Friday, June 29, 2012

Midsummer Music Festival 2012

Last weekend was the Gatehouse Midsummer Music Festival. Once again I went along with my camera for a bit of practice at performance photography on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

Low light is the biggest problem. With the performers moving, slow shutter speeds (a technique for letting more light through the lens) aren’t possible as the images will end up blurred. The only other option is to dramatically increase the ISO, which means the images become “noisy” or “grainy.” However, by dropping them into black and white, the grainy quality can help make them look a bit more like music press photos.

Here’s a wee selection of the images I took, but you can find more on my Flickr or Facebook pages here:

Alasdair Roberts

Samba Sene

Finding Albert

Sally Campbell



On the Sunday afternoon, the band I’m in, Scruffy Buzzards, was performing, but as I was playing I was unable to take any photos. If, however, you’d like to keep up to date with Scruffy Buzzards performances along with videos and photos as they appear, then please visit our Facebook page and hit “like”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tin Opener

As I picked the tin of tomato soup out of the cupboard, my next thought was to locate the tin opener.

I wasn’t sure where the tin opener was, and I wasn’t sure why I didn’t immediately know where to look.

Admittedly we mostly ate Maggie’s homemade soup for lunch, but the occasional tin of soup wasn’t an unknown phenomenon.

I found the tin opener at the back of the second draw I looked in, but although I knew how to operate it, the action felt unfamiliar: almost like somebody else’s memories.

I wasn’t sure why it felt like this. I wondered if we had a different tin opener – perhaps some fancy electric thing – I’d been using more recently. But I was pretty certain we didn’t have one of those, and I definitely couldn’t think where in the kitchen it might be located if we did.

So allowing my hands to work on muscle memory rather than conscious familiarity, I squeezed the levers, puncturing the lid, then turned the winder until the tin had rotated the full 360 degrees and the last piece of the metal was cut through.

I fished the lid out of the soup and poured the contents in to a pan.

At which point I saw the ring-pull on what I had hitherto assumed was the underside of the tin, and the universe abruptly shifted.

Now I suddenly existed in a world where easy-to-open cans had been the norm for many years, and all the memories of using the ring-pulls were right there in the front of my brain, as easy to access as turning on a tap or opening a fridge door.

There are some theories about the structure of the universe that reckon there are an infinite amount of parallel universes which exist along side our own, each with minute differences to the next one.

It feels slightly more comforting to believe I gently slipped from one universe (where ring-pulls on tins didn’t exist) into another (where they do), than drawing any more obvious conclusion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Farino in the Stairwell

When the high-energy, foot-stompingly good guitar duo, Farino, performed at The Mill Sessions last year [see – Farino at the Mill Sessions], I did a photo shoot with them for The Mill’s Hall of Fame.

When they were invited back for another high-energy, foot-stompingly good gig at The Mill last Friday, I did another photo shoot with them in the afternoon before their performance.

To be honest they really hadn’t changed that much in the intervening 14 months, so doing another set of headshots seemed a bit pointless. Instead I thought I’d try and go for something a bit more compositionally interesting, looking at the use of lines and shapes.

I had a few ideas, which I was pretty certain would look good, but they based around the idea of being outside with plenty of light and space. Unfortunately it was chucking it down with rain that had no intention of easing off.

After trying out a couple of potential places, we settled on the stairwell of The Mill.

Making the most of diagonals

More sweeping shapes

The gig was sold out, which was good for the local band supporting them, as it gave them a bit more exposure to a warm crowd. This was particularly good news for me, as the local band was Scruffy Buzzards – the one I’m in.

I’ve gone back and checked through past posts and am surprised to discover I’ve not blogged about Scruffy Buzzards at all, and this is the first mention of them. I will rectify that soon, but for those who interested, you can find out more about us on Facebook here:

Friday, June 01, 2012

Spring Fling, Artist in Residence, and The New Book

Last autumn, I was artist-in-residence at the Wigtown Book Festival, where I took 173 portraits of visitors, residents and authors over 10 days.

These photos were then pinned to walls of “The Hut” – the studio space I’d been given to use for the duration – and each person’s name, along with the title of ‘a well-loved book,’ was scribbled underneath.

I’ve now created a book of the event, which includes all the portraits and a journal of my experiences as I progressed from naïve enthusiasm, through loss of confidence and on to final success.

Like my previous books, Facing The Weekend, and Staring Back, it’s been created via – an online, print-on-demand publisher. You order the book and they print it and post it to you. Unfortunately, it’s not very cheap, but then copies are being printed off individually rather than en mass.

However, you can download it for your iPad or iPhone for a mere £2.49 (approx €3 or $4) because there are no printing or shipping costs.

If you would like to see and handle a printed copy, then I will have one with me this weekend when I am back at “The Hut” in Wigtown for the Spring Fling Open Studio Event (studio 6 in the brochure – visit the Spring Fling website to download the brochure app), from Saturday 2nd to Tuesday 5th June

If you can’t get over to visit, then take a look at the widget below to give you a taste.

If for any reason, the widget below isn't working, then click on this link for more details