Soliders Can’t Dance

6 03 2013

Flash – a-ah – saviour of the universe.
Here’s part one of my weekends shootings. More to come soon.

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Click to see larger

This week Soldiers Can’t Dance were treated to the Deadl.ie treatment and were the first in line to scoop up a free shoot. The shoot took place in an abandoned building in the city that was as scary as it was amazing. With thin corrugated iron crumbling beneath our feet, pigeons taking flight and shaking the walls in the process, not to mention the eerie discarded children’s toys littered about the place, the building is one that after this weekend, I’ve probably seen enough of.

The band arrived as I’d hoped. Stylish, on time and up for a good explore of the place. The building was huge so after a good 30 minute search of the place, we’d found our locations. First up the ‘X’ wall (picture 1). A flat wall, with one light pointing at it, with a smoke bomb between the guys and myself and a light above the smoke and the band was how the shot was set up.

As I couldn’t have the light directly above me – given I was shooting quite zoomed in, and the assistant would’ve been visible in the shot, I had the light come from the left. This gives a small fall-off in the light come the right side of the image, but nothing I don’t find acceptable.

The second shot was in the main body of the building. It was full of thick, thick dust, pigeon shit and oddly, rolls of film. There was a large walkway that led down the building about 9 feet above the ground. I raced down this and placed a light at the first crossing of walkways,  point back directly towards the camera and a smokebomb in between the two. The flash behind the smoke was set to full power to really blow out the background, and as the light was slightly tipped up, it also gave a slight fill to the dungeon-like background.

The smoke bombs run for above 30 seconds outdoors normally. Given the dark conditions in ‘the cave’ and the lack of wind, they ran about twice as long. Even after this, they hung around in some sense for a while. Initially they looked too thick, but after a few moments it became manageable. Unfortunately – I missed a few ideal conditions of the smoke given my flash recycling time, but overall I’m happy.

This time I was closer to the band, shooting wide, so I could have my assistant behind me lighting the scene evenly. You can really see the difference. It’s much more even and it’s my personal favourite of the shoot.

I deliberately left Luke (in the orange shirt) to either side of the shot. The guys were all wearing dark colours initially (Luke had a leather jacktet) but I needed to make them stand out slightly. We ditched the jacket and I felt it too obvious to put the only guy in black in the middle.

So there y’are now. Any questions, just ask. I’d be more than happy to help.

Big thanks to Aaron Corr and Aisling Finn for assisting on the shoot!

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DollyFrocks

12 02 2013

Here’s a shoot I had with DollyFrocks last weekend. Before I dive back into music photography, I gave one last go to something outside my comfort zone. Fashion confuses me, but photography I can do. With stylists on board, I’m free to shoot the way I like without having to worry about things I know little about (clothes, to be specific. I’m a jeans and tee shirt kinda guy). We headed to Bull Island and avoided the crowds by heading off the beaten track. It was pretty chilly and exposed (not to mention all the dog doo we had to avoid), but it made for some cool backgrounds.

I’d planned to head to the long grass there, and use the Anne Liebowitz ‘Rhianna’ shoot as my basis for the shoot. Unfortunately the weather didn’t break as well as I’d planned and the sky was pretty overcast, but I think I got something acceptable.

All shots were shot with two lights, excluding the ambient light.
I exposed for the background first as always, introduced my first light, then based on the ambient light reading. With a shutter speed of 1/200 and an aperture of f/14 (ISO always at 200 for shoots like this), I brought in the large softbox first. I wanted to get close with the softbox, to retain lots of softness. This was great as I needed the flash at 1/2 at about 4 feet away for most shots. I added a rim light too. To be perfectly honest I’m not that specific with my rim lights. If it defines my model and isn’t massively over-exposed, I’m not going to tweak it too much.

 

I brought some smoke bombs with me, but as they burn for about 30 seconds max, you really have little room for flash misfires, model blinks, dropped poses etc. I’m sure I’ve one, but none presentable at present. In the meantime hopefully these are pleasing to your eye. I’ve a few more ideas for shoots later on in the year, but for now, I think I’ll concentrate on bands.

Models: Chelsea Byrne, Jade Stapleton & Paul Lyons 
MUA: Julia Babahina 
Style: DollyFrocks Clothing, Dublin 
Assistant: Yan Bourke





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.





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…





Tuner Photoshoot

10 07 2011

This is Tuner, a great band, being blasted with lights from all angles. After a quick edit of the 4gbs of photos from today, here’s a few early highlights. More to come soon!

Anyway, we started off at the back of their own studio (thems the wooden background images) – and moved towards St. Annes Park (surely the best place for photoshoots in Dublin.) Two flashes were used for all the pictures- an SB-600 and the impressive Metz-50. They’re relatively cheap and amazingly easy to use with radio triggers and deliver great results every time. I never thought I understood flashes completely, but after today I reckon I’ve got it down.

Anyway, if you like what you see and would like some pictures like this of your own, gimme a shot. Contact details are, handily, under the ‘contact’ tab at the top of the page!

 

 

 

 

 

 





Talking Shop Ensemble

27 05 2011

As promised, here’s Talking Shop Ensemble: