A blog where I take you inside my thought process and explain what was going through my mind taking a particular photo. You'll see the image from the camera and then the finished photo after I've tarted it up a touch.

When drawing up a perfect place for a metal band shoot, the Shell Grotto in Margate would be near the top of the list. Atmospheric light, amazing textures and an eerie atmosphere, the Grotto and Ohhms were a perfect combination. The photo I am about to discuss will be used in promotion for their new album released later this year.

Composition wise, I wanted to use the amazing space below a ceiling light. The shape of the room dictated that all band members would be very close together shoulder to shoulder. The only tweak I needed to make was asking the band to look up. This gave the shot a religious and spiritual feel given the cathedral like shapes in the grotto. Additionally, we had a few changes in formation. Stuart (centre) gave the image the best balance so we stuck with that. The technical side of this shot was the most difficult. Firstly, due to the tiny space and needing to get so much in, I had to shoot on an ultra wide 10.5mm pancake lens. This effectively gives you 180 degrees of view, allowing me to get all band members and the amazing shells in shot. As a side note, single portraits on this lens are not recommended. It's hilarious but distorts the face so the subject resembles the elephant man!

With regard to settings, it was a total balancing act of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. The light, however nice it looked wasn't strong so my first concern was getting enough light in whilst trying to get faces nice and sharp. The minimum shutter speed I wanted was 1/50th of a second. In order for me to get to that, my ISO needed to be cranked up to 4000. On f/4 there still wasn't enough light so I stopped down to f2.8, under exposed by 1 stop and boom, the magic 1/50th was reached. With that, I got trigger happy and rattled off a number of shots. Alot of photographers hate bumping up the ISO in fear of the noise in the photo. My philosophy on this is quite simple, noise has never ruined a great photo. Subjects being soft and out of focus, most certainly has. Besides, most editing software has noise reduction to rescue your shot. Some of you might be reading this and screaming " why didnt you use flash to give yourself some light??!!". A valid point but using flash-even on a low output- would have taken the atmosphere away from the surroundings. It's much better to tinker with the camera settings to get enough light in and keep the mood of the photo.

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Original raw file right out of the camera

A lot of the time, editing a photo to bring it up to standard is the most time consuming part. However, due to the dramatic lighting on location, there wasn't a great deal of work to be done on the original photo. I did have to crop the image slightly to ensure balance though. Another edit was to add a touch of clarity to give the photo some 'pop' and bring the exposure up. Lastly, the colour temperature was totally different in certain parts of the photo so after a quick correction to ensure colour consistency, I was good to go. 

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Finished photo 

As a photographer, creating a photo in challenging conditions is so satisfying- especially when  nailing it in camera rather than rescuing it in the edit. Shoots like this are less about capturing a moment but crafting an image from start to finish. Ohhms were great to work with too. They were totally up for trying different things in the Shell Grotto and this makes such a difference when collaborating. They are super busy at the momemt so follow their journey on Instagram @ohhmsband.


 Benjamin x 

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