Cool watchmakers

©Neil Turner, July 2013. Alex Brown and Ian Elliott of Elliott Brown.

©Neil Turner, July 2013. Alex Brown and Ian Elliott of Elliott Brown.

I promised to share new work as and when I could and to add a bit of technical detail whilst doing so. This two person portrait shot on a sweltering July day in Dorset for a leading UK business magazine is a great example of the kind of picture I get asked to shoot. The story was a simple one about a new business partnership designing, making and selling very high class mens’ watches.

There was a limited amount of time for the interview, the pictures and a short video grab and so when I got my slot the two subjects, the reporter and the Picture Editor all jumped into my car and we headed about three quarters of a mile from the company offices to shoot on some open heathland because the style of picture I was being asked for needed an expanse of deep blue sky. We couldn’t shoot at the offices because there just too many tall building around and I had to rely on some local knowledge to find the right spot.

The location was far from perfect because I would have liked a decent amount of shade to put my two subjects in. That wasn’t going to be easy and so I had the reporter holding a large black reflector aloft to give me some artificial shade. There was only the slightest breeze but that was enough to force me into something of a ‘plan B’ which was to move into the shade of some tall bushes about fifty yards away. The downside of this was to lose the unbroken blue sky from behind my subjects (you can see some scrubby heath behind them in the bottom of the frame) but it did allow me to balance the flash (single Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with a 32″ x 24″ soft box) with the sky without the subjects being in direct sunshine themselves. Free from his reflector holding duties, the reporter was happy to hold onto the lighting stand to make sure that it didn’t blow over. No matter how light the breeze, soft boxes act like sails!

I have described shooting from the shade a couple of times before and the basic principle is an easy one: the subject is in deep shade and only lit by the flash whereas the rest of the scene is metered normally and the skill comes from balancing the two halves of the exposure. In practice on a bright and sunny day this almost always means the ambient exposure is going to be 1/200th of a second on 200 ISO at somewhere between f16 and f22. All you then need to do is to get enough power out of your flash to balance that. This sometimes means that you have to lose your light modifier (soft box/umbrella etc) if you don’t have a lot of power and almost always means moving the flash quite close to the subject if you want to keep the light modifier in place. Compromise… I’ve used that word once or twice before too. The camera was a Canon EOS5D MkII and the lens was a Canon 24-70 f2.8L.

The two guys in the photograph make some very cool watches. It’s a new business by the name of Elliott Brown and their first collection goes on sale about now.

©Neil Turner, July 2103

©Neil Turner, July 2103

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