Gulf Photo Plus 2014 Dubai

During early March 2014 I flew to Dubai to attend a Joe McNally photography course at Gulf Photo Plus 2014 concentrating on the use of small flash units known as speedlites.

12 students from all over the world joined me on a two day course.

We gathered in the Auditorium in Knowledge Village and began with a get to know you session and understanding our photography level - some amateur some Pro.  we discussed what we were hoping to gain from the course. 

After hearing everyones story we got on with the first lesson Joe's workflow when approaching a typical enviromental portrait. Surveying the area in which you shoot and the pros's and cons of the available light. We were inside the auditorium and believe me the available light was awful - there's no way you could possibly get a good shot here !! Wrong!!

Joe picked his spot started gaining the correct ambient light exposure (shutter and F stop) with a plus 3 exposure compensation. He then began to add his Flash lights and various lighting modifiers. And so began the creative process and quite frankly it was amazing how he built each lighting effect each creating subtle yet effective mood and soul to the shot. What amazed me though was actually how simple he made it look. Of course this was experience being witnessed first hand. Knowing where to put the lights and the effect desired 35 years of professional photography at a very high level.

So we all witnessed first hand how to approach the building of a shot with small flash and the various trigger systems that could be used. Joe used a line of sight trigering system, I personally prefer my Pocket Wizard both do the same job its what you feel comfortable with ultimately.

The next session was to be shooting models with some of the technique Joe had explained during the previous session outside with various flash modifiers and understanding the quality of light. We were introduced to our models and were put into 4 groups of three.

This was in itself quite nerve racking as the three photographers and the models were all strangers and suddenly we were being asked to be creative  together. I found this the hardest session as the surroundings we used weren't particularly inspiring and it was hard midday sunshine. Perhaps that was the point-  we managed to all get along and make some shots. This of course was a learning experience and indeed mistakes were to be made.

After this session it was time to go home with homework - best two shots and worse two shots ready for a full critique by Joe in the morning.


The following morning arrived and we again gathered in the Auditorium. We uploaded our shots and were ready for the masters critique. In fairness to Joe it was simply a true and honest appraisal with constructive criticisms and encouragment. The session took about two hours and on the whole was very useful. This was the first time I had any of my shots critiqued. The only regret was I didn't really like them. Perhaps if I had produced what I thought were good shots then heard a critique I would of felt better.

A shot of Melissa an Emirates Stewardess based in Dubai from the first model session. Softbox and reflector.  Post helped this shot....

A shot of Melissa an Emirates Stewardess based in Dubai from the first model session. Softbox and reflector.

Post helped this shot....

On to the last session which I felt was the most productive and fun session. On location with models at a local authentic Dubai market.


We remained in our three Rasha from Bahrain and Maha from Saudi.

We began with a saxophonist who in all honesty had not modelled before so was a little nervous. However, these shots were much better and far more enjoyable. We all used light modifiers with off camera triggers. The modifier we used was a rouge Flash bender. We tried using a soft box but found it really a pain in terms of carrying everywhere. Got a feeling Joe was a little miffed as the quality of light would of been better though a soft box. Sorry Joe...

Here are a couple of shots of our Sax player...



Next we changed models and we were introduced to the lovely Jay an American Jazz singer based in Abu Dhabi.

Jay was excellent superb attitude and just great at posing. Here are some of her shots with some basic post. 

Whilst in the market I really wanted to take some street shots of local market traders. I took these with their permission and they loved having their photo taken. Its a shame they are unlikely to ever see them...

After the market location shoot it was a wrap. Time had run out and it was time to go home. Just a few snaps of new friends together with Joe.

Such a great two day workshop new lessons learnt but most importantly new friends.


GPP 2015 ? hope so 


Hello Sailor!

Last week I was invited by my Best Buddy Mike Doyle to accompany him on the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Independence of The Seas. Weighing in at 160,000 tonnes this is a huge vessel.  In fact its the second largest cruise liner in the world. A little 4 day trip around the english channel. Now you might think not to glamorous well, this was a little taster cruise for newby cruisers. For us it was a perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with a close friend.

A shot on board featuring some of the amazing architecture.



Mike and I go way back some 27 years and we have been best buddies all that time. We don't  often get the time one would like  due to both our busy schedules. This was a perfect opportunity and a treat. 

Mike has also gotten the bug for photography we had a blast just talking nerdy stuff which of included  iPhones Apple macs Canon DSLR's Fuji Xpro's you name it we talked about it.

I managed to take some pictures both on board and off which included a days visit to the lovely village of La Harve! We both took our camera's and started shooting anything.  

We visted a church and I explained to Mike the cool things one can creatively achieve with Bokeh - whilst teaching Mike you could see a light bulb being turned. We all remember that moment when we first learn about F Stops!!

Heres a couple of shots inside a catholic church all taken with simple 50 mm 1.4 lens. 



Explaining depth of Field I took this shot of Mike which turned out like an actors head shot.  When Mike saw it he said thats my "Feed Him To The Pigs" aka Ray Winston.




You see Mike is an independent Entertainer and is one of the most in demand cabaret stars in the world today. He literally is away 10 months a year only being at home for Christmas and the lucrative Pantomime season. An extremely funny guy with the voice of an angel its the norm that a performance is always greeted with a standing ovation. 


We love our music and I recently introduced him to John Mayer who presently is growing on both of us. We often sang "Something Like Olivia" off Mayer's latest album Paradise Valley which I recommend. 

Whilst talking music and photography we talked recording an album. We agreed this to be a great idea and played around with a number of concepts. In fact we took this following shot to help the process.



We both know its far from the final image for the cover but we had fun playing around with the bokeh and the two tone colour concept. Additionally the mood of the image which is a departure from the normal smiling happy shot for Mike. 


That night Mike performed two shows both houses sold out, 1700 people in the largest theatre I have ever seen on board a ship. 

Here a few shots from the show.  I used my Canon 70 - 200 mm f 2.8 ISO at 400.




That last shot was for my benefit as Mike performs a little Tom Jones with a taste of Elvis. 

I Had a brilliant time and am looking forward to our next trip....Don't tell the Mrs though! 



Beach Evening

Last night we looked at the sky and thought "wow" lets not waste a lovely evening. We decided to grab a blanket a couple of beer and head down to Hayling Island beach. We witnessed a beautiful sunset and of course I couldn't resist taking the camera and some accessories.... 

What a gorgeous evening whilst eating Fish and Chips  perfect....

As for the photography, I took a few of young George (4 1/4 ! ) who insisted he wanted to paddle......I took these shots again with a little fill "off camera flash" using the TT1 and TT5  Pocket wizards. all in TTL.

Its funny how you feel after taking feel you have captured something unique and forever  isn't that the beauty of photography. Would of been easy  simply to stay in and watch telly ! So pleased we did this. George was tucked up in bed by 8 15pm after all, it was a school night!



Nik and Meena Pre Wedding Photo Shoot

Today I had the great pleasure of photographing Nik and Meena. The shoot took place at the lovely Stansted House West Sussex.

The idea was simple - to acquaint Nik and Meena to having their photograph taken prior to the big day.

It's always daunting for the uninitiated having their photograph taken. But thankfully ,within a few minutes the couple were at ease and most importantly had a fantastic attitude, this helped create some excellent images as well as a fun afternoon. I appreciated its all new to the couple, the last thing I wanted was to complicate the situation by asking them to pose in various complex poses with multiple flashes firing. I certainly wanted to keep it simple, which I did.

Keep it Simple Stupid!! KISS

I knew what I was after in terms of the shots.... I used my trusted 5D Mark 3 one 580 ex 2 and my newly acquired toys....the pocket wizards TT1 and TT5 in TTL. The flash was on a monopod and held by Julie who also arranged Meena's make up.

We shot at around mid day, we all know thats a terrible time to shoot. Luckily, having taken tips from various other pro photographers namely Glyn Dewis and James Hole, it was easy. Shade Shade Shade and keep the subject between you and the sun thats all you need plus a little fill light produced by an off camera flash.

I made sure my back grounds were highlighted for separation and bingo, I think the shots turned out great. Certainly Nik and Meena are happy bunnies.

I finished off in post with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC using filters from Imagenomic and Totally Rad.

So, Nik and Meena have a few shots to enjoy but more importantly regarding the photography, they will be far more relaxed and comfortable on their big day.....

Have a lovely weekend all.

David :)


A new beginning.

This is my first posting as I finally take the plunge and create my very own web site. I appreciate the site is very new and therefore only a small amount of content has been uploaded. Over time i hope to add much much more. 

I welcome any comments good or bad regarding the layout and/or content. i am definitely one for keeping things simple  I like the uncluttered look the site offers.  space adds to the content don't you think?

Looking forward to hearing from you. 

Stay warm.... 


David : )