Alf, The National Print Museum

17 01 2013

Late last year I was asked by the lovely folk at TotallyDublin to go to the National Print Museum and take some photographs of the people and machinery there. I didn’t know we had a National Print Museum at all and I just presumed it was in some place that it really wasn’t. Thankfully I’m *always* early for stuff like this, so when I got word it wasn’t anything to do with the Book of Kells in Trinity (honestly, even I don’t know how I got that impression), a quick taxi-ride took me over to it. Alf (the man above) was being interviewed when I arrived.

Left to my own devices, I plodded around the place, taking some shots of the machinery and setting up my portraits, by placing light stands here and there. The machinery was baffling, but thankfully after his interview Alf came down and talked us through every machine there. Every one. It could’ve been a real bore, but when you meet someone with a real passion for something like Alf, it’s easy to get sucked into his stories. I learned about Slugs and bleeding and how you could lose and arm or tone up your arse muscles in an old printing factory. Better still I learned how to spot a fake Declaration of Irish Independence (It’s the c’s, they didn’t have any in the font they started to use, so they’re all in a calligraphy-type script – Oh, and the large letter P in ‘republic’ is just an R with a lump taken off it.)

So there y’are. That’s the background to this, but I was asked by a few people how I got this shot, so I’ll do a little run through it.

Strobist Info: 

Right, so the image is composed with two light sources in a cross-lighting pattern (Have the lights facing each other and the model between them). First off I took an ambient light reading. It was exceptionally dark in this part of the gallery. I needed a narrow aperture to get detail in everything around Alf, so I settled on f/11 after a few shots (I normally start at f/8 and wiggle from there). 1/50 @ ISO 2000 (yup, thousand) was where I was otherwise. I needed to get some background detail in here and as I didn’t have a tripod with me, I had to limit the shutter speed to 1/50 as my lowest possible factor. Thankfully the D700 can handle this kind of ISO tom-foolery, so 2000 was acceptable at the time.

Right, so next I brought in my background light (the one flaring to the right of the frame). I placed it behind Alfie at an angle that’d light the back of his head and also the work space around him. It did a good job. Although it may be somewhat over-exposed on the white area in the back, it had to be somewhat to pick out the details in the keyboard below that. As you can imagine, given the settings mentioned earlier, the flash was at a relatively low setting (1/8 for the background if I remember correctly). I had it at it’s widest point, so as to illuminate as much as it could in the scene around him.

With that all looking fine-and-dandy I introduced my second light – a small softbox held above and to the left of Alf (facing the other light, essentially) by one of the helpful staff members there. As far as I can remember it was about 1/16, but I’m open to argument. The softbox has seen better days, but it still gives lovely light. If you click the image there you can see it large on Flickr. I just love the fall-off from it.

There y’are now. Not a perfect solution to this scene, but one that I came to first whilst working on my feet. If I was to change anything, I’d go back, open up that aperture, knock the background really out of focus, blur everything up to the keyboard by his side and adjust correspondingly with the flashlights.

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Published [Without Notification]

4 01 2013

Hello again! I must say you are looking dashing today. Now that the formalities/lies are out of the way, I’m going to tell you about a pretty lousy media practice.

As you may be aware from these pages, I take photographs. Mostly of bands and quite a lot of the time I do it because I’m interested in the band and am doing it without charge. One of the bands I approached to take photos of was The Cast of Cheers. When I first heard them I was amazed – not unlike most people into the Irish Music Scene. They were urgent, energetic and clever. The album they’d self released, Chariot was a masterpiece. So I contacted them and asked could I take their picture sometime. They agreed.

Things transpired and the shoot was awful. The guys were great fun and good sports too, but I’d cocked up loads.
The lightstands I’d brought were broken, the softbox wasn’t appropriate to use outside in the wind, the infared on the camera wasn’t picking up the infared from the flashes, a drunk woman threw a bottle at me, proclaiming “here’s yer bleedin’ photoshoot”… The list goes on.

In the end I came out with these shots:

The Cast of Cheers

The Cast of Cheers. Outside an off-licence. Not cheesy at all.

They’re pretty awful. The first one has a half-blink, a half-covered face and a (badly) photoshopped in wall. The second one was burn-out all over the Adams’ brothers and there’s a weird red tint on it too. Suffice to say that these (along with my awful Adebisi Shank photos) are the ones I regret the most. My favourite band and I ruined it. I’ve been more prepared for shoots ever since, but even so, this still kinda kills me.

Aaaanyway, I got a text of my friend Danny just after Christmas telling me one of these pictures had been used in a national newspaper. I ran to buy it and true enough there it was.

Bottom Left, there.

Nothing wrong there you might think, photographer gets photo used in paper. Hardly a ‘Stop the Presses’ moment.
Except I didn’t give anyone permission to use this photo. The band had a professional photographer come to them when they were in Britain and he sorted them with some quality shots, rendering these two messes useless to them. The only other person who I allowed use was Danny (for his website where he had an interviews with them) but even then I still owned the copyright to them.

Which meant that whoever obtained the photo, did so by breaking copyright laws. They googled ‘Cast of Cheers Promo’ perhaps, and then there they were – these photos on the first row on the first page.
It seems pretty lazy if nothing else, but to be honest, it’s not the first time it’s happened. I was bullied out of what I was entitled to the last time (stupidly on my behalf), so I’ve decided not to let this happen again.

I’ve since sent off an invoice for both image use and copyright infringement. I’m not asking for much, infact it’s a very small amount I’m asking for, considering an offense has been committed.
I can’t imagine this will get settled easily (I’ve had too many photographers tell me it won’t) so I’l keep this post to let you know how it goes. Lets see how it plays out anyway; I’ll post the edits here when the time comes.

 

Edit #1: Phone call received. They weren’t happy, but have agreed to pay both fees.





Best of 2012

1 01 2013

So here we are, the first day of 2013 – time to look back at the year that was. Prepare yourself, it’s not short, nor indeed sweet. But there’s some cool stuff in there, I’m sure.
See if you can spot the three image composite portrait, the armpit hair lady and perhaps the worst ‘fenian’ tatto ever. Here’s to 2013!

(as always, click the pic to see a bigger version!)

Orla

Deathcab For Cutie

Florence & The Machine

Alarmist

Alarmist

Friendly Fires

Ghostpoet

Grainne

Mikey

Ru

Margie Lewis

9 Crow St.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Snow Patrol

P.I.G.S

Alarmist

Bell X1

Rugile

Cara

Faris Badwan, The Horrors

Sephira

Rocca DeLucca

The Script

Eatenbybears

Kings of Concrete

Margie

Dott

Rugile

Chairlift

The Script

Back Veil Brides