Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Geese at The Mill Sessions

The Geese are a local "indie-folk" band, who I’ve photographed on previous occasions. In fact one of my photos graces their first CD, back when they were just a 3-piece band.

They were performing at The Mill Sessions on Friday past, so we needed a photo of them for the collection (see others under the label "Mill Sessions").

My comfort zone is photographing people one at a time. Once numbers start becoming plural, the difficulties multiply exponentially. The more people there are, the more chance one of them will be blinking, looking the wrong way, obscuring someone else or pulling a dodgy face.

Time was limited as there’d been a mix up in communication, and I had far less than I’d have liked, as they had to go and sound check with Marcus, who was recording the session.

The upshot of all this was when I got back home to look at the results, I discovered I didn’t have a single shot where they were all looking at the camera and no one was laughing, moving, or obscuring someone else.

Fortunately over the years I’ve become reasonably adept at using Photoshop so was able to take different heads from different shots and merge them together. This final image, then, is actually an amalgamation of about 4 photos. However, I know from talking to other professional photographers, this kind of thing goes on all the time. At least I wasn’t removing wrinkles or making anyone look slimmer.

Filming proved to be a bit problematic too. I was sitting only 4 or 5 feet in front of them - which is great for an intimate live performance, but not so good trying to fit all the band members into the screen. So I had to have the wide-angle lens on the camera, set at the most extreme I could. Unfortunately, the result of this is everyone’s somewhat distorted.

However, if you can forgive the visuals, this song is one of my favourites, and does give quite a good sense of the style of The Geese. It’s called “Trade Not Aid” and is about a man who is drowning but when he calls for help, the person on the shore who can throw him the lifebelt tells him helping him for free could set up a culture of dependency, so he should trade something for the help instead.

For more info about The Geese, visit their Facebook page here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011


A wave travelling through water is not an object - it is a process. The water it flows through is affected by the energy of the wave, causing it to move up and down, but it doesn’t move along with the wave. If you place a rubber duck, for example, in the path of the wave, it is not swept along with it – it merely rises and falls as the energy wave passes under it. When the wave hits the beach, the water crashes and some of it surges up the sand or pebbles, only to retreat again once the energy has dissipated, not having actually travelled very far.

A flame, likewise is not an object, but a process. We can follow it as it burns down the candle, or even from one candle to another, but it is not a solid, enduring thing. It is a process that moves the atoms around it from one state to another. What makes up the actual fire changes by the moment.

Over a longer time span, it is possible for a ship to have a different plank changed every time it comes into port until there is no longer a single piece of wood remaining from the original construction. We see it as the same ship, as an enduring object, and yet it could easily be said that the ship is a process too, not unlike the wave or the flame. The only difference is the time scale.

In fact, if we had a time-lapse camera sequence long enough, we would see that even mountains, planets and stars are also processes. They rise and fall, are built and consumed, are created and dissipated and the atoms that make them up are constantly changing.

And of course, we are no different.

To think of ourselves as unchanging and permanent is a misconception in the same way as thinking a wave, a table, a mountain or a star is. We only appear to be an object because of the timescale in which we view ourselves. But we are a process as much as a wave or a flame. The cells of our bodies are constantly dying off and renewing. It is reckoned 98% of our cells are replaced at least every year.

I might think I am more or less the same person as I was last year – a little older, a little heavier, a little greyer, but essentially still me – and yet only 2% of me is the same as the person who wrote about photographing The Sex Pistols Experience tribute band 12 months ago.

We are like the wave travelling across the ocean. Even though the atoms that make up the wave change from moment to moment, the energy has a momentum that keeps it moving in a direction until eventually it runs out of steam, or hits something and is dispersed. But while it is moving, it creates the illusion of being an object.

The only real difference is we have gained self-awareness, even if we often mistake what it is we are aware of – falling for the illusion of permanence.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


My mother’s looking after the kids on Saturday evening,” she said, casually dropping it into the conversation, as though her mother would quite often have the children to stay over for no particular reason.

Perhaps I’ll pop round, if I’m not doing anything else,” he said, trying to appear nonchalant while his mind raced on how he might get out of his sister’s birthday celebrations.

21 years later and Maggie and I recall how this embarrassing exchange led to the start of our relationship.

Happy anniversary, my love x

Friday, November 11, 2011


I came across a site the other day called "GoAnimate". It allows you to create your own animated sketches by using cartoon characters and converting the text into speech.

At the freebie entry level, you are allowed to create one character of your own from scratch, use a limited selection of backgrounds, and a handful of existing characters. And the time limit for your animation is 2 minutes. If you are prepared to fork out money, you can create more characters, select from a wider array of backgrounds and develop much longer movies.

So here's a sketch I put together using my free character, a basic background and it comes in at just under 2 minutes long.

You'll have guessed I haven't paid for the Pro account yet...

The voices sound a bit stilted - a touch Stephen Hawking - but considering I was able to put this together in a short amount of time on a budget of zero, I'm really quite impressed with the system.

Territorial Markings by kimayres on GoAnimate

If for some reason you can't see the video, then click on the link and hopefully it should take you directly to the site

Monday, November 07, 2011

Finding Albert at The Mill Sessions

Finding Albert are a rather talented, up and coming band who played at The Mill Sessions last week.

As in previous performances this year (see The Mill Sessions label), I set about photographing the band before the gig started.

Up until now, I’d been photographing people singly, or in pairs, so with Finding Albert being a 4-piece band, it took a bit of shuffling about to fit them all into the shot. There’s also the problem that the more people in a photo, the more chance one of them will be blinking, looking in the wrong direction or getting lost in a shadow cast by one of the others. It took a bit of time, but I got there in the end.

Finding Albert: left to right -
Chris (drums), Rob (vocals and keyboard), Neil (bass), Michael (guitar)

An additional difficulty, however, lay in the fact the summer has now long since passed and it was dark, so there wasn’t the option of photographing outside. And the empty space I’d used in the first 3 Mill Sessions earlier in the year wasn’t empty.

My solution was to bring along a light, a reflector and an extension lead and use the stairwell.

The gig itself was superb. With room only available for 50 to 60 people max, the venue allows a real sense of intimacy. It feels like barely a step up from having a band perform in your living room. Stripped back from their usual big amps, the drummer even used a cajón, as a full drum kit would have over-powered everything else in this smaller space.

As well as the obvious advantage for the audience, for the performers it also feels like playing to a group of friends, creating a mood that is both intimate and relaxed.

Sitting at the front with my camera on my knee, I put on the wide-angle lens so as to fit everyone in at such a close distance. There’s no fancy camera work, but the videos below should give you a flavour of the evening.

Back to Rome

My Friend Jack

For more about Finding Albert, visit their website here:

or their Facebook page here:

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Suprisingly gentle

On a cold, wet and windy autumn day, the clouds briefly part.

Momentarily, a ball of fire a million times larger than the earth and 93 million miles away, gently caresses my skin and brings a smile to my face.