Behind The Scenes: Still Life

Last month I was lucky enough to win a social media competition through The Photography Show. It was one of those, “subscribe and like this post on Twitter” deals and I ended up winning a paper backdrop from Creativity Backgrounds (you can also find them on Facebook & Twitter @cibackdrops) in a colour of my choice.

I found their website was easy enough to use and their prices reasonable, a 1.35 metre wide by 11 meter long roll (4’5″ x 36ft), 140 gsm is £26+VAT and delivery. They also do an offer where when you buy 3 rolls and you get a 4th roll free. If I need to buy backdrops in the future I will defiantly go to them first. The colour choices are all marked with their CMYK equivalents so it’s really easy to look up the closest Pantone; ensuring you really understand the colour you are purchasing. As we photographers all know too well, the colour represented by our screen and the colour in real life can be very different! I chose Silver Birch which is a soft grey with undertones of purple.

Now being new to using back drops I don’t have a background stand/support system. Creativity Background do stock one on their website but at £170+VAT it was too steep an investment to make straight away. I had no idea how I would get on with the product and, at the moment, I am not making money from my photography. Initially I thought I would  use a clothes runner rail. The one I had in the house was too short, so I improvised with some Ikea shelves, a stack of magazines and my linen basket!


Again you might notice I don’t have any studio lighting… so I improvised with a floor standing desk lamp! And there’s no way I can afford an assistant; so the cat stepped in 😉 The set up was a bit of a faff so I would recommend buying a portable background stand if you are going to be using backgrounds regularly as I can imagine using one to be so much easier. And it’s a must if you are shooting with models as you will need a secure system that is taller than your model!

After some arranging, re-arranging, adding and taking away props; here is the resulting image.


© Katherine Broadbent

This image is pretty much as was captured in camera. I made a couple of adjustments to the white balance and removed a couple of marks in post process. The blur/bokeh is down to my Helios 44-2 58mm lens. A brilliant, and very popular, vintage lens that creates lovely soft, swirly bokeh. I picked mine up on ebay for about £35 and the adaptor ring was about £5. My camera body was of course my trusty Nikon D300s. No longer available new, sadly, but it has been recently replaced by the D500. Which I’m not lusting after, after seeing it at The Photography Show 2016… honest 😉 Okay maybe just a little bit!

With the backdrop I really loved how it reflected and reacted to the different light levels creating a variety of tones across the image. As it’s 11 meters long I didn’t have to worry if I marked or damaged it as you can just cuff off any damage and still have plenty left to play with.


© Katherine Broadbent

This second edit was created using the Mextures App, I emailed the image to my iPhone and added the textures and filters. It’s a really cool app and I have a review coming soon.

Initially I had the idea that I wanted to incorporate vintage glass in the composition. With that in mind I went hunting for items of different heights, colours and texture that would compliment the theme and the colour of the backdrop. All the props I picked up from car boot sales, charity shops and generic home wear stores. The flowers were just from a local supermarket.The cheapest props were 50p and the most expensive £5.99 and all of them will be used around my home and in future compositions.

This image was created for my Aunt’s Birthday.

I will add that none of the companies mentioned asked me to write a post, mention their business name or link to their website/s. I was just incredibly grateful for the opportunity to try something new and equally impressed with the products.

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Project Update: Frozen Botanicals

The typical British Bank Holiday weather, this weekend, inspired me to revisit my Frozen Botanicals Project.

I added to, edited and re processed the project and I have 6 images I feel are really strong.

_DSC5569 _DSC5571

© Katherine Broadbent

_DSC5561 _DSC3870

© Katherine Broadbent

_DSC3858 _DSC3155

© Katherine Broadbent

Looking at the images together I feel I need to revisit the Fern, Gorse and possible the deseeded Cow Parsley. I will need to keep visiting my local park and keep an eye out for the Cow Parsley. Once the autumn kicks in and the plant life wilts back / dies, a visit up to Theatford or Dunwich for the rest.  I don’t like to collect living plants and have built using dead ones into the projects ascetic. Anything that looks fresh has already been broken off the plant when I find it.

We went out to Dunwich Heath yesterday evening and there was the perfect piece of fern. I picked it off the floor and posed it with some heather.


I am now kicking myself for not bringing it home!

But to end on a positive note the fern shot makes a sweet background image for my phone.


M.I.A & Friday Adventures: 12th July 2015 Holkham Estate

The past month I have hidden away from social media and photography. I’ve been struggling a little bit with my mental health. To be honest I’ve not just evaded social media and photography these past few weeks. Life in general was getting to be a bit to much. So I made my excuses to hide myself away… jobs for family, jobs for friends, my day job… my car needs an MOT…ect ect ect.

But today I turned a corner!

After my mood picking up over the past few days I decided that I would go out. I decided on a place very dear to me, with the aim to try and recharge myself artistically and spiritually. It was almost a non starter when I started freaking out en route to Holkham. One is rather partial to the odd melt down. I actually got 1/3 of the way there and then drove back home, fighting off hysteria. By the time I got home I had pulled myself together enough to be calm and clear. So I set off again.

I decided to take it easy and focus mainly on walking and being mindful. If I got photos, I got photos. Today was about feeling good and I didn’t need the pressure of getting a great shot for my project or Wex Monday. I allowed myself some freedom to explore.

That said I did get some fun shots.

© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent

Very rare colour shots! I usually prefer my compositions in black and white but these just worked too well in colour to banish them to monochrome.

I also found a really interesting stretch of beach that I would like to revisit, soon, with my tripod and filters.

Over the next few weeks I will continue to strengthen my photographic muscle. perhaps work in some more structured exercises. I need to be ready and on top form for a very exciting workshop soon!

Plus we had the pleasure of a Photography Symposium, hosted by Wex Photographic, here in Norwich. So I will do my best to write up the talks in good time! Unlike the Michael Kenna talk I have yet to write up from back in March… Plenty to be getting on with!

Wex Monday Week 20

Sadly I won’t have anything to enter this week!

Firstly, I’ve spent the week making updates to the way my blog appears. Woohoo! Launched my domain!

Secondly, I’ve been asked to restore some photographs. It’s a surprise so after the event I’ll be happy to show the fruits of my labour!

Thirdly, I have been preparing for my first photography work assignment! A dear friend of mine has asked for my services in doing some product shots for her new business. So far, I’ve picked up the products and built a light box.

Fourth. And I know a lot of my fellow photographers, who often find themselves out in the wilderness will, appreciate this one. My car was filthy!

Sunday Outing: 10th May 2015 Holkham Hall and Gardens

We decided to utilise our free tickets to Holkham Hall this weekend. We had booked to see an evening talk by Chris Steele-Perkins on his latest project. Sadly due to low take up, the event was cancelled. While I  have spent many hours walking along Holkham Beach and Nature reserve I had never before been into the Hall or it’s grounds.

Walking along the drive the first thing you are struck by are the acres and acres of land. Second of all are the deer! If I were more of a wildlife photographer I would have tried to get some shots but my inexperience put me off. We chose not to park in the main car park and have a longer walk (and free parking). However if you do park in the main car park at the hall, the price of your parking can be redeemed in the café or gift shop, when you spend over £10.

© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent

The hall itself is lovely and the volunteers are always eager to chat and provide fascinating information about the hall. Photographs as I was informed as I walked in are allowed. However I did find that the lighting was poor in most of the rooms, I’ll be a bit more prepared for that when I go back next time and crank up the ISO a little.

The hall is in the midst of a renovation creating a new gallery and events space. As a result the Café and entrance hall are in temporary structures on the lawns. Happily they still deliver a brilliant service.

Whilst in the café I was rather taken by the flowers on our table so I popped on my macro lens.

© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent

This was one of my more abstract shots. Since I hadn’t had much inspiration for taking any shots indoors I decided to keep my macro on as we explored the grounds and experiment with composition.

© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent
© Katherine Broadbent

 © Katherine Broadbent

As we were leaving I couldn’t help snap a quick photo of this rustic gate on my smartphone. I edited it using Snapseed on the journey home!

If you’d like to visit Holkham Estate, which I highly recommend you do, visit the Holkham Website for opening times, costs and availability.

Wex Mondays: Week 19

© Katherine Broadbent

Whilst sat eating lunch at the picturesque Holkham Hall I become entranced by the flowers at our table. Quite small. Not part of an extravagant display. Just simple forms in a glass bottle.

I like the shallow depth of field that comes with macro photography. Rather than trying to work around it I experimented with including it in my artistic expression.

Also; extra points if you spot my little friend 🙂

You can see the winners over on the Wex Blog. I really like the third place entry this week. I lovely abstract from Ian Messenger.

Wex mondays: Week 18

© Katherine Broadbent

Had a little joke with myself about this one being a ‘wildlife shot’.

I decided since I hadn’t been out last week, that I should practice the skills I learnt at the Nikon School.

I started by doing a test shot at ISO 200, F4 & 1/125 to asses the light levels then adjusted my shutter speed to plunge the entire shot into as complete darkness as I could.

Then using my flash gun set to 105mm to produce a concentrated beam of light I began to experiment with highlights and composition.

Initially I had started with 8 or so cranes but since I had one Speedlight available to trigger without the flash as a commander I really struggled. So I scaled back down to one crane.

As I was round Nick’s house I used Lightroom to edit this one, which I haven’t before. It was a bit frustrating trying to get my head around the new software. On the plus side since Nick’s screen is beautifully calibrated, I didn’t need to worry about the black tones being off/patchy 😀 Lightroom was good but I am not sure I can justify the monthly cost when I don’t make any money back from my photography.

Winners this week are over on the Wex Leader Board. Congratulations to Claire McConnel who won with a beautifully serene swan floating across the water.