Jillian + Phil = Ennis

Photographing newborn babies is just such an amazing experience. Capturing a life at the very beginning in all it’s newness and wonder. I love photographing babies – there, I’ve said it! Meet four week old Ennis Griffin. First-born son to such lovely parents, Jillian and Phil. Unphased by the occasion, Ennis chose to sleep through most of the session but did wake for a brief period, obviously got bored and dropped off again. Personally, I don’t mind shooting newborns asleep – after all they do sleep a lot so why not capture it? Ennis was photographed using available light – hybrid on film and digital cameras. The black and white pics below were photographed on traditional Kodak film, hand developed and scanned in-house. There is nothing quite like a true black and white film image, digital just doesn’t come close. It also offers the option of creating traditional hand-prints on gorgeous black and white fibre paper in the darkroom later on which are a simply stunning to view.

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Just a Polaroid portrait of Freya

I’m in love with shooting instant film right now; I’ve been using it a bit for personal work and have pulled it out at some recent weddings. There is something so gratifying about having a print in your hand in a couple of minutes. I’ve been photographing a mix of Fuji colour and black and white stock, both producing a 4″x3″ positive print and a negative that can be scanned. It’s like shooting in between medium and large format, a lovely big image area with lovely narrow depth of field. The pic below is just a quick grab taken of my daughter, Freya in pretty average light. The first image is a scan of the positive print.

Polaroid portraiture
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Styled children’s shoot photographed on film

I photographed these children last week on film at a shoot styled by Rachel Hayton from Aspire Photography  on the banks of Coniston Water in the Lake District. It was a fantastic opportunity to use a variety of film stocks exposing in a slightly different fashion and using several different film cameras, each with their own distinctive look.

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Black & white film portraiture

It’s funny how the simplest things can bring so much pleasure. Here’s a couple of portraits I grabbed in our city garden last week of my beautiful children Oscar  and Freya. The weather has been amazing here and they’d been playing under a blanket to shade them from the sun. It took the sting out of the harsh directional light and produced such a lovely even light source.

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Martinhal Beach Resort, Portugal – Family photography

There are few things more rewarding than photographing personal work, especially on film. During the Easter break we headed out to Martinhal Beach Resort, near Sagres on the south western tip of Portugal. The five star hotel and resort overlooks Martinhal Beach and is set within a protected natural park. I can honestly think of no better destination for a family holiday. We’re already counting the weeks until we can return – it really is a very special place.

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Fun family photography at the beach in Scotland – with coats!

We went to the beach at the weekend. It wasn’t super-warm and we kept our jackets on for the duration but that’s Scotland for you! I’ve shot a ton of personal work so far this year – a mix of 35mm & 120 film, mostly shot on standard lenses. So, just for a wee change I photographed this set digitally with a slightly wider 35mm lens – all pretty much wide open to control the depth of focus and isolate the subject from the background. I love photographing at the beach. The light is a little bit cleaner which adds a bit of punch to photographs and the sand bounces light back up in to faces which is really quite flattering – not that kids require that to be honest. creative family photography scotland Continue reading

Graflex Speed Graphic & Dallmeyer Pentac test Polaroid

My Graflex Speed Graphic and Dallmeyer Pentac 8in f2.9 aerial lens are finally an item! and, I’m delighted to say that I’m pretty happy with the results. Following on from my post here, I purchased a custom made lens board from Jo Lommen to mount the huge aerial lens on to the camera. It’s fair to say that the resulting combination of camera and lens is perhaps a bit on the cumbersome side and the possibility of hand holding has diminished somewhat but mounted on a solid tripod it’s real nice to use!

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The story behind the shot by guest blogger Keith Pitts

Allow me to introduce Keith Pitts, a film wedding photographer and improvisational children’s portrait photographer from Phoenix Arizona. Having had a look around his blog I really admire how his subjects seem so relaxed and natural, there are so many moments captured right on the button – a true skill. Just like myself, Keith shoots a mix of traditional film and digital, opting for the most suitable medium for the conditions. I love the image that Keith has chosen to share here, I’m not a regular b/w shooter, it’s tricky to get right and easy to muck up but Keith has nailed it! Here’s what he has to say…

Phoenix film wedding photographer

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Some personal work with an Olympus OM1 film camera

Good old Santa Claus came up trumps this year and left me a cracking Olympus OM1 film camera for being such a good boy in 2012! Well, OK then I bought it just before Christmas on Ebay along with a winder and a few lenses. There’s a lot to love about the OM1. It is about the same size as a Leica M camera, way smaller than Canon and Nikon’s offerings of the same period. The viewfinder is without doubt the largest on any 35mm slr – it’s huge and pretty bright. I got it with some decent glass; 50mm f1.4, 35mm f2.8 and a 200mm f4. I love the fact that I can carry the lenses in my pocket without being totally weighed down – they’re tiny, especially the 35. Feature-wise it’s pretty basic, which I love – I used the built in meter for all of these pics below and the shots are consistent throughout. I always shot slightly over what the meter showed which I found matched with what my Sekonic meter read.

I felt a real connection shooting with the OM1 – I guess it reminded me of my first camera, a Nikormat FT2, which was a good bit bulkier to be fair but similar in many ways; for example the shutter speed selector sits just behind the lens instead of on the top plate like many other cameras of the period. Another nice feature (and just like Leica glass) is the aperture dial is at the front of the lens making it a doddle to turn, especially with gloves on. The film rewind release is on the front plate just like a Leica M. The pics were shot on well expired Fuji Superia 400 rated at 800 asa and pushed two stops by RPL. The scans are a bit on the grainy side but I think they suit the  subject matter and the environment OK.

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New adventures in large format film photography!

Set phasers to ‘moderately excited!’ I’ve just shot my first test (below) with a recently acquired Graflex Speed Graphic 5×4 press camera. Subject matter aside, I’m pretty chuffed! I’m basically looking to photograph some shots at weddings this year on 5×4 film in a bid to produce some imagery that is quite different to what I’m shooting now on 645. However, nice as the lens on my Graflex is, I’m looking to achieve a bit of a different look which requires a bit more exotic glass. Now it would be nice to go out and buy a Kodak Aero Ektar f2.5 lens and mount it on the Graflex but courtesy of David Burnett and his amazing results with the same combo, they are in demand and prices are crazy at the moment (as I write this there’s one selling on ebay for £750 still with an hour to go.) So, I’ve bought the closest British equivalent in the form of a Dallmeyer Pentac 8″ f2.9 lens for a fraction of the price. Let me explain…

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Photo Professional Magazine film wedding photography feature

The good people at Photo Professional Magazine got in touch at the end of 2012 asking if I’d like to share a top tip for making 2013 my best year ever – how could I refuse? My tip was to shoot more gorgeous film for my wedding and portrait work and less digital. My aim for the year is to hit a 80/20 mix of film to digital. I was even more delighted when they said that one of my images was going to open the feature over a DPS. The photo featured was shot at a styled shoot at my favourite venue, Fingask Castle just outside of Perth. The model is the beautiful Laura Ferguson who works for Alison Kirk Bridal who kindly lent dresses for the shoot. You can see more pics from the shoot here. The films were processed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in the States and shot on my Hasselblad H1 camera.

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Julie Young Dance Studios Pretty in Pink!

My lovely daughter Freya is following in her mum’s footsteps by taking ballet classes at the Julie Young Dance Studios in Perth. She’s been attending for a few months now and loves it -more often than not, reticent to take off her uniform when she gets back home! Anyway, Julie asked me if I wouldn’t mind photographing her pretty ballerinas this week as a wee christmas treat so we turned up a bit early and rigged up a quick two point lighting setup and photographed the girls as they arrived for class. They all did incredibly well and turned on the Christmas cheer for their portraits under the direction of Julie and her nigh on endless supply of festive props!

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Why I shoot film by guest blogger Dena Robles

It is with the greatest pleasure that I introduce you to Dena Robles, a film portrait photographer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Dena has just moved back to the States after spending six years here in the UK and I’m pretty much sure she’s loving the light over there, especially shooting on film. Like me, Dena shoots her portrait work using ambient light on location and her work is very beautiful. You can check out her website here to see just how pretty her work is. Here’s what she has to say!

“Like many photographers I started my photography journey by shooting film and printing in a darkroom. Like most of those photographers I also made the switch to digital when DSLRs were finally available at a price less than the cost of a luxury car. And like a small handful of those photographers I have made the switch back to shooting film over the last few years. Why? I can talk on and on about the difference in the way film looks and feels, about the tangible quality of loading and advancing film, about the way it makes me slow down and think more about each frame I expose, about how inspiring it is to use classic old cameras. I won’t dare to try to qualify film as better than digital or vice versa. I know that is an endless and dangerous conversation to enter into. In the end, shooting film is a personal thing for me.

Recently I have discovered a bonus advantage for shooting film. Whether shooting with an old classic camera like my Hasselblad, or my tiny old school Pentax K100 or my large funky looking Contax 645, pulling one of these cameras out is a great conversation starter. People stop and notice, they recall memories of their father or grandfather using the Hasselblad or they might exclaim excitedly that they also learned photography on a Pentax K100 and relate “I should pull that old thing out and give it a try again.” Usually, this conversation leads to portrait making between the two of us, often it leads to a great cup of coffee and an afternoon talking about art and swapping stories. This autumn I vowed to carry the Pentax with me everyday for a month. When it wasn’t slung on my shoulder, it was parked next to my car keys at the front door, ready to go. I met many people, had coffee and lunch with several artists and students, and even scored free sushi when I started photographing the beautiful interior of a new sushi restaurant in my neighborhood. To my surprise, I was also stopped by the local TV News crew who were out filming a story one day during the lunch hour. I don’t know that I was necessarily ‘newsworthy’ but they did ask me to speak about what I was photographing and why. I declined the story, it felt to personal to me. It felt great to make these connections in my city and it was also very satisfying to discreetly document the activity going on that month. With such a vast amount of people owning, carrying and pointing digital cameras, I felt less conspicuous and like I had a free ticket to photograph the public.

Following is a snippet of the series I created documenting my new hometown. I think I will do this again in the spring, but with a fabulous old Polaroid, I would love to be able to immediately hand over a photograph to the people I meet, a little token of our encounter. I wonder if the news crew will be out that day…”

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Test shots from Mamiya Press Super 23 6X9 film camera

Mamiya Super 23 Press cameraI recently picked up a Mamiya Press 6×9 press camera to have a play around with. I’ve been hankering over a larger frame size for a bit now and this seemed to fit the remit. This is the Super 23 model which features movements on the back which I plan to put to use shortly in the studio shooting a small table top project I have in mind.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that this is far from a beautiful camera and it it somewhat bulky and awkward when it comes to handling. However, there are a number of plus points; bright rangefinder focussing with framing for three focal lengths and parallax compensation, leaf shutter makes it a doddle to hand hold at slower shutter speeds with confidence, ground glass adaptor fits on the back for super-precise focussing with movements mentioned earlier, huge 6×9 sized frame size.

The pics below were purely shot  to see if there were any light leaks and to test how flat the lens was and how good it performed wide open. I photographed them on a stupidly dull  Sunday morning shooting on Fuji 400H rated at 50ASA. They were shot either at f3.5 or f4 and I don’t think I shot above 1/60th of a second. Slowest speed was 1/15th as I recall. They were all hand held. The films were dev’d & scanned locally and aren’t quite as good as I’d like but it was only a test I guess.

I like them – they are pretty contrasty, sharp and even in to the corners and showing no distortion whatsoever. To be honest, despite the weight and overall bulk, the camera is quite pleasant to shoot with. There is a nice rhythm to it which is quite satisfying. I’m going to keep my out for a Universal body and a Polaroid back so I can shoot 3×4 Polaroids but use the existing 100mm lens. I think with decent light and better scans this will prove to be a cracking camera. I love the aspect ratio, although 8 frames on a roll of 120 is harsh on the pocket!

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Fingask Castle, Perthshire styled wedding photography shoot

I was delighted to be asked by the lovely people at Fingask Castle to photograph some new material for their latest wedding brochure that publishes early in 2013. My wife and I were married there six years ago and the venue holds a very special place in my heart. It was only fitting that my wife Sharon supplied the shoes, coordinated and styled the shoot. Below is a small selection of photographs from the day. The bulk of the shoot was captured on medium format Fuji film, with a couple of digital shots thrown in for good measure. The films were scanned by RPL in the States. Many thanks to all the suppliers who made the shoot possible. You can find their details at the foot of the post.

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Disappearance of Darkness by Robert Burley

The photography in this book is simply haunting as it documents the gradual death of analogue film. Watch the video then be sure to click through to the images at CNN’s website. Photographer Robert Burley, captured the death of analogue photography: the demolition of Kodak plants, the rapid downfall of the film photography industry, the sudden obsolescence of neighbourhood photo shops and subway photo booths. Naturally, he did so on film. His book, Disappearance of Darkness, is just released, and some of the gorgeous, haunting images are featured on CNN’s website

Disappearance of Darkness Book Preview from Robert Burley on Vimeo.

Contax 645AF vs Hasselblad H1

I recently said goodbye to my Contax 645AF camera and invested in a Hasselblad H1 to photograph weddings on beautiful medium format film. I’m in no way a reviewer of cameras, I just take pictures, so I’ll keep things very simple. I loved shooting with the Contax – a lot! It is a very refined camera and a pleasure to shoot with. Why then did I change to the Blad? I didn’t have 100% faith in the Contax following a series of small blips. The camera would freeze up for no reason. Reset the battery or the prism and it would go again, no sweat. The battery life wasn’t great and it produced heart in mouth moments when it went mid roll on a shoot. OK so I could have got the AA battery grip but it adds a bit more bulk and I’m not really all that big a bloke! I could have lived with these quirks but I was also having an issue with film flatness which I couldn’t quite pinpoint and that was what bothered me most about the Contax.

Hasselblad H1vs Contax 645 film cameras

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Fuji Frontier or Noritsu film scans

Choices abound when it comes to photographing weddings on film; camera, film stock, lab and even film scanner. It can be a bit daunting at first and takes a while to settle on a combination that suits you and the look your trying to achieve. Below are a couple of photographs I captured at a recent styled shoot at Fingask Castle in Perthshire, Scotland. They were scanned by the awfully talented people at Richard Photo Lab in Hollywood, USA. One is scanned on a Noritsu film scanner and the other on a Fuji Frontier scanner. Both images are displayed exactly as they came from the lab.

film wedding photography scanned on Fuji Frontier film scanner
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Fingask Castle styled shoot – preview

Here’s a wee taster from my styled shoot yesterday at Fingask Castle just outside Perth. We were blessed with the most fantastic unseasonable weather with beautiful light that could only be described as epic at times. I shot a mix of film and digital, the films are already away and should hit my lab in the States later this week. I cannot wait to see the results but in the meantime this digital image isn’t too shabby to be getting on with. You can view more photos here!

Fingask Castle best wedding photographer

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Pre-wedding engagement session in Edinburgh Old Town

Here’s a small selection of photographs from Heather and Mike’s engagement session shot in Edinburgh’s Old Town. To say the weather was miserable would be an understatement! The temperature was in single figures and thanks to Edinburgh’s infamous wind, it felt much colder! Not ideal conditions really… Anyway, we braved the elements and didn’t stray too far from their rented apartment on Holyrood Road, just across the road from my old place of work, the Scotsman Newspaper. We worked around the Scottish Parliament building as it afforded us a bit of cover from the rain and shelter from the wind then worked our way a little up the Royal Mile before wrapping the shoot up and returning in to the warm. The light really was very flat so the bulk of this shoot was captured on digital, I think I only shot off a couple of rolls on my Contax, the shot below is a film capture. The conditions couldn’t have been more different for their wedding day which you can view here

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Film wedding photography, Dunoon, Scotland

Meet Heather & Mike from British Columbia in Canada. They flew in to Edinburgh and spent a couple of days sight-seeing before heading over to Glasgow, the base for their wedding in Dunoon a few days later. They were blessed with the most amazing weather for their wedding day and the drive from their gorgeous flat in Claremont Gardens following the river down to the ferry at Gourock was an absolute joy. They were married in glorious sunshine atop Castle Hill overlooking Hunters Quay and the Firth of Clyde with Heather’s bridesmaid and two the two respective fathers. The majority of the photographs were captured on Kodak Portra film with a Contax 645 camera using available light. Once they were married they left for Paris, then Bilbao before heading home to Canada.

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Family photography on the beach in Scotland

Here’s a small selection of family photography from a day on Elie beach in Fife, Scotland.  The set was photographed using my favourite go-to lens at the moment; a Canon 50L. They were mostly shot between f1.2 & f2 and were processed in Lightroom using a VSCO emulation to sweeten them up a bit. Along side the digital files I shot my Hasselblad H1 medium format camera with Fuji 400H film.  The films will be heading their way to my fantastic lab, RPL in the US shortly and I’ll share them as soon as they’re back. I absolutely love photographing on the beach. The light has a very special quality to it, even on an overcast day. The colour palette is so soft and sand also works well reflecting light back in to faces creating a lovely soft glow. Perfect for photographing kids .


Family photographer Scotland

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