By Gavin Hoey

One of the many amazing things about being an ambassador with Olympus UK is getting the opportunity to work in locations that I would never be able to access myself. So when Olympus asked if I’d be interested in running a portrait session during a low light workshop at the Roman Baths in Bath, I jumped at the chance.

Planning for an event like this starts far earlier than you might imagine. Our first job was to book a suitable model and luckily Jade Lyon was available and very keen to be involved. Next, there was the question of what Jade would wear, it had to be of a Roman-style, be a little more flamboyant then reality and most importantly of all, allow Jade to wear warm clothes underneath. That planning paid off as, despite us standing next to a massive pool of warm water, the cold November night was a challenge to work in.

We only had a very small window of time at the Baths and with a full workshop of around 30 photographers attending, I had to work fast to find good locations for portraits. Once everyone had arrived, they were split into two groups. Half explored the photo opportunities away from the main baths with Jez and Chris, from the Olympus team, the other half was with me.

The Roman Baths were surprisingly well lit, but it wasn’t great light for portraits. So I opted to use the ambient light for the background and lit Jade with flash. My first job was to work out the ambient exposure. I knew I’d be using a wide-open aperture and a shutter speed fast enough to keep Jade sharp when she moved. 1/30th second worked out OK, so all that remained was to test a couple of ISO adjustments, and we were good to go.

My top tip for testing lighting in the cold is to make sure you keep the model warm until you’re ready to shoot!

Once I had everything set, the attendees all got to shoot photos of Jade using either the ambient light or my flashes. Luckily I’d packed a powerful 400Ws flash from PiXAPRO, which I was running at almost its lowest power. I also had four triggers with me, so we could get four photographers firing the same flash at the same time and amazingly it didn’t miss a shot!

After the groups had swapped over and we’d repeated the portrait session, everyone returned to get some final photos of Jade. Positioned on the opposite side of the pool and lit by the ambient light, Jade looked amazing reflected in the green waters of the Roman Baths and proved a fitting end to a busy evening of photography.

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To see some photos from the event attendees check out our Facebook group.