First Friday, and I have done the house work and my mind starts wandering to studio stuff. I have had an idea in the back of my mind for some time and today seems like a good one to kick the project off.

Here is the problem: my studio does not have much in the way of natural light, there is a small window in the second studio with some tasteful iron bars crossing it (it's not that rough an area honest) and not much light comes through it anyway due to the direction it faces. In the past, we have dressed it up but it really does not cut the mustard as they say. My cunning plan is to build my own window!

One or two slight problems spring to mind, not least the mountain of paperwork and regulations for smashing a hole in the side of the building that we only lease. First, there is the fact that smashing a hole one way would give a beautiful view of the toilet behind the studio and still have no natural light. Second, smashing a hole the other way would make the neighbours pretty unhappy I would imagine.

Who needs natural light anyway? I use strobes even when there is natural light. Nope, I am going to build an internal wall with a window.

Next problem: if there is a gene I did not inherit from my father, it is his amazing carpentry skills. This will not be pretty but I am going for it anyway. I make a quick visit to the local home improvement shop and pick up some architrave. Armed with some rudimentary tools - namely a pencil, ruler, hand and tenon saw (none of your fancy mitre blocks here) - I make my first cuts and see if they actually line up properly. Like I said, it is not pretty but kind of looks right. I have already exceeded my expectations.

The basic frame

Flushed with success, I return to the home improvement store. I was not going to risk going all out straight away so it is now time to buy some more wood and complete the next stage. Besides, I did not even know if I could get the lengths of wood into the car the first time around and may have had to carry them home.

I get some 30mm timber and some beading, screws, and wood caulking. I don't need one of the fancy sealant guns to apply the caulking, I have one at home already.

I get home and complete stage 2. I make a frame with the 30mm timber, screw it all together and see how bad my joins are through not using a mitre block to cut the angles. It's OK, I have the wood caulking and a ..... where is the sealant gun?

The project stops until Sunday when I buy a sealant gun to replace the one that has apparently gone AWOL. Final stages for this weekend, a splash of paint.

Screwing it all together

A bit of wood caulking and a lick of paint

A week later and it is time for stage 3, build a fake wall. I am really pushing the tool boundaries now by wheeling out my jigsaw. After attaching some plywood to a frame made from stud work timber, I hack out a hole that would have been smoother if a great white had bitten it out (it will be fine; I still have wood caulking and a shiny new gun to squeeze it out with now).

I continue to complete my false wall whilst attending a studio directors' meeting, with it occasionally falling on my head and covering me with paint. One must suffer for their art.

Into the wall the window goes

I'm into the third week of the project now and I have a shoot at the weekend. Ideally I would like to have the window ready for it, so I go straight to the studio after work, stopping off to pick up some brackets. I have been laying awake at night wondering how I am going to hold the wall in place. Using a heavy duty c-stand and a grip or two is not the way to go - the bump on my head from the previous week is testament to that. The wall is now secured to the edge of the cove with brackets but can easily be unscrewed and moved out the way if need be.

Secured wall and window

Stick a voile over it

Add a very weak sun!

Third Friday, and I am delighted to be working with a new model, Emily, on a make up shoot with my friend Kerry-ann. We have some plans for a stylised shoot but we will have some time at the end for me to try out the new set. Was it worth the effort? Yes, I think so!



This was lit using a large 63 inch diffused parabolic umbrella with a PixaPro CITI 600 strobe; an additional diffuser was hung on the 'outside' of the window to even the flash out and soften it further. 'Inside' was lit with a 105cm rice bowl soft box with a second CITI 600 TTL strobe on a low manual setting. The net voile adds further diffusion to the sunlight, giving a beautifully soft light on Emily.

Over time it will be interesting to see the effects of balancing the light either side differently. With the 'outside' light up quite high you lose detail in the voile but it needs to be quite bright to give the airy daylight feel.