Coronation Blue | Making & Shooting


Making The Dress:

Before i started i created this mood board with an idea of how the dress was to look and some shooting inspiration:

coronation blue mood board sml

Mood Board Images collected from Pinterest, details at end of Blog

Using the Blue Tulle that i purchased i began to create a blue skirt by simply knotting strips of tulle around a waistband of tulle. This is where the project began in my tiny living room where me and the kids do our thing…


… it soon spilled out into the hallway as it was taking shape! I made 2 layers, one longer than the other so that i could play with the length of it once Sophie had it on. It needed to be long so that there was lots of excess material that i could composite into the river.


I used 3 rolls of tulle for the layered skirt and left myself one roll for creating the top of the dress.



I used the black backdrop because it would be a good contrast against her skin and her hair when it was lit which would make it easier in post production when she needs to be removed from the background.



This consisted of one Jinbei EF-200 LED Continuous light with a large ball diffuser. I used this set up because i plan to have a sun setting in the background so i only want her to be lit from that direction. I blocked off our windows and used a large reflector to bounce a little bit of the light back onto her face so she wasn’t in total darkness.

Camera Settings:

Nikon D750 + Sigma Art 50mm 1.4

1/200 F4 ISO 800


Roy also sat in on the shoot to record some behind the scenes for his Coronation Blue Documentary.


Shooting the ink.

Before i delved into shooting something that i haven’t done before i thought i’d have a little search through other artists work that involved ink in water.

Mark Mawson, creative photographer from London specialises in shooting inks in water and has won many awards for his images as well as having his Aqueous video projected onto the wall at Buckingham Palace for the Queens Diamond Jubilee Concert.

(Aqueous Pastels – Mark Mawson)

I love these images, they look alive and moving yet solid like you could squeeze them and pull at the like a putty and some areas resembling stringy chewing gum and the details in them is amazing.

(Aqueous Dresses – Mark Mawson)

It felt really strange when i was looking through his portfolio and coming across his royal blue aqueous dress because that was almost exactly how i had pictured using Roy’s ink with Sophie’s dress. No surprise though, so many creative minds in this world we are constantly stumbling over our ‘original’ ideas that turn out to be not so original after all.


Today Roy and i went back to the studio where he gave me my bottle of Coronation Blue Ink to use in my creation.

Roy brought his pop up studio so we could bounce the light into the fish tank and i used my Jinbei continuous light over the top. My camera was set up on a tripod and set to Burst so i could take lots of shots continuously once the ink was dripped in.

The idea was to set up the fish tank and using the bottle dropper to drip ink into water and photograph it’s movement which i can then use to link the dress with river that i plan to put (digitally) Sophie in.


(Image By Roy Barry…. behind the scenes)


Camera Settings: 1/200s F5.6 ISO 800

These are a selection of the images that i took, at the time i was happy with them (viewing them on my camera) but once i looked at them properly on my computer i realised that i should of used a much faster shutter speed to freeze the motion and get a much sharper detailed capture. But i had no option to go back and re shoot because i only had one day left to shoot the river plus edit and get ready for print so i had to make do with what i had (as usual lol).


Today i was to find the perfect river …. sounds so easy

BUT it was sods law that unlike the past few days of cold but sunny and lovely blue sky weather that we have had today decided to be dull, foggy and with what we call in Scotland ‘Smirry Rain’ the stuff that gets you soaked even though it’s not really raining!

Unfortunately with the completion deadline looming i had no other option but to just go out and do the best i can.

So i set off on my hunt for a river, the River Dee through Erbistock isn’t far from where i live, about 1.5 mile walk so that was first on my list. I was full of cold and my throat was killing so this wasn’t an enjoyable trip and the fields i had to walk through were so muddy i felt like i was walking in treacle but i was positive it was going to be worth it as i was about to find the perfect background for my image.

After walking a mile my positivity was feeling as sloppy as the muddy field! I couldn’t find an area of the river that would suit my image and then i found a big puddle in the field which looked like it had potential so i took some shots of that in the hope that i could perhaps merge several of the images together to create what i needed.

Then i got distracted and found some interesting spots that i might revisit for future composites:

I decided to call it a day then so i walked home and couldn’t wait to take my muddy boots off and have a hot drink!

Before i turned my computer on i knew in my stomach that these images weren’t going to work but i had to give them a go anyway so i spent an hour trying to assemble something similar to my vision and it just wasn’t happening.

And my gut feeling was right….

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 13.52.01

It didn’t matter how many bits of the puzzle i tried to put together it just wasn’t working but just before me meltdown commenced after spending almost my whole day on it i remembered something i had read:

“If something isn’t working, start over. It should be easy, if it’s not easy you’re probably doing something wrong”  – W. Morgan Rockhill

SO in light of Mr Rockhill’s inspiring words it was time to start over….

…. yet i only had ONE HOUR before it was time to pick the kids up and i was meant to have everything shot by then GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH


The concept of Sophie in a river was not going to happen today, i had to slap myself across the face “wake up and smell the coffee Suze you’re wasting time on something that’s going to require more time that i actually have”

So i changed my mindset…..I had to modify my original plan, keep the idea of the ink pouring through Sophie’s dress and becoming one but the concept had to change. If i had been commissioned by a client to produce this piece of work then i had to create something which was another twist on the original idea so that i could deliver.


Subject – Coronation Blue Ink

Define Coronation:

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 14.08.23


Aha… Sophie being poured into a tall tower like glass in celebration of the coronation via the blue ink! ….perfect

Problem 1: No studio, less than an hour to shoot before i pick the kids up

Resolution: Make-shift studio on my kitchen worktop using flashgun, black card as backdrop and white paper in front of flashgun as a softbox.


Matching the studio light set up:

Coronation Blue Behind The Scenes-5

Problem 2: No blue ink (Roy accidentally knocked it down the floorboards in the studio)

Resolution: Watered down blue toilet cleaner will have to do!


Problem 3: No tripod and no assistant to pour

Resolution: Get on with it!

The process wasn’t easy i was having to slightly squat whilst pouring toilet cleaner accurately into the glass whilst taking the photo and trying to hold the camera steady… not my most clever idea but it was desperate measures! I took some full length shots of the glass first from varying angles:

Then moved on to the tricky pouring:

This was with the flash on the left and then i moved the flash & diffuser to the right but a bit further away just to get some shots with a bit of fill light on the right side to match the light on Sophie and her dress.

I took a lot of shots….. but i have a much better feeling that this is going to work, so now i just need to make it happen in Photoshop!

Post Production


Mood Board Images: