The Power of the Edit

24 02 2013

Avast matey. Yer back perusing my lovely drivel and coloured rectangles, I see. Today I’m showing off the importance of a little brushing up to your images. Or in this case, a good brush up.

Right so, one thing I always notice that new photographers tend to forget is the importance of the edit. So many go to all the effort of getting the lighting spot on, the model looking spectacular and then they upload the very basic file from the camera. I’ll say it now – every photo needs some sort of photo-manipulation. There’s no difference between editing a photograph in a darkroom, or in a bright room at a computer. Except maybe the speed. Oh and cost. I can’t stand photo-manipulation snobs. You don’t get un-produced tracks on great albums, why put your name to unedited images?

I’ve been known to do the very least amount required in my early work, but I find I enjoy editing as much as the actual shoot these days. People go mental when other photographers say ‘I can fix it in the edit’, but to be perfectly honest I sometimes shoot with the post-process in mind.

For example, the recent DollyFrocks shoot is for their summer line. I forgot that with the initial edit, mind you, but I went back and put about 40 minutes into this one:

I changed almost everything – the colour of the sky, the models hair, the manke-up tones – the whole shebang. Truth be told, these are things I couldn’t have controlled. The hair was victim to the wind, the make up was slightly flat and as hard as I tried, the sky refused to go golden at 2pm. I probably could have done the whole thing in less than 40 minutes, but there was a semi-interesting Liam Nesson film on in the background.

Anyway, here’s a before and after.

Having seen them like this (I’ve never put the before and after beside each other before) I think I’ll start keeping a record of my best ones.
While this one might be a tad overcooked, I really like it, so screw you. If anyone wants the process, just leave a comment and I’ll point you in the right direction.

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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.





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





Smashing Pumpkins… Watermelons

23 11 2012

Righty-oh, so. Given the massive viewing figures of my last post (I was ‘this’ close to double-figures), I thought I’d update you on some of the best bits over the year since The Darkness post.

First up, Tuner knocking seven shades of shite out of watermelons.

Click image to see larger

I started to realise my photos were getting a bit samey; band with guitars here, band against a wall there. Y’know, it started to get a bit dull. My first idea was to fling paint at them, but y’know, that’s messy and a bit over-done. So I thought, why not push the shutter on the next one. Go for that split mili-second look, y’know the speeding bullet going through an apple… or that woman micro-seconds away from being gored by her dog.

Anyway, the initial plan was to smash pumpkins. At least, it was for me. However July isn’t exactly pumpkin season. It is indeed Watermelon season, so we went with that. We bought four, and four melons as testers. The guys really got into it and after four successful attempts with the melons, the guys wanted to try a few other things before we got onto the main event.

Not our best idea. After someone lobbed a Ramiro pepper at Stephen, who promptly smashed it to smithereens, we had to take a small break to clean our eyeballs and wait for the burning to die down. Anyway, as you can see from above it went quite well in the end.

I placed two umbrellas either side of the frame 90′ left and right. It stopped the light spilling into the background and also gave a nice round shape to the light on the models. The shutter speed was at 1/200, the faster the shutter sync most Nikon camera’s will allow. The aperture wasn’t overly important thereafter – it was at 4.5, but truth be told, it was what it was – any narrower and it would’ve made the scene too dark. I was already firing both flashes at 1/2 power and it made sense.

Then we played around. I exposed for the sky, while keeping everything as well lit as I could. It gave me this for Al… Who had a beer thrown at him and caught it right on the hop. Nice one, Al!

Click image to see larger

So there y’are now. #1 of the year so far, only 11 months late. More to come.





Rugilė Šilalytė

21 11 2012

Hello again!

It’s been *ages* since I’ve been on here, but I’ve decided to make a long-awaited return, because, well the fan-mail was getting to much to ignore…

Anyway, I’ve been up to loads since you last heard from me, most notably moving from music photography to portraits. To that end, here’s a shoot with the simply fantastic Rugilė, (the best model I’ve worked with yet) in the Phoenix Park. I was also assistant by the fantastic Richard Timmons.

We were blessed with the weather, the sun was glorious and golden even as early as 2pm and the wind died down as soon as we arrived. We found an ideal spot for the three of us to shoot away from the surprisingly large crowd in the park at that hour on a Tuesday. All in all, things were in our favour. That and I’ve really got my head around the whole strobist thing.

Unfortunately Rugilė, is heading to the UK soon, so this was the first and last chance I had to shoot with her.  Personally , I was really impressed with how the shoot went – she posed like a pro and had the patience of a saint throughout.

I used only one strobe, rather than complicate things like I normally do. It meant we depended on the sun as a kicker throughout, but it also allowed us to get some creative glare shots without any major hassle.

Photoshopping was very easy this time. Infact, there was hardly a need for any – the light was perfect and the soft-light that we got from the softbox made for some great glamourous light – no surface blur was required in any of these shots. If anything, the only tweak that was needed was to the colour balance. It was hard to see the exact colours on the back of the camera in the light that day, so when I got home I added a shade of blue and magenta to some of the more sun-drenched shots.

We got some smoke involved too, nothing more than some glycerin, water and food colouring let off in a safe environment behind the model. It looked great with the light coming through it.

Anyway for more, see this LINK. There’s a load more shoots coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned; same Bat-time, same Bat-channel…





The Darkness

5 12 2011

Give me a D!

‘D!’

Give me an Arkness

‘Arkness!’

 

Yes, The Darkness are back and I wrangled a pit pass for this explosive show.

I wasn’t expecting it to be half as good as it turned out to be. It’s been nearly five years since they last released anything, so expectations of a ‘reunion tour’ scenario, y’know ‘take the money and run through a set’ was quite high. Turns out all Justin and co. want is to be loved. And that they were. I must admit, it’s not hard to love a grown man who prances about in new jumpsuits every few minutes, whilst belting through some stomper hits… before riding a security guard like a bronco. …you just don’t get enough of that at the Olympia.

Anyway, you can find the rest of the set on State.ie or over at my Facebook Page