Welcome to my photo studio in Ixelles

I have converted the loft room of our house in Ixelles into a small portrait studio. As far as possible, I use the natural light from two large, north-facing Velux windows. But I am also experimenting with more sophisticated LED and flash set-ups.

The studio has three ‘locations’: a 2.5 metre backdrop rail for fully-body portraiture, a 1.5 metre rail that gives me a bit more distance for seated and horizontal poses, and a plain white wall for headshots. I’ve also installed an excellent music system, and created a nice little waiting/changing area.

The first few sessions have gone extremely well, so this is a side of my business that I will be trying to build up during 2019. I love meeting and photographing people. Give me a call and let me welcome you to my studio!

Documenting a beauty treatment

It was a bright early spring morning when I drove out from Brussels to visit Skin Esthetiek, a busy beauty clinic in Tervuren. The owner, Katrien, had booked me to shoot photos for her website and social media accounts.

Katrien told me that she had asked a friend to model for the shoot. While we waited for Indra she showed me around and explained in a bit more detail what she wanted. Her idea was to tell the complete story of a client’s visit to the clinic – from the welcome and the diagnostic consultation, through a full facial treatment to the sale of after-care products. I was pleased that the treatment room had a large window that would allow me to balance my Rotolight LED/flash unit against some natural light.

When Indra arrived we got started immediately. She told me that she had never modelled before and was not sure what to do. I assured her that she looked great. If I needed her to do something special I would ask, but otherwise she could just relax and enjoy Katrien’s treatment. I think she may have fallen asleep at one point.

For the treatment itself I set my lighting to a soft, warm tone, and shot at f4.0 and 1/180 at ISO 400. For the central element of the facial Katrien painted Indra’s face with a bright blue gel and then gently blew steam onto it. Gradually, the gel bubbled into a fine foam, and I got some fabulous extreme close-ups.

It was an intimate moment, and I feel lucky to have shared it with the two friends. I’m happy to see that Katrien has already used some of my photos on her website and her Instagram account, and I hope they help to bring her a lot of new business.

Windows ate my Lightroom catalogue

On Thursday my PC got the latest Windows 10 update. On Friday, my external hard drive had disappeared. Lightroom still showed my photographs using its previews, but it couldn't find the originals. Every single folder displayed a question mark. Hundreds of thousands of image files had gone missing.

The more I researched the problem online the more worried I became. Neither the online help systems nor the user forums of either Microsoft or Western Digital turned up the simple, clear, recent advice I wanted: “It's a well-known issue, just do x and y.” Instead, the articles and threads were long and confusing, with multiple options and many comments of the “I tried that, but it didn’t work” type. Many suggested reformatting the hard drive as the best solution.

WTF!

I told myself to stay calm. It was true that everything was backed up in the cloud. But still, downloading terabytes of data and rebuilding my Lightroom catalogue was not the way I had planned to spend my weekend.

I turned off the PC.

I unplugged the hard drive from the USB port and powered it down.

I turned on the PC.

I powered up the hard drive and plugged it back into a different USB port.

Reader, it worked! Everything is back to normal. Windows sees the drive again, even on wake from sleep or hard reboot. Lightroom knows where to find each photograph.

Birds: singing. Sun: shining.

Microsoft 0 - 1 Simon