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One of the great things about my job is that I never know who is going to walk through the door and book a shoot.  Last week I got a call from one of my team saying that (a very lovely) guest had come in to book a shoot, and that she had a huge pile of ideas and cuttings that she had as inspiration.

And when I got the big stack of papers, I could feel the grin expand from between my ears…this was going to be exceptionally good fun.

Unlike most of the families that come into the Colorbox Studio, Charlotte did not want pictures of her beautiful daughter, Sandra, with the cobalt blue Bajan sky and deep turquoise of the Atlantic behind her – far from it.  They were after a more high-fashion look, with bleached tones, soft light and lots and lots of buttery bokeh…I was more than happy to oblige.

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We started off with a few shots in the studio,  and then headed out into the grounds of The Crane.   Luckily, Sian was free to help assist with flash, and the weather played ball too.  Normally, when the clouds are overhead and the skies are a little grey, guests are, naturally disappointed.  But when that sun is out and glaring, it makes my job much, much harder.  The sun here in Barbados is incredibly strong, and it makes creating soft, flattering light very tricky.  Luckily, for all parties concerned on this shoot, the clouds were out in force.

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A little about these shots…

[Mega boring photo nerdary – please skip if this is not of interest!]

Charlotte was adamant that she wanted that creamy out of focus for these head shots…which is quite tricky out here in paradise.  Why?

Light.

In order to get that depth of field, you need to shoot at a long focal length for maximum compression (blog to come) but you also need to shoot with a wide aperture.   A wide aperture means you need to shoot with a faster shutter speed – all of this is fine if you are shooting in ambient light, but if I plonk Sandra in the Bajan sun (clouds or not) she is going to end up squinting like mad, and the contrast will be unbearably strong…so what do I do?  Control the light.  I shoot my flash through a whacking great big umbrella.  But this then throws up another problem – shooting at 2.8 in Barbados, you need a shutter of well over 500 to beat out the sun, but my flash will only sync at 250.  So the game comes about of looking for nice ambient light (like shady spots) that I can then introduce my artificial, soft flash, to bathe the beautiful Sandra in…and, sometimes, like today, it all just comes together.

 

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I can’t tell you how refreshing and exciting it was to do a shoot like this.  It is very different to the usual stuff we shoot.  For the first time ever, my job wasn’t to show idyllic Barbados – scenes to make friends and family jealous of what they missed during the holiday of a lifetime…my brief was to get a high fashion look.  And when you’re working with someone as beautiful as Sandra, that job is made so much easier.

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These two shots are, without a doubt, my favourite of the day.  The light is just perfect.  The wind was kicking up and unhelpfully turned the umbrella inside out.  I asked Sian to bounce the light off the grass a few feet in front of Sandra, and the shots we got were stunning.  I love the classic – almost 30s feel to these shots – both in lighting and in Sandra’s expression…awesome.

 

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After 45 minutes or so, we headed down to the beach to finish up – I will leave the final pictures to do the talking.

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Thanks for reading guys – more photos and adventures next week!!

 

For more info on the Colorbox Studio – please visit our Facebook Page, or head to www.colorbox.co.uk 🙂 Also, keep an eye out for Green People – they are suppliers of organic beauty and sun products…and Sandra may well be on her way to being the face for them!

When I was a nipper, my mum would often read me a story before bed.  Like any child – I loved story time.  I always felt sorry for mum though – she would read to us religiously, every night without fail to help to get us off to sleep.   And then, on the rare occasion dad was not working and was able to read to us, he would steal the show.  With exaggerated voices, comedy internation and the ability to turn even the most simple Thomas The Tank story into a sinister cliff hanger, Pops was, undoubtedly, the story telling king.

We all had our favorites – my little Brother had a book called JCB-3CX which was, as you may have guessed, a very limp story about a very particular yellow JCB digger that could seemingly handle any task that was thrown at it.  It was a terrible bore of a book, but Thad loved it.  And if you tried to skip a page he would become most cross and ensure you went back over the parts you had ‘accidentally’ missed.

And I loved Dr Seuss.   I especially loved it when dad read it to me (sorry mum!) Pops would bust out Green Eggs and Ham with the gusto and aplomb of a Laurence Olivier performance.  I also adored Edward Lear’s The Quangle Wangle Qui.

Another Dr Seuss book I remember was Oh the places you’ll go, which we also had (expertly) read at our wedding by my wonderful friends Georgie and Jez.  And it is oh so relevant as I sit here, 25 years later, typing on a laptop in Barbados a million miles from home.

Oh the places you’ll go…

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Last week I got a call from our friends at Blue Sky Luxury, an amazing property management company out here in Barbados.  They have recently overhauled ‘Bora Bora’ – an idyllic building split into two apartments…with an en-suite beach.  Seriously – the beach is right there.

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It is always wonderful to do something different with my camera, and although I love shooting weddings and lifestyle portraits, property shoots throw up their own challenges and enjoyment.  Like most photography disciplines, it is very hard to do it well.

The challenge you face here in Barbados is getting the room bright enough so you can see it all, but the outside dark enough that you can enjoy the blue skies and perfect sea.  Our eyes are amazing and can cope with these two contrasts – our cameras are not.  As such you need your trusty friends.  You need your flashes.  And you need a crap load of them.

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Essentially, your job is to balance the light between inside and outside, and if you get it right, you show the property in its best ermm…light. (Is that where the saying comes from?!)

I was really, really pleased with the shots; I hope it gets across just how wonderful these apartments are.  If you fancy a trip over, I’m sure Blue Sky Luxury will be able to hook you up real nice, and if the apartment here isn’t glamerous enough, there are plenty more to choose from!

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And just look at the sunset you will be treated to every day:

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Thanks for reading guys – more piccies and adventures next week!

x

Also, as a side note, I have been hammering away at my book again, Cold Cuts.  It is a gruesome crime thriller set around the canals of Britain, and I am really, really proud of it.  I am hoping to have it finished by the end of May…If any of you fancy reading the first draft as and when it is ready, please let me know – I am hoping to offer it as a free download for my wonderful blog followers if that’s something that excites you?  🙂 xxx

A few weeks back, we were approached by Almond to re-shoot their brochure and web material.

Which is always very exciting.

We had some kids lined up, but budget meant that affordable models were going to be hard to find…luckily Sian and I have some very good looking friends.

Ally and Billy are our two best friends here on the island.  Ally is from Manitoba in Canada, and Billy is a good old Brit from Devon.  They are a wonderful couple, and I always enjoy stoking the fire over various pronunciation arguments (tomato and potato are regularly visited).

They also happen to be crazy hot, which made our job a whole lot easier

A while back, Billy introduced us to his brother Johnathan and his partner Monique.  They, also, happen to be a crazy hot couple, and the day was made even easier with them there too.

In all, we had a great day.  The guys were really patient, really professional, and we got some beautiful shots for the new brochure.  I don’t think they realised just how hard a job modelling all day was going to be, and by lunch I could feel they were flagging.  Contrary to popular belief, modelling is very hard.  You are normally stood all day, grinning, scowling, laughing or jumping at a photographer’s whim.  In amongst all of this, you also have to make each pose look like it is the first time you have done it and keep it natural.   You can spot a stiff model from a million miles away.

I am happy to say that all four of our new models delivered these qualities in spades.  They were awesome. Monique was so good, she even managed to squeeze in a cheeky nap on a lilo whilst the rest of us worked 😉

After lunch, we hid from the sun for a few shots up in one of the (beautiful) state rooms we had organised for the shoot.

And after these beauties, we headed back down for some beach fun, tennis, sailing and dinner…in all a very long day.

But oh-so-very-worth it.

You can see all of the photos on our Colorbox Facebook Page – and the rest of the shoot will be up on there soon.

All that is left to say, is another final HUGE thanks to Billy, Ally, Jonathan and Monique.  You guys really were amazing.  You were patient, professional and the pictures are just stunning.

 

Thanks again for reading guys – keep on snapping.

 

x

So, this weekend I am in St Lucia.  I am staying at the beautiful Morgan Bay resort, and catching up with James – newly appointed as manager out here.

He is doing a fantastic job, and things are well and truly being looked after for the time being…so that means I get a bit of time to myself – if it aint broke and all that.  But the pain in the arse thing is that I have left my camera at home in Barbados.

What a clown shoes.

But not to worry – I will use my time productively I tell myself.  I have been going through figures, looking at promotional material, and generally being good…but then my mind started to wander a bit, and I started to go through all of my photos on the laptop.

Big mistake.

Because this whole photography thing is a very, very steep learning curve.  The pictures I take today are, in my mind, amazing.  But I will look back on them in six months and think “did really take that sh**?”

If you’re not critical of yourself, you’re not serious…so imagine my rage when I saw this:

Yes, it’s nice – a big colourful, Bajan sunset.  But really pretty basic – under exposed to get all that drama…but nothing special.  So here I am, in the hotel lobby, muttering away to myself about how I should have made it more interesting, “bloody fool – put a tree or a guy or a boat, just something in silhouette to give it some freaking context. God damn rookie…” You get the picture.

And as I flicked through the next few images, I realised that the me of the past was not quite as out of touch with this whole photography thing as I had first surmised.

Hope you’re all having a great weekend guys…more gems to be uncovered soon, I am sure!

 

x

 

Hello Ferg fans!

I shall be a mystery guest blogger today as Ferg has foolishly left his WordPress account open on his computer, and I have decided to write a little blog whilst he is peacefully snoring away.

He is feeling a little under the weather today.  Before you begin to feel too sorry for him I must impart to you, dear reader, that his current state of health is totally self-inflicted after a few too many 10 Saints last night.  I also am guilty of the same crime, but we did have a lot of fun with some friends, and met a rather special young man on the dance floor that I wanted to tell you all about.

When we arrived at the Dover beach party that was our destination of choice yesterday evening, the first person we saw up on the dance floor was rather smaller than we might have expected.  Dominic is an 8 year old boy with a talent for dancing, and after seeing him dancing on his own for a short while, Ferg could not help but have a little chat with him to make sure he was alright.  His parents weren’t obvious in the crowd, and his body language told us that he was not a stranger to holding his own on a dance floor as the only child.  For those of you that know Ferg, you will understand that seeing this child dancing at a party by himself at gone 11 o’clock at night upset him deeply.  So Ferg chatted to Dominic, and after a while the little child opened up and told him all about his love for dancing, and how he is very much looking forward to taking dance classes soon.  They were friends for life after Ferg asked Dominic about his favourite dance move; he took delight in showing off his special move and began to dance around with the free abandon that you would expect from an eight year old, losing the mask of the super cool dude that had previously adorned his little face.

We did discover that his mother was indeed around, as after Leecia had asked him if he would like a Coke, he replied “I’m going to ask my Mummy” and zoomed off in the direction of the bar.  She evidently didn’t mind him having a drink, but rather bizarrely did not deem it necessary to come and check out her son’s new friends.  That he met at a party.  On a beach.  At 11pm.  Now, this poses a bit of a conundrum for me, as I think it is fantastic that here in Barbados the atmosphere is such that kids can hang around at an adult party without great cause for concern regarding their safety.  I also think it is great that little Dominic can mingle with adults in the evenings in the same way that you see in family-oriented societies such as Spain.  However, in my opinion – and it is not, of course, the only opinion – I find it troubling that this little one didn’t have anyone to play with, that he was in an environment that is more suited to adults (dancing around with a bottle of beer in your hand in front of a lone child just seems wrong), and that his parent and/or guardian did not seem to think it was inappropriate for her to remain unseen whilst her child chatted to a bunch of strangers.  The most upsetting thing for Ferg was the fact that Dominic seemed completely used to this scenario, which of course conjures up the image of his mama taking him to bars and living it up whilst he entertains himself.  This assumption could be completely wrong of course…but it might not be.

At around 1am Dominic did head off with his mother, and Ferg did get to have a bit of a party and a boogie.

But this little one has stuck in his mind, and when he woke up this morning the first thing he said to me was “Poor Dominic”.  I absolutely love the fact that whilst everybody else danced round, drink in hand, singing along at the tops of their voices, Ferg was sitting on the floor talking to an eight year old boy about his favourite dance moves because he couldn’t bear to see him alone.  This is despite the fact that this particular dance night only happens once a month, and Ferg has been looking forward to it all week.  That is one of the qualities about Ferg that makes him so special, and one of the (many) reasons that I married him.

I hope my slightly hungover ramblings have kept you entertained, and given you a little to ponder over this evening.  I shall pass the pen back over to Ferg again for the next installment, until then keep smiling 🙂

Love Sian…oops, I mean the mystery writer! x

Hi guys,

Just a very quick link to our Youtube account (Colorbox Caribbean- www.youtube.com/colorboxcaribbean) We have had a crazy busy few weeks here, as ever, hence the lack of posts recently.  Anyway, please pop over to the Colorbox Youtube account and see some of the work we are doing out here.  This one is a wedding I shot with Charlie and Bill the other day – lovely couple and a lovely day, hope you all enjoy it 🙂

Thanks for reading – more posts soon, I promise!

Ferg

x

Hi guys, sorry, no photos today…but there is a cheeky video 🙂

Sian, Jimbly and I were shooting a wedding a few days back, and I was on film detail.  We were at a gorgeous resort called the House, and the wedding was scheduled quite late – 4:30PM…this makes life very difficult for us, because by 5:30, the sun has set and you have no light to play with…none.  So James did a great job of conducting the shoot quickly enough for us to get everything we needed in the small time window we had.

In between rushing from the sunset on the Beach, and a cake cutting shot in the hotel, we came across hundreds of red sand crabs.  They were just your ordinary, run of the mill crabs, knocking about and raising their comedy pincers in defiance of the hulking humans as we point and coo.  But one crab, James noticed, was very proudly carrying a lollipop stick.

And we thought this was hilarious.

In hindsight, and watching the video back, I am not too sure the comedy will come across, but rest assured – we all had a good chuckle at the sight and hope you do too 🙂

Massive blog in the pipeline by the by…we witnessed a weather phenomenon the other day which I cannot WAIT to share with you all…so please keep posted and I’ll hopefully share with you all over the weekend 🙂


Thanks for reading guys 🙂

As is now appearing customary, I start with an apology for the delay on things.  Work is getting really exciting – loads and loads and loads of stuff on, and with the world as it is at the moment I can’t grumble for a second.  There are thousands without jobs, so the fact that mine is depriving me of a privilege like ‘blogging time’  can’t be a bad thing.

So, a quick update.  My cousin Den came out to visit us last week, which was awesome.   We got some dives in that made me wish I could take my camera with me…but having already spent well over $3k this year on the camera, I thought an underwater housing would be the nail in the coffin with my very-understanding, but-only-human-after-all wife.  We dove (dived?) the Stavronikita, or Stav to the locals, and it really was up there in my top 5 dives of all time…

Den also insisted that we go sea fishing.  This is something I have always wanted to do, but we never get around to doing it.  One of the best things about having motivated guests is that we actually have to wander off resort (shock horror!) every now and then to go and do touristy stuff.  I will blog about the sport fishing properly soon, but in the meantime here are a few snaps of Den’s big catch.  A beautiful ‘Wahoo’

By the end of the week, we were all pretty knackered.  Work had been busy, and Den was keen to get as much in as possible.  On the last night of his stay  we were treated to a beautiful sunset and it only seemed right to have a lazy game of catch whilst we were bathed in the beautiful soft light of magic hour.

Thanks for a blast Den – I have finally caught up with my sleep now!  Oh – and the pictures we took of the moon that night down at Fowl Bay…I was pretty happy with the final result – hope you like it too! 😉

Thanks for reading guys…more adventures to come 🙂

x

Hi guys.  As you know, things have been crazy busy this end what with coming back to the UK for a few days, filming our friends’ wedding (which was truly, truly awesome) enjoying a cheeky wee first year wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife, and generally scatting up and down the country like a couple of jack rabbits in a bid to see all the dear friends and family that we left behind here in the UK.  As I write this, we are sat on a Virgin train taking us from Euston to Carlisle to see two of my best friends Will and Eddie…no doubt a blog to come about that later.

Meanwhile, I have been very conscious of the fact that I have written nothing for over 10 days now, and have been sitting on some wonderful pictures that I would like to share with you all.  So, without further ado, I give you: An outing with the Barbados Photographic Society…

The last weekend before we left for the UK, Sian and I were ecstatic at the thought of a proper two days off.  The wedding calendar was surprisingly empty and the studio had nothing booked, so we glamorously planned to get all our laundry sorted, our stuff packed and make sure everything was in place for the guys to ensure smooth operation during our time away.

And then I turned on Facebook and it all went tits up.

I had heard of the Barbados Photographic Society in the past, and somehow I stumbled across their Facebook page on Thursday night.  I joined up with the friendly bunch that evening, and before we knew it, Sian and I were signed up for a 5 am start on Saturday morning to meet right down on the West Coast in a little alcove of the country called Conset Bay.

Idiot.

So long to a lie in; bye bye all the laundry time…but it was totally worth it.

The reason for the savage start time was not because the BPS are made up of a carnally evil people, hell bent on ripping you from your much needed slumber when you have booked a lie in, of course.  The timing was down to the wonderful soft light that a good sunrise in Barbados can produce.  I once went over to the South East coast (to The Crane beach) at four in the morning when my dear brother Ed was over.  We waited patiently for a spectacular sunrise, but were treated to a hilarious thick fog that hugged the water line and hid any magic light that may have given us a good snap.  We saw absolutely nothing.

But the BPS had clearly booked the sun for that morning.

There was a lovely pink tinge in the sky, and the boats in the bay listed peacefully as the 50 strong group marauded around the marina.  Everyone looking for lines, and compositions, and ‘that’ shot…And I found this both very funny and very odd.

I have never been on a photo walk per say, and I quickly started asking myself how I would create different images to everyone else.  The point of the walk was ultimately a social one;  it was great to meet such a lovely bunch of people, and to put faces to the names of the people who I had been semi speaking to on the Facebook page…but ultimately we were all there to take great pictures, and it was an interesting experience for me having so many people, all in one place, all trying to get the same thing.

We started out at Conset Bay,  with the wonderful and friendly Ainsley telling us about the history of the bay; the cliffs overlooking the bay are a very high and dry place, and are prone to regular fires as the dry grass is scorched by the long sun it is treated to.  It was also host to a train station that serviced the line connecting Bridgetown and The North.

We followed the old railway line to find another bay -the name of which escapes me.  We were on the cusp of morning light. and that beautiful pink was still there, but this was the last snap I got before the sun was in full force and the harsh light we are so used to in Barbados was back.

After this, we headed to what is affectionatley called ‘The Puff’, so called because of the impressive spurt of water that the waves create as they crash up through the small holes they have carved from the coral.  We were very lucky to see some fisherman down on the coast, which helped give context to the sheer size of the coral and spurting water.

I was shooting with the 70-200, which is a beast of a lens, and as such my polariser won’t fit on it.  This meant that we were getting a savage glare from the water’s surface as the now midday sun beat mercilessly down on us.  As such, I tried to make a feature of the reflection, rather than try and fight it.

As we headed back from The Puff, I was keen to find some bits and bobs to shoot in the shade, as the sun was far, far to harsh to look for any more panoramics or views.  I’m not mad on flower shots to be honest, but I found these knocking about back outside the fish market of Conset Bay, and thought they were quite fascinating being made up of seemingly hundreds of tiny little flowers:

And then I found this guy chilling out in the trees…anyone who knows me will be fully aware of my utter fear of spiders…and so I am even more proud of this shot, as I had to get quite close!

I love this guy – if you zoom in on his rump, I swear you can make out the head of and orc – it looks like he has a black studded helmet and big grin…can anyone else see it, or am I going mad on this Virgin train?!

Anyways, that’s that for now – LOADS of stuff to share with you since our time home, and can’t wait to get you all up to date, along with lots more photos 🙂

As always, thanks for reading guys, and feel free to SUBSCRIBE 🙂

Ferg xxx

I am sure that when Sian and I tell people that we live and work in Barbados, they think that we just chill out on crazy beaches all day.

But, unfortunately, like most people – the job gets in the way of the dream.  We work ridiculous hours.  I am currently in St Lucia meeting with our team here, organinsing new systems and structures to help the company prosper, and poor Sian and James are stuck in the lab in Barbados printing, making books, fixing albums and generally keeping the Colorbox machine running…whilst I sit in the hotel lobby punching this out.

It is 8:30pm, and I doubt they will get out until 10.  I feel guilt like you would not believe..the lab is a very lonely place when you have been there for over 12 hours, and there is nothing I can do this end to help. 🙁

And this is the problem we have with stupid ‘work’ – it gets in the way of all our fun. So it is always a pleasure when we do get the fleeting opportunity to visit the beach.  We knew that this week was coming (I miss Sian terribly when I’m away-even if only for four days, which is ridiculous but that’s the way it is) so on Sunday we made a really concerted effort to get to a beach – and what a beach it was!

I was out filming a wedding down at the Almond Beach Club a few days back, and the couple had decided to opt for some off property photography.  Bill, my senior photographer and oracle on anything Barbados, suggested a little bay up the road.  So we jumped into the car and took the couple to Gibb’s beach…it is amazing.

Needless to say, after seeing the place, I thought it would be more than appropriate to take Sian and James there – amaze them with my local knowledge and astound them with the incredible sand scape I had stumbled upon on my travels.  The charade lasted but a few moments as we drove down and James asked “So we going to that place Bil took you to the other day then?”

My plan foiled, and being exposed as the charlatan that I am, I grumbled that yes, we were going to “where Bill showed me”, and we stopped in the gas station (sorry – I have got all American having been here so long) garage, got some beers, and headed down to paradise.

And what a lovely day it was…we swam in the crystal clear water, watched the world go by…and then I went back to hide under the umbrella from the sun whilst James and Sian giggled like school girls.  It was magic.

I am trying to keep the technical stuff to a minimum on the blogs now, as I have been literally inundated with two mails saying that my technical guff is wasted on them, but I would like you all to know that all of these shots have been done through two grad filters.

A grad filter is essentially a piece of plastic that you put in front of your lens, which graduates from very dark, to completely see through – allowing you to underexpose, or “make darker” an area of your frame.  Essentially, this means that you can get a lot more detail in areas that would otherwise be blown out – or overexposed, because you are physically making them darker with the filter in front of the lens.  If you look at the umbrella shot above, for example, you will notice that there is a big white splodge between the boat and the umbrella.  My grad filter was covering the left hand of the frame. The graduation clearly stops a few centimeters before the umbrella – and that’s why there is that huge white ‘hot spot’ there.  I will do a much more technical ‘how to’ on grad filters in the future, I am sure…but for now I think that should cover it.  As always…any questions, you know where to get me 🙂

So anyway, after a time of being eaten alive by sand flies – without doubt the most evil and horrific of the Almighty’s creations, I headed back into the water with the now delirious-with-mirth-Sian and James as the sun started to set.

We decided we should head back before the sand flies came out in force – very much like the zombies in any good B-Movie, sand flies tend to come out when the sun has disappeared, and they eat your ankles, arms, face and anything else they can get their tiny jaws on very efficiently indeed.  We were in magic hour – bathed in the beautiful golden glow that only the setting sun can produce, and I got this corking portrait of Sian:

I can’t tell you how hard it was to decide between colour and black and white on this one…but eventually I decided for the BnW, beause the glow was SO golden, that it looked as if I had photo shopped it to buggery…I think it is a beautiful shot of my wife.

And as we walked away from what is renowned to be no other than Michael Flatley’s beach house (renowned in as much that Bill told me it was…and he knows everything about Barbados, so that’s enough for me) we were treated to some wonderful colours as the sun began to dip behind the horizon:

And that was that…another day at the beach; far from the stresses of the lab, the team and the bloody iMacs.  It was simply wonderful…

Thanks for reading guys

Ferg x