Arts Council Artsmark Schools

This month has been fabulously busy and I have added three new brands to my portfolio. One of these is The Arts Council’s Artsmark as The Forge, an organisation that creates arts activities amongst the young in the North East commissioned my photography. This month I visited three schools and colleges in the local area to capture arts based school photography for the Artsmark awarded by the Arts Council.

The images will be used across the Artsmark and Forge Websites and feature Northumberland and County Durham located schools: Collingwood Media Arts College in Morpeth, Greenfield School in Newton Aycliffe and Ovingham Middle School in Prudhoe.

The classes I photographed were lively and the kids were clearly loving the arts activities particularly Ovingham where the the teacher Neil played Oxygen by Jean Michelle Jarre and had colours spots lighting the class. Very atmospheric! The most challenging shoot was the photography studio at Collingwood. Shooting in other photographer’s studio spaces and lighting set ups was interesting! Apparently the students afterwards used my photos as a learning tool. Let’s hope I got them right!

Greenfiled Community College 016Collingwood Media Arts College 063Collingwood Media Arts College 030Greenfiled Community College 104Greenfiled Community College 052Collingwood Media Arts College 126Collingwood Media Arts College 104Greenfiled Community College 065Ovingham Middle School 088Ovingham Middle School 118Greenfiled Community College 069Ovingham Middle School 024Ovingham Middle School 079Collingwood Media Arts College 051

The Ultimate Big Cheese Kit Recipes

The Big Cheese Making Kit has had such success with it’s easy to follow kits for making a variety of cheeses at home that soon it is to launch the Ultimate Cheese Making Kit! This kit will be the king of cheese making kits and comes with an accompanied recipe book for delicious suggestions as to how to use the home made cheese in savoury and sweet dishes.

I was up in Edinburgh on location last week shooting food photography images for the home made cheese recipe illustrations in owner Ailsa Proverb’s now famous kitchen and these are samples you see below. The kits are sent worldwide and Ailsa recently received an MBE from the Queen for services to the Food Industry after only a short time in business. Bravo! Say cheese Queenie!

Here are a selection of images from the two days we spent in Ailsa’s fabulous kitchen. Photography tips are below for anyone wanting help and hints on food photography on location.

The Big Cheese Recipe Book 370

The Big Cheese Recipe Book 389The Big Cheese Recipe Book 278

The Big Cheese Recipe Book 254The Big Cheese Recipe Book 076The Big Cheese Recipe Book 197The Big Cheese Recipe Book 132The Big Cheese Recipe Book 060

Macro Lens & Food Photography on Location Photography Tips – The Basics

So my blogs are taking a new angle now as we all know the internet is rather old fashionably known as the ‘information super highway’ so I thought it important to start offering more informative photographic help and tips.

So to set the scene for well lit light and attractive food photography on location I needed elements of studio photography to be taken to the location. I used one flash 400 head with a 1m x .5m soft box bounced onto the ceiling to avoid harsh light bleaching out the white texture of the homemade cheese as much as possible. In terms of kit, I shot with my Nikon D700 (full frame) and I used my 24-85mm Nikon lens with built in macro to get detailed mouthwatering close ups of the ingredients. I shot on macro setting throughout and used the zoom on full 85 for some close up compositions.

Food photography really benefits from a shallow depth of field, so an f-stop of around 2.8 to 3.5 will give you the sharp focus and extreme blur in one shot. My shutter speed was 125 and ISO was 250 fairly statically as the flash head kept light constant despite the nearby window. Try not to rely on natural light as you will be struggling with setting changes if the sun goes behind a cloud. But do try to mimic the way that natural light can cast gentle shadows from a natural source like a window. NB when using shallow depth of field, you must be careful to highlight the correct part of the food in the photo and for this we had the mantra that ‘cheese is king’!

Ailsa’s colleague Alison had prepped most of the food the day before as most would be typically served cold or cool. This takes the pressure off as hot food wilts and hardens as it cools and becomes unattractive so the window to shoot is much smaller. We also had carefully chosen props with subtle shades with small splashes of colour on the crockery for the styling. So the prep had been paramount to the success of this shoot.

If you are doing lots of close ups then it’s a lot easier to work in a location environment as little of the backdrop will be included, so a little mess can be allowed! If you want some backdrop blur of the natural environment then remove any strong coloured items that may distract from the food, particularly red. You can also have relevant props blurred as I did with the Gnocchi shot leaving the parmesan grater in the backdrop. The macro lens was used throughout this two day shoot as it will enhance the recipe book by helping the reader identify the ingredients easily and imagine how it might feel and taste in the mouth as they eat it. You can get in really close and select the most attractive part of the dish. There is a lot of experimentation with this type of photography so it is a lot more time consuming that most. Although as you image extremely rewarding too!



The Big Cheese Recipe Book 389

The Northumberland Arms, Newcastle City

The Northumberland Arms recently asked me to capture imagery for a future advertising campaign. As Eldon Square is on the cusp of a refurbishment to help draw larger numbers of shoppers off Northumberland Street and into the shopping centre, it’s going to have a big effect on the local cosy pub thats situated underground. Whist the maintenance is underway my images will be used to inform shoppers the Northumberland Arms is still open for business.

Below I’ve selected a few photographs that I feel reflect the warm interior, friendly staff and their fantastic locally sourced & hearty food offering. Next time you’re in town get down there and treat yourself to a refreshing beverage and some home cooked treats!

Although The Northumberland Arms don’t as yet have a private website set up they are still featured on a few different online review sites, such as View Newcastle.

The Northumberland Arms, Newcastle

Take Me Out! Thames TV comes to the studio

Well this was particularly exciting having a film crew in my studio! ‘Take me Out’ came to here to film Chris a model from Newcastle, one of those brave (and maybe slightly insane) men who put themselves up for a pop at the ladies, a bit of Paddy loving and a potential trip to ‘Fernandos’… (hmmm me thinks it might have another name…)

So here is where I come in.. I was the photographer who was simulating the model shoot with Chris. It was a huge laugh and actually I shot for real whilst being filmed and captured some pretty nice shots, so below are a few behind the scenes and the portfolio I captured for Chris on set.

The programme screened before Christmas and yes I was on that massive screen as the ladies contemplated…  “no likey, no lighty……” but blink and once again, you’d miss me!

take me out thames tv at the studio v3

chris thames tv take me out photo shoot