Greenbeanz Photography: Blog en-us (C) Greenbeanz Photography [email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:11:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:11:00 GMT Greenbeanz Photography: Blog 120 68 The Photographer's Friend – Wild Robin - Tuesday 03 January 2016 The Photographer's Friend – Wild Robin - Tuesday 03 January 2016

The Photographers FriendPanasonic G7 - Panasonic Leica 25mm F1.4 at ISO 200 - f2.2 - 1/250

The European Robin is a familiar sight here in the UK in winter and is often associated with Christmas, though this is a fairly recent association with it's original role being that of a storm cloud bird sacred to Thor. There are other symbolic links with Christianity with the blood of Jesus being said to be responsible for it's distinctive red breast and another myth suggesting that the colour is the result of scorching whilst the tiny bird was fetching water for souls in purgatory. Whatever it's origins the bird is very well loved almost being adopted as the unofficial bird of the United Kingdom.

Friendly RobinNikon D750 - 300mm F4 ISO 640 at 1/250s

They are very friendly birds, often quite unafraid of humans and commonly referred to as the gardeners friend. They seem to have evolved this close relationship by waiting for easy worms when the human turns the soil over. This also makes them ideal subjects for young wildlife photographers with some being so tame that they will even eat from the hand. They will come to a table or feeder, and although they will move quickly like all small birds, a patient photographer with a telephoto or zoom lens should be able to catch them because they are not so prone to flight when they see you, as long as your movements are slow and steady.

Robin PerchedNikon D750 - 300mm F4 - ISO 640 at 1/250s

Yesterday whilst trying to track Canadian Wild Geese on their evening flight to Saltram House over the water I encountered a Robin in the car park next to the water. He watched me attaching my Nikon 300mm f/4D ED to the D750 from his perch on the fence right next to me. He was literally within arms reach. Unfortunately that is considerably less than 8 feet the minimum focus distance for this classic telephoto lens. Luckily I had my Panasonic G7 with the Leica 25mm f1.4 mounted and so managed to pick this up and catch a couple shots before he flew a short distance away.


I then went to try and find some flying ducks or geese. The light was fading but the bigger birds had either passed earlier or went somewhere else for the night and so I took a few landscape abstractions and then made my way back to the car. I popped the boot and then walked to the front of the car to peer down the embankment as one final check for the geese. Nothing. Turning back toward the car who did I see perched on the open boot? The Robin.

Robin Red BreastNikon D750 - 300mm F4 at ISO 640 - F5.6 - 1/160s

Robin on CarRobin on Car Nikon D750 with the 300 F4 at ISO 640 at F4 - 1/320s

In fact so bold (or hungry) was the little guy that he even perched on my open camera bag for a second. I missed that shot but got a few of him in and around the car and back perched on his fence before sensing that I was probably not one of the local anglers digging the mud banks for juicy worm bait, he flew away.

Never met a friendlier Robin in my life.

Robin on fenceRobin - Nilkon D750 - Nikon 20mm F1.8 ISO 100 at 1/60s


You can buy prints of the chap here or alternatively you can book your pet, family, professional or personal portrait starting from as little as £25 here at Greenbeanz Photography using the contact form here, messaging me on the Greenbeanz Photography Facebook page or emailing me at – [email protected]

[email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) Bird Micro Four Thirds Robin Wed, 04 Jan 2017 17:52:19 GMT
Headshots and More - Shoot with Hypnotherapist Jo Welsh and Her Counselor Mother Ann Headshots and More - Shoot with Hypnotherapist Jo Welsh and Her Counsellor Mother Ann - Friday 11 November 2016 – The Tanglewood Practice


It is very easy to assume things about people and their practice and this is no different with Photography than any other profession. In a very competitive market it is seen as increasingly important to specialise and create a brand and style that makes you stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to immerse yourself in work that you love. The work itself will shape your practice and your style will develop and emerge naturally. It should be an extension of yourself. That way you will not tire in what can sometimes seem like an unrelenting uphill struggle. I am a firm believer that the best way to learn something is to do it. Pablo Picasso once said, “I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”

So as well as understanding the technicalities of Photography , the art of composition and the history and theory behind the medium, a sound foundation in working to strict briefs and improvising on your feet can help you become proficient and expressive and a style will become evident. The problem with this approach is that those seeing the work that you love will often assume that very portfolio demonstrates as much about what you can not do as it does about what you can do. Fortunately many people can see pass this, and so I was very happy to get the call from Jo to provide herself and her Mum some head and environmental portraits to help illustrate their hypnotherapy and counselling work at The Tanglewood Practice.

I am well aware that a large body of my work takes place in dark underground nightclubs or ringside with very sweaty men engaged in intense displays of aggression and skilful proficiency, but up until very recently I often worked as an enabler and mentor with disabled students by day, so a chance to demonstrate my ability to portray the softer and more caring side of life is always very welcome.

Jo was very keen to get some new headshots and photographs to illustrate the business but we agreed that we would try not to just reproduce the same corporate and rather cold commercial staples that line many an office wall of health professionals. I had noticed that many hypnotherapy and counselling services had a propensity to use a lot of blue as though over emphasising the clinical side of their work and so the starting point in preparing the project was to avoid this.

Fortunately the Tanglewood Practice provided another amazing opportunity to create something softer and more sympathetic by having a dual aspect room in which I could exploit the natural light from each window to create several different looks for both Jo and Ann and a couple variations together.

We started by using the window light to frame a couple portraits with the backlit distance helping to provide a space in which prospective clients could feel positive and engage with. Then we moved across to the other side of the room to work with a neutral very muted green wall and the natural side light of the second window with just a little bounced highlights provided by a gold reflector.

The Nikon 185mm telephoto is now a pretty vintage lens but the glass elements inside it help produce a unique complex colour signature and for me helped produce what I felt was the shot of the day which is very easy when you have as striking and engaging a subject as Jo to capture with it.

We then moved on to the two shot environmental images in which I suggested alternating both subjects so that the foreground therapist would be in sharp focus and the other could be defocused and the resulting blurry soft image could stand in for a client gazing toward an unknown but positive future through the bright white window.

The challenge of focusing on eyes through spectacles and avoiding reflections helped remind me to change perspective and the shoot passed very quickly before I had to leave for a pre-wedding planning meeting, confident that we had all managed to change perspectives and achieve what we set out to do.


You can book your family, professional or personal portrait starting from as little as £25 here at Greenbeanz Photography using the contact form here, messaging me on the Greenbeanz Photography Facebook page or emailing me at – [email protected]



[email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) Commercial Portraits Counseling Hypnotherapy Nikon 180mm Portraits Small Business Portraits The Tanglewood Practice backlit Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:18:44 GMT
Stanley the English Bull Terrier on Plymouth Hoe - Saturday 05 November 2016

Stanley on Plymouth Hoe - Shoot with Stanley the English Bull Terrier and His humans Chris and Julie - Saturday 05 November 2016

On Saturday November the 5th, 'Bonfire' or 'Guy Fawkes Night' as it is known here in the UK I went up onto Plymouth Hoe to meet Stanley and his owners for a pet portrait shoot. I have known Chris for a couple years now through the local live music scene and had first met Stanley last year.

None of this sounds remarkable and given that most animals do not respond well to fireworks, it is not unusual to give your dog a good run in the day to tire them out for a night in. ( I say most, because our Cat 'Charlie' who left us for Cat heaven at the grand age of 18 earlier this year used to love sitting on the window sill and watching them). The big difference for me is that I have a phobia of dogs.

Now I am much better than I used to be, and have definitely progressed a lot recently, because to get close enough to shoot a dog, even a couple of years ago would have been quite unlikely. I think part of my phobia stems not just from being nipped by our own mixed breed dog when I was very little, but having my tendon snapped when bitten by a Farm Dog in my teens. It's a long story but I don't blame the dog as I should not have been on his farm (:

Anyway I have found that facing the fear head on has helped, and ironically I actually love dogs once I get to know them, so most of the phobia is related to the unknown quantity of a dog that I have not met.

Stanley is an English Bull Terrier and while most breeds like this are often misunderstood, there is some logic behind the fear that many have of them, because they are undoubtedly very powerful. While a normal terrier may create havoc with the contents of your fridge, a bull terrier is quite capable of biting through the fridge itself. Here is the thing though. They are often very calm and predictable animals, particularly if they are loved and trained well like all dogs should be. Stanley never barked once for the whole session, and this for someone who has a phobia makes a huge difference. Often a barking dog can make you jump and then the dog can sense your discomfort and the whole irrational fear thing can become like a self fulfilling cycle of unquietness. I say irrational because phobias though rooted in genuine concern usually are. I would at the height of my phobia have willingly jumped into a ring with Mike Tyson knowing the most likely outcome for me would be a swift knockout, than stroke a dog who could do anything in my mind despite being able to fit in it's owners handbag.

Anyway Stanley was brilliant. For me , although I am no Crufts judge the most pleasing aesthetic for me with this breed is the line they make in profile. Their muscle tone shows through their short coats and the short back and large powerful head create a unique proportion, and so I tried to capture this.

The shoot took place at midday and most photographers will avoid this like the plague. The best light is often at dawn and dusk, in fact a grey overcast day is often a chance to get your best work done. This is because the contrast between bright overpowering strong light and dark shadows is greatest in the middle of the day. It means that details often get lost in shadow and highlights often get 'blown out'. (When a photographer says 'blown highlights' they are referring to the brightest parts of a picture where there are just white patches in the exposure with no detail recorded.) On a grey day or at the beginning or end, the light is softer though and the cameras meter is more likely to calculate a more accurate exposure that will capture the subtle dynamics more faithfully.

Midday does have it's advantages though. You can turn a disadvantage like obvious shadows into an advantage by accentuating them and making them a into feature, and you can use the bright sunlight to your advantage in being able to operate at higher shutter speeds to work hand held and capture motion, which with animals is very useful. Until the very end of the shoot (when I used the D700) I used the Nikon D750 which although only having a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 compared to the now 8 year old D700 which can operate up to 1/8000 was more than quick enough to catch Stanley whilst running around.

The other thing to remember when shooting in bright sunlight is that unless you use a filter in front of the lens you will have a hard time when opening up your aperture. So an aperture setting of something like 1.4 with a Sigma 35mm whilst brilliantly isolating your subject from the background will often result in your image being overexposed, even at very high shutter speeds. A lot of dogs though have long noses or snouts, so if you want to get both the eyes and the nose in focus you will need to step down a little anyway. You can see this clearly in one of the rejected shots below where the plane of focus is so narrow at even f2.8 that while the ball and the line of grass on the plane below it is sharp I have missed Stanley who is fractionally behind.

Shot 4 - Stanley and his ballStanley the English Bull Terrier chases his ball

I use a variety of prime lenses with the Nikon kit rather than zooms, and so while I started with the 35mm Sigma I then swapped to the 300mm Nikon f4 and the 180mm F2.8 telephotos to isolate Stanley whilst running towards me, and then the 20mm for the character close ups and compositions in which I wanted to include much more of the environment. You can see Stan up real close in the photograph at the end of this blog post shot with the 20mm and how it adds to his charm. I then finished the shoot down at the seafront with the D700 and the 85mm 1.8 which is pretty much welded onto it nowadays because I like the way it renders out of focus highlights in the background and it seems to love the refracted light from the sea and adds a softness that for portraits is often more flattering then everything being pin sharp.

Figure 5

You can book your pet, family, professional or personal portrait starting from as little as £25 here at Greenbeanz Photography using the contact form here -, messaging me on the Greenbeanz Photography Facebook page  or emailing me at – [email protected]


[email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) D700 D750 Dog English Bull Terrier Nikon Pet Portrait Plymouth Hoe Sigma 35mm Tue, 08 Nov 2016 18:05:58 GMT
Movement - Shoot with Kevin French - Tuesday 25 October 2016  

Studio portrait of actor, life model, dancer Kevin FrenchKevin James FrenchLife Model, Dancer, Actor Kevin French ('Disabled Kevin')


Yesterday I went back to Plymouth University to continue on with a collaboration I started with my friend Kevin last year. I have known Kev for about 20 years now but we had not worked on any projects together until last year.


Kev, or 'Disabled Kevin' as he is known by many, went to University like me as a mature student, and graduated with a BA in Dance and Theatre. He has now returned to study for his Masters and I went along yesterday to help document some material for this, and to shoot some more content for a project we hope to exhibit next year. I mistakenly thought we would be in the very well equipped Photography studio but actually we ended up working in the Video/Media room which although being equipped with LED lights and panels, and is a very nice space, presented a somewhat different proposition to the studio flash set up next door.

Kevin in Motion

The shoot was to be a study of motion but I decided to not concentrate so much on the idea of rear curtain Sync flash until we work in the studio next door (although I did do various experiments dragging the shutter with a hot shoe mounted flash/strobe) and use a combination of in camera multiple exposures and a series of stills to capture Kevin in motion. (Rear Curtain Sync is when you instruct the camera to fire the flash at the end of an exposure, rather than at the beginning like you would in a conventional flash photograph. What this means is that when you use a slow shutter speed, any visual information you capture at the beginning of an exposure, when the curtain or shutter opens, will show motion in the form of blurred trails behind the subject and then when the flash fires at the end, the subject should be captured sharp and frozen in motion.)



It is can be a bit awkward working with friends but I have never had a problem with Kevin as he is as trusting in me and my ability to produce something different, as I am in him performing something interesting and dynamic to capture. LED lights are great for video and using a continuous light source is also a great way to learn about lighting for students, but are not my first choice for Studio work. It is why most studio flashes are equipped with modelling lights, so you can get an idea of how the different light ratios you have set between sources are interacting with your subject before you start shooting. They are not the same as studio flash though and so we used the opportunity to allow Kevin the freedom to move around the large space and experiment with shooting from different perspectives. Much of what we shot is now added to a notebook of ideas from which to recreate larger format work for an exhibition, but some shots may well make it through as pieces in their own right.

Kevin x 3Kevin x 3In Camera Multiple Exposure

I shot with both Nikons (D700/D750) and the Sigma DP3M and used the height and width of the space to give us a much greater chance of documenting Kevin's unique movement. Shooting wide to catch improvised things and then cropping is OK bit I am beginning to find it a bit of a compromise when you know some of the work is going to end up printed or projected at large scale proportions, so I think we may well re-stage or recreate some pieces again with a different focal length or another camera. (MF or a MPM- Megapixel Monster).

Kev dragged shutter testing

All in all it was a very productive afternoon and both the Sigma Art 35 F1.4 on the D750 and the DP3M proved their worth in beautifully rendering exactly what you point them at. Climbing up a step ladder was much more reassuring knowing that Adrian (one of Kevin's carer's was there) and getting down low again proved very successful in sharing Kevin's perspective for the viewer.


Can't wait for the next shoot.


Kevin looking at youKevin looking at you






[email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) Actor Dancer Disabled Kevin Greenbeanz Photography Kevin French Life Model Nikon Photo Shoot Plymouth University Sigma DP3M Studio Portrait Thu, 27 Oct 2016 11:14:15 GMT
Forked at the Barbican B-Bar - A conversation with Jemima Foxtrot  

Last Thursday, (17 September) Apples and Snakes organised “Forked”, a performance poetry event at Plymouth Barbican's B-Bar. Local poetess Mama Tokus hosted and the event featured some of the countries leading young talent. Illustrator and poet Spike Zephaniah Stephenson, Bristol based Avant garde surrealist Ben Crowden, Poet, Activist and Feminist, Megan Beech and headliner the inimitable Jemima Foxtrot.


Jemima and Megan were both recent contributors to the BBC i-player's “Women who Spit” series of short films and Jemima had just returned from her first solo show at Edinburgh. I caught up with Jemima after the show to discuss her poetry and to ask about her unique style of performance.


1. How important is location to your poetry ? I mean by that not only where you are from and how that shapes you unique voice, but also when performing. Does it matter to you where you are, once you step out in front of an audience?


I’m from a very beautiful part of the country, Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, the landscape of that area as well as the people there have formed a big part of my identity as a person and as a writer. I live in London now and that’s my home and home is a very important concept in my poetry whether that’s Yorkshire, London or the feeling of home you get when you’re travelling – where your bed is after a long, long day. I’ve been performing all over the country recently which I really enjoy – I particularly like it when I visit a place I’ve never been before and share my work with the people there. I love discovering new places and the feel of them, so yes, it does matter to me where I am in that I love performing in new places best of all I’d say..


2. It is often difficult to see the line between song and poem, singing and performance poetry in your shows. How important is music for you ? Does it help when writing or do you use it only as an inspiration and then write in silence?


I write in silence, occasionally playing the odd song I’m incorporating into a poem just to check the melody or the lyrics. I find that listening to music as I write distracts me from the music of the poetry I’m writing. Rhythm and sound are really important elements in my poetry and they need to be created in their own space. Music, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of poetry, what separates it from prose, and that’s why my work is stuffed full of it!


3. Tell me about the poets, artists and singers that you love and why they mean something to you


I love female singers who sing with a rawness and emotion that hits you right in the gut, people like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu and so many more amazing, soulful, at once visceral and complicated, singers. The lyrics of Joanna Newsom, Bob Dylan & Joni Mitchell are rich and surprising and never cease to amaze me. I have a particular connection with singers like Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, passed down from my Dad who is a wonderful composer and artist himself.

4. You have acted in the past does that help you when performing and is it something you can see yourself revisiting at some point ?


I took my first solo show to Edinburgh this year, it’s a poetry play called Melody that I worked on with my friend Lucy Allan who co-wrote and directed it with me. I would consider performing that day after day after day, acting. Having acting skills is pretty vital in performance poetry I’d say, you have to be very present in the moment and the more you ‘act’ therefore, the more the audience follow you, stay with you and enter the world you’re trying to create with the poem. I will hopefully always act and perform – the reason I left acting before was because I didn’t like not having a creative role in making the work, as long as I can be involved in writing and developing what I perform in, I will always act in some way I reckon.


5. Your poetry is very cinematic and experiential in which the audiences are taken on a journey. Are the stories you tell a way of helping people to connect when performing as well as a way of documenting and re-living those experiences?


The stories I tell attempt to encapsulate an ambivalence that most people feel about a certain subject, whether that be the minefield of female sexuality or the bitter-sweet confusion of growing up or, well the ambivalence which riddles everything I suppose. The best way to express these things, I think, is through concrete images, the detail of the everyday which is so incredibly rich with meaning and which is something we all share.


6. Have you been to Plymouth or the westcountry before?


I used to come to Devon and Cornwall all the time when I was a child in the summer and Easter holidays with my parents. I love it there, I love the sea particularly. It has a vastness similar to the moors of Yorkshire and I miss that living in London (which is very vast but where everything is so crammed in!) My happy childhood memories almost all involve a west-country beach or campsite or mackerel fishing trip. So yes, very, very nice to be back.


7. What does the future hold for Jemima Foxtrot?


I’ve just quit my admin job to do poetry full time. This is a very exciting but also terrifying time! I will be publishing my first book of poetry next year and will hopefully be taking my show Melody on tour next spring too. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to dedicating more time to writing poetry! I feel amazingly lucky that I’m in a position now that this will be my job! I will be developing my workshop facilitation skills too, I love working with children and young people particularly so I’m really looking forward to doing more work in schools and youth clubs to get young people engaged with creative writing and performance. Hopefully I’ll be back to Plymouth soon too! I loved the Barbican and the B bar!


[email protected] (Greenbeanz Photography) Apples and Snakes B-Bar Barbican Jemima Foxtrot Performance Photography Poet forked. Sat, 19 Sep 2015 21:54:00 GMT