It’s all about size..

29 03 2010

Warning! This blog does contain a rant towards the end, so please be prepared (and hopefully I can avoid legal action by not mentioning the name of the particular venue).

March 28th 2010 appears to have been a day when Edinburgh’s oft criticised music scene can stand up and say “actually Glasgow, you aren’t the only place that can put on a show”. The Haddow Fest brought around 50 bands, including headline acts like The Dykeenies and Idlewild, from all over the UK to play in various venues around Edinburgh.

The first couple of hours looked as if it was going to be a disaster with two or three bands pulling out of Cabaret Voltaire’s Speakeasy and The Bongo Club having a false start, allegedly, due to licensing issues. However, at 4:20 in the afternoon, I got to hear my first band of the day, much to the pleasure of the staff at Cab Vol. ¬†Stirling’s Two Stripe hit the stage with their blend of Indie-pop which got a fairly full room dancing along.

Next up on stage were a more alternative and ethereal band, My Latest Novel, a five-piece band from Glasgow who played a far more chilled set which was more fitting to the dreich weather outside.

Lost in Audio, an Edinburgh based band came next up and lead singer, Joe Hendry, who had staked his academic future on playing Haddow Fest instead of working on his dissertation. Joe’s playful style with crowd started to get the venue rocking with their energetic show.

The next band on were the fantastic Pose Victorious, again an Edinburgh based band, and one who are really starting to make things happen after being taken under the wing of Oasis producer Owen Morris and have just released their first EP. The band raised the bar in tightness and crowd reaction and by now there was a huge buzz going around Cab Vol.

The penultimate band at Cab Vol now had something to live up to and three piece Healthy Minds Collapse were up to the challenge. Based in Fife and one of last years T Break performers at T in the Park, the band came screaming on to the stage driven by the superb drumming of Colin Malcolm.

By now Cab Vol was full to the rafters and ready for the headline act The Dykeenies. It’s so easy to understand how this band has become so successful with their slick performance and witty banter and their half hour set brought the Cab Vol contribution to Haddow Fest to a very special end.

And now, it is nearly rant time. With Cab Vol closing for the Festival I moved on to venues that were still playing. The main event was at Edinburgh’s largest indie venue which shall remain nameless but perhaps could have been a cinema in the past before it gained sponsorship from a major record label and distributor (no names mentioned!). This large venue had two bands remaining and I managed to squeeze my way to the front of the venue for The 10:04’s, I believe the organisers of the entire festival. With it being such a large venue ¬†the crowd were bouncing and the cups of whatever liquid were flying into the audience and onto the stage. Ideal opportunity for some great photos and by the end of the first song I had one or two great shots.

That was until the Supervisor of the venue came over to me and asked to see my photo-pass. When I told him that I didn’t have one I was asked to put the camera away and stop taking photos. Now I do understand that artists or venues want to protect themselves against professional quality images being taken for profit without permission, however, it is presuming that just because you have a professional looking DSLR that you are the only people who can take professional images. My photos were all taken with a Canon 24-105L lens and so the Optical Zoom is 4.375, admittedly, the sensor is full frame and likely to produce good images in low light. Next to me were several people all using very good quality Compact Cameras, probably with 10x optical zooms and certainly with HD Quality video. These compact cameras (it would appear) do not do the same job as a DSLR and are considered acceptable for the venue supervisor. Equally, they assume that the quality wouldn’t be good enough for print (with the quality of high end compacts now this is certainly not the case).

I really don’t mind being subject to a policy as long as it is maintained consistently. So my challenge to the venue is to either stop everyone using digital cameras or have a policy that allows non-commercial use of DSLR’s.

Am I being unreasonable?


Things are looking up

24 03 2010

My shoot yesterday has again made me wish for a change in my personal body image – no I am not looking to put myself under the knife, the change I needed last night isn’t possible through plastic surgery, although it was maybe available in medieval times! I was working with a fantastic model called Nicola Duff for the first time. My first view of Nicola made me step back, literally, I had to step back to see her face as she was a beautiful statuesque 5’11”.

Once into the the studio we had a good time and produced some really great images, again thanks to the make up artistry of Karen Swanston and then the creative ability of Nicola to produce some really pleasing poses. I did have to use a box to get myself into an angle that was pleasing, after all by this time Nicola was now wearing 5 inch heels and towering over me!

Here is the first image I have edited from the shoot and I would really appreciate your comments on my work. Is there any images you would like me to be taking and sharing?

Model: Nicola Duff; Make Up Artist: Karen Swanston

Sometimes it’s a pleasure

19 03 2010

Last night I was able to work once again with one of my favourite models, Gemma Chan. She has the great ability that a photographer would want from a model where she knows instinctively the shapes that are pleasing to the eye, let’s the photographer take the shot and then shifts quickly into another killer position. As well as Gemma, I was also working with Karen Swanston, a make-up artist based in Edinburgh who did such a fantastic job with Gemma. When you get two people like Gemma and Karen together the job of the photographer is really quite simple, set the lights, click and then hardly any post-processing is required. Here is one of the first photos that jumped out of the contact sheet at me, I’d love your comments.

Model: Gemma Chan Make-Up Artist: Karen Swanston

It’s times like last night that really make portrait photography an absolute pleasure. Thank you both.

Strobist Take 1

8 03 2010

Following the demonstration by Janek Mann at the Edinburgh Photographic Society portrait group I really wanted to get out and try. Fortunately, I managed to coerce a very brave model called Tanya Ruel to help me out and we agreed to set up a shoot at an old disused military base at the very far north of Fife. For non-Sc0ttish readers, Fife is a very cold place (known as ‘baltic’ in the locality) and particularly when the location is by the River Tay overlooking the ‘picturesque’ city of Dundee.

After avoiding the collection of Buckfast bottles and broken needles we tried out various ideas but the attached photo is the one that pleases me most. Armed with only two Yongnou flashes, a trigger and Speedlite 580 I think this looks almost studio standard with a relatively small investment. The shot is taken with a strobe behind the old parts shining a green light upwards (very cheap gel material from e-bay); a side light on the right providing the main light with a Gary Fong contraption attached to it and them a very slight fill light from the left making the shine on the lyrca/bondage tape. Seems to bring out a fantastic lighting set but I would be interested in your views on how I could improve and additional tips.

Go on, leave me comments