Gone fishing ….


Monday 10th September 2012


I’ve worked with Andrew from Knight Frank on several occasions, completing commissions for Knight Frank’s ‘Rural Report’ publication. Produced bi-annually, Knight Frank’s Rural Report is their flagship glossy magazine dedicated to all aspects of rural property ownership. Undertaking commissions with Andrew, the Editor, is always very enjoyable and when it was requested if I could spend an afternoon on the banks of a peaceful river running through the heart of the Cotswolds, why on earth would I say “no”?


Andrew was writing an in depth article about a stretch of river that had been ‘reclaimed’ from being a weedy & overgrown, gravel filled, slow running brook and turned in to a fisherman’s dream. Andrew’s feature required a portrait of Paddy Hoare – the Land Agent employed by Knight Frank who oversaw and managed the project for the landowner.

I met Andrew and Paddy at the river on a beautifully still early autumn afternoon, and after walking a long stretch of the banks to scout a suitable location we decided on an area that would allow Paddy to stand in the river, framed by the trees on the bank side.

This did pose a problem though: under the trees it was shady and the ambient light levels were low – added to which the water was quite dark when shot from the low angle the picture would require.

Paddy Hoare for Knight Frank Rural Report

The first location, a simple test shot to see if this viewpoint would work as a picture.

I set up two monobloc flash heads powered by a battery pack – these are more powerful than ordinary camera flashes, the result being it would allow me to add larger swathes of light to the location. With the grassy banks being of a darker nature I also decided to direct some of the flash through the tall grasses, thus lighting the foreground and bank side too.

Paddy stood in the river as I aimed the lights to get the right effect, and having measured the flash’s output on a light (flash) metre, I set the flash levels to be slightly more than the ambient light level.  Using a light metre really helps and speeds up this process – measuring both ambient (available) light, as well as the added flash light in one test firing. Thus you can instantly see if the flash output needs to be more or less to get the correct light balance. Then you simply make the correct adjustments based on the style of light you wish to achieve – that is where experience comes in, i.e. knowing what will work best (based on former shoots of this nature).

With Paddy in location I was able to see what affect the additional flash lighting had on the subject.

Paddy Hoare

Paddy stands in – at this point the flash power is not directed enough at the subject.

A further tweak of the lights’ direction allows light to hit Paddy and also to light the riverbank.

Paddy Hoare

The right allocation of directional light, just the exposure to adjust and a tweak of the depth of field to address.

With some bracketing to get differing levels of the ambient light, I was able to request Paddy to hold his pose in order that his head was in a clean area of the picture, thus defining him and making him stand out from the background.

Maintaining a lower eye level (i.e. below Paddy’s eye line) created a more powerful pose.

Shoots tend to evolve as you try different techniques … resulting (hopefully more often than not) in a conclusion that looks pictorially just right. With an element of post production to a batch of edited images in Photoshop, one of the finished pictures illustrates totally different light levels to a riverbank devoid of flash.

KNIGHT FRANK:  Land Agent Paddy Hoare pictured in the River Dikler at Lower Swell, Nr. Stow-on-the Wold, Gloucestershire in The Cotswolds.

Paddy in the river, shot in landscape orientation allowing for a double page spread.

Below is the image that Andrew published within the Rural Review. Note the clean space around Paddy’s head to separate him from a busy background.  There’s nothing worse for me as a professional photographer than seeing images some people take that have ‘stuff’ growing out of their subject’s head!

Paddy Hoare

The tearsheet from the Knight Frank Rural Review.

My thanks go to Andrew for an enjoyable afternoon on the River Dikler and to Paddy for being such a great subject – he maintained his truly good nature whilst standing knee deep in water for ages! Next time I visit I may just bring my rod!