Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Midsummer Music Festival 2014

As the Earth moved to a position in the solar system where the Northern Hemisphere was titled at its peak towards the sun, it meant it was time once again for the Midsummer Music Festival in Gatehouse of Fleet.

I've been attending for a few years now (see Midsummer Music Festival 2011, 2012 and 2013), camera in hand, trying my best to capture some interesting images of superb bands playing live.

This year had the added bonus that 2 of my favourite live performers were both playing at the Festival.

The Friday evening was opened by the superb Sean Taylor. The first time I photographed him was over 3 years ago when he played at The Mill Sessions. He liked the photo so much it ended up on the cover of his next album, Love Against Death. And one of the photos I took of him at the weekend he's asked if he can use for his tour posters

Soon to be used on tour posters

On the Saturday evening, one of the bands was Sparo and The Yahs. Fantastic foot-stomping rock 'n' roll which had half the hall up on their feet dancing about, while their front man strutted his stuff across the stage and at one point leapt down into the crowd, still singing. Regular readers of my blog might remember they too have used one of my photos for their album cover.

It's almost impossible to point the camera at Sparo and not get a great photo

The big surprise for me this year were Stanley Odd, who headlined Friday's line-up. If I'm honest, Scottish hip-hop is not something I would naturally have chosen to go and watch, but singer, Dave Hook, and his band were surprisingly excellent. Lyrics were socially aware and powerful, and the music was great. I felt my musical tastes suddenly expanding.

Hip-hop and high jumping

Below are a selection of some of the other photos I took over the weekend, but you can find the full set on my Facebook Photography page

Friday - click here
Saturday - click here

Sean Taylor

HillBilly Troupe

Stanley Odd

Anyone remember my Tomb Raider shoot with Gina? A year on and she has a wee baby girl with stylish ear defenders (they were pink).

Darcy DaSilver opened Saturday evening's entertainment

Sparo and The Yahs

Captain Zanzibar

Monster Ceilidh Band

For those not following my Facebook feed, there's a companion piece I wrote yesterday on the Galloway Photographic Collective blog where I talk about choosing between colour and black and white when photographing. You can find that here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eden Festival 2014

Eden Festival was held over the past weekend, and Marcus and I played as The Cracked Man in Rabbie's Tavern (the beer tent) on the Thursday evening.

As the festival didn't really get into full swing until Friday afternoon, the crowd was sparse. And then when Marcus's string broke after the first song and I had to entertain them solo for a few minutes, it became even sparser. However, by the time we reached the middle of our set we were back in our stride and people started to wander back into the tent, and we received plenty of enthusiastic applause by the time we finished.

The Cracked Man, live at Eden Festival - Photo courtesy of Pete of PR Imaging

As a performer, I was given a full weekend pass. As someone who doesn't really like camping and shudders at the idea of festival loos, I decided to head home later that evening.

Nevertheless, I returned on Saturday with my camera to photograph some bands and continue in my ongoing quest to improve my "street" photography.

Far removed from the portrait or staged narrative photography I usually do, photogaphing people as they go about their business, mostly unaware of me, is more akin to wildlife photography.

By the time you have registered that you've just seen something interesting, it's gone. I lost count of the number of times I thought, "damn, that would have made a great photo..." if only I'd had my camera at the ready.

I think the real experts learn to anticipate and gain a feel for what might happen, or set themselves in a position where interesting juxtapositions are likely to occur.

I live in hope that if I do it enough, eventually something will click and my hit rate will dramatically improve.

Below is a selection of photos I was quite pleased with. For the full set of about 30 images, click through to my Facebook album here:

Fellow Galloway Photographic Collective photographer, Allan Wright enjoying a pint

Old favourites, Sparo and The Yahs giving it some good old driving, energetic Rock 'n' Roll

Never did work out what it was she was eating

King Charles playing the main stage. Smoke and back-lighting make an irresistible combination for a photographer

By the light of a food van

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GoNorth, Billy Boyd and Beecake

The world of film has only really been something I have interacted with as an observer. I like to watch films, preferably with good storyline, a bit of action and a large tub of popcorn.

However, the film-making course I went on a few weeks ago gave me a real taste of the creative possibilities of film - not just an appreciation of how they are made, but that creating them might actually be within my grasp - short ones at least. So when the opportunity arose for me to attend the GoNorth Creative Industries Festival last week, I leapt at the chance.

Two days of talks, seminars, live music and networking opportunities gave me a larger context in which to place my understanding. It was enlightening to see, listen to and interact with people who do this for a living (or at least a passion - it appears that like most creative industries, the best piece of advice given to those wishing to get into it is "embrace poverty" - only a tiny, minuscule amount of people every actually make good money out of it)

Exciting as making films could be, I'm not ready to drop my photography any time soon - I still have a love for capturing or sculpting light, shadow and sometimes colour into interesting images.

At a talk given on characters and storytelling, one of the people on the panel was the actor Billy Boyd, known to most people round the world as Pippin in Lord of the Rings. However, what I found most fascinating is he's also the singer in a Glasgow based band - Beecake. Being in a band myself, I'm always interested in whether those with more than one creative outlet feel that one informs the other, or if one is a way of escaping or switching off from the other.

I had a wee chat with Billy afterwards and his band were playing that evening, so I went along with my camera to take a few shots. Pub venues are always a bit difficult to get anything outstanding because backgrounds and lighting tend to interfere with, rather than assist, the photographer's eye. It didn't stop me giving it a go though, and below are a few of better ones I ended up with.

For the full set, click through to my album on Facebook:

The GoNorth festival was held up in Inverness - about 250 miles north of where I live so it was pretty much a day's drive either side of the 2 day event. On the drive back down I detoured via Edinburgh to pick up my son, Rogan, who has now finished his first year studying physics at Heriot Watt University.

He'll be staying with us over the summer.

It's good to have him back, if only for a wee while.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Sometimes I go a wee while without photographing anyone. Time is spent in front of the computer editing, researching and all the other stuff that needs doing to run a business, plus a few things that pointlessly waste too much time.

If this goes on too long I start to get an itchy trigger finger, and if the weather is pleasant I'll shove the big zoom lens onto my camera and go for a drive, or a walk in the woods.

In photography, both the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise are known as "the golden hour" because of the quality of the light - colours tend to be warmer and richer.

As I'm not a naturally early riser, it is usually evenings rather than mornings I will make the most of this kind of light.

The advantage of using the big zoom lens in a more closed in environment, like a woods, is you can zoom in on details, and look for interesting patterns.

But a real trick in photography is the use of back-light. If you can place the sun behind what you're shooting it can create something quite magical out of something you might otherwise have just not noticed.

A couple of evenings ago, however, it became apparent that the new spring growth of leaves had become so thick, the sun just wasn't making it into the woods. I left without a decent image in the camera, but as I was driving home the setting sun was just stunning.

And then I noticed the cows on a ridge with the sun behind them.

I had to pull over and walk back up the road to get the right angle, but was quite delighted to capture this one.

So there you have it - low evening sun as a back-light can even make cows in a field look interesting.