Photographer and PermaJet Brand Ambassador John Denton and model Sophie Canare are embarking on the first trip in a series that will take them around the world in the next year. We spoke to John to get an insight into the planning that's gone into the photography...
John and Sophie ready to begin their adventure.
There is a quotation in military circles that the first casualty of warfare is the plan of attack. Having spent some time in the Police Service on operations I can confirm that this is generally the case. However there is also the maxim that failing to plan is planning to fail. If you don't know what you're aiming for, how do you know when you've achieved it?
So with that in mind I've been planning the upcoming trip to Thailand for oh, around six months now! So much of it is unknown. I've never been there before, never worked with elephants before, don't know the light quality, don't know the customs, habits, temperatures... So much I don't know and that's what often deters people from making a plan, but the internet makes research much easier than in times past and there are a lot of things I do know.
I know that I'm going to a country where the temperature at this time of year is consistently warm, and humid. Sometimes there are thunder storms in the afternoons and there's about 13hrs between sunrise and sunset. We're going to be out in the jungle for first week, city the second. That means little ambient light at night one week, loads the other. I know the colours in the first week will be a mix of greens, browns, greys and blue. I know the colours in the second week will be a riot and so different to my western mindset. Put all this together and it helps me plan the outfits to take for Sophie, the lighting and the printing.
We're not taking a massive amount of props with us. Thailand is after all the land of cheap clothing and we can't wait to hit the markets. A few key pieces will be coming with us: swimsuits, a couple of floaty dresses and other outfits for use in the 'jungle'. Our first week will be spent living in a small village with nine houses and eleven elephants. I've never been more excited for a shoot. We've also packed a ton of mosquito repellent, sunscreen and Imodium - be prepared for all eventualities!
The packing essentials!
Shooting wise I've got my new toy, the Nikon D850 as my main camera with trusty old D300 as backups. The D850 is a fantastic piece of kit and looking forward to exploring the dynamic range in strong light as well as the low light capability and seeing how that transfers to print. The video modes are excellent too and will be put to good use. Team that with a GoPro5 and we'll be recording lots of behind the scenes footage, instructional videos and general shenanigans.
Lighting is potentially going to be a problem with strong sunlight and deep shadows as well as massive subjects to shoot (the elephants, not Sophie). In week 2 I have some night shoots in mind when you only need a little dab of light from a low power flash. The light that covers all the bases, as well as giving High Speed and shallow depth of field options is the Elinchrom 1200W. An amazing battery powered light source that gives a full range of power options from very small to the full 1200W. An octa with diffuser panel gives softbox to beauty dish options. A maxilight gives great crisp hardlight options and if space suffices I want to take a square gridded dish for focussing light.
I intend to shoot a lot of monochrome images on the trip. I've become fascinated with the differences of lighting and shooting for monochrome and the way you can render skin tone. That leads to the printing of the images. I've picked two papers to have in store for the final prints. PermaJet Photo Lustre 310 and FB Mono Gloss Baryta 320.
John's paper of choice.
The lustre has a fine texture to the surface that suits colour and monochrome images alike but adds an extra dimension to skin tone. It's not a full gloss but just a little shine really helps to bring out details and contrast. I see this primarily as my colour paper for images of Sophie with the elephants and in the city streets with the hustle and bustle all around her. The mono paper is specifically designed to give rich black tones and soft whites and will be primarily for the monochrome images. I have printed colour to it before though and it gives beautiful rich saturation across the dynamic range so I'm looking forward to exploring this further. Two papers that offer different options and having them in mind as I'm shooting helps me with the lighting, styling and retouching.
I'll be presenting the results on my return and can't wait to add to the gallery of images I have on my walls at home. After all, what is the point of a photographic adventure if you don't have the art to reflect on afterwards?
John's key equipment list
Follow the adventure www.jands.johndentontraining.com