9 08 2010

The lads from Hoax were the latest crowd to get the Deadl.ie treatment. We met up at the docks and after a few minutes they were totally relaxed and some of the best models I’ve worked with yet. You can check the guys out here and if you like what you hear they’re playing Sunday 15th August in the Mezz


Photographer’s Notes:

The lads chose to meet at 9pm, which was perfect lighting-wise. The sun was setting and the lights at the docklands were coming alive. Worked out perfectly. Two strobes were used, two SB-600s fired using Nikon’s on-baord CLS, both at full power. The lights were situated at 45′ to each side of the band, the left using a shoot through umbrella and the right through my new Ezybox.

The left light was aimed at the member furthest on the right and vice-versa with the left strobe, ensuring a nice even spread of light across the band. There was no back-lighting this time.

The green-shot  (no.3) was performed with a shutter speed of 1/80 whilst moving the camera freely in my hand as I shot. It was enough to lightly blur the scene, with the flashes (firing at the end of the shutter) was strong enough to ensure detail and clarity.

The set, so far is available here:

Strobist Shoot 2 : Sweet Jane

5 06 2010

Today marked the beginning of a summer plan. Get bands, interview them and do a quick photoshoot. Unfortunately I was up ’til 2am researching background lighting options and was rather ‘fuzzy-brained’ by the time Danda & Lydia of Sweet Jane arrived. Despite a large campus at DCU, I thought it would be best to keep the shoot close to the studio. And there’s no closer than the wall outside it. It’s a pretty drab background, but we didn’t have much time to be faffing about. This is the last time I’m ever using such an appalling backdrop. I’m off to buy wallpapers for the next one…

The set up was simple. One SB-600 at 45′ camera left at 1/10 power shot through a 32″ umbrella and one behind the guys at 90′ at 1/32 power. This was done by setting them to their own individual channels (A & B).

It was an in-and-out affair. The background was prepared and set up already. The band were just placed in and the flash adjusted to them. Given that they weren’t expecting a shoot, they were cool with it and put up with my bullshitting-as-I-adjust-settings malarkey.  And while the image isn’t as stunning as I had convinced myself it would be in my head – I think I got a lot out of it. You can’t expect people to hang around for ages for photoshoots, you gotta get in quick and out quick.

But the best thing about the day (I reckon anyway) was my homemade light-guard.

Y’see, when I set up the lights the first time THIS happened:

Do you see it? No? How about now?:

There ya go. Big-ass lens flare at the bottom, in the middle. Not cool. A blemish on an otherwise mundane scene. But it’s easily solved. And with Gaffa tape too!

Take a piece of cardboard, about twice as big as your flash-gun and cover it head to toe in Gaffa tape, prefarably the black kind (Gaffa tape is light-tight and if it’s black it will not reflect any light). Then stick this to the side of your flashgun like so:

Shooting directly at it and there’s not a tiny piece of flare to be seen! Magic. As you can see in the top image, it worked too. It helps direct the light to where you need it, but stops it going where you don’t. You can buy stuff like this and it will attach easily, but you could just as easily buy a rake of velcro and gaffa tape once and you’d never have to set foot into a camera shop for it. And if you’re like me, not going into a camera shop will save you lots of money.

There ya go. One down – loads more to come. Band Two this Friday coming…

Fight Like Apes, 31st March 2009, Old Bar DCU

13 04 2010

Today, formerly-mohawked drummer Adrian Mullen has today left Fight Like Apes:

“Due to creative differences, Adrian Mullan and Fight Like Apes have parted company. MayKay, Pockets and Tom wish Adrian all the best in his future creative endeavours; as they continue to work on new material for their forthcoming second album..”

It was generally unexpected news, and comes as the band are writing and recording their long-awaited second album. I shot their gig in DCU in 2009. Above are the best three from a time when I was pretty clueless.

This was the second gig I’d ever photographed, and technically the first I’d ever shot from the pit. Given that to get into the pit, I merely had to have a DSLR and give the right people  a nod doesn’t seem like much now, but at the time it was awesome. Armed only with a 50mm (1.8) and being less than two feet away from the band meant that there was no chance of group shots or anything other than head-shots, really. But i was chuffed with the results. I didn’t care about the lighting – which was – and still is – surprisingly fantastic in it’s own way.

I’d never heard FLAPES before that night and was only aware of their more radio-friendly track, Lend Me Your Face. But it was a great night. They are one of the most energentic bands i’ve ever witnessed and definitely one of the more interesting. Thankfully the people of State.ie thought so too – and it was this gig (along with my Fujiya & Miyagi shoot at the Spiegeltent) that secured me a place on their impressive photography team. Just as well the missus dragged me along – just as well I took the camera.

Anyway, how about one more. One from the days of ‘not-so-subtle-editing’, perhaps?:

Oh yeah! Proof that there was once a time I though no image too blury, too dark or generally to bland that couldn’t be saved with a monochrome conversion and raised saturation combination. Niiice!

Splash Photography!

12 03 2010

Last year I tried my hand at Splash Photography. The above is the result of about a 3 hour process. It was not a difficult thing to do at all, and you don’t need any fancy equipment – most things you’ll find at home or at least in the local supermarket/chemist. I’ll take you through the process so you can give it a go yourself.

You’ll need:

  • Bowl (square prefarably)
  • A flat surface (Kitchen table ideally – you’ll need to be near  a sink!)
  • lots of light! You’ll be shooting at REALLY fast speeds so the more light the better
  • An SLR
  • Food colouring
  • a dropper – or prefarably a stand that can hold a bag of water…
  • A tripod (or flat surface)
  • A biro

Okay, so place a square bowl in the middle of your table. Under it, place a lot of old newspapers to absorb the unavoidable splashes you will encounter later on. Set up your tripod and camera so you have a nice view of the subject. I positioned myself just slightly above the splash point so as I could see the ‘body’ of the splash best. But you can go from whatever angle you want yourself. Set up your lights – put on all house lights, drag in lamps from wherever and if possible set up off-camera flashes. In my set up I had an open window and flash at full power to the right, a lamp to the left, a fixture light above and the camera flash itself!

Now, set your camera to a fast shutter setting (we’re taking thousands of a seconds here) and take a sample shot of the bowl. Make sure it’s bright enough and the scene isn’t cluttered. My viewfinder just hand a bit of water and the coloured background at this time. Now this is where a clamp would be perfect. If you have one lying about, place it over your bowl and place a bagful of water into it’s grip. Lightly pierce the bag (no more than a pin-pierce in diameter – you want wee drops!). The drops should fall in a regular pattern. Insert a biro into the splash epicentre and manually focus your lens to this area.

I didn’t have a clamp handy, so I had to play it by ear. I focused directly into the middle of the bowl and with a dropper full of coloured water i aimed as best I could for the center of the bowl as I used a remote shutter to fire the camera. This was pretty difficult. My timing was off 90% of the time – but limited as I was I probably couldn’t have hoped for more. being forced to use such a shallow depth of field, I missed some shots by milimeters.

The food colouring was added to the dropping water to create the colours. It’s a good idea to start bright (yellow/clear) and get progressivly darker (red>green). After this you can try your hand at milk. This isn’t easy – and is bloody pongy. But it can yield amazing results if done correctly!

Just remember, unless you have all the right geart, it has the potential to get messy. Especially with food colouring. …Took about half my skin off with white spirits trying to clean my hands, so be careful!

The Set-up


Using a homemade contraption (i.e. a plastic bag filled with water, sellotaped to a hanger, wedged between a stack of books), I eliminated the need for the dropper. Here’s a quick sample, more to follow… just need to find more lamps…