Front cover shoot-out!


1) Brett Harkness shoots model Janine in Manchester

Equipment: Canon EOS700D with Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens

Shooting images for covers is always a privilege, but brings with it certain unique challenges and constraints. When capturing portraits, I’m constantly checking the composition is right, the subject looks good and the lighting is perfect. With cover images, I’m also having to think about how the image may be cropped and where text may fall, so when composing the image, I need to ensure my subject fills a large portion of the frame, but also that there is enough space for the cover lines to run.

I love shooting on location so I headed into central Manchester to find suitable spots and chose this brick wall as its colour was similar to my model’s hair. I kept Janine’s make-up neutral to accentuate her skin, while avoiding outrageous or bright clothing that might prove distracting. I wanted to avoid too cheesy an expression, so instructed Janine to ‘not smile, but show your teeth’, which gave the look I wanted.

I used one of my favourite lenses, the Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM, for this shoot. By getting close to the wall, the telephoto perspective and wide aperture gave a shallow depth-of-field that threw the foreground wall and background out of focus. I used two portable studio-heads. The key light was fitted with a 70cm softbox and aimed at an angle to give a little shadow on the right cheek, while a rear light fitted with а СТО gel gave a golden hair light that mimics late evening sunlight.

I normally use pro-series Canon models, but felt at home with the control layout on the Canon EOS700D. It’s much smaller than I’m used to but handled nicely. The LCD monitor impressed and the touchscreen allowed me to quickly enlarge areas of an image to check sharpness while reviewing my shots. I was very impressed with how the EOS700D performed and the quality of the images it produced.

2) Helen Dixon shoots magic hour at Trebarwith Strand

Equipment: Canon EOS 700D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens The location chosen for my cover image is heavy on foreground interest and my aim was to exploit the potential of Canon’s ultra wide-angle zoom.

Firstly, I needed to make a few changes to the settings to suit my set-up; navigating through the menu system was straightforward and simple. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many features Canon had included, many of which are found in their high-end DSLRs. The touch screen was something I hadn’t tried before and I found it very useful. Reviewing the shots on the LCD was a breeze; a quick swipe of the screen was all it needed to skip through, plus the vari-angle LCD screen made it easy to see from all angles. It also weighs a lot less than I’am used to, which made it a delight to carry and to use in the field and a perfect partner for long-distance treks.

I scouted out a few different spots that might work and took a couple of frames for each. The Canon zoom lens was able to include lots of foreground detail and I finally settled on a composition that included a small channel that would help lead the viewer’s eye down to the beach and beyond.l focused the lens a third of the way into the scene, making sure I kept everything sharp from front to back. Having checked the histogram for highlight and detail loss, I used 0.9 and 0.45 soft-edged ND grads on the sky and reflection to help me retain detail and balance the exposure in the lightest region of the frame. I shot several frames before the sun was obscured by cloud.

I chose to shoot in Raw and when processing the image found I didn’t need to make many adjustments as the camera had captured lots of detail in both the shadow and highlight areas. I’m very pleased with how the Canon EOS700D captured the detail and atmosphere of the scene.

3) Daniel Lezano shoots Marbled White butterflies in Cornwall

Equipment: Canon EOS 700D with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8LMacro ISUSM lens

While I’ve captured images of butterflies before, they have always been fairly spontaneous affairs, but with the need to capture a cover shot, I had to ensure my preparation and well as choice of equipment, was meticulous.My choice of optic was straightforward- having used and tested the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8LMacro ISUSM lens in the past, I was fully aware of its close-focusing capabilities and excellent optical quality. Used with the Canon EOS700D, the effective focal length of 160mm also meant I could fill the frame with my subject while maintaining a far enough working distance so as not to scare it away.

Normally at this time of year, there is an abundance of insects, but the wet spring has led to far fewer numbers of photogenic insects like butterflies and ladybirds, sol needed to ensure could head somewhere that gave me the best chance of success. Speaking with a number of nature photographers around the UK.a couple of locations in Cornwall were recommended.

Although the 700-mile round-trip wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed, it wasn’t the worst thing about the three-day shoot. That went to the 4am alarm call! To have a chance of getting decent images, you need to be aware of where the butterflies are resting before nightfall and be up early so that you’re on location to take pictures shortly after dawn.

Therefore, I visited the location late in the evening, finding butterflies and noting where they were settled, sol could quickly find them the following morning. Some species are more easily frightened than others, but Marbled Whites are photographer-friendly. I shot handheld and used a spare tripod with a Plamp to hold the stem of the plant on which the butterfly rested, to minimise its movement in the light wind.l shot with the sun backlighting the wings, but used a silver reflector to bounce light to reveal detail.The Canon EOS700Dwassetto centre-point AF to ensure precise focusing and the macro lens didn’t disappoint in giving very crisp results. Although I noted seven butterflies the evening before, there were only three to photograph in the morning and with each one I shot a variety of compositions, bearing in mind the need to allow space for cover lines.l also varied my aperture from wide-open to mid-settings to vary the depth-of-field, as often the backdrop looks better with a little form and soft halos in the distant foliage.In the end, I returned with several potential cover images, but my favourite was this one, captured at around 6am on a chilly morning. The early wake-up call was well worth the effort!

4) Lee Frost shoots Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland

Equipment: Canon EOS 700D with Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens

Embleton Bay is one of my favourite locations on the Northumberland coast.a beach of dark basalt boulders with the distant ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle perched atop the Great Whin’s not the easiest scene to shoot as the slippery boulders are difficult to negotiate, but it’s ideal for long-exposure shots that record motion in the sea and sky.

The best time to be there is when the tide is receding, so the boulders are wet and pick up reflections from the Ji sky. This prevents them from looking dark and dull in the final images — but makes them even more slippery! Alternatively, you can don a pair of wellies, head down to the sea and shoot as the tide comes in and washes over the rocks — being mindful of the fact that you could find yourself marooned on a boulder and surrounded by water if you’re not careful!

Checking the tide times, I established that a 6am start was necessary to catch the tide on its way out, on a day when the weather forecast promised heavy cloud. For long-exposure seascapes I prefer cloud to sun as the light’s softer, exposures are longer and the images are moodier. Unfortunately, on arrival I encountered a damp sea mist — common during summer -which obscured the castle, sol decided to head home and return later in the day when the tide was on its way back in. With my wellies!

I set up the Canon EOS 700D low опту tripod and set the zoom at its widest focal length to exaggerate perspective and make a feature of the foreground boulders. The lens was also focused manually approximately one metre into the scene and the aperture stopped down to f/16 to ensure front-to-back sharpness.

A Lee Filters Big Stopper ND filter was used to give a long exposure, though as it’s too dense to see through, I composed the scene, manually focused the lens and aligned the ND grad to cover the sky before placing the Big Stopper in the holder. I set the Canon EOS 700Dto Bulb mode, calculated the exposure and fired the shutter using a Canon RS-60E3 remote release. The Raw file was processed and converted to black & white to give an atmospheric result.

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