Duke Special, Tripod, 11th June 2010

12 06 2010

The less said about this the better, but in brief summary :

  • All seated gig, but with no photo-pit – therefore in people’s way taking photographs. Not to mention how close the front tables were to the stage – about a foot between me and the table.
  • Came on stage late – about 40 minutes late, despite being told 8:30 sharp. The show was supposed to be backdropped by a screen showing silent movies – it didn’t work. And was unfixable.
  • Had to argue with security that I was in fact on the list. Thanks to the auld ipod, I could show the confirmation e-mail – and even then I was told to hang on.
  • Etc., etc…

It was a big pity, because I’d seen Band Of Horses in the same venue earlier in the week and it was excellently put together. Really impressed me – made me question my favourite venues (it’s still the Olympia, though), but this was a disaster for so many reasons.

Aaanyway,  y’know the deal by now, click to see larger.





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…





Surfer Blood, The Acdemy Dublin, 30th April 2010

3 05 2010

Some bands are amazingly over-hyped. Surfer Blood, for all their potential are probably one of them.

Their first LP, ‘Astro Coast’ was generally well received by most, with Pitchfork leading the way in claiming them to be saviours of guitar albums.  While it is a tidy album, with inventive use of effect pedals and notably – silence, ‘Astro Coast’ was nothing truly ground-breaking. But not every band has to break the mould. ‘Astro Coast’ is a good album, one which has received numerous plays here at Deadl.ie Towers, but it does not live up to the hype. Tracks like ‘Swim’, ‘Harmonix’ and ‘Floating Vibes’  are fantastic pieces of work, but become lost in an album that retraces itself, using beats and basslines that are too familar to what  have gone before.

Unsurprisingly, in the live setting of The Academy then, Surfer Blood had trouble keeping the half-capacity crowd focused. It probably didn’t help that they took to the stage with “Wow! What a crowd – Ireland, you guys rock”; Sarcasm is hard to pull off well on stage. Kicking off with ‘Floating Vibes’ resonated better, getting a large portion of the crowd moving. However by song three, things were already become somewhat juvinile on stage. Lead singer  John Paul Pitts, ditched the set-listed ‘Take it Easy’, for a cover of Weezer’s ‘Undone (Sweater Song)’. Keyboardist Brian Black abandoned his keys to supply the “background vocals” (“Hey Buddy!” etc) with his shirt over his head. “We just saw Weezer before we came here, and we’ve always wanted to cover that song”, he admits “so sorry if it was a bit rough”. Vocals are forgotten hereafter and the band joke mid-song with one another on stage.

By now the crowd seems to have swelled slightly in size. Rumours were circulating that the show had been cancelled, some claiming it was because of Gerry Ryan’s death earlier in the day, much to the bemusement of staff. Those that had stayed away initially, seemed to eventually make their way over for the end of the show. From then it was all above board until ‘Swim’ sees the band off stage. The crowd light up for the final number, jumping in time and sending a noticeable smile across Pitts’ face.

With Nirvana’s ‘About a girl’ in the small encore (complete with Cobain’s yelp and drawl) the night was an interesting mix of indie-pomp and garageband covers. It was disappointing in parts, perhaps due in part to the enormous weight these young men carry on their shoulders. It was the first night of their European tour, so perhaps it was first night nerves. Who knows.

There’s no doubting that Surfer Blood are good overall. They’re just not that good. Yet.

Oh and check out the tee-shirts:

Remind you of anything… Joy Divisoney?:





The Specials, Dublin’s Olympia, 14th November, 2009

25 04 2010

Unknown to me at the time, this was to be the last thing gig I would ever shoot with my Nikon D80. Having been sold this week to a lovely lady, it got me thinking how cool that camera was. I shot my first gig with it, it was the reason I got involved in State and it made me fall in love with photography. Without it, I’d probably be an unhappy nurse, somewhere in an old folks home up to my elbows in sh… anyway. It was a great little thing.

That said, at a gig like The Specials, it felt a little tame. Surrounded by D3’s and whatever the Canon equivelent is, I couldn’t help but feel I was coming across like an amateur. While nobody would say it, a camera like this – as great as it is (and it really is)  just didn’t register with the pros. While it did everything well – and arguably I could get some shots of similar quality, it’s ISO control was awful. Well, that’s being a bit harsh – it just didn’t do the dark well. at all.

Seriously, the difference between the ISO between my new baby (the D700) and the D80 is amazing. The picture of the ever enthusiastic Mr. Terry Hall when viewed large shows a hulluva lotta noise. And while I’ll admit the image has been sharpened a tad, the fact that at ISO 640, the image is so noisy/pixelated is not encouraging. Compared to the next gig in the Olympia, using the same lens and f/number of  Miss Florence, which was at ISO 2,500 – you can see why the D80 is not a pro camera. It’s a phenomenal beginner’s/enthusiast’s camera and I’m going to miss it a lot. But if I’m ever going to be the bestest photomagrapher there ever was, I’m going to need a lot of help – and the D700 is as much help I could currently afford.

The Specials – Gangsters by Housejunkee83

If you like what you here, why not buy some of their stuff, eh?





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!





And So I Watch You From Afar…

26 03 2010

Okay, not my sharpest images, but I don’t really mind this time. It was more about the music this time.

And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA) played in MusicMaker  for State.ie’s inaugural ‘State Intervention’. This free gig is the first in what appears to be a big project for State – and if it is anything to go by, they could have a gem in their hands – nobody in Ireland is offering free gigs in Dublin for no other reason than they can. Could go down well in times like these!

The Belfast boys were jaw-dropping. The perfect way to kick off a venture like this. I have never seen them live before, but the 60 or so people who squeezed into the downstairs of the Exchequer Street shop obviously had.  They clapped and cheered in time to the four songs the boys treated us to. And make no mistake about it, ASIWYFA deserve the hype that has surrounded them.

They climbed on pricey amps that they did not own, leaping from here to the stage provided and all the while nailing intricate licks, solos and beats. They’re a tight, tight band – impromptu improvisations are worked into tracks effortlessly, but they never miss a beat. And they seem to enjoy it. Genuinely. It was a blistering set, one that was over too quickly for most people’s likings. Except maybe the oweners’.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the State Intervention. It was nice to be at a ‘ninja gig’. Dublin doesn’t offer enough things like this.  There’s a fantastic music scene out there right now and a lot of people with more time on their hands than before, no better time to launch it. Here’s looking forward to #2!

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend ASIWYFA’s show tonight in ALT, but next time they’re around, I’m there. And I’ll get better pictures, too…