The Crown Inn: 5 star British Pub / Inn / Restaurant

Media: Photography / HDSLR Video / Post Production / 360 Degree Images


Behind the scenes
I was contacted about this project by a friend whom I photographed an annual report for in London back in 2005. The agency he worked at the time with were looking to totally redesign the Crown Inn Elton image and required photography, HD video and 360 degree virtual images.

I had 2 and half days to film three interviews, photograph and film all the rooms, the food, music in the evening and other potential  promo marketing shots and to shoot the 360 virtual reality images of the AA accredited 5 star rated bedrooms.

Challenges on this production were time and organisation.
My method of working with HDSLR cameras is part of the rise of micro crews [or often as is the case just me]. This means I can set-up many different shots far quicker than conventional large crew productions, saving time and money whilst not compromising on production values.

Time was against me throughout the shoot even though I had gone up a week before on a recee to help storyboard the shoot, do ighting setups although natural took time in some of the small spaces to get right. My assistant and sound engineer helped greatly to speed the setups along.

After every video setup I would change settings and shoot raw high quality photographs, although my video style is to frame video to my photography approach the change overs still needed tweaking especially as I was filming scenes with the use of a glide track. Also, when I needed to photograph in portrait mode I had to make even more changes. Perhaps 3 cameras instead of 2 would have been handy.


Post production:
The HD video you can watch above is my edited vision of the Crown Inn.
The brief was to make the Crown’s video look luxurious and this is what I set out to do through subtle grading and dip to black transitions during the edit.
The music is a demo song kindly provided by musician and composer Gareth Moss.

The 360 degree virtual images were taken after I had filmed and photographed all the rooms on the final day. I went from room to room and did a quick check that all measurements and calibrations were accurate and then the time consuming work  is done in post, stitching the images together.

Highlights:
The Crown Inn ale and working on a new project that has already interested other similar establishments and clients who commented on the production values.

Gear & Tech
Quite a lot of gear was used on this shoot, of course the Canon 5d mark II cameras, a range of F1.2 and F1.4 prime lenses and zooms, I took the great Canon TS-E 24mm F3.5 L with me but didn’t have time to use it, which was a shame, a glide track which was much better and more economical than laying down tracks given the time constraints.
Lights, a set of tungsten red heads and daylight bulbs with soft boxes. Sound was recorded to zoom h4n devices and synced in post.
Nodal Ninja panoramic head with 8mm fish eye lens for the 360VR work.

Editorial Magazine: Shots Magazine

Media: Photography / high end retouching

Shots Magazine Whitehouse Post Production John Smith


Behind the scenes
Shots if you haven’t come across it is a ‘creative connections’ magazine and website [that’s how they describe themselves] http://www.shots.net/.
The likes of David LaChapelle shoot covers for this magazine so a double page spread was a great opportunity to further showcase my editorial photography.
The subject of focus was the worldwide post production company Whitehouse Post Production and its owner / film editor John Smith.
You can view before and after shots above [aspect ratios were changed for the monitors].

I’ve been in several editing suites over the years and they can all look a little the same, so I needed to have a creative concept to get the client excited about the shoot before I arrived.
I settled for an environmental portrait with John facing away from the camera. However, I would take portraits of John and place them in the monitors looking back at the reader.

I sent a mock up I made one evening  with my beautiful wife working at her Mac and they loved the concept.
John has edited films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Sliding Doors, Gulliver’s Travels, commercials and many other works, you can see more of what Whitehouse do here.
I then had the idea that the portraits could be of himself recreating a key scene from films he had edited and make it appear as if he was editing himself in his edit suite.
I ran this idea in my head and came to the conclusion that we only had a short window to shoot in and the set-ups may just take too long.

On the day of the shoot we began preparing for the main shot where John would be editing himself [on blank screens to be filled in later]  when I had the idea for a little movement in the shot and Anna kindly pushed John’s wheelie chair in and out of frame until we had it just right amount of motion blur. Anna also organised the whole shoot and gave me the job in the first place so cheers again Anna.


Before we were about to shoot the different portraits [to be with lots of expressions] John suggested he would be game to re-enact the famous films and commercials he has edited.
John was great to work with and wanted to try every idea, so we had the staff quickly buying and digging up props to make our shoot viable.

The looks we went for were Leaving las Vegas, Gulliver’s Travels, a serial killer TV series and Cubehead a water commercial. We left the vodka bottle pouring shot until last and I used wireless flash and soft box to freeze the water stream, this was a one take shot.
Sliding doors is another John Smith edited film and we thought about going down to the tube station but there wasn’t time so we left this one.
Post production, I wanted to colour grade the images to look like the films they were. This took some time but the result was worth it and then I placed the images into the monitors.
I also had to work with emap magazine guidelines for submissions and shots magazine.

Gear & Tech
Canon 5d mark II
Canon 85mm and 50mm F1.2 lenses
Quantum Q flash with soft box for the Leaving Las Vegas image
Quantum Turbo 2×2
Pocket wizard radio transmitters
I was tethered to my laptop throughout the shoot for client viewing .
Other items such as reflectors, tripods, daylight bulbs with soft box lighting.

Finally, you can pick a copy of the magazine or this back issue and see my work in print for only £160, yes that’s £160 for one single issue.

Hakkasan Mayfair restaurant: Interior Design Photography

Media: Photography  / HDR processing


Behind the scenes
Until this commission I had not actively looked at breaking into the interior design / architecture realm of photography. I have always been more focused on portraiture and photojournalism, other than when some level of interior photography was called for on a given job.
But how could I turn down the opportunity to photograph the newly launched prestigious Hakkasan Mayfair in London.

I had previously met the designers of the restaurant several years earlier. Being based in Paris they approached me to photograph the London restaurant and I quickly accepted.
Having spent an evening sampling the food along with some fine wines and studying the different levels and spaces with the designers I began deciding on the best approach to take to capture the complex lighting in the restaurant with its wide dynamic and tonal ranges.

I settled on the HDR method of photography [high dynamic range]. Sometimes this method can look too artificial and painting like and this is not something I or the client wanted, the look had to be photorealistic with good contrast and rich black levels, but at the same time showcase the beautiful details in the rich woods and shadows whilst preserving highlight areas such as on the tables and the bar areas.
The approach to HDR is to shoot multiple exposures and I used up to 9 frames for each of my final images. The frame blending options available in post are large so this has to be carefully considered when processing the 9 images into 1 final image. The final result is one that simply can’t be captured in a single image and in my opinion closer to how the human eye sees in low light environments.


Almost all the images were shot with a large depth of field so everything is in focus and at a low film speed. These noise free images can easily be cropped by the client without noticeable loss in quality, even if used for print media.

The shoot itself was an interesting challenge. As Hakkasan is now officially open I had to photograph whilst the staff set-up for lunch. I had a small two hour window from 10am -12am and went in consecutively over three mornings.
The other issue was that I could not change the lighting, something that I would have done if I had the run of the place with no one present. Finally holding back the busy staff from the entering frame during minutes of different exposures was an added challenge.
Given these working conditions I and even more importantly the client are pleased with the results.

Gear & Tech
Canon 5d mark II
Canon 14mm F2.8 L II [my 1st time with this lens and I’m very impressed].
Cannon 24mm F1.4 L
Canon 50mm F1.2 L
Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod.
Tethered to laptop the whole shoot with the computer bracketing the exposures [best to use grid view to adjust for parallax error]
Post processing: HDR software

Index on Censorship: Freedom of Expression Awards Ceremony

                                                                             Media: Photography / HDSLR Video / Post Production / 360 VR / Social Media

2011 show reel with YouTube annotations to full length speeches.
Best to view in 720p [bottom right corner in the YouTube window].
HD videos are multi camera interviews with the award winners.

Photo highlights starting from 2011 and going back to 2006 and a 360VR

 


Behind the scences
There probably aren’t enough great words I can say about the work this organisation does and the people and groups they highlight. The work that Index does is of great personal interest to me and I am very proud every year that I continue to work with them.

Since 2006 I have been the official photographer for their prestigious Freedom of Expression Awards ceremony and have had the pleasure to meet and become humbled by the work of so many of the worthy award nominees and winners.

You can take a look at who Index are and the work they do here.
‘Index on Censorship is Britain’s leading organisation promoting freedom of expression. Our website provides up-to-the-minute news and information on free expression from around the world.’

This year on the back of one of my first HD video show reels ever, I proposed to film the entire 2011 ceremony alongside my photography. I usually work alone but increasingly I need to outsource additional crew members as the productions I work on grow in size [my HDSLR micro crew approach to production still applies to all size productions].

Production
A huge amount of work to do on the night, lots of discrete moving around to get good angles which was a little difficult due to the shape of the theatre.
The drinks reception was filmed and photographed first then the full awards ceremony and at about 10:30pm after everyone had [almost] cleared the main room, lighting was set-up for 3 multi camera interviews of the award winners [those who aren’t imprisoned or in exile around the world].


Post production
A multi camera timeline edit with the 4 cameras I knew was going to be a challenge given the short turnaround. The file sizes as usual were huge and with nearly 200gb of full HD footage I had to move fast.
I needed to watch the entire length of the awards ceremony watching all 4 cameras simultaneously on screen to determine when to cut from different cameras.
Computer encoding and rendering was what took the longest and once this was done, ideally I would have liked to tweak a few scenes and watch the footage several times again but there wasn’t time.

I find that if one of my clients has a YouTube account [I also help set these up for my clients] I login and upload directly from my studio as this saves time and possible problems with playback/ viewing and bandwidth some organisations seem to have with large uploads and video files; this service is now popular with several of my clients.

I also cut the full length video into smaller sections, uploaded these as separate video clips focussing on separate speakers and award winners and then used YouTube’s newish annotations feature to link them to the show reel I edited.
The show reel was the final edit which also mimics the closest look to my photography, I like fast edits and showcasing many angles and viewpoints.

Gear & Tech
I used 3 Canon 5d mark ii cameras, one for the aerial shot operated by remote control, very cool only it was a shame the stage light and the audience light levels were not more similar and a Sony HD video camera.
3 cameras were fixed and I used one of the 5d mark ii cameras to roam around the auditorium to film from different angles and take photographs.
A full Dedolight lighting kit was used for the interviews. Lapel mic’s connected to a Zoom H4n external audio recorder. Quantum Qflash wireless flash for the portraits.