Dramatic light in the forest. Models: Sandy and Arnoldo

The Essex Strobists had arranged a photoshoot in Epping Forest last Sunday. During the last few days before Sunday, several people cancelled, but on Sunday morning we were still expecting nine photographers and 11 models. As it happened, we ended up being nine photographers and three models.

Falling leaves. Model: Arnoldo

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it meant we had to work in small teams rather than everybody doing their own thing. So there was a bit more learning and experience sharing going on than in the previous event I went to. And for me, having been away from model shoots for 6 months, it was a good way to ease back into things.

I had the pleasure of working with Steve and Pradeep, and we quickly got a routine going allowing us all to get plenty of shots, without constantly stepping on each others’ toes. As we were shooting the same models almost at the same time, there’s a lot of repetition of poses between our shots. And that’s really great from a learning perspective, because it gives a good opportunity to see how how other photographers approached the same situation. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking at their pictures on flickr.

Model: Sandy

The weather was a little dull, but mainly dry. Dull is good, as it avoids the harsh contrasts that too bright direct sunlight can cause.

One of the challenges of working with flash outdoors is to balance the flash with the ambient light. While the shutter time doesn’t impact the effect of a flash, this is only true for timings slower than the camera’s “maximum synch time”, typically 1/250th second. For anything quicker than that, the flash either doesn’t cover the entire picture (ooops) or loses significant power. This is where being in the forest on a dull day helped us, as the ambient light levels were low enough to render the issue of flash synchronisation a moot point, even with wide open apertures.

As always, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and I’ve already started to look forward to the next shoot. So much, in fact, that I’m trying to arrange a small themed shoot to explore some of the darkness and drama I feel is in the picture of Sandy and Arnoldo at the top of this post. If I succeed, I’m sure there will be a blog post about it soon after!


Many thanks to Catherine, Sandy and Arnoldo for all their professionalism and patience during the day. You were great!

There’s a slideshow with additional and larger pictures here.