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.





What a week

25 11 2011

Alas, it was not to be with the NME. I was beaten by the better picture, in the end – and rightly so, I feel. Truth be told, I was of course a little bit disappointed, but perhaps only because during the extended wait, I had convinced myself I had won it. You know, like when you buy a lottery ticket and just before the first ball comes out you think to yourself ‘I’m definitely going to buy a llama. Feck it, I’m getting three with this kind of money’. Unfortunately I will not be jetting off to the NME, nor indeed for that matter, setting up Finglas’ first llama sanctuary. Shame, really.

So that was my Monday. Well, I also had some e-mails setting up shoots for State.ie’s Faces of 2011 Spectacular.

Tuesday saw me shoot the marvelous Elaine Mai for State, up near Whelans in Dublin. With help from the fantabulous Abe Tarrush we got some sexy-mid-day-softbox-strobist action going. Here’s one from the shoot anyway:

There’ll be more on Elaine on State.ie very soon.

Wednesday saw me shoot the Dublin five-piece Alice Can’t Turn Left before their gig in Sweeneys, again with help from the Marvellous Mr.Tarrush I managed to pull off some great strobist ideas picked up from the truely amazing Todd Owyoung:

And then Thursday saw me entertain fiddle-phenomenon Daithi in the Phoenix Park, before he was swept off to Limerick for his show that evening. With no help for the shoot and the wind turning my softbox into a highly expensive kite towards the end of the shoot, I was lucky enough to be able to grab a few softbox-aided shots before the wind sent us packing. Oh, and I got a wave from the new president leaving the Aras in his new car n’all!

Today being Friday, I’m taking a well deserved ‘eating-my-body’s-weight-worth-of-cake’ break. Battenburg is my saturated-fat crumble of choice today. It goes down well with a pear cider, I find… I tell thee, the life of a Dublin-based rock photographer is glamourous to no end…





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!

 

 

 

 

 

 





Hoax

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

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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:





Self Portrait – Strobist Style

9 07 2010

Right, so the strobist obsession continues. After splashing out for Joe McNally‘s two books earlier this week, I was bitten by this photo-flash malarkey once more and had to give it a go. Lacking a beautiful model however, meant that it was up to myself to not only dial in all the numbers and figures, but to also look nonchalant and well, poncey. I succeeded in at least one of these aims.

It was a fairly simple set up, as you can see below:

So two flashes, two diffusers (one coloured), a small GorillaPod and one lighting stand. Hardly an overly elaborate set-up. But to be honest, without Mr.McNally’s tips, this would’ve been a lot more daunting that I thought it would be.

But  to be honest the storbes aren’t really the hard part here – the background is. I needed to use the available light to my advantage (you can see it to the back of the scene in the windows). So I had to work that in. So firstly expose using Aperture Mode, with matrix-metering. That gave me this:

Which is fair enough to an extent. In the camera’s brain, this is a well exposed picture apparently. But lets be honest, it’s a bit shite. I mean it’s equally dark and bright at the same time. Look out the windows – pure white. Never a good thing in a photograph, really. So then you stick it in manual and take it down a stop or two until it starts looking a bit better – in the window area only. So you should get this (well, if you live in my house and have the camera pointing in the same direction, at least):

Right, technically awful, but nicer lighting in the window area – especially on the table. I mean that’sa nice table. Poifect.

Then you just bring in the lights. One behind the model (well, hello) and the other above them seems to be a fairly standard affair, according to good ol’ Joe. The one behind lights up the background and gives a nice outline, the other obviously just lights up the face. The background light had a CTO diffuser on it, just to warm things up a bit. The lights practically do everything themselves in iTTL (intelligent Through The Lens), but I felt I needed to adjust them slightly (+3 in the back and -1 on the face).

I’m not saying these are perfect portraits (far from it – lookit the highlights on the white appliances for a start), but given that I was manual focusing, aiming, pressing a timer release, legging it around the table like a rabbit jogging through marshmallow, I think I did okay.

G’wan then. One more prat-shot:

….Oh and get The Hot Shoe Diaries. If you like any of this stuff it’ll change your view on the whole malarkey. It’s inspiring and informative and great fun too. It’ll be helping me along my way here for a long time!