Musician Lifestyle Photography Lancashire
The above image is a composite of four images, which was developed as an idea after taking a couple of the portrait images. The original portraits were to be full length, in an environment conducive to an era when a string quartet would have been very much at home.
The one location that instantly sprang to mind when organising the shoot was Eaves Hall in West Bradford, part of the James’ Places group. It’s Georgian styling is absolutely perfect as a backdrop for the Northern String Quartet. The beautiful dark oak panelling invokes a timely ambience to the images, although you could practically hear the dark wood eating the light!
Meet Nikolas Gjylaci. Managing Director of the Northern String Quartet, based in Manchester.
The corridor made an ideal setting for the portraits, although it was a little too confined to add any additional lighting for accent, which meant it needed to be a single light source and quite carefully controlled. I used an Elinchrom ELB400 firing through an 80x80cm folding softbox with a honeycomb fitted. This was held aloft by my assistant on its lightstand and angled downward towards Nikolas’ chest. Thus avoiding illuminating the ceiling or indeed anything beyond Nikolas. The output was set to 3.0 (Equivalent to 50Ws)
The reflected light on the panelling leads the eye nicely to our subject.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @19mm & f5
These are the other images taken at the same settings, which made up the final composite image.
Continuing the theme of evolving ideas, the following instrumental image is nothing like the original idea put forward by the quartet. This image was a bit of a throw-away idea for the client. A bit of something and nothing for their facebook page.
After shooting a relaxed group image in the bar area, I shot a couple of close up images of their instruments. The sort of thing that makes for an interesting social media post when announcing a concert or event. The violins were obvious candidates for those close up images, but the Cello was a bit of a challenge. We managed the violins and viola on the coffee table, but the cello just filled it completely. The high gloss of the cello also reflected the finish of the table quite clearly too.
The cello was moved to the floor and a test shot taken. Hmmm. Whilst I quite liked the image, it spawned the idea for the composition above. The test shot was okay, but the group were visible in the background, still sat around the table. The busy background was very distracting from the cello, and made the whole image look a bit “busy”. Also, the cello kinda looked a bit lonely too.
The test image had also been made with just the one light source, mainly to see if it was feasible, and whether we needed to bring in the stripboxes I’d been using with the quartet. The fact the members of the quartet were visible in the test shot showed I didn’t need the other lights, but needed to better control the one light I had.
We placed the violins and viola in front of the cello and I asked my assistant to boom the light source over the instruments, with the centre of the light source in front of them. “Booming” sounds quite exotic, where in truth, he simply held the lightstand horizontally. The light source was an Elinchrom ELB400 firing through a 90×90 Lastolite Ezybox at an output of 1.0 (Equivalent to 12Ws), which was directed to fire straight down in front of the instruments.
I used the fastest available x sync shutter speed of 1/250th of a sec and an ISO of 200, which shut down the ambient light completely, nicely isolating the instruments from the room beyond.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/250th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @f5.0
I’d already made use of the interior of Eaves Hall, and now wanted something a little different. Hence the move to outside.
Immediate frame left, I have an Elinchrom ELB400 firing through a folding 80x80cm softbox at head height. This provided the texture to the nearest stone pillar and wall. Also, due to the distance to the group, it acted as a main light to the overall group. It was firing at an output of 5.0. (Equivalent to 200Ws)
You may have noticed the slight hint of flare top left corner. That’s coming from another ELB400 unit firing through a high intensity reflector. If I had used a grid to reduce the flare, it would have restricted the cone of light to the point that it wouldn’t have covered the group fully. Also, this light was also providing highlights to some of the surrounding stonework and shrubbery. It was at the top of the steps, where there’s a fairly sizeable open area. It was firing at an output of 4.0. (Equivalent to 100Ws)
Frame right, and placed in the border with the bushes, was a third ELB400, firing through a honeycombed 30x140cm stripbox at an output of 3.0. (Equivalent to 50Ws). This was to provide an accent light to Nikolas’ dark suit, and also give further shape and texture to the far wall.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII 1/60th sec ISO200 12-40mm f2.8 @24mm f6.3
The Northern String Quartet can be found at northernstringquartet.com