BTS with Metro Vocal Group (VIDEO)


In October we were approached by Metro Vocal Group to shoot promotional images for them and help produce their new album design.

They really liked some of our previous ‘grungy’ HDR portraits that we had done and were very keen to emulate this style, so we went ahead with this concept to help promote their new ‘more funky’ image for the group.

The ideas consisted of shooting several portraits of each member of the group using 3 point lighting.  The purpose of this is so that light is coming from all different directions, this helps when making composite images.

Because of the setup required for this, we were able to do the shoot in the comfort of Metro’s own studio, so minimal disruption to them, and luckily our offices are only a few minutes apart in Central.

Once we had the portraits shot with the 3 point lighting, we did a few outdoor shots in the street below their studio so we had some variety of images.

Then we just needed to shoot several HDR backdrops from around town to use as backdrops for the composite images and put it all together in photoshop.

Below is a video showing a quick edit of the day of the shoot and a few of the images also.

We had great fun, great bunch of guys and look forward to seeing the finished CD designs in early 2012 and hearing the new album!

For more information on Metro Vocal Group, check out their website here

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.

F8 studio lighting workshop - review and feedback

A few weekends ago we held a studio lighting workshop for 2 of our previous clients; Craig and Bernhard, who last year completed the foundation course with F8. They have both been practicing hard and continuing to develop their passion for photography, adding a vast array of images to their portfolios of the last year or so, ranging from travel photography to family lifestyle portraits.

They had both arrived at a point in their photography where they felt it was the right time to broaden their horizons with artificial lighting, so we headed into the studio with 3 beautiful models early one Sunday morning and started playing with light meters, octaboxes and all the other great toys in the studio to see what we could achieve in a few hours of intensive training.

Bearing in mind that neither of the guys had ever set foot in a photography studio as the photographer before, we started with the basics; how to use light meters correctly, 1 light setup, using reflectors, flags and other light modifiers, then moving on to slightly more elaborate lighting setups, using gels, grids, snoots, barndoors, ringflashes and even wind machines amongst other tools.

After 5 hours of loud music, high energy photography and lots of laughter the whole crew was exhausted, even our models mentioned they didn't realise it can be quite tiring and hard work posing for a demanding photographer...haha.

Everyone involved said they had a positive experience and achieved a valuable piece of training to carry them forward with their photography, so I was happy, I had achieved my aim to teach them some new tricks and see everyone leaving the studio with big happy grins on their faces :-)

Using 3 cameras throughout the day, they had taken hundreds of images, I asked them afterwards to send me just a very small selection each, to show that they could also selectively choose and edit images as we would do so in a professional environment, being able to filter work down and produce only the top quality images, a task that is not as easy as it may sound.

I asked them both for a bit of feedback a week or so later and they said the following:

Craig Menzies:  "The studio shoot was a great experience and really focused on the full studio experience, from setting up the backdrops, all the various types of light modifiers, umbrellas and soft boxes, and where each light is placed to create dynamic lighting for the models we were photographing. It was fast paced and we learned a great deal from Gary’s instruction, while shooting amazing photos.  It was also a new experience to deal with models and directing them to create the shots we wanted.  Highly recommended and I will do more studio shoots in the future".

Bernhard Wamelink:  "The one day lighting workshop with Gary Tyson from F8 Photography was a great experience.  In a studio environment all the different aspects of studio lighting were discussed, set up and used in a shoot with models. Gary showed his professionalism in a relaxed way and he was very supportive and a good coach".

We provide a variety of training ranging from foundation training, street photography, DSLR video training and studio lighting.  Details can be found via the links on our home page here. or you can contact us directly from the contact page here.

Here are a selection of images from both Bernhard and Craig's first ever studio shoot:

Here are some additional links to their existing portfolios if you wish to see more of their photography:

Link to Bernhards 500px portfolio

Link to Craig's 500px portfolio

Spiders and Speedlights...using off camera flash

The last few days when I've been out jogging I found some BIG spiders hanging in the bushes on the mountain.... As scary as they are to me, I thought it would be kinda cool to take a few pics of them at some point.  I did a bit of research online to find out what kind of spiders they are, and it seems they are called Golden Orb Weaver Spiders, here's the (wikidpedia link if interested), they do have neurotoxin venom which is dangerous but not lethal to is an image showing the spider and how it gets it name from the golden orb you can see clearly at the base of its back.

Anyway, the purpose of this blog post is not a wildlife lesson, but more a quick insight into using speed-light flash (off camera) and how it can be used to enhance or help light a subject and how we balance the 'ambient' light.  One of our trainee assistant photographers called RJ is learning more about flash work and he also has a big interest in macro photography and wildlife so I thought he would be the perfect candidate to practice some flash techniques with these spiders and help him to learn flash balancing at the same time.  Everything to do with flash and balancing light applies exactly the same if you are photographing insects, humans, or anything else for that matter.

So, we set off on the trail, and as there had been a typhoon the day before, I was not optimistic about finding any spiders due to their webs having been broken up by the wind, but sure enough after 30 minutes we found loads of these monsters!  These critters look pretty hardcore to me and clearly aren't concerned with Typhoon 8 weather...

The idea of the trip out was to show that flash and ambient light can easily be controlled separately.  Once an exposure is attained, to get more light in the background (ambient light), all you need to do is adjust the shutter speed slower - to make the background darker you just do the opposite and adjust the shutter speed faster.

The first test shot RJ did on a caterpillar demonstrates a fast shutter speed (1/200th), which cancels out all of the ambient light (daylight/light source other than flash)...This caterpillar was in broad daylight but the effect achieved is show below. (bear in mind on most DSLR cameras you are still limited to maximum shutter speed of approx 1/200th of a second whilst using flash (will differ slightly for different camera models), otherwise the shutter will close before the flash has finished exposing and effectively chop your picture in half).  When using the flash on the camera, your camera will not let you shoot faster than its maximum 'sync speed' to help prevent this problem, unless you have high speed flash features enabled.

Once we found some of the big spiders, RJ tested out this theory again, firstly attaining a rough exposure with the flash and ambient light, and then adjusting only his shutter speed to effectively darken or lighten the background for different effects in each picture as shown below:

The other technique that I wanted to emphasize to RJ was using side lighting and back lighting with the flash....this can help give shape and texture to your subject and in this case really helped bring out the details in the web....if we were shooting portraits of people we could use this technique to emphasise shape, texture, hair details, etc, etc....its all the same idea, just applied to each subject how you like.

This next picture RJ shot shows a real close up of the back of the spiders head....we both agreed the damn thing looked like it was wearing the famous hockey mask that Jason wears in the 'Friday the 13th' horror if it wasn't already scaring us enough!....

Something we did in this picture as the flash was very close to the spider was to put some white tissue paper in front of the flash head which helps to soften the light like a 'mini-cloud' giving a diffused light effect...there are many props you can buy to achieve this effect, but especially for macro, sometimes a simple piece of tissue can do the same job!


This last shot won't be too everybody's taste...but RJ found it see this poor grasshopper looking insect had come to a very sticky me goosebumps to see this close up....but again, the flash has really helped bring out the detail in the shot.

I hope this short post can be useful to anyone learning flash, it shows u can practice flash techniques on anything, doesn't need to be portraits, you can shoot anything at home or outdoors and learn these important techniques to balance flash with the ambient light.

Just remember, shutter speed will control your ambient light, and flash power can be controlled by the flash unit, bringing the flash closer or further away from the subject, or by adjusting your aperture (when using manual flash) to change the amount of light that reaches the subject from the flash (of course adjusting aperture will also effect ambient light).  Adjusting your ISO will effect everything, making the sensor more or less sensitive to light, therefore affecting all light sources in your scene.

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Say thanks by giving a print!

Remember - If you photograph somebody in the street, you should be asking permission to do so, its basic manners in my eyes. Just ask yourself "how would I feel if someone stuck a camera in my face without asking"? - Of course, situations don't always provide this opportunity, language barriers etc can cause issues, but as a general rule, I ask 99% of the time before I even get my camera out of the bag. Something I like to do if possible is to return to the person as soon as I can after a shoot and offer them some prints of themselves, I usually explain this when I first start 'breaking the ice' if I know I will have the opportunity to return to that location at a later date. Again, bear in mind that if someone asked to take your photo and offered to either email it to you or give you prints for free, I'm sure you would be far more willing to participate than if there was nothing offered - its just human nature...

In some countries, people just want a 1USD bill to make their day, I personally have no problem with this and have used 'Benjamin Franklin' many times to help gain access into villages, houses, factories and many other facilities where normally there might be little or no chance to enter. It's a simple fact of life that in some places, 'blagging and bantering' your way in might not cut it, so cold hard cash could be the only way you are going to get the shots you want.

Today I returned to Lamma Island in Hong Kong where I shot some video and stills with Mikey from early last week. I wanted to return and visit the dear old lady who posed for me towards the end of the day and give her some prints. She offered to take me to her house for dinner afterwards (again - she offered this the first time we met her also). She was very grateful that I had fulfilled my promise to bring her some photos - it made both our days!

This is why I love being a photographer, seeing people smile ear to ear when they see the images you have created is a feeling I'm sure most jobs cannot provide - I'm very lucky to be able to do this full time, and I look forward to waking up tomorrow and heading out to find my next subject...

Shooting with Mikey from (VIDEO)

Hooked up with Mikey from during his asia leg of the world tour. We went shooting on Lamma Island, Hong Kong and thought it would be fun to film it too. Heres a few stills I shot as well as the video itself. Enjoy![slideshowpro type="video" url="" preview="" width="600" controls="true" autostart="false" ]