Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving through time facing backwards

When I was a kid, I remember my mother once telling me that although we think of ourselves moving forward through time (facing the future), there was a tribe or culture or race somewhere that said we moved through time facing backwards (a quick 30 seconds on Google to research who it might have been didn’t throw anything up, but if anyone happens to know, please do sate my curiosity).

I only remembered this a few days back when it popped into my head in the middle of a discussion with a friend about concepts of time. Since then I’ve discovered myself mulling over it several times.

It makes an extraordinary amount of sense when you think about it. We can only see where we’ve been, not where we’re going. What has happened to us is clearly visible, but what is about to happen is pure guesswork.

Imagine we are walking backwards along a path. The only way of knowing which way the path is going is by looking at where it’s been and looking for repetitions and patterns to try and work out where it might go next.

If the curve of the path is gentle, then we can correct our course before we reach the edges as we notice the bend. But if it is a sharp turn, we will be off the expected track before we know it.

If the path has been fairly straight for quite a while, we get lulled into a false sense of security and begin to assume it will just carry on being straight forever, or at least for the immediate future. But the reality is we cannot know that for certain, and at any time it could make a sudden and unforeseen change in direction.

So many of the dramatic changes in our lives happen without warning – too quickly for us to realise the path has twisted unpredictably.

Just because we can see where we’ve been, doesn’t mean we know where we’re going.

At some point there is an inevitable cliff top waiting for all of us. We just won’t know where it is until it’s too late.

We really do need to take more time to savour this moment than assuming there will be plenty more to come.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Midsummer Music Festival 2013

Gatehouse Midsummer Music Festival is a must-attend event, circled in the calendar each year. It’s spread out across the town with the main venue being in the hall at the primary school, with other things happening at the community centre, open pub sessions and even the local café.

While this might all sound very local and even a bit twee, most of the main acts come from outwith the area and the performances – from both visiting and local bands – are never less than outstanding. And this year was the best yet.

Each year I head along with the camera (see Midsummer Music Festival 2011 and 2012) and attempt to exercise photography skills that are almost the polar opposite of normal portraiture.

In a studio I get to control the background, the lighting, and I interact with the sitter. By contrast, at a festival the background has been set up by the organisers with no thought given to photography, there is never enough light, and performers on stage are not going to stop playing while you rearrange them to make a better composition.

So the quest to get something not too dark, in focus and reasonably composed is quite challenging. This year had the added trickiness of some serious foot-stomping music – it’s particularly difficult to keep the camera steady when your body just wants to leap about to thumping rhythmic beats.

Nowhere was this more of a problem than the final band of Saturday evening, The Black Diamond Express. I was completely blown away by their music, musicianship and stagecraft. I’d seen a couple of videos of them online beforehand, but they fail to capture anything like the energy and drive of seeing them live. If you ever get a chance to see them, do not hesitate.

Another departure for me was this time I decided to go for colour for most of the images. There are still a few black and white images in the mix – I do love the atmospheric moodiness black and white can give – but this year I decided not to be so rigid about it. Each photo I selected I considered both options and went for the version I felt best suited that image, rather than looking for a consistency across the entire set.

Below are a few examples, but you can find the full album on Facebook by clicking on this link:

Malcolm Middleton


Mosa Funk CLub

Shelagh McDonald - you might remember I did a photoshoot with her earlier in the year:

The Razorbills

The Lounge Punk Blues of Richard Ipaint

Saint Max and the Fanatics

The Black Diamond Express

To view all 38 images, visit the full album on Facebook by clicking on this link (you don't have to have a Facebook account to see them):

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Special Father's Day

While I was hoping all the attention would be on me today for Father’s Day, I have to take a back seat to Rogan as it’s also his birthday. And not just any birthday – today he turns 18. In the UK, that’s the big one. Now he can vote, legally drink in pubs and is fully classed as an adult.

Despite struggling to recall what I was doing last week, or even yesterday for that matter, I can still clearly remember holding my baby boy in the hospital. This tiny, vulnerable little being who changed my life forever. I wanted him to grow up strong and healthy, be wise in the way of people, and have a kind heart.

And he has.

As those who've followed my blog for any length of time will know, a tradition in this house has been the kids get a birthday card manipulated by me in Photoshop. This year I took one of photos I'd done of Rogan shortly after he had his mohawk created, and I exaggerated it somewhat, while adding textured overlays to end up with something looking more like...

...well, I'm not entirely sure more like what, but I thought it looked kinda cool anyway.

Happy Birthday, son.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Live at Eden

The must-have accessory for the Eden Festival is wellies. Every year since it began it pours with rain and the entire site becomes a mud pit. This year caught everyone by surprise when they realised they should have left their wellies behind and brought sun cream instead.

Scruffy Buzzards were already booked to play in Rabbie’s Tavern - the beer tent - early on the Friday evening, but because we won the Creetown Busker’s Banquet the previous week (see last post), we were also awarded a place on the main stage

Photo courtesy of Steven Brown Photography

It was great having all this space to move about. Even though the crowds were not exactly huge at 2pm on the Friday afternoon, it was quite a different experience to be on a large stage and not have to worry about tripping over each other, or prod, stab or thwack the person next to us with our instruments.

A few hours later it was back to normal in Rabbie’s Tavern where we could empathise with tinned sardines again

Photo courtesy of PR Imaging

Although I was unable to take photos of us while we were playing, I still took the camera along and fired off a few shots between gigs.

Wigs, beer and beard

Grant from The Yahs giving his all

For the rest of the photos in this set, then visit the album on my Facebook Photography page here:

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

How Many Buzzards?

For the past year and a half, Scruffy Buzzards has been a four-piece band. On Friday we will be playing on the main stage at the Eden Festival as a five-piece, with the introduction of Chris Henry on drums.

Up until now, Bruce has been on the cajón (pronounced, ka-hon), which is a box you can sit on and hit in different places to achieve different percussive sounds. However, Bruce also does lead and support vocals, which is more difficult when you’re hunched over, hitting a box between your legs. So now we have a drummer with a drum kit, which adds a fair amount of drive and power to our sound.

We decided it was time to announce the new addition, so at rehearsals last night I took my camera along to get a photo of the five of us.

My initial idea of having everyone captured in mid-flight being blown backwards by the force of Chris hitting a snare drum proved far more difficult than anticipated. It required synchronised movement and perfect timing against a camera set on a 10 second timer, because I had to be in the photo too.

Realising this could take all night, the light was disappearing, and we really needed to get on with the rehearsal, we abandoned (or at least postponed) the idea and decided to go for an image where Chris is standing proud and the rest of us are all reacting to this weird instrument he’s standing behind.

At 2 o’clock this morning I finished editing the image for a new Banner for the Facebook page

As you can see we’re actually playing twice at the Eden Festival. We were already booked for Rabbie’s Tavern (the beer tent), but last Saturday went along to the Creetown Busker’s Banquet Festival – where 40 or so different musicians busked in various places around the town. First prize was a slot on the Main Stage at Eden, which we won, despite being a man down as bass player, John, was unable to join us.

Photo by Amy-Dee Tigh, submitted for an article about us in the Galloway Gazette

From 4 to 3 to 5 members in the space of a week. It will be interesting to see how the band dynamics change over the next few months as Chris settles in.