main hall, I set up the URSA and my stills cameras so that I could get a wide and close of each speaker, as well as showing off the venue. I used a 10mm lens on the URSA and my A7Sii to give the hall an epic wide view that really shows off the scale of the event.

As I was only shooting highlights and not capturing the sessions in full, I just recorded 20 second snippets of presenters when they were their most animated, and took stills at the same time.

People usually ask why everything looks red on the camera - the red actually outlines anything that is in focus - really handy in a situation like this!

Me with my URSA and the Sony A7Sii - picture taken on my a6300 with the Sigma 18-35mm lens

Two highlights of the event were both the reception drinks at the Clydeside Distillery and a gala dinner at a stunning converted church venue in the middle of Glasgow on the second night.

The footage from the more informal events always looks great as you capture the delegates really enjoying themselves and networking outside of the conference environment. It’s also a great thing to have on film to promote any further events!

Matti Hemmings Photo Shoot

Today I spent half an hour with Guinness World Record holder and BMX wizard Matti Hemmings doing some stills photography.

I’ve known Matti for a few years now - as he lives around the corner we often meet up to shoot some stills and video for his social media. I always enjoy getting out the office for half an hour to shoot some fairly amazing tricks, usually around the marina in Portishead.

Today I shot on both the Sony a6300 and the A7Sii - I’m so used to shooting on the A7Sii that when I have a play with my a6300 the speed of the camera takes me by surprise, it’s so quick!

Shot these images on a mix of lenses - mainly the Sigma 10-20 F3.5 and Canon 70-200 F2.8.