Category Archives: Event

Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Street Performers

If you spend some time on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you are likely to witness some very interesting shows. One afternoon, I noticed a big crowd was gathered not too far from the Tron Kirk, and judging by the noises that crowd was making, there obviously was a good show in progress.

I had missed the beginning of Able Mable’s Royal Mile show, and when I got there, she was about to make a child disappear.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Able Mable Royal Mile show

Able Mable is introducing to the crowd the girl (bottom right of the photo) she is about to make disappear.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Able Mable show girl disappearance

The child is now inside the bag, and by casting a spell, Able Mable is going to make the girl disappear

Since the girl was just taken from the audience, she’s not quite up to speed as to what to do, and some hilarity ensues. It is hard to describe, you’re just going to have to go to one of Able Mable’s show to understand what I mean.

In the next part of her act, Able Mable showcased her balance and juggling skills. When I climb a latter, I insist it leans against something immovable. But Able Mable doesn’t need that. I’m not going to even try.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Able Mable Royal Mile show, balancing on a ladder

Up on a ladder, she’s all smiles.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Able Mable Royal Mile show, balancing at the top of a ladder

She’s about to ask someone from the crowd to throw her some juggling pins

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Able Mable Royal Mile show juggling on a ladder without any support

Juggling on top of a ladder that doesn’t have any support. Bravo!

Able Mable demonstrated some rather impressive skills. One aspect of her show that is difficult to convey in a blog post such as this is that she is extremely witty and funny. If you ever have an opportunity to see her perform, don’t miss it. You’ll have a great time.

Live Ceilidh Band

“Unpredictability. Accidents. Not good when you’re engaging in, say, brain surgery, but when lighting…wonderful!” – Joe McNally

At the end of the Paul Chamberlain-Michael Haywood promo shoot at the Voodoo Rooms, I was asked by Paul if I was available to take live pictures of the ceilidh band he and Michael are part of.

I gladly accepted the opportunity and found myself a few days later at the Edinburgh ceilidh club event in Summerhall.

I first tried taking pictures without the help of a flash, but the fraction of usable pics was low enough that I decided it was best to use some lighting help.

When using flash, I typically like to underexpose the ambient light, to saturate the background colours and give the pictures more contrast. Since I like to take lots of pictures during a live event, to increase the chances of getting some good ones, I was shooting fast. So fast in fact, that on quite a few occasions, the flash didn’t have time to recycle and hence didn’t fire.

Michael Haywood playing the violin at ceilidh event in Summerhall, Edinburgh, with the band Hotscotch

One of the lights at Summerhall produced a rim light on the musicians when shooting from that particular angle. This is the feature that caught my attention when reviewing the photographs on the LCD screen of my camera.

When I decided to review the pics I had taken thus far on the LCD screen, a few really caught my attention! The light was really interesting, and I loved the mood created by the underexposure. It quickly occurred to me that those were the pics when the flash didn’t fire. I quickly switched off the flash and explored this set up for a few minutes. These pictures happened to be some of my favourites from the live ceilidh event. Joe McNally is absolutely right. When it comes to lighting, embrace the unpredictability and accidents. They may lead to some interesting photographs.

Paul Chamberlain playing the accordion at ceilidh event in Summerhall, Edinburgh, with Hotscotch band

With the accordionist Paul Chamberlain, not only did I get a nice rim light, but some wonderful reflections on his instrument.

Photobomb, Madisons’ Style

The job of an event and nightclub photographer is to capture the fun moments of the evening or night.

The patrons get nice pictures to remember the event by. The benefit to the club owner is that if their customers fondly remember a party at the nightclub, they are likely to come back for more. They are also likely to share the pictures on social media with their friends and in doing so advertise the venue.

This is clearly a win-win situation. The party goers get fun memories and the club owner gets some advertisment.

Photobomb taken at Madisons nightclub in Musselburgh

It took a number of tries, but I finally managed to get a nice photobomb. Thanks to the photobombers who just wouldn’t give up

The urban dictionary describes “to photobomb” as “ to drop in a photo unexpectedly…to hop in a picture right before it is taken”. According to Wikipedia, “photobomb” was named Word of the Year 2014 by Collins English Dictionary. With the advent of smart phones and social media sites, photobombing is a very popular activity. Even former US president Bill Clinton engages in it, and his Obama inauguration photobomb went viral.

When I cover a nightclub event, I look for photobombs, because they gets likes and shares on social media. Like the one above, taken at Madisons in Musselburgh.

Event Photography: Edinburgh City Singers

In my previous blog post, I discussed how photography can help promote club events. It turns out that event photography can benefit other kinds of businesses or organisations.

Edinburgh City Singers concert wide shot from back of St Cuthbert church

Establishing shot showing the choir in their concert venue, St Cuthbert church

A few weeks back, I covered the Edinburgh City Singers’ summer concert at St Cuthbert church. While it is perfectly fine to use a flash and freely move about in a nightclub, this was not possible when photographing the choir during their performance. Therefore I had to use the available light in the church and do the best possible job given the circumstances.

Close-up photograph of one of the female members of the Edinburgh City Singers

Since it was not possible to get really close to the choir during the performance, I took some close-up pictures during the rehearsal before the concert.

Edinburgh City Singers is a new choir that started in January 2014. It offers a singing outlet to anyone who wants to get involved. The photographs of their concert will help them in many different ways.

Medium close-up of solo singer of the Edinburgh City Singers at St Cuthbert's church

From the aisle of St Cuthbert church, I was able to capture a few photographs of the solo singers using my telephoto zoom. It was a real challenge to remain still enough to get some sharp pictures given the low level of the ambient light in St Cuthbert.

Good photographs make the organisation look professional. The pictures show the visitors to their website and Facebook page what their concerts are like, and encourage them to join the organisation.

Establishing shot of the choir in St Cuthbert church from the balcony

During the second half of the concert I was given access to the balcony of St Cuthbert, and that allowed me to document the event from a different point of view.

The photographs also preserve the memories of the event for the current singers and the members of the band. For this reason I tried to take a wide variety of shots to get as complete a coverage of the event as possible.

Choir photograph taken from the balcony of St Cuthbert during the concert

My elevated point of view allowed me to take a picture of the choir in its entirety.

It is always important to look for other points of view so that your event photographs don’t look the same as those taken by the people in the audience. I was able to get some pictures of the choir and the band from the balcony that could not have been taken from the church’s floor.

Vertical photograph of the Edinburgh City Singers choir taken from the balcony of St Cuthbert church

I learned to look for both horizontal and vertical compositions. This photograph of the choir shows more of the background than the previous picture of the Edinburgh City Singers framed horizontally

I was ultimately able to deliver over eighty photographs of the concert to the choir .

Photograph of the pianist, guitarist and drummer accompanying the Edinburgh City Singers choir at their St Cuthbert's concert

Last but not least, I thought it was important to get some pictures of the accompanying musicians, since they obviously were an integral part of the concert.


Promote Your Events With Nightclub Photography

Suppose that next weekend, you’d like to go to a different club than the one you frequent regularly. Now you do a little bit of research and there are a couple of venues that grab your attention, and you obviously check their Facebook page.

One of the clubs has a lot of beautiful photographs of their previous events, and the other does not. Which one are you most likely to go to?

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh with club lights in the background

The key to good nightclub photography is finding the right combination of ambient light and flash. You need to be able to see that the photo was taken in a nightclub. Your customers with their phones or point-and-shoot cameras won’t be able to take pics like the one above. So they’ll have to go to your Facebook page to see the really good photos from the night. This picture was taken at Madisons nightclub, in Musselburgh.

The nightclub industry is going through a tough time. According to the Economist, the value of the industry has fallen from £1.8 billion to £1.4 billion in 2007. But it is during rough times that advertising and promotion is most important. And nowadays, nightclubs have the powerful tool of social media at their disposal.

Two young ladies at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh, in front of the bar

Beautiful young ladies are a must for a good night out. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Since Facebook posts with photos generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than regular posts, it is important for businesses to use imagery in their social media strategy. Good nightclub photography can help you promote and market your club nights.

Three young men having a great time at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

It’s important to show people having a good time at the party. Showing is way more powerful than telling. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Apart from the increased number of likes and comments to your social media posts, good photographs give potential customers an idea of what your events are like. It is much more effective to show than it is to tell. They can be confident they will have a good time.

Lady and man pointing to the camera with a funny expression on their faces at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

When people are enjoying themselves, they’ll do some amazing things in front of your camera. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Moreover, good nightclub photographs give you the best possible kind of exposure, in that your customers will do the advertising for you. In my experience, people will quickly look up the Facebook page of the club they went to and look for the pictures. They will like some of the photos, tag themselves and their friends. The pictures of the night will thus appear on their friends’  news feed. If they really like the photograph, they will use it as their new Facebook profile or cover picture, with a status update for all of their friends to see. According to the Guardian, half of the 1.23 billion users have more than 200 friends while the average user has 338 friends.

Young man kissing young lady on the cheek, in front of the bar at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh

Nightclub events are not just about the banter. There can be moments of tenderness as well. I love to catch those. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.

Your events may get advertised to thousands, potentially, by people they know and like. This is the best kind of referral your business can get. Good nightclub photography gives your venue a lot of exposure, week in and week out. A professional photographer adds value to your events, makes your customers feel special, increasing customers loyalty and adding to your bottom line at the end of the night.

Three young ladies posing for the camera in front  of the club lights at Madisons night club, Musselburgh

You can never get too many pictures of the lovely young ladies at the event. Taken at Madisons nightclub, Musselburgh.


Party at The Caves, Edinburgh

Last Saturday, I got the opportunity to take photographs of a birthday party at The Caves, a well known venue in Edinburgh. The party was organised by Elements.UK.  ‘The Caves’ is a photographically very interesting place. It is warm, candle lit and cozy. But it is very dark.

Party Room The Caves Edinburgh

Party room at ‘The Caves’ before the arrival of the guests

Shooting in this kind of light is therefore a photographic challenge. That is why I like these kinds of assignments. And because everyone is in a good mood!

Party room The Caves Edinburgh

Party room from a different point of view

Party room The Caves Edinburgh

Yet another view of the party room before the arrival of the guests

By combining the ambient light of the venue and the light coming from a flash, one can get some interesting effects, like in the photograph below.

DJ at The Caves, Edinburgh

Zooming during a long exposure with flash gives this picture of a DJ a more dynamic look

And of course, no party would be complete without good food and lovely ladies!

Pastries on a plate at The Caves, Edinburgh

Don’t these look really appetising?

Party guests at The Caves, Edinburgh

Claire and Fran






Oil and Smoke at Joseph Pearce’s Bar

I like to challenge myself photographically, and close-up/macro photography offers plenty of those. But since that genre of photography isn’t part of my core activities, I had always postponed delving into the close-up world.

I needed to make a commitment, and as fate would have it, a few months ago, Bryan F. Peterson of the Perfect Picture School of Photography was offering his close-up photography class again for one last time. So I jumped at the opportunity. If you don’t know Bryan, he is a wonderful photographer, instructor and best selling author. Look him up on the web!

That class turned out to be a gold mine of visual ideas. One of Bryan’s assignment for the class was to photograph oil drops in water, using a colorful and out of focus background. At the time, I chose to do another assignment, but swore try out this idea after the class. A few weeks before Christmas time, I was able to find some colorful gift wrapping paper to use as a background and try it out.


Click on image to enlarge

It’s a very simple idea, but the results are quite striking.

In “Creative Digital Photography: 52 Weekend Projects” by Chris Gatcum, I came across another close-up photography idea that I wanted to try. Photographing smoke from an incense stick. Like most close-up work, this requires a lot of patience. And very good hand/eye coordination since the auto focus on your camera is of no help and one has to focus manually.


Click on image to enlarge

The two pictures above show some of the wonderful shapes the smoke from a incense stick can take. Note that I changed the colors in Photoshop to obtain more vivid images.

Seven of these images of oil drops and smoke are on exhibit at Joseph Pearce’s bar in Edinburgh until the beginning of June. They are part of the Edinburgh Science Festival & Spring exhibition organized by Vanessa Davila of “Delicartessen”.


Oil & Smoke pictures at Joseph Pearce’s bar.