For my birthday last year a group of my friends got together and bought me a red balloon voucher. I took my time deciding what was going to be just the right experience as I wanted to make the most of it. I then found The Advanced Portrait workshop run by Sydney Photographic Workshops and after checking their work out booked myself in. It seemed like fate as it was the first Saturday of the school holidays so an extra reward for making it through the term.
The day started in their studio in Alexandria opposite Studio 301 in Mitchell street. We spent a bit of time getting to know each other, there were 7 of us in the course that day. Daniel Linnet was our tutor for the day and his wife Wendy organised the day.
We were very lucky to have such awesome weather for the workshop which was mainly spent outside near the harbour in Sydney in and around the Sydney Heritage Fleet.
Our first model was Hilary. He had been a police officer prior to coming to work on the restoration project where he has been since 1986. He spends 3 days a week there volunteering his time in the huge man shed. He was such a sweet old guy and very accommodating with allowing us to photograph him.
After shooting Hilary in a few locations around one of the “in progress” restoration projects we then got a quick run down over lunch of using light room. One technique we covered that was new to me is known as dodge and burn. I had a bit of a go at it on the photo below of Hilary. I lightened up some of the shadows that were on the right hand side of the photograph (left of his face). I need a little more practise but think it doesn’t look too obvious.
After lunch while we were waiting for our fashion model Emily to arrive we had a look around and did some location shots. Stephen was nice enough to let us photograph him while he was separating the large pieces of coal from the dust. He worked consistently all day shoveling and sorting the coal. He is also a keen photographer and prefers like me to be on the other side of the lens not as the subject.
Once Emily Harlow our fashion model arrived we then heading out into the sunshine to set up some shots. Firstly in direct sunlight using a scrim to filter the sun from overhead and a white reflector to remove the shadows from her face.
The area was extremely busy with no clean backdrops for portraits so we shot from above and used the concrete as the background. After the shots in direct sunlight we then moved into the shade and used the reflectors to bounce some light onto Emily’s face.
We then headed inside one of the ships to look for some interesting places to use as a backdrop. The first was the wheel house.
The stairs of the wheel house became our next set up. We needed a way to hide some ugly red metal behind Emily so Chris (Daniel’s assistant) sacrificed himself and stayed up in the wheel house in the direct sunlight to hold a white background in the doorway.
Then we experimented with a black background next to a window using a reflector for some added light. We only moved about 1m to the left but the shot changed completely.
We then set up a shot on the lower deck of the boat where it was much darker using one speed light which we bounced off a white wall and used a scrim to filter it and increase the area of the light source. As we were using a flash we could then slow the shutter speed down to experiment with how much background we showed in our shot.
The last shot of the day was in the workshop using a cool shaped piece of a ship that Daniel spotted when we were there earlier. We also added a blue filter to the speedlights to add drama for some of the photos.
A big thanks to Daniel and Wendy Linnet, Chris Corby for running a fabulous workshop also to our models Hilary from Sydney Heritage Fleet and Emily Harlow. If you would like to see some behind the scenes footage check out the video on Sydney Photographic Workshops’ Instagram page.